The Foreign Service Journal - May 2014 - page 44

MAY 2014
This account of Ambassador
Charles Yost’s tenure in Morocco
during the Cold War offers a window
into his remarkable career and the
texture of postwar diplomacy.
Our Man inMorocco
hen World War II ended in
1945, three years after “Oper-
ation Torch,” the Allied inva-
sion of North Africa, U.S. sol-
diers remained in Morocco.
They were still there 13 years
later—and for Moroccans,
this was a problem.
In 1958, in the midst of the Cold War, Charles W. Yost became
part of the solution. On a hot, muggy Sunday in July, he walked
out onto the tarmac of Washington’s National Airport. The State
Department had booked him on a four prop-driven, dolphin-
shaped Lockheed Constellation—the luxurious “Paris Sky Chief.”
Two days later, after stops in Newfoundland, Ireland and France,
the plane landed in Rabat.
A week after his arrival, photographers recorded the new U.S.
ambassador, his top hat sitting at a rakish angle on his slender
frame, arriving at the royal palace in a convertible, followed
closely by a mounted military escort. Ushered into the throne
room, he presented his credentials to King Mohammed V—a
Felicity O. Yost, the daughter of Ambassador Charles W. Yost, retired
recently after 37 years as a graphic designer and election monitor at the
United Nations. She is now writing a biography of her father, tentatively
Charles W. Yost and the Golden Age of U.S. Diplomacy
, from
which this account of his tenure as ambassador in Morocco is drawn.
man he referred to as “a wise and courteous scion of an old
A slight man with a kindly face, the king was delighted to dis-
cover that his exchanges with the American ambassador could
be conducted in French, and thus in private.
Over the coming years, the two would form a personal bond
based on trust and respect—a bond that would ease them, and
their countries, through the national and international problems
they confronted.
Chaos Brewing
Within days of his arrival, the country team gave Ambassador
Yost a sobering view of the current political situation. In a nut-
shell, the stability of the newly independent Moroccan govern-
ment, and U.S. objectives there, were under serious threat.
A faltering economy, rising unemployment, and an unedu-
cated and impoverished lower class were all creating a fertile
recruiting ground for extremists. As Amb. Yost well knew,
Morocco had a rich but turbulent history, and had regained its
independence from Spain and France only in 1956.
The most problematic issue concerned the four American
military bases built in Morocco during World War II. At the end
of the war, the French had taken over the bases; but in 1950, they
reverted to the United States under the aegis of NATO. There the
316th Air Division housed American nuclear-armed B-47 bomb-
ers, with their capability to strike the Soviet Union. They were a
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