Russia’s Repeat Failures
Moscow’s New Strategy in Ukraine Is Just as Bad as the Old One
ON November 16, 1955, His Majesty Sultan Mohammed V returned to Rabat after two years of exile. A new era began for the Moroccan people. In order to bring about this memorable day they had fought a heroic fight and made sacrifices. Now their hopes were to come true.
France's recognition of Moroccan independence indeed marks a turning point in the history of Franco-Moroccan relations. In the Celle-Saint-Cloud declaration of November 6, 1955, the government of the French Republic pledged itself to help Morocco achieve the status of an independent state within the framework of a freely negotiated and defined relationship of interdependence.
The Moroccan people cherish the hope of exercising the attributes of effective sovereignty and of seeing a régime of liberty, equality and democracy established in their country. They expect to enjoy freedom of expression, thought, assembly and movement such as exists in independent sovereign nations. They aspire, in other words, to a respectable way of life. They think it will be assured by exploiting the country's riches efficiently and distributing them in a manner to raise the standard of living, absorb unemployment and guarantee quiet and well-being for all.
As the Franco-Moroccan negotiations begin, we hope, of course, that France may really play the card of independence without any reservation or bargaining. These negotiations should be characterized above all by frankness and sincerity. The French government must show no ambiguity in leading Morocco to true independence. It did not take long for the Moroccan people to realize that the so-called "protectorate" treaty was the prototype of a colonial treaty. Its fear now is that perhaps that colonial treaty may simply be replaced by another colonial treaty under another name. For this reason what is asked for in the name of interdependence must not make a mockery of independence. The ties of interdependence must originate in independence. Only a state which is sovereign and fully independent can enter usefully and validly into a relationship of interdependence.
We hope that France has renounced the policy of assimilation and the colonial system and that she will comply with our desire to regain our sovereignty in both the domestic and the foreign field. Once independence has been solemnly recognized it must not remain an empty word; the Moroccan people must exercise the prerogatives of sovereignty. They trust France will secure the necessary cooperation of friendly Powers in bringing this about. They are aware of their responsibility to guarantee to all foreigners residing in Morocco the same freedom and security they enjoy in countries which are sovereign and democratic. In this connection the statement of the United States Government that it is willing to renounce its extraterritorial rights in favor of the free Moroccan government has been noted with satisfaction.
At the request of His Majesty the Sultan, the Istiqlal Party is participating in the recently constituted Moroccan government. This is essentially a negotiating government. Its primary mission is to liberate the national sovereignty and restore Moroccan independence. For the immediate future its plan of action follows in its main lines the directives outlined by the Sultan in his speech from the throne on November 18 and in the government declaration of December 7. The Sultan said in his speech:
The time has come to mobilize all the energies available for the construction of a new Morocco. This undertaking will demand a thoroughgoing transformation of the habits, the institutions and the methods of government, as it will also imply an emancipation of the individual, assuring him the secure enjoyment of all his freedoms. Thus Morocco will succeed in attaining the independence that we have never ceased to claim not only as the natural right of all peoples without distinction, but also as the surest means of enabling them to benefit both from the evolution of the modern world and from the advantages of a democratic régime free from all racial discrimination and inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The main problem is therefore to assure the effective management of national affairs which was forbidden for Moroccans under direct French administration. Not only in the administrative field but in the economic and social fields also, basic reforms will have to be undertaken to provide the necessary security of person and property and promote general prosperity and well-being.
We believe that a democratic régime based on a constitutional monarchy is the one which corresponds best to the hopes of the Moroccan people. The social structure of the rural areas and particularly of certain so-called Berber regions lends itself perfectly to it. Long before the establishment of the French Protectorate there were communal and municipal assemblies in Morocco. These elected local assemblies actually constitute the core of the democratic system to which the Moroccan people remain deeply attached. With slight modifications, and in conjunction with adequate guarantees that elections will be free from intervention by the administrative authorities, these assemblies will form the basic elements of modern community life. They can manage local matters and prepare independent budgets. They will serve as a basis for the election of departmental councils which will have wider competence and can be of great help to the central authority.
As soon as we have attained our national sovereignty and when we have had a period of experiment and learning (which the Istiqlal Party hopes will be as short as possible), we shall proceed to free and democratic elections for a national assembly. This assembly will have fully sovereign powers and the Moroccan government will be responsible to it.
