72. Telegram 5961 From the Embassy in Morocco to the Department of State1
5961. Dept pass info SecDef for ISA. Subject: Policy; MUSLO Program. Ref: A) State 214893; B) State 284179.
1. We realize final curtain has not yet fallen on Spanish Sahara drama. Nevertheless, enough of the act has already been played out to enable us to accept King Hassan’s argument that Morocco’s relations with Spain are on a sound footing and even to accept as plausible his insistence that there is an affinity of interests between the two countries that will be broadened and expanded in period to come. This emergence of a friendly and cooperative relationship between two countries, both friendly to U.S., that straddle the Straits of Gibraltar is incontestably very much in the United States’ regional interests. Meanwhile, relief of earlier action accompanying ongoing US-Spanish base negotiations has also helped clear the air.
2. Embassy believes it is now time for USG to set aside recent doubts and reservations and proceed, steadily and firmly, to implement the Moroccan military modernization program. We are not arguing for major new departures, but rather for going ahead during planned time frame of next three–four years with what we already [Page 189] have determined to do, as well as acting upon existing Moroccan requests that are not yet approved. This program, it will be recalled, is designed not to upset strategic balance with Algeria, but rather to help toward restoring it. We firmly believe this program will contribute to regional stability in the process. Any backing off or protracted delay on our part, on the other hand, would contribute to Moroccan military weak-ness and could only engender power vacuum here that would tempt not only Algeria, but potentially also USSR (which has not been show-ing notable restraint elsewhere as regards intervention in regional disputes).
3. One outstanding case in point at this time is the pending Moroccan request for a letter of offer for F–5E/F aircraft (reftel A). We strongly recommend moving ahead on this item immediately.
4. We have taken note of Dept’s general concern, e.g., as expressed in final paragraph of reftel B, that in meeting Morocco’s perceived needs for modern military equipment within envisioned limits, we may be encouraging Moroccans to undertake a strain on their payment capabilities that their general resource outlook may not justify. We plan a detailed submission on this issue in near future. For the moment, wish note following key points:
A. Basic decision on priority Morocco should give arms purchases is Moroccans’, not ours. We can rest assured that as long as they feel menaced by hostile neighbor their own priorities will put guns ahead of butter. Ergo, Moroccans are going to get arms somewhere, whatever the impact on developmental and other priorities. In this aspect of military supply relationship, we see our role as essentially that of advising Moroccans as to how modernization program can be most prudently and economically implemented in context of established U.S. and Moroccan interests.
B. Foreign exchange position for Morocco over next couple of years is admittedly tight (Rabat 4870, para 3). Longer term recovery of demand for phosphates and solid borrowing prospects to bridge current market softening bodes well for Moroccan solvency. We have, moreover, reason to believe that Moroccans are justified in expectations that oil-rich friendly Arab governments, notably Saudi Arabia, willing and able to foot a good bit of the bill for Moroccan military modernization program.
5. Recommendation: We therefore recommend that USG without delay proceed with implementation of military modernization program and, in particular, take immediate steps to furnish letter of offer for F–5E/F aircraft. We have been hearing from GOM that Moroccan Air Force perceives a need for these aircraft with shortest possible delivery time. Positive sign from us would be especially welcome to GOM [Page 190] at this critical stage in Moroccan-Algerian tension, and would help solidify overall U.S.-Moroccan relationship.
Summary: The Embassy recommended the Department implement the Moroccan military modernization program despite the unsettled nature of the Sahara dispute. Neumann strongly recommended immediately moving forward with a letter of offer for F–5 aircraft.
Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC OPS Staff, Box 18, Morocco (1). Confidential; Exdis. Repeated to Algiers and Madrid. In telegram 214893 to Rabat, September 10, Kissinger informed the Embassy that DOD had been authorized to prepare a letter of offer for the F–5 aircraft, however the letter would not be presented until further review of U.S.-Spanish base negotiations, and relations between Morocco and Spain. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)↩