Jean Jaurès 1907

France and Morocco.

First published: in L'Humanité;
Source: “France and Morocco” May 1907, Social Democrat, pp.295-6;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

When, after the assassination of Dr. Mauchamp, the press demanded the occupation of Oudjda, we made so bold as to say plainly that their action was absurd. Our protest was useless. The Government was resolved to show that it was capable of vigorous action, Parliament, that it was animated by the sacred flame of patriotism. M. Ribot’s intervention signified that the occupation of Oudjda should be temporary, and that France should reduce the danger to a minimum by not entering into a quarrel with Morocco; for the rest, we had only to learn from future events. These events have now taken place. Experience shows that the occupation of Oudjda was of no use. Neither the Maghzen nor the Sultan have been moved by this military inroad into territory where authority was purely nominal. If the colonials and pioneers demanded at first that Oudjda should be occupied, it was simply because it was well-known that the attempt would be useless. But it would be an interference, and would have to be followed up.

A recent interview with M. Segonzac, published in the Temps, throws much light upon the occupation of Oudjda, and upon the plan in preparation. “We must go to Marakesh. If we confine ourselves to occupying Oudjda, not only shall we have failed to restore the prestige of France, but shall have held up our country to the derision of the Moroccans. Moreover, by perpetually threatening and never executing, we cannot fail to become the laughing-stock of Germany. What are the German agents doing? They are persuading the Maghzen that it is they who are baulking, and in great measure paralysing, the will of France; and at every fresh scheme for repression on our part they obtain, at the instigation of Germany, some further concession.” Thus M. Segonzac; and the Temps approves these statements with a significant satisfaction. What is to be done? Are we to maintain a condition of affairs the continuation of which will overwhelm France with ridicule? Or shall we decide upon a great expedition into Morocco? The Colonials consider that the problem is as follows: either to corner France into an absurd impotence in the impasse at Oudjda, or to bring her into the open with an invasion of Morocco.

What does M. Ribot think? Will he allow the document to which he affixed his signature thus to break its pledge?

There is only one escape from this difficulty and danger: to leave to Moroccan affairs the international character given them by the Algeciras Conference. An outrage upon any particular European does not merely concern the country within whose jurisdiction the crime has taken place, but the whole of Europe. If a protest is to be sent to the Sultan, if redress is to be obtained from him, it must be done by all Europe together. The Chinese Expedition was hateful, because it resulted in a series of injuries inflicted upon the Chinese by the Europeans, and because it was accompanied by abominable acts of brutality. But in itself, the method adopted by Europe was excellent. The same line of action should be taken in Morocco if the lives of Europeans there are imperilled. If a few hundred German soldiers joined in maintaining order with some hundreds of English, Italian, Austrian and French soldiers, all under the command of a general of Swiss nationality, as is already the case with the Inspector of the Police at the ports, France would have no cause for anxiety or fear of impairing her prestige. On the contrary, Germany would share responsibility with other countries: she would no longer play with the Sultan the convenient game suggested to her by our blunders. Thus, too, we should have given her a guarantee that we contemplated no policy of hostility or of exclusion towards the Germans, and that we had no wish to contest that influence in Mediterranean regions to which her economic power gives her a right. In such a manner might be set on foot a policy of loyalty and restraint.

Or perhaps M. Ribot has another solution to offer?