The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

top secret
No. 9033

Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith a report1 of the North African Conference, held at this Embassy on June 16, 17, 18 and 19, [Page 691] 1947, pursuant to the Department’s instructions. This Conference was attended by representatives of our Missions in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and France, as well as by observers from the Department. It was my privilege to preside at the opening session, after which Mr. Paul H. Alling, Diplomatic Agent at Tangier, acted as Chairman. Mr. Ridgway B. Knight, of this Embassy, served as head of the Drafting Committee. A full list of the officers in attendance is also enclosed.

All sections of the enclosed report—findings, policy statements and recommendations—were unanimously approved. In connection with the recommendations of the Conference, in which I concur, I wish to refer to my Top Secret telegram No. 2442 of June 20, 1947.2

I feel that this Conference was exceptionally useful in that it permitted an exchange of valuable information and personal views; consequently, and perhaps more important, it was possible to consider the over-all Franco-North African problem with a broader and common perspective.

Respectfully yours,

Jefferson Caffery

Recommendations in Report of North African Conference at Paris

top secret

On the basis of the Department’s top secret telegram of June 10, 1947 as well as on the basis of the agreed findings as to the present situation in North Africa which preceded, the North African Conference recommends that the French Government be approached at the highest level in the immediate future along the following lines:


1) As the French Government must be well aware, from the many concrete measures of assistance adopted by the United States in France’s favor since her Liberation, the American Government is deeply anxious to aid in the rebirth of a strong, democratic France as a healthy, beneficial and important influence in the world of today.

2) The United States believes that France’s strength depends in a large measure on the establishment of peaceful, friendly and solid ties between France and her North African territories. We envisage that the North African entities should, under France’s benevolent leadership, develop into friendly and profitable partners contributing to [Page 692] France’s strength, and influence, rather than into weak and unwilling vassals costing France money and perhaps men.

3) At the present time the United States is seriously concerned with the manner in which the situation is now developing in North Africa, and believes that constructive and lasting solutions can only be based on voluntary agreements between France and the various North African parties.

4) In interesting itself in such a delicate situation the American Government’s only thought is to bring France and the Moslem populations of French North Africa closer together, and it fully understands that any other result would defeat the very purpose which it is endeavoring to achieve. As a matter of fact, as the French Government is doubtless fully aware, the United States over the last several years has consistently offered a “fin de non-recevoir” to the frequent approaches made by the various Nationalist parties in order to enlist American political and economic assistance.

Therefore with the sole desire of assisting in the transformation of a volatile and unstable situation into a stable partnership, and with the idea of avoiding the eventual development of the North African problem into one comparable to the apparent Indochinese impasse, the United States Government suggests that France approach the leading elements in Morocco and Tunisia with constructive, concrete and long-range proposals which will guarantee a gradual but sure evolution towards something comparable to dominion status.

5) In order to achieve the full benefit of such an initiative, the United States believes it essential that the French approach to the Arabs be voluntary. Furthermore, in view of the susceptibilities involved, and in view of the artificially stimulated but nevertheless widespread irritation now prevalent throughout North Africa, the United States is of the opinion that the manner of presentation of such French plans is perhaps as important as the detailed substance thereof, as first of all Moslem confidence in France’s good faith must be regained among certain elements and consolidated among others.

6) Conversely, should the present situation continue to deteriorate, the United States believes that benefit will only accrue to extremists of all kinds, be they Nationalists or Communists. The longer the Communists have fertile ground for fomenting unrest and the Arab League has excuse to agitate for immediate independence, the less likely become the chances of the French and the North African Moslems establishing the type of relationship on which a sound long-term modus vivendi can be established and thrive.

It is believed that the French Government realizes that continued tension is likely to lead to violence, with the result that relations would [Page 693] probably be irreparably affected, despite the ability of the French to suppress local outbreaks.

7) The United States is also concerned over the possibility that the Tunisian or Moroccan case may be introduced before the United Nations General Assembly in the not too distant future. It is obvious that if the French Government is in a position to refer to such long-range, progressive plans as mentioned above, it would be far easier for the United States to espouse the cause of France. Thus our interests, indissolubly bound with mutual good and peaceful solutions of international difficulties, would be protected.