For the present the Sultan has expressed a desire that a consultative body of Moroccans should assist him in his task. Therefore a temporary consultative assembly will soon be formed; its members will be appointed, but they will be chosen to give as true a reflection as possible of all shades of opinion and all levels of society. Its duties will be to give advice on legal projects submitted by His Majesty for study and to advise the Moroccan government on projected reforms, on suggestions for the conduct of public affairs and on the course of Franco-Moroccan negotiations. It will undertake the study of a constitution and prepare a draft representing the combined will of the Sovereign and itself. This constitution can then be presented to an elected assembly.
The Istiqlal Party considers it necessary in addition to set up a second chamber for the study of economic and social problems. The decisive influence of economic matters on the whole life of a nation is especially great in the case of an underdeveloped country like ours. This makes it imperative that some superior body concern itself with economic problems, both to improve and exploit the country's resources at home and to improve its relations with foreign states directly or indirectly interested in the Moroccan economy. We wish Morocco to benefit from the advantages of a liberal economic régime in which private enterprise can enjoy its proper rewards and capital can find the security it needs for its development.
The social problems pressing for solution in Morocco are equally important. Measures for the development of trade-unionism and the awakening of the working classes to the rôle they are called to play in society will also fall within the competence of this assembly.
In a word, the new era which is opening for Morocco poses the problems of organization and structure required in a modern state. Some wonder if the archaic administrative system called "feudalism" can be replaced readily by a new administration competent to conduct the affairs of a modern state. First of all let it be remembered that it has always been wrong to speak of "feudalism" and "feudalists." A feudal organization such as existed in certain countries of Europe has never existed in Morocco. Particularly following the establishment of the French Protectorate certain local chiefs for understandable political reasons posed as legendary figures, characters out of the Arabian Nights --the Glaoui, for instance. They were created to serve as a threat against the central power, specifically against the Sultan whenever he might refuse to surrender the prerogatives of national sovereignty which are under his guardianship. The law provides that these personages should be agents of the central power, like préfets, appointed and relieved at will. Colonial policy as hitherto applied, however, turned them into the colonial Power's docile agents, giving them exorbitant privileges and an importance which they, in turn, often grossly exaggerated by clever propaganda. The only real feudalism existing in Morocco is that of the French civilian officials, each of whom acts as a petty lord with rights of life and death over the population in his realm. We believe that this form of control must be totally abolished once and for all. After that a reform of the caid system will take place. The pashas and caids will be given a fixed status. They will receive a salary from the state and will have to submit to fixed conditions of recruitment, promotion and discipline. In their capacity as local representatives of the central government they will exercise purely administrative functions; they will have neither judiciary nor fiscal powers.
The building of a modern state requires not simply enough men of ability to fill key political positions but specialists throughout the administration and above all in economic and technical fields. We hope that the ties of interdependence which France intends to have with Morocco will aim to provide precisely the technical assistance and cooperation which will permit us to form our own cadres in a relatively short time.
We intend to turn for help to international organizations such as the F.A.O., the W.H.O. or UNESCO and also to friendly countries for such technical aid as Morocco requires. I should like to specify, however, that we shall refuse any relationship that infringes our sovereignty or would stifle our personality.
The technical cadres of the Protectorate consisted of hardly more than 2,500 to 3,000 technicians. The figure gives an idea of the relatively small number of technicians that would be needed to provide normal services. It encourages us to believe that we shall be able to take over responsibility for the technical administration of our country within a period of about five years. We aim to reach this goal by setting up an accelerated system of technical instruction aimed particularly toward the formation of administrative cadres. An eminent French economist has stated that it is entirely possible to develop a large enough force of technical executive officers to assure that the government's agricultural policy will be administered efficiently. He believes that under an accelerated training system Morocco can have nearly 3,000 trained officials in this field within two years.
Thus with the coöperation of international organizations on the one hand and an accelerated program for training technicians on the other we can gradually take over the management of our affairs. We recognize that our country, young and new as it is, lacks experience and does not have all the technical resources needed by a modern state. We count on the assistance of France, who has interests to safeguard and develop, as well as of her allies, who will find it advantageous to cooperate with Morocco because of her economic potentialities and strategic position.
