357. Memorandum of Discussion at the 417th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, August 18, 19591

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and item 1.]

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

[Here follows discussion of the Soviet ballistic missiles program, Laos, and Communist China.]

Turning to Morocco, Mr. Dulles stated that the King’s abrupt return to Morocco from Paris on August 4 was probably dictated by the crisis in Morocco. It is also possible that the King was advised by the Moroccan Government not to see De Gaulle so shortly before the UN General Assembly debate on Algeria. Morocco was facing a financial crisis. The French had put the squeeze on Moroccan operating accounts in French banks, and were pressing Morocco to devalue the Moroccan franc. Morocco would like to leave the franc zone and was consulting with Tunisia, which was having trouble with France on the same issue. There was a reliable report that the Soviets had offered Morocco a non-interest-bearing loan of perhaps as much as $100 million. [Page 786] Some negotiations certainly were going on. Secretary Dillon pointed out that there had been a newspaper account yesterday of a possible Soviet loan offer of $37.5 million. Mr. Dulles said, however, that CIA had had a good report that the first offer was probably $100 million. He went on to note the difficulties created by the violation of Moroccan territory by French forces and the kidnapping by the Algerian rebels of the group investigating this violation. He thought it likely that the King would reshuffle or replace the present Ibrahim government. The King continues to want a broadly-based non-political government. Mr. Dulles said that there has been no progress in the base negotiations, and pointed out that Ambassador Yost believes we should try for a 4-year agreement. Morocco has made a request for U.S. military equipment, and has accepted a U.S. military survey team.

The National Security Council:2

Noted and discussed an oral briefing by the Director of Central Intelligence on the subject, with specific reference to recent developments in the Soviet ballistic missiles program; the situations in Laos and Morocco; and recent developments in Communist China.

[Here follow items 3 and 4.]

5. Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria [here follows a list of references]

Mr. Gray began his briefing by saying he would concentrate on the question of Moroccan bases. He noted the proposal, in the formal JCS views, for revision of paragraph 21 of NSC 5911;3 he referred to the split on the bases in the objectives (paragraph 24); and then directed the Council’s attention to the split in paragraph 31. Following Mr. Gray’s presentation, the President expressed surprise that public acknowledgement of the principle of evacuation had not yet been made.

Secretary Dillon pointed out that we have discussed this matter with the Moroccans, but that the French had requested that we put off any announcement until after De Gaulle’s meeting with the King. That meeting had of course never come off. The Secretary referred to Ambassador Yost’s recent message4 on the bases which had been previously mentioned by Mr. Dulles. He suggested that the difference of opinion here was less a difference of policy than a difference of evaluation of the situation in Morocco. Our alternatives were not, in his [Page 787] view, to stay four years or longer. One real alternative was agreement within the next few months on a maximum term of four years with, perhaps, some months after that for actual evacuation. If we do that, we might get agreement from the Moroccans for a longer stay in the communications facilities which are quite important to us. If, alternatively, we did not reach agreement on this basis, Morocco would attempt to rally public opinion to force us out and take action at the UN against our “illegal” occupation. Morocco would probably also harass deliveries of supplies and would perhaps engage in a mass blockade of the bases. In such a situation our alternatives would be to stay through the use of force, which was unthinkable, or to get thrown out in 18 months or so.

Secretary McElroy said that he realized we couldn’t stay in these bases longer than feasible, but he had feared that what was feasible could be interpreted as being as little as one year. The President suggested that the language “as long as required” and “as feasible” be combined.

Mr. Gray suggested that Defense, JCS and OCDM were not blinded to the facts of life in this matter.

Secretary McElroy reiterated that if we start out on the basis of “feasibility”, the term might be interpreted more weakly than was indicated by this discussion.

The President stated that we should, as a matter of urgency, try to reach an agreement. He also felt that we should publicly announce our acceptance of the principle of evacuation; to do so, he felt, would let a lot of the steam out of the kettle.

Secretary McElroy concluded the discussion by stating that if the United States gets a 4-year deal, we should determine after two and a half or three years whether we still required the bases and then possibly re-open the question.

The National Security Council:5

Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 5911; in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thereon, transmitted by the reference memorandum of August 13, 1959.
Tentatively adopted the following amendments in NSC 5911:
Pages 16–17, paragraph 22: Include the Majority version and delete the JCSOCDM version.
Page 22, paragraph 35: Delete the bracketed language and the footnote thereto.
Page 22, paragraph 35–a, –b and –c: Include the Majority version and delete the JCSOCDM version.
Adopted paragraphs 24 and 31 of NSC 5911, subject to the following amendments:

Page 18, paragraph 24: Delete the paragraph and the footnotes thereto, and substitute therefor the following:

“24. Within the limits of feasibility, maintenance of U.S. bases in Morocco for as long as they are required.”


Page 20, paragraph 31: Delete both versions of the paragraph, and substitute therefor the following:

“31. Endeavor, within the limits of feasibility, to maintain access to U.S. bases in Morocco for as long as they are required, being prepared to this end to offer reasonable quid pro quos, to reach satisfactory agreement regarding tenure, and to conclude such other arrangements with Morocco as may be deemed appropriate and essential to the retention of the bases, including public acknowledgement of the principle of eventual evacuation and the relinquishment of non-essential facilities.”

Referred NSC 5911 to the NSC Planning Board for review and revision in the light of the discussion at the meeting and of the President’s forthcoming meeting with President De Gaulle.

Note: Paragraphs 24 and 31 of NSC 5911, as amended by the action in c above, subsequently approved by the President; circulated for implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government; and referred to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President.

[Here follows item 6.]

Robert H. Johnson
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Johnson on August 26.
  2. The paragraph that follows constitutes NSC Action No. 2119. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)
  3. The JCS views were distributed under cover of an August 13 memorandum from the Acting Executive Secretary to the National Security Council. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records) Regarding NSC 5911, see footnote 1, Document 268.
  4. Telegram 274 from Rabat, August 17. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.56371/8–1759)
  5. Paragraphs a–d and the Note that follows constitute NSC Action No. 2122. (Ibid., S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)