28. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State 1
526. Embassy has concluded three-day meeting with officers from North African posts and Jernegan.2
There are given below conclusions and agreed recommendations following meeting. We have separated these into two parts; first covering urgent Moroccan problems, and second on aspects US policy towards North Africa over next two or three years, which we consider vital period (events during which will determine largely what will happen thereafter).
Conference of Embassy and North African officers agree Morocco represents problem of high urgency for French, and particularly requires decision re throne in very near future. Concurrent conversations of Ambassador and Holmes with Faure, July, and Bourges-Maunoury, believed offer considerable reason hope for swift French action this respect (Embtel 489).3 Dynastic problem in Morocco overshadows more important issues, such as future French relationship with Moroccans which must be negotiated, but cannot be approached until throne question solved. Conference carefully considered and accepts view of Holmes and Porter that, to be useful, any arrangement with French may bring forth must have freely given public approval and support of Ben Youssef, especially as it pertains to possible composition of regency council if and when French decide to bring about the retirement of Sultan Ben Arafa.
If present apparent French government intentions to deal with Morocco on urgent basis bring eventual adoption of forward-looking policy such as that outlined by Grandval to Holmes (Tangier telegram 40 to Department)4 it was agreed this would offer good [Page 101] occasion for US indicate its support for French intentions. It was agreed that we should lend positive US support if a liberal policy such as that proposed by Grandval is adopted.
Should obstacles arise to prevent French Government from taking adequate and prompt action to ease Moroccan situation, conferees believed that US should make clear to French that while our desire to be helpful remains unchanged, it is unlikely we will be able to accord them same degree of support at UNGA as we have in past. This idea has already been expressed informally and personally to Faure by Ambassador (see Embtel 489). We should bear in mind that this line would imply that we would give affirmative support if France acts.
This is only specific recommendation conference makes with regard to Morocco at this time. It stems from belief that French are facing their problem which will require great political courage and wisdom to solve satisfactorily. Our role, as we see it, is not to offer specific advice in any way that can be construed as “an American plan”, but to make it clear to them that their failure to act will have the most profound consequences not only for their own interests, but for those of Morocco generally, where we do not at this time see any suitable alternative to the French presence. In taking this attitude, we, of course, have in mind our own interests which are hardly likely to prosper should the French-Nationalist struggle go on to the point where both are thoroughly and permanently embittered, and in the case of Moroccans, xenophobic as well.
Though the French have to pay a high price now to obtain peace and security in Morocco, they must meet that price for it will almost inevitably become higher with passage of time. The Nationalist movement, which for the first time now has massive community support, gives signs of confidence and organization hitherto lacking, plus determination to achieve its aims. The French, it is believed, can channel these energies into a long period of Franco-Moroccan cooperation and mutual inter-dependency, but the government must move decisively and speedily to give indication that this is its aim.
II—US Policy in Next Few Years.
General considerations in US policy:
- US policy in North Africa in past has been governed too much by external European and Middle Eastern considerations. In future we should bear in mind more what is best for North Africa itself and free world interests there.
- Principal barriers to US freedom of action—pressure of Arab-Asian world on one hand and well-known French position on other—are not greatly changed and still prevent easy solutions. However, there has been recent evolution in French thinking and events in North Africa have shocked Metropolitan France from its complacency to some extent. Influence of colons in France is probably diminishing and there is indication of greater determination on part of French governmental authorities to see that policies decided upon in Paris are actually carried out in North Africa. These are important new facts in developing US policy.
- General US objective of promoting development North Africa peacefully as part of free world remains unchanged. Our fundamental concept of area likewise of course continues. Within this framework, however, much remains to be done.
- Though there seems to be less willingness in France now to “die for North Africa” than heretofore, France gives retention North Africa top political priority. As a result, France also gives North Africa top priority for military resources, almost certainly ahead even of NATO commitments.
- Problem is complicated by fact French have not heretofore shown political capability of solving problem. However, program which Grandval outlined to Holmes for Morocco and general approach of Faure and Mendes-France to North Africa do appear worthy of our support.
- Ultimate solution probably will require basic reform French Union Constitution, which is now being discussed in Assembly French Union and by other groups. We cannot, nor can French, say now precisely how this would work. Presumably end result would be some form confederation all French territories. Since French relationship as it now exists North Africa cannot be maintained indefinitely, even at prohibitive cost, this may be best solution guaranteeing permanent established bonds between Tunisia and Morocco and France. Also because of its special complexities resulting from large French colony, juridical status, etc., it may be only answer conceivable for Algeria. This is of course long-term problem.
- Although we do not detect serious signs Communist penetration or direction Nationalist movements so far, except to some extent Algeria, in absence of improvement, the situation may develop into opportunity Communists will exploit.
- There is need, as in other underdeveloped areas, for large-scale and long-range capital investment to help meet critical demographic problem throughout area.
- There is lack of liberal press in North Africa which would provide forum for Moslem and liberal French opinion, and we feel obvious need exists break virtual monopoly of colon press.
