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Tags: Morocco | George Patton

America and Morocco: Trump 2020, Patton 1942-43

America and Morocco: Trump 2020, Patton 1942-43
Major General George S. Patton, left, Commander of American troops landing on the coast of West Africa, and General Auguste Nogues of the French Army, review combined American and French troops in Rabat, Morocco on April 9, 1943. (AP)

Mark Schulte By Friday, 18 December 2020 09:20 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

President Donald Trump announced on Dec.11 the establishment of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel, the fourth remarkable breakthrough in the Mideast and North Africa since the Abraham Accords were signed in September at the White House by Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

In late October, President Trump successfully brokered diplomatic relations between Israel and Sudan.

While a White House policy paper emphasizes that "Morocco is one of the oldest and closest allies of the United States," it overlooked the significant cooperation between the two nations during World War II.

Indeed, President Trump's favorite general, George S. Patton Jr., played a pivotal role in the wartime alliance, as he was the Army commander of the Western Task Force of "Operation Torch," which landed 35,000 American GI's at three locations along Morocco's Atlantic coast on Nov. 8, 1942.

In the most spectacular seaborne invasion in history, ably commanded by Adm. Kent Hewitt, 102 U.S. Navy ships — carriers, destroyers, cruisers, transports, cargo vessels and tankers — sailed in late October 1942, from East Coast ports and Bermuda, on a 15-day, 3,400-mile journey across the U-boat-infested Atlantic Ocean.

Despite assurances from agents of America's Office of Strategic Services that Vichy soldiers, sailors and pilots would not resist, the French forces fought hard for three days, surrendering just before Gen. Patton's troops and pilots, and Adm. Hewitt's ships, were poised to launch a devastating attack on Casablanca, Morocco's largest city.

"Operation Torch" also included two Anglo-American task forces, the Central and Eastern, which sailed from the United Kingdom and landed on Algeria's Mediterranean coast at Oran and Algiers.

Fortunately, Admiral Francois Darlan, Vichy's second in command under Marshall Phillipe Petain, played a crucial role in the surrenders in Morocco and Algeria, as he was in Algiers visiting his seriously ill son. The admiral negotiated with Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the commander-in-chief of "Operation Torch," the surrender and subsequent transfer of Vichy military personnel to the Allies,

After the Allied victories in Morocco and Algeria, Hitler and Mussolini rushed 250,000 reinforcements to Tunisia, by air and sea, to block the American and British forces, who were advancing on Tunis.

Consequently, American, British Commonwealth and French troops, including Moroccans, required six months to defeat the German and Italian forces in Tunisia. They included Field Marshall Erwin Rommel's Afrika Corps, which had retreated to Tunisia, after their crushing defeat, by Gen. Bernard Montgomery's Commonwealth Eighth Army, at the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in early Nov. 1942.

After the quick amphibious victories in Morocco, Gen. Patton spent nearly four months, out of combat, in Morocco, where he befriended the Sultan of Morocco, who became King Mohammed V, when the nation won independence from France in 1956.

In January 1943, Gen. Patton hosted the Casablanca Conference of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and their military commanders. President Roosevelt assured the Sultan of Morocco that he was a firm champion of de-colonization, which was fiercely opposed by Gen. Charles De Gaulle, the leader of the Free French, and Churchill.

In early March 1943, after Rommel's troops had badly mauled the American and the French forces at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Gen. Patton was appointed by Eisenhower to take command of the U.S. II Corps from the incompetent Gen. Lloyd Fredendall.

Patton quickly re-invigorated the American troops, who went on the offensive in late March against the Germans and Italians in the Battle of El Guettar. Faced with being trapped between the Americans and Gen. Montgomery's troops, the Germans and Italians retreated north to Tunis.

In May 1943, the surrender of more than 275,000 German and Italian soldiers, who were trapped in northern Tunisia, was almost as monumental a defeat for the Axis, as Stalingrad was three months earlier.

Last week's White House briefing paper about the establishment of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel stresses:

"Through this historic step, Morocco is building on its long-standing bond with the Moroccan Jewish community living in Morocco, and throughout the world, including in Israel."

In fact, there were 250,000 Jews living in Morocco during World War II who were saved from Hitler's genocidal plans by the American liberation in Nov. 1942.

However, in the quarter century after the establishment of Israel in 1948, nearly all Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel, France, Canada and America.

Today, 1 million Israelis have family roots in Morocco, but only several thousand Jews remain in the North African country.

Finally, a few days before the Casablanca Conference, after meeting with the Sultan of Morocco, Gen. Patton recorded these prophetic words in his wartime diary:

"As I got up, the Sultan said he hoped this was the beginning of a long and permanent friendship between him and me and our countries. I replied that I would do my uttermost to make the end of this friendship as fortunate and happy as the beginning."

Mark Schulte is a retired New York City schoolteacher and mathematician who has written extensively about science and the history of science. Read Mark Schulte's Report's — More Here.

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While a White House policy paper emphasizes that "Morocco is one of the oldest and closest allies of the United States," it overlooked the significant cooperation between the two nations during World War II.
Morocco, George Patton
Friday, 18 December 2020 09:20 AM
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