S/P–NSC files, lot 61 D 167, “North Africa”
Statement of Policy by the National Security Council1
French North Africa (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria)
(Note: Reexamination of this paper would be required in the event of a basic change in U.S. policy toward Europe)
- French North Africa is of particular importance to the U.S.
because: [Page 171]
- It is of great strategic significance in U.S. and Western military planning, especially as a site for military bases.
- The conflict between French interests and North
- Is widely regarded, especially in Asia and Africa, as a test of U.S. and Western intentions with respect to self-determination of dependent peoples.
- Involves the danger of serious damage to U.S. relations with France if U.S. policy appears to the French to jeopardize vital French interests.
- The danger in this area to the security of the free world arises not from the threat of direct Soviet military attack, but from instability resulting primarily from the conflict between native nationalism and the French position, coupled with the effect of political developments in the area on other countries, particularly in the Moslem world. Free world interests have been menaced by the inability or unwillingness of succeeding French governments and Tunisian and Moroccan nationalists to resolve their conflicting interests by compromise.
- It is a fixed tenet of French policy that France’s power position in Europe and the world requires retention and control of North Africa as part of the French community. Political pressures both in France and by the approximately 1.5 million French inhabitants of North Africa have inhibited successive French governments from dealing effectively with North African nationalism. Until the recent French initiative in Tunisia, reform programs have been proposed by France but on the basis of unilateral imposition rather than bilateral negotiation. Furthermore, these measures have had the air of being stop-gaps which did not tackle the fundamental problem of placing the peoples of Morocco and Tunisia “in a position to manage their own affairs,” as promised by the present French Prime Minister.
- The Mendes-France Government has recently concentrated on a reform program for Tunisia and has activated negotiations on basic agreements which may produce a new accord on Franco-Tunisian relations. While the outcome of the negotiations cannot be predicted, present French activities vis-à-vis Tunisia have revived mutual confidence between French and Tunisian nationalists, and hope prevails concerning reforms for Tunisia. In Morocco, however, France has not yet proposed any real remedies for the problem.
- It can be safely concluded that unless reforms in both Tunisia and Morocco are implemented at a pace satisfactory to the moderate nationalist groups, who have heretofore controlled the nationalist movements, the moderates will lose their control and terrorist elements will predominate and augment their campaigns of violence. Unless the French Government follows through promptly on its recently announced intention to grant a greater degree of self-government, the Arab-Asian nations will continue strongly to condemn French policy [Page 172]and to press for further UN action. Under such circumstances, continued U.S. support for the French position would receive similar condemnation within and without the United Nations. Furthermore, the Tunisian and Moroccan people might harbor such feelings of hostility toward us that our strategic interests (including military bases) in the area might be endangered by local acts of violence. On the other hand, if the U.S. appeared to favor the North African nationalists, it would invite serious complications in its relations with France and in its utilization of North African bases. While there is a better than average possibility that Tunisian and Moroccan nationalists would be willing to cooperate politically and militarily with the West if their independence were granted, there is, of course, no guarantee that they would do so in the long run.
- It is, therefore, in U.S. interests to promote orderly progress toward self-government in Tunisia and Morocco which would at the same time envisage a new relationship for France with these countries and a continuing place for French residents in them. The time required for the attainment of nationalist aspirations would vary as between Tunisia and Morocco (Tunisia is more advanced politically than Morocco) and would depend not only on local factors but also upon the course of international developments, including the attitude which France may adopt toward its commitments in Europe and toward its overseas areas as a result of its recent experience in Indochina.
- The rate of increase of the native population of French North Africa is one of the highest in the world. The area is scant in natural resources outside of minerals. Despite a large public investment program over the period 1949–1953, about one-half of the cost of which was financed by France, agricultural output has not risen significantly and has not yet achieved pre-war levels. Per capita food consumption has been maintained by foodstuff imports. The inflation engendered by the investment plan combined with backward methods of production and French commercial policy have increased costs of production to such an extent that French North Africa is finding it increasingly difficult to market her agricultural exports even in the franc-protected market.
- Spain has been putting pressure on France by making gestures favorable to native nationalism in Spanish Morocco and also wooing Arab states. While the Spanish may desire to annoy the French over the Moroccan question, Spain would doubtless sacrifice her pro-Arab policy to the necessity of remaining in Morocco by force should the situation develop to a point where that choice were necessary.
