The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 14.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to instruction No. 166 of March 24, 1944 by which the Legation was authorized at its discretion to inform the French Resident General that the wartime restrictions which have been introduced in French Morocco as the result of the joint action of the American and French authorities in North Africa are recognized as applicable to American ressortissants with the understanding that they are wartime measures which are applicable only for the duration of the present emergency and are not to be interpreted as in any way prejudicing American treaty rights in Morocco or as in the nature of a precedent.
The Legation is of the opinion that, in the present exceptional circumstances, such a communication to the French Resident General will usefully clarify the situation in connnection with the safeguarding of our treaty position in Morocco. As the result of an exchange of views on the subject with the American Consuls General at Casablanca and Rabat, the following comments are submitted.
At the date of the Department’s instruction, the only existing measures under reference of which the Legation is aware, concern (1) exit visas, (2) exchange and currency control, and (3) the requisition of wheat and olive crops. If there are any others, the Legation respectfully requests that it be informed thereof. It is recommended that every joint Franco-American measure which may be taken in the future and intended to extend to Morocco, should be the subject of a relative note to the Protectorate Government with respect to the validation of the application of the measure to American ressortissants. It is therefore desirable that the issuance of any such eventual measure should be made known to the Legation as promptly as possible. The reason for the foregoing suggestions is that the Consul General at Casablanca has reported instances in which Protectorate departments and district commissioners have sought to restrict the activities of American ressortissants on the grounds of alleged joint Franco-American decisions which, upon investigation, have proved to be inexistent. Furthermore, the Protectorate Government’s decrees and orders for the implementation of the wartime restrictions must necessarily be subjected to the scrutiny of the Legation and of the consular officers in French Morocco for the purpose of enabling them to prevent discrimination against American interests and ressortissants in the [Page 521]practice of which the local authorities are increasingly prone to avail themselves of every opportunity.
It is therefore believed that a reiterated reference to specific points of reservation such as were included in the Legation’s note of February 11, 1944 to the Resident General in the matter of the requisition of olive crops (detailed in the Legation’s airgram A–25 of February 8, 1944, 6 p.m.) should follow the general terms of the reservation as stated in the instruction under reference. This suggestion is supported by opinions quoted below from letters to the Legation by Consul General Russell at Casablanca and by Consul General Cole at Rabat, respectively:
“I do not believe that in dealing with the French authorities, any reservations are superfluous, as every effort will be made at all times to avoid complying with any understanding reached with the French Protectorate authorities and unless such understanding is couched in writing in unmistakable terms, there will always be trouble.” (Mr. Russell)
“I have no comment to make other than that it would seem advisable, in view of the undoubted concerted and persistent policy of the Residency to encroach if, as, when, and where it can upon American treaty rights, to tack down every corner and possible loose edge.” (Mr. Cole)
Insistence upon the specific reservations is, of course, not at variance with the Legation’s desire to promote conciliatory and expeditious solutions of questions arising from the execution of joint measures in Morocco. In this connection the enclosed copy of a letter dated June 20, 1944, addressed by the Legation to the Consul General at Casablanca,17 may be of interest to the Department.
A further suggestion is made that, following the word “emergency” in the text of the instruction, there should be inserted the words “such recognition being withdrawable at the discretion of the Department of State”. The object of this addition is to avoid misleading the Moroccan authorities into supposing that, in opposition to our view of a given situation, they may invoke a continuation of emergencies as justifying a prolongation of restrictions on American treaty liberties.
In conclusion, there is submitted the text of a note which the Legation has addressed to the French Resident General with the modifications mentioned above which, it is believed, will meet with the Department’s approval.