S/S–NSC Files, Lot 63 D 351, NSC 12 Series

The Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson) to the Acting Director of the Executive Secretariat (McWilliams)

top secret

Comments on a Report to the National Security Council on French North Africa (NSC 12)1

We suggest the following change in the last sentence of paragraph 6 which might more correctly read as follows: “There are indications that President Roosevelt, during the Casablanca Conference of 1943, may personally have encouraged the Sultan, directly or indirectly, to hope for American support in throwing off French control and in preparing Morocco, possibly under a joint US, British and French Protectorate, for independence some years hence.”
Although the paper is on the subject of French North Africa, which consists of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, only Morocco is referred to throughout. Because in general the political situation in Tunisia closely resembles that in French Morocco, it is suggested that the paper might make clear that the policy suggested for French Morocco is equally applicable to Tunisia. Also, although Algeria must be treated differently because of its longer ties with France, the larger [Page 714] number of second and third generation French who consider Algeria their homeland, and its juridical status as a part of metropolitan France, it is in many ways an integral part of French North Africa and should be mentioned in that connection.
In paragraph 11, the following statements are made: “The United States has never recognized the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco. It is in our interest, however, eventually to establish our position in that territory because of the strategic location of the area and the possibilities it might offer for bases complementary to those in French Morocco.” We are inclined to question the implied connection between the recognition of the Spanish Protectorate and the possible need for US bases there. It is possible that the world political situation and the US strategic necessities might some day make it desirable that we obtain bases in Spanish Morocco. It seems to us, however, that that is a matter which should at the appropriate time be considered solely in the light of those two considerations and our current relations with Spain.
It might be advisable to make mention of the connection between the political situations in Palestine and French North Africa. North Africa, including French North Africa and Libya, is number two on the Agenda of top political problems of the Arab League. It is believed that the only reason that the Arab League has not to date pressed the case of French North Africa in the United Nations is because of Palestine. It is believed also that at such time as the Palestine situation ceases to occupy the entire attention of the Arab League and ceases to be the main cohesive force of the Arab League, a great deal of attention will be paid to French North Africa by that organization.
In connection with sub-paragraph 1 of paragraph 18 in which it is suggested that we might be able to employ the unique treaty position we enjoy in Morocco to bring our views to bear on the French, there is quoted below a recommendation made by the North African Conference held recently in Paris which is pertinent and with which we agree:

“The Conference, as did the Conference of 1947, again unanimously concluded that French administration in Morocco was direct in fact if not in theory and that the Act of Algeciras as well as the Treaty of Fez were thus effectively violated. However, the Conference did not feel that it would be advisable to use this legal argument as a threat to influence French policy at the present time. Indeed it was believed that should this rather far-reaching position be adopted today, the United States would probably have to retreat, as for strategic and other reasons of paramount national interest it was thought that nothing would be done which could endanger public order and political stability of Morocco. Consequently it was felt that it would be ill-advised [Page 715] to blunt this argument by premature and ineffective use. Instead it was unanimously recommended that this recognized violation of the Treaty of Fez be kept in reserve for use as an argument with the French Government at such a time as the United States might feel compelled to intervene directly and energetically in Moroccan affairs. At that time the continued violation of the Treaty of Fez and the resulting encroachment upon American rights should be forcefully brought to the attention of the French because it is believed that continued acquiescence to these violations by the United States will make it progressively more difficult for the United States to defend or recover its established Treaty rights.”

We suggest the following wording for sub-paragraph 2 of paragraph 18: “Consideration of the replacement of our extraterritorial rights in Morocco in due course by a treaty with the French which would guarantee American nationals the same treatment accorded to French nationals or any other non-Moroccan nationals.” This suggestion is based primarily on the following two considerations: (a) The term “national treatment” is ambiguous as it is not clear whether the “national” referred to are French or Moroccan; and (b) we do not believe that we should ask that the same treatment be accorded American nationals as accorded the subjects of the Sultan.

  1. For the text of the Policy Planning Staff paper of March 22 that was circulated as NSC 12, see p. 682.