8) It is in the light of these considerations that the United States now approaches the French Government and suggests, in the utmost confidence, that the French Government take the initiative in suggesting long-range plans to guide both North African Protectorates toward dominion status. While the United States believes that of course the details of such a plan should be prepared by the French Government, it wishes to mention a certain number of factors which it believes essential in order to gain the support of the Moslem populations and in order to permit American support of France’s position:

It is felt the plan should provide for a definite time limit for the achievement of something comparable to “dominion status”. Any reasonable period which would be deemed necessary to train a new generation, would appear to be the answer. Experience in other areas (Irak, the Philippines) has proved the great usefulness of presenting dependent peoples with concrete dates for the various steps of their evolutionary process.
Such a precise time table would permit both parties to prepare periodically a balance sheet and thus be witness to the other’s good faith.
Bearing in mind the necessity of establishing without delay a solid basis of mutual trust and of convincing Moroccans and Tunisians of France’s sincerity, it is thought particularly important that a number of reforms be provided for in the immediate future, such as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, rapid amplification of the school program, administrative reforms, initiation to democratic ways through municipal elections, etc.

Should the French ask what the United States may have in mind, the following may be mentioned:

Freedom of the press. This should offer no major obstacle as this reform is already granted in Tunisia and as furthermore local Moroccan Communist publications and Communist material from Metropolitan France publish the objectionable material and yet enjoy virtually free circulation in Morocco as well as in Tunisia.
Freedom of assembly. At the present time the French prohibition has interfered little with the growth of the Moroccan Nationalist movement and has been obviously violated in Tunisia through the use of the UGTT as a political vehicle.
The admittance in 1947–48 of some specified number of Moroccans and Tunisians to the French National School of Administration or to other such training institutions, these numbers to be increased as the simultaneous program of public education develops.
The immediate training of teachers and the adoption of a school program, including professional schools. A time table is felt to be specially important in this case with a definite accent on punctual fulfillment of the first installment within such a very brief period as one or two years.
Speeding up and implementing the French plan for administrative reforms; immediate introduction of educated Moslems in as many posts as practicable.
As planned now by the French, the inauguration of political education with the initiation of Moslems to democracy through municipal elections.

N.B. Based on its experience in the Philippines, the United States believes that a liberal and farsighted policy will lead to Morocco and Tunisia seeking voluntarily French guidance in many fields at the end of the period of evolution.


Realizing the importance of the well-being and of the economic advancement of the local populations in the achievement of such a political program, and furthermore fully conscious of France’s present limited industrial potential, due to the vast amount of destruction incurred both as a valiant Ally and as a battlefield during the War, the Embassy would be willing to study and support economic programs for Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, destined to:

Increase North Africa’s productivity both agriculturally and industrially.
Facilitate reconstruction of war-torn Tunisia.
Relieve more immediate and acute distress.

It is believed that such programs might well be integrated into any French plan prepared under the “Marshall proposals”,3 but for the purpose of supplying a feeling of stability in North Africa as well as to prove again France’s sincere interest, it is thought it would be advantageous to prepare independent and definite plans for each Territory.



It is recommended that in the approach to the French Government the subject of Algeria be treated separately for reasons to be found in the agreed findings, and that the French be told: [Page 695]

In the preceding remarks it will be noted that the American Government has mentioned only the North African situation as evident in Morocco and Tunisia, for it recognizes the different situation existing in Algeria, resulting from many factors:
Over 100 years of French presence.
The considerably greater extent of French settlement and participation in all phases of local life.
The more acute economic situation resulting from the greater tapping of all available natural resources.
The importance of the French population element.
The tenser relations between Moslems and “colons”, based on the above and other reasons.
The greater class consciousness of the Algerian Nationalist leaders.
The American Government also recognizes the French Government’s sincere attempt to improve the political situation through the Algerian Statute now being prepared.
At the same time and in order to create the best atmosphere for its success, it is believed that the Statute might well be implemented by:
Further social and educational advancement of the Moslem population, France’s past accomplishments, specially in the field of hygiene, being fully appreciated.
Inclusion of as many Moslems in the administration as possible, and training of Moslems for such posts, etc.
Elaboration of an economic program with special emphasis on the creation of new industries to relieve the demographic pressure now becoming specially acute in Algeria where further agricultural possibilities are far less promising than in Morocco for several reasons.

