The Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)
My Dear Mr. Ambassador: I appreciate greatly your letter of January 10, 19389 regarding our proposed treaties with France relating to Morocco. I am interested in learning that you share our views that it is desirable to delay the negotiation of the proposed capitulations treaty until we can gain some idea as to how the Anglo-French Capitulations Treaty works out in practice. I quite agree that it would be desirable to postpone likewise the negotiation of the proposed commercial convention until we see how the similar Anglo-French agreement works. However, we may find some difficulty in holding to such a course for we are always faced with the possibility that if we delay negotiations too long the French may denounce the American-Morocco Treaty of 1836,10 which as you know provides for termination by either Party on one year’s notice. I doubt very much whether the French would under existing circumstances denounce that treaty, but it is of course an eventuality which we cannot ignore. If the treaty should be denounced we should not have a great deal to offer the French in the shape of a quid pro quo for a commercial treaty defining closely our economic and commercial rights in Morocco.
We have also had in mind that once we rid ourselves of the necessity of frequent protests to the authorities at Rabat regarding invasions of the rights of our protégés in Morocco, those authorities might be more willing to adjust problems which arise respecting legitimate American commercial interests. We may be unduly optimistic in this respect, but there is no doubt that our numerous complaints at Rabat concerning the treatment of these Moorish protégés have been a heavy draft upon whatever good will we may have had with the French authorities in Morocco.
In view of the above circumstances it seems to us that probably the best line of action is to resist any tendency which the French may show to press us for a hurried solution of the Moroccan question, but not to delay negotiations to such an extent that they are forced to take the extreme step of denouncing our Treaty of 1836 leaving us little scope for bargaining.