Negotiations have begun in Panama by our State Department, with the connivance of the United Nations, to renegotiate the treaty of 1903. That is diplomatic language for giving away the Panama Canal.
It seems that there are powerful forces in our country which are obsessed with giving away American wealth and assets to foreign countries. They have given away our money, our industries, our jobs, our wheat, and our technology. If they succeed in giving away the Panama Canal, it will be the most costly of all the extravagant foreign handouts.
The United States acquired sovereign control “in perpetuity” over the U.S. Canal Zone by means of the 1903 treaty, which is still in effect. We do not rent or lease the Canal Zone; we own it outright and have paid generously for it. In addition to obtaining
all the rights, power and authority of sovereignty, the United States bought the land in the Canal Zone from individual property owners, which makes us the owner of all the land, as well as the sovereign.
The U.S. Canal Zone is just as much American territory as the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the Gadsden purchase of 1853, and the Alaska purchase of 1867. Incidentally, we have paid more for the U.S. Canal Zone than for all those other huge territories combined, and there is no more reason to give it away under threat of
political blackmail than there is to give away Louisiana, Arizona or Alaska.
Americans should not have any guilty conscience about our treatment of Panama. Our investment over the years amounts to $5.7 billion. The United States created all the wealth that exists in Panama. American money and brains and labor have been responsible for building and operating the Canal, and we have operated it as an interoceanic public utility available to all nations.
We should learn a lesson from the history of the Suez Canal. Since Egypt seized it in 1956, it has been totally subject to the whims of the Egyptian government. The costly consequences to the United States of Panamanian sovereignty would be vastly greater.
For us to relinquish authority over our Canal would put us at the mercy of Panama which has had 13 changes of government since World WAR II, five of them violent, and where the radicals riot every time they want a new concession. The present Panamanian ruler recently flung down the gauntlet by arrogantly saying that if we don’t turn over the Canal, Panama has “no other recourse left but to fight.”
The Panama Canal is an irreplaceable element in our military defense and our economic security. Sovereignty over the U.S. Canal Zone should not be negotiable. We should ignore the political blackmail of the Panamanian politicians and the hypocritical howls from the United Nations.
U.S. ownership and sovereignty over the U.S. Canal Zone are just as vital to us as the protection of the Chesapeake Bay, and it is more important than it has ever been to our military and economic security.
The Senate should rebuke the State Department and the United Nations for trying to undermine one of our most important treaties.