Rosenfeld, Stephen S.
October 1975
Foreign Affairs;Oct75, Vol. 54 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
This article deals with the efforts of the U.S. to negotiate a new treaty with Panama replacing the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty of 1903. The frustrations that boiled up into the riots of 1964 were those of a classical colonial situation--colonial not just in the objective American treatment of Panama but in the subjective failure of many Americans to perceive that the situation was and is of that character. But while in Panama on February 7, 1974, to sign a joint declaration of Eight Principles governing negotiations for a new treaty, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger accepted the Panama Canal as a test of a new American international style that would be based not on relative strength but on conciliation. Therefore, though major modernization under American auspices is the constant cry of conservative elements--their earnest of good faith to the Panamanians--it is being made less probable by rising construction costs, uncertain business and political change. Ever since the U.S. established a two-ocean navy and built carriers too big to transit, the waterway has had no important strategic role, though the Pentagon correctly declares that it is a vital American interest that it be kept open. Relations with Congress on foreign policy have been a minefield through most of the Richard Nixon-Gerald Ford administration. The probable decline of the canal as an American economic asset and the great hurdles to building a new canal were pointed out. Without a treaty, use would be in some jeopardy and the diplomatic toll would be immense.


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