The outlook for U.S. policy and implications for U.S. - Morocco relations
The interventions addressed the changes in U.S. policies and their impact on the Morocco-U.S. relationship. Indeed, the United States is currently going through a shift in its foreign policy.
The mood of the United States at a low level
The country seems to be in a state that could be described as a “collective depression”, meaning the prevailing pessimism and the lack of self-confidence that can be felt in the American public opinion. As shown by polls and opinion surveys, this gloominess can be explained by many factors which include the outcome of the Afghanistan war, the financial crisis and its consequences on the real economy, the unemployment rate especially among the youth, the feeling of an ineffective congress and the lack of trust in the government.
Therefore, this widespread negative mood about the leaders reflects in a tendency to avoid intervention, to restrain American policy to domestic issues and to pull out of international affairs. This represents a shift in the US policy but the question remains whether this is a long term trend or not.
U.S. foreign policy: between interventionism and isolationism
This rising isolationism in American foreign policy is partly linked to the growing suspicion towards sending American troops abroad. Indeed, American interventionism has always been mainly driven by two factors: good economic performances that led to self confidence or, a reaction to a big threat like the “war on terror” launched after the 9/11 attacks. In conclusion, it seems that America is currently going through a period that can be compared with what happened after the First World War or after the war in Vietnam.
U.S. pullback, a realistic reaction to complex issues?
Americans feel that most of the issues abroad are too complicated for the US to intervene. This is especially the case when it comes to the crises in the Middle East. This can be illustrated by the Syrian example since, from one hand; Americans are largely in favor of the Responsibility To Protect (as defined by the United Nations), and, on the other hand, they express a strong rejection of a military action in Syria.
The USA slight withdrawal from global foreign affairs can also be explained by a shifting in the country’s priorities. The main concerns are about economic security and strategies to recover from the crisis. In terms of economic priorities, one aspect that has remained unchanged is the importance of transatlantic trade. Given the rising power of China and the emergence or regional powers, USA is reacting by reinforcing the transatlantic alliance. This strong relationship with Europe is expected to last because the US needs a stronger Atlantic partnership to face its Asian competitors.
Regarding their role in the MENA region, it is not an option that the USA disengages completely since it remains deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, but, nevertheless, a diminishing engagement is likely.
Morocco-U.S. relations: a promising yet unexploited partnership
Concerning Morocco-USA relationship, the partnership holds a great potential. However, there is a need to reconsider the relation between both countries and to take benefit from the opportunities offered by the Free Trade Agreement, which have not been fully exploited yet.
One of the main ideas expressed during the conference is that Morocco should affirm itself on the international scene as a global player and a transatlantic country and not only as an actor in the Middle-East and North-Africa region. This re-positioning might lead to stronger relations with other Atlantic countries including the US and could open the door to new partnerships. To seize these opportunities, Morocco should adopt a clear and well-defined strategy. Expressing clear expectations through diplomatic channels can help fostering this partnership. A greater effort has to be done starting by intensifying the communication between both countries.
The debate that followed the presentations raised questions on the USA interest towards Africa and China’s role on the continent. Main conclusions are that the US strategy in Africa is mainly determined by a security concern and there is no fear of an economically more globalized China.
The audience was also interested in the concrete means to improve the USA-Morocco relationship and in the role of the Moroccan Diaspora in this respect. To enhance this partnership, the cooperation should also be developed with the regions of the US.