Some people might wonder whether religious leaders or certain groups in Moslem universities--even the Moslem religion itself-- might not form an obstacle to modernization in the political and institutional field as well as in economic and social affairs. I should like to point out that Islam has no clergy and that the Moslem religion is not hierarchical. It is true, of course, that the Koran and the Hadith (the tradition of the Prophet), the written foundations of the Moslem religion, cover secular problems, but they do so by laying down general principles which are susceptible of evolution. These principles are in no way incompatible with the development of the world or with modern trends. On the contrary, they are conceived in the spirit of progress, of equality, social justice, tolerance and peace among men. More than that, the Ijtihad--the interpretation of these principles--allows the commentators in any case to adapt the principles of the Koran to the requirements of evolution and progress.
Odd as it may seem, the obstacles in the way of liberalism and modernism are to be found in certain French quarters which claim to be saturated with democracy and liberty, rather than among the Moslem population. The revolution which is taking place in Morocco not only was not thwarted by the religious leaders and Moslem university circles; these actually played a major part in spreading new ideas and persuading the Moroccan people to adopt them. The Islamic teachers and students of the Karaouyine University at Fez and of the Ben Youssef University at Marrakesh, for instance, were the first to demand the most extensive reforms in the social and family field.
The participation of women in public life is another matter which is becoming more and more important. The veil is falling like a dead leaf. Women stress their desire for emancipation along with the men. Factories have had a great influx of women workers. Women teachers are to be seen teaching in boys' schools and taking part in the fight against adult illiteracy. Women do not stop with demanding the right to take a full part in public activities but also claim the right to vote and to be eligible for public office, something they do not have as yet in certain European countries and which they have had only in the last ten years in France. During the Istiqlal Party Congress held at Rabat early in December 1955 the active participation of Moroccan women in all the work of the Congress was very noticeable. A special motion outlining in specific terms the rights and obligations of women was adopted as a result of the activity of women who had come from all parts of Morocco.
The Moroccan people are eager to learn and progress in every field. We know that while we must remain true to our Moslem identity we have to build a state on Western political principles.
It cannot be denied that there is such a thing as Moslem solidarity. Any event that occurs in one Moslem country has its repercussions in the others. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that Morocco has always been anxious to guard its individuality, its personality. We are Moslems; we cling to our Moslem identity as an essential element of ourselves. But we also cling to our individuality, rooted in our geographic location and history.
We cannot remain indifferent to developments in the Arab countries or to trends which oppose them. In spite of being absorbed in our own revolution and in securing our sovereignty and asserting and expanding our personality, we follow those events with keen interest. Through Morocco's geographic position, through her economic, strategic and cultural relations with the West and her religious, linguistic and historic ties with the Arab and other Moslem countries, she should be the link between two civilizations which complement and need each other.
The leaders in other Arab states who like us are trying to attain sovereignty for their countries do not always find the necessary understanding in the West nor are they able to secure assistance and coöperation on a dignified basis of equality. It is particularly regrettable that the United States does not have a clearly defined policy for this part of the globe. Certainly, any manifestation of understanding of these countries and any ties established with them by the West can have only a favorable influence in Morocco. The opposite is equally true. The economic problems and even more the strategic ones which are of immediate concern to the United States compel it to pay particular attention to the countries of the Middle East and North Africa and to develop a clearer understanding of their legitimate aspirations.
The agreement for the establishment of American bases in Morocco was concluded between the United States and France. Neither the Sultan nor the Moroccan government was consulted. Under the treaty of 1912 France was responsible for the security and territorial integrity of Morocco. Did she have the right to dispose of a part of the land under her protection to a third party? Did she have the right even to sublet it or to hand over the use of it to someone else without consulting and obtaining the consent of those primarily concerned--who happen to be the Moroccans? Even if it was done with a view to defending world peace, the operation was an abnormal one to say the least. If this situation were allowed to continue it would risk heightening hostility against the American bases, which at present is only latent.
Such are the hopes and fears of the Moroccan people as they stand on the threshold of a new era. We are fully aware of the fact that independence is not a cure-all. It is, nevertheless, the psychological spur which is indispensable for arousing the enthusiasm needed for building a modern state based on the principles of freedom and tolerance, and capable of joining with other peoples who defend the superior values that make life worth living.