- Past US policies do not seem to have satisfied nor to have been understood by any of interested parties. We should in future endeavor to explain our policies as clearly as possible in order obtain maximum understanding and acceptance, and thus facilitate our long-range global political and strategic objectives, as well as improve our relationships in France and North Africa.
- In summary, basis US policy should be to support solutions which appear have some support in North Africa and appear capable being successfully implemented (e.g. Tunisian accords) even though these may not be perfect. While we should not undertake present detailed solutions to French, we should have well-developed policies as outlined for Morocco in part I which we could tie in discussions with French when opportunities occur as in recent talk with Faure (Embtel 489).
- Since Franco-Tunisian conventions follow general line we have urged France follow in North Africa for several years, and were arrived at by method direct negotiations which both US and UN have consistently recommended, it is disheartening to French and confusing to Tunisians that we have not taken cognizance of conventions publicly. Therefore a public statement should be issued by Secretary when conventions take effect indicating our satisfaction, (see Deptel 411)5 Believe this would also help Grandval in Morocco.
- No decision should be taken on US position re Moroccan item at UN until we see whether French act before UNGA or not. As stated in part I, we believe most strongly that if positive French action occurs, we should support French position as we have in past. If clear French will not act before UNGA we should inform them that we believe it will be impossible support them as before. We believe it is undesirable for Algeria to be opened up at all in UN framework since political as well as juridical situation is dissimilar from Morocco and Tunisia (i.e., progress as may be made in immediate future will not be in accordance with desires Moslem states though it will tend towards increasing autonomy).
- If French make progress in Morocco and Algeria, we should make especial efforts with Spain to obtain moderation of attacks on French policy. We should also make representations as appropriate with Egypt and other Moslem states in same sense though we realize probable ineffectiveness in latter case.
- USIS policy in Morocco should be to continue to lie low but there is room in Tunisia and Algeria for carefully planned and supervised activity especially along lines of explaining clearly what USIA is, and what contributions it has to offer to all elements of population. If US policy should continue, as result progress in Morocco, to be continuation support French presence, USIS should play more positive role in expounding US policy and its basic concept supporting enlightened French policies. Conversely, if French do not act in Morocco and US policy becomes less favorable to France, US role would diminish even more.
In France, throughout North Africa and elsewhere, our public position on North Africa should be as follows:
- We support continuation French presence in North Africa as in interest of the peoples of the area itself, as well as that of French, ourselves and free world generally.
- Twentieth century Nationalism has outdated old concepts of paternalism, etc.
- We give full marks to France for her remarkable material achievements in area; however, economic and social progress is no longer enough to satisfy Nationalism. In current world climate, no people will long accept second-class or inferior citizenship.
- Repressive policies are doomed to fail, while, on the other hand, negotiation and agreement may succeed, as has thus far been shown in Tunisia.
- Problem has become primarily political one and so political approach needed.
We realize line outlined above not susceptible convincing colons and extreme right-wing elements France but consider it reasonable and sound.
- British should be informed fully of our North African policy. It might be helpful in case of Morocco if the British could indicate support for similar ideas at an appropriate time. This might not be as helpful in cases of Algeria and Tunisia.
- We recommend Department give consideration to formation of task force to deal with North African problem on centralized and responsible basis. Purpose of this group would be to consider most effective way inducing France adopt and implement policies calculated protect her interests, and that of West generally, in North Africa. If such group deemed useful, it could also be charged with recommending course of action calculated best preserve US national interests in area in event French fail restore reasonably secure position.6
Complete minutes follow by pouch.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 7515.00/8–455. Secret. Repeated to Tangier, London, Cairo, Madrid, Casablanca, Rabat, Tunis, and Algiers.↩
The following persons attended the meeting on North African political problems which convened in Paris August 1–3:
John D. Jernegan, Julius C. Holmes, Lewis Clark, William J. Porter, Philip A. Mangano, Robert P. Joyce, Benson E. Timmons, and, from the Embassy in Paris, Leslie S. Brady, Charles R. Moore, Robert H. McBride, and Matthew J. Looram, Jr.
The minutes of the meetings are an enclosure to despatch 314 from Paris, August 5. (Ibid., 751S.00/8–555)↩
- Document 182.↩
- Telegram 40 from Tangier, July 27, summarized a conversation between Gilbert Grandval and Holmes. Grandval indicated his intention to arrive at a liberal solution of the throne problem, which involved the departure of Ben Arafa. He spoke of the opposition to his program and asked for U.S. views. Holmes responded that the United States desired a sound solution along the lines of Grandval’s plan. (Department of State, Central Files, 771.00/7–2755)↩
- Telegram 411, August 2, asked the Embassy for a recommendation as to the desirability of a public statement or message by the United States commenting on the ratification of the Franco-Tunisian accords. (Ibid., 611.72/8–255) Dulles issued a statement on August 10. (Department of State Bulletin, August 22, 1955, p. 301)↩
- In a letter to Holmes, August 12, Dulles indicated that the Department generally endorsed the recommendations of the Paris meeting summarized here. He requested that Holmes and Porter return to Washington for 2 or 3 weeks of consultation in September to join with others in devising a policy for Morocco and North Africa. (Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/7–2855)↩