In order to facilitate the realization of the above policy, the United States, should the French think it helpful, would do its part in an endeavor to persuade the Arabs to accept France’s offers in the same spirit of loyal cooperation in which they would be made.

In particular, the French would be told that the United States would point out to the Nationalists that it does not contemplate playing a dominant rôle, either economically or politically, in French North Africa, and that the United States could only look with genuine regret on the rejection by the Arabs of the French proposals (which would, of course, have to meet with American approval).

N.B. It is recommended that these political and economic proposals should first be made to the French Government at the top Government level. It is feared that should simultaneous approaches be made to the local senior French authorities:

Unavoidable discrepancies in reporting oral communications would confuse and unsettle the French Government at Paris; and
These multiple approaches would tend to give the French the impression that we are attempting to impose a program rather than to lead them amicably towards policies which we genuinely feel to be in the best interests of France.

It is proposed that once the Embassy at Paris has made its proposals and ascertained French reactions, the Department authorize its representatives in North Africa to discuss the proposals if approached by the local French authorities.


Should the French accept the above over-all suggestions and should they present detailed plans meeting American approval, it is then proposed that local Moroccan and Tunisian leaders be approached by our local representatives as follows:

The attitude of the United States towards dependent peoples is well known and has been proved by actions.
The United States believes that such peoples should be educated and led towards self-government, and that as they display capacity for self-government they be gradually entrusted with correspondingly increased responsibilities.
By our own experience in self-government and in leading other peoples towards this goal, we know full well the problems involved, the amount of time and the patience required to achieve a satisfactory result.
At the present time, and based on impartial and independent study, the United States does not believe that either Morocco or Tunisia is yet ready for self-rule. They have neither the personnel nor technical knowledge to administer and run their countries without outside help. They have inadequate means of maintaining their national security.
Premature and hasty achievement of theoretical independence under present-day world conditions, instead of achieving true sovereignty, could well lead to new and sterner forms of bondage.
Consequently the United States believes that the nation in the best position to aid them in maintaining sound state organizations and effective governments as well as to lead them towards the realization of their deep aspirations, is France.
France is now showing a sincere desire (based on the approved programs) to assist North Africa to evolve towards self-government.
In view of the above it should be clear to our Arab friends why we do not consider a break with France in their own best interests.


It is further recommended that at approximately the same time as American representatives approach Nationalist leaders in North [Page 697] Africa, the Embassy at Cairo approach the leaders of the Arab League and seek to convince them that it is to the best interests of the Arab world to permit the new experiment in the Moghreb to proceed in the most favorable atmosphere possible, an atmosphere not embittered by Arab League agitation for immediate independence.
The United States has studied the French proposals for North Africa and is of the opinion that they represent the most practical and realistic method of advancing at this time toward the ideals set forth by the Arab League.
The United States believes that it would be of the utmost importance if the Arab League could use its influence to enlist the support of the North African elements in Cairo and their active participation as well as that of their friends in the Moghreb in these evolution programs.
The above approach is only recommended on the assumption that the relations between the United States and the Arab League have not deteriorated as a result of the Palestine and Egyptian questions.


In addition to making the recommendations which precede, which apply to the North African situation as it now presents itself, the Conference further believes that possible future developments should also be considered and tentative American policies be studied accordingly.

United States policy in case of a successful general Arab revolt.
United States policy in case of protracted warfare such as in Indochina.
United States policy in case of a Communist Government coming to power in France by legitimate means or by a “Coup d’Etat:”
With no reaction occurring in North Africa.
With a subsequent revolt against the Paris Government by the local French united with the Nationalists.
With a subsequent revolt by the local French, complicated by fighting between them and the Nationalists.

Because of the possible combined military and political aspects of the preceding hypothetical problems, it is suggested that they be referred to the S.W.N.C.C.

Furthermore it is recommended that the Department prepare for increases in the staffs of the various French North African posts in case of urgent need. It is also believed that under any of the preceding hypotheses the United States, aside from military decisions, should be ready to exert maximum diplomatic influence immediately with a view to neutralizing Communist manoeuvers, encouraging local elements [Page 698] towards truly liberal and democratic solutions and, generally speaking, bringing American influence to bear with a minimum of delay.

  1. Enclosures not printed except for recommendations printed infra.
  2. Not printed; it summarized the recommendations. (880.00/6–2047)
  3. It is anticipated that this documentation will be published in volume iii .