Policy Paper Prepared in the Department of State 1


United States Policy in Morocco

Recent developments in the Near East and North Africa have served to aggravate the dilemma which this Government faces in determining what United States policy should be in Morocco. With the development of United States air and naval bases in Morocco, the strategic importance of this area to this Government has been greatly enhanced. Thus political stability in Morocco is of even greater importance to the United States than it has been in the past. At the same time, recent developments in Iran and Egypt, coupled with the growing strength of Nationalists movements throughout North Africa serve to point up the fact that the threat of political instability in Morocco has increased almost in direct ratio to the increase in our strategic interest in the area. From these two factors,—the increase of U.S. strategic interest in the area and the threat to political stability which is posed by the rising tide of nationalism—the present dilemma regarding United States policy is created.

Unless the present Nationalist effervesence can be kept in check and guided toward its legitimate objectives by the Western powers, our strategic interest in Morocco (coupled as they are with NATO objectives) and the resultant necessity for political stability would appear to dictate that this Government support French policy in Morocco regardless of the damage which such a course of action would have on our interests in the Arab world and particularly on our relations with the Moroccans. Alternatively, we could pursue a policy in Morocco which would conform to our basic belief in the right of dependent [Page 1393] peoples to evolve toward self-government under the United Nations Charter and protect our interests and objectives in the Moslem World. In effect, this would mean that we support the Moroccans vis-à-vis the French. This could be calculated to maintain friendship and prestige for the United States in the Middle East and Africa, but only at the probable cost of jeopardizing our strategic interests in the area and our friendship with France. Neither of these policies (or courses of action) is desirable or in the best interests of the United States.

If one takes into account the immediate objectives of NATO and the objectives of this Government in Western Europe on the one hand, and our long term objectives and interests in the Moslem World on the other, the present situation in Morocco would appear to require that we continue to pursue a middle-of-the-road policy toward that area. Such a policy is calculated to protect the strategic interests of the United States in Morocco while at the same time protecting our interests and prestige in the Moslem World.

The Country Policy Statement for Morocco (1950)2 contains the following statement regarding United States policy in Morocco:

“Our policy has been to encourage the French on all appropriate occasions to put forward a program of political, economic and social reforms which would lessen the resentment of the natives toward France and would assure their gradual evolution toward self-government. We believe, however, that the strength of France depends in no small measure on the peaceful and voluntary integration of Morocco into the French Union, and that France is the country best suited to have international responsibility for Morocco. We have therefore avoided putting pressure on France by giving aid and comfort to the natives directly, although we maintain open contact with them and consider their friendship and good will very important.”

The substance of this policy has been brought to the attention of French officials on several occasions, but no positive steps have been taken by the French which would enable this Government to give greater support to French policies in Morocco. AF believes that our present policy towards Morocco should be continued and that these views should be made clear to the French Government. Based on past experience, we are hot sanguine as to the degree of success which can be expected from such efforts. The only other practical alternative, under present day circumstances, is abandonment of our traditional policy towards dependent peoples, and full support of the French position in North Africa—a course of action which the French are striving hard to attain.

As AF sees the situation, the present threat to political stability in Morocco will continue to exist as long as present differences between the French and the Moroccans remain unreconciled. If these differences [Page 1394] are not reconciled and should open revolt ensue, the United States would have to support France for the same reasons that we are supporting the United Kingdom in the Suez Canal dispute. Such a course of action would probably result in far-reaching and damaging repercussions to United States interest in Morocco and the Moslem World. Therefore, the immediate objective of United States policy in Morocco should be to effect a rapprochement between the French and the Moroccans which will ease present political tensions and create an atmosphere which will permit us to safely pursue a middle-of-the-road policy.

To this end we must redouble our efforts to get the French to adopt a program of political reforms in Morocco which will meet the legitimate demands of the Moroccans and which will permit this Government to conscientiously support French policy. This would require some frank discussions between United States and French officials at a high level. In our approach to the French we would state that we do not believe that political stability in Morocco is possible as long as the French continue to attempt to suppress the Nationalist movement. We believe that such stability can be achieved only if a rapprochement is effected between the French and the Moroccans which will meet the reasonable demands of the Nationalists and thus permit France to guide the Nationalist movement along constructive lines toward legitimate ends. We should emphasize our belief that the Moroccans are not prepared to assume the responsibilities which would result from immediate independence and our belief that France is the nation best suited to guide Morocco toward self-government and to exercise international responsibility for the area. We should state that if a program for Morocco, which is acceptable to the United States is adopted by the French, we will give appropriate support to the French program and will use all of our influence with the Moroccans to insure Moroccan cooperation in the implementation of such a program. To this end, we would be prepared to state the position of this Government clearly and forcefully to the Sultan and to nationalist leaders, making it clear to them that we believe such a program is in their best interests and in the best interests of the Western powers and that unless they cooperate with the French in such a program, the United States will have no alternative, because of our strategic interests and the importance of Western solidarity in the present fight against Communism, but to support France in the present situation in Morocco.

Following the Acheson-Schuman talks on Morocco on September 11, 1951,2 the French endeavored to secure our agreement to an exchange of notes on North Africa, the acceptance of which would have involved several dangers in so far as the United States is concerned. After thorough consideration of this matter in the Department, including [Page 1395] a meeting with the Secretary, it was decided that any exchange of notes with the French should take into consideration the following three “pitfalls”:

The United States cannot be bound completely to support French policy in North Africa in regard to future unforeseen developments.
With reference to United States treaty rights in Morocco and the case pending before the International Court of Justice, the United States cannot undermine its position in any degree with respect thereto.
The United States cannot bind its hands in the United Nations and renounce its responsibilities and obligations as contained in various articles of the United Nations Charter, including Article 73.

The United States then submitted to the French a proposed note which avoided these “pitfalls”. This, however, was not acceptable to M.Schuman and he stated that the matter would be taken up directly with Mr. Acheson.

If it is ultimately decided that, in the interests of our strategic requirements in North Africa, we will accede to the French demands for underwriting their policies in North Africa, then we must make every effort to salvage what we can of United States prestige in Morocco. To do this we should take advantage of all appropriate occasions to make clear to the Sultan and nationalist leaders why we are pursuing such a course of action and candidly explain the dilemma created for us in Morocco by the conflict between our strategic interests and our basic and traditional policy toward dependent peoples. We should exploit all contacts between the Sultan and United States officials to get this point across. The visits of high-ranking United States military officials to Morocco (such as visits by Eisenhower, General Norstadt as well as high-ranking civilian officials) should be utilized in presenting the United States position to the Sultan. At the same time our own officials in Morocco would explain our position to appropriate nationalist contacts. In such an approach we would emphasize to the Moroccans that the very objectives they wish to achieve are dependent entirely upon the successful conclusion of the present conflict between the West and the Soviet East.

Concurrently with these approaches we should implement lines of action calculated to convince the Moroccans of our interest in their welfare and our genuine friendship for them. The attached outline of a program for the American School at Tangier4 illustrates one line of action which might be undertaken to achieve this objective.

  1. This paper was drafted by Richey and Bourgerie.
  2. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. v, p. 1737.
  3. See U.S.–Fr. Min–1, p. 1387.
  4. Not printed.