- Arab nationalism in Algeria does not represent an immediate threat to French rule or to Franco-American strategic interests there. In the long run, however, there is a potential danger that the inspiration of the pressure of events in Morocco and Tunisia might weld the [Page 173]now disunited nationalists into a strong national coalition which would draw to it even conservative Moslems and cause serious trouble for France and its allies.
- The continued availability of the area and its material and manpower resources to the United States and its allies for use in strengthening the free world.
- The association of the peoples of the area with the free world.
- The prevention of the spread of Soviet influence and Communist ideology within the area.
- Maintenance of the confidence of the Arab-Asian nations in U.S. intentions and policies in support of self-determination for dependent peoples.
- Such orderly progress toward self-government in Tunisia and Morocco, including mutually acceptable arrangements for a continuing place in those countries for French residents, as will best contribute to achievement of the above objectives.2
courses of action
French North Africa
- Maintain existing bases and transit rights and, as necessary and politically feasible, seek to obtain additional bases and transit rights.
- Seek removal of present limitations on force and rotational unit levels.
- Continue to seek in advance the right to conduct military operations in and from the area during general hostilities.
- Be prepared to assure the security of U.S. bases and U.S. official and dependent personnel,3 if French authorities fail to discharge their responsibility in the event of local insurrection.
Morocco and Tunisia
- Urge the French and the Moroccans and the French and the
Tunisians respectively to settle their conflicts on a bilateral
- Encourage France to offer progressively more self-government to Morocco and Tunisia, and give diplomatic support to that end.
- If necessary, exert such pressures on France, as may be effective to induce more rapid progress toward self-government in Morocco and Tunisia.
- Encourage arrangements which will preserve, for as long as necessary in the interest of free world defense, French participation in responsibility [Page 174]for the external defense and foreign affairs of Morocco and Tunisia, and continued French contributions to their economies.4
- Support the principle of a continuing place for French residents in Tunisia and Morocco in which their political, economic, social and cultural rights are guaranteed by treaty, constitution or other appropriate means.
- Urge the Tunisian and Moroccan Nationalists to act with moderation.
- Continue, and if necessary expand, economic and technical assistance for use in Tunisia and Morocco, if it is determined that such aid will assist in achieving orderly self-government and stability in the area.5
- In the event France and the nationalists are unable to resolve their conflict by bilateral agreement, make use, when desirable: (a) of UN procedures and activities to further progress toward self-government in Tunisia and Morocco, including the participation of Tunisia and Morocco in some form in the UN, and (b)of mediation or arbitration.
- If circumstances ultimately so require, press for French recognition of the eventual full freedom of Morocco and Tunisia to decide whether or not to continue in association with France.
. . . . . . .
The source text was part of a document originally circulated as NSC 5436, dated Oct. 5, 1954. It was considered by the National Security Council in NSC Action No. 1242 at its 217th meeting on Oct. 14, 1954. At that time, NSC 5436 was adopted subject to amendments in four places, which are noted in footnotes to the relevant paragraphs in the text below, and redesignated NSC 5436/1. (S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “Record of Actions by the NSC, 1954”)
Also included in NSC 5436/1 were a note by the Executive Secretary, James S. Lay, Jr., to the NSC, dated Oct. 18, and the Financial Appendix and Staff Study on North Africa that were originally contained in NSC 5436. According to Lay’s note, on Oct. 16 the President approved the amended statement of policy and directed its implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies. He designated the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency.
The Financial Appendix is not printed, but some sections of the Staff Study are printed below.
An earlier draft Statement of Policy prepared by the NSC on the Position of the United States With Respect to North Africa, dated Aug. 18, 1953, is in S/P–NSC files, lot 61 D 167, “North Africa.”↩
- The first part of NSC Action No. 1242 (b) deleted a paragraph that originally concluded this section which had read: “Economic development of the area with a view to enabling it to achieve self-support and, in time, to supplement the European economy and provide the latter with alternate sources of commodities now available only from the Soviet bloc or dollar areas.”↩
- The second part of NSC Action No. 1242 (b) added the phrase “and US official and dependent personnel.”↩
- The third part of NSC Action No. 1242 (b) deleted a paragraph originally inserted in this section which had read: “Encourage France to adopt such measures as will assist Tunisia and Morocco toward economic self-support.”↩
- The fourth part of NSC Action No. 1242 (b) added a comma after the word Morocco, and substituted the word “determined” for the word “clear.”↩
- Also see Economic Annex attached. [Footnote in the source text. The Economic Annex is not printed.]↩