Such were the swift and brilliant results of General Lyautey’s intervention. The first difficulties had been quickly overcome; others, far more complicated, remained. The military occupation of Morocco had to be followed up by its civil reorganization. By the Franco-German treaty of 1911 Germany had finally agreed to recognize the French protectorate in Morocco; but in spite of an apparently explicit acknowledgment of this right, Germany, as usual, managed to slip into the contract certain ambiguities of form that were likely to lead to future trouble.
To obtain even this incomplete treaty France had had to sacrifice part of her colonies in equatorial Africa; and in addition to the uncertain relation with Germany there remained the dead weight of the Spanish zone and the confused international administration of Tangier. The disastrously misgoverned Spanish zone has always been a centre for German intrigue and native conspiracies, as well as a permanent obstacle to the economic development of Morocco.
Such were the problems that General Lyautey found awaiting him. A long colonial experience, and an unusual combination of military and administrative talents, prepared him for the almost impossible task of dealing with them. Swift and decisive when military action is required, he has above all the long views and endless patience necessary to the successful colonial governor. The policy of France in Morocco had been weak and spasmodic; in his hands it became firm and consecutive. A sympathetic understanding of the native prejudices, and a real affection for the native character, made him try to build up an administration which should be, not an application of French ideas to African conditions, but a development of the best native aspirations. The difficulties were immense. The attempt to govern as far as possible through the Great Chiefs was a wise one, but it was hampered by the fact that these powerful leaders, however loyal to the Protectorate, knew no methods of administration but those based on extortion. It was necessary at once to use them and to educate them; and one of General Lyautey’s greatest achievements has been the successful employment of native ability in the government of the country.
The first thing to do was to create a strong frontier against the dissident tribes of the Blad-es-Siba. To do this it was necessary that the French should hold the natural defenses of the country, the foothills of the Little and of the Great Atlas, and the valley of the Moulouya, which forms the corridor between western Algeria and Morocco. This was nearly accomplished in 1914 when war broke out.
At that moment the home government cabled the Resident-General to send all his available troops to France, abandoning the whole of conquered territory except the coast towns. To do so would have been to give France’s richest colonies[A] outright to Germany at a moment when what they could supply—meat and wheat—was exactly what the enemy most needed.