Friday, October 25, 2013

The Canal Debate

When Jimmy Carter entered the White House, he at first did not want to make the Panama Canal a major issue.  However, as he became more centered on the quest for human rights, he felt he needed to act.  Why did he make this crucial decision on the canal in 1977 and why was it so controversial?  What is the Republican (i.e. Reagan) response to it?  How did it fit into a Cold War framework?  Do you agree or disagree with Carter's decision?


  1. The controversy came from the fact that the issues surrounding the panama canal and her people had been subject and subsequent failure of many of Carter's presidential predecessors "ting treaties governing the Panama Canal was already more than
    twenty years old. It had been a serious issue for most of Carter's immediate White
    House predecessors ?from Dwight Eisenhower to Gerald Ford. For the people of
    Panama, it had been an issue much longer than that."
    Carter made his decision to Bunau-Varilla because the panamanian offical and leader had initially rejected american protection. "Bunau
    Varilla made this threat with the knowledge or permission of the American govern
    ment. The French businessman seems to have been equally at home representing, or
    misrepresenting, both sides in these highly irregular international transactions. As
    a result of its questionable history, and the extraordinary powers granted to the
    United States over a ten-mile wide strip of land that cuts across the center of Panama,
    the treaty has been resented by the Panamanian people from its inception". The protect that would be vital to the Panama Canal's survival and more importantly(depending on your point of view) for the US, to keep the Canal as an asset. One the us could not afford to lose.

  2. After learning more about the historically threatening relationship with Panama, Carter changed his opinion towards the canal. However, the process of securing the canal brought along a large series of negotiations which were very controversial because they were filled with both breakthroughs and setbacks. As soon as an agreement was made, the Panamanians would retaliate with more demands for money. Reagan and other republicans spoke out against treaty ratification. I guess this whole thing relates to the Cold War because the US just wants to keep up its world reputation. If they failed in securing the Panama canal, then they may be viewed as weak, and especially with the cold war mentality, this view was no option for the US.

  3. Carter made the decision to make the canal treaties more fair; it was so controversial because of American military action and lack of interpretation of the treaties. It says. "...he was doing something good for peace, responding to the passionate desires of a small nation, and yet helping the long-range US national interest". The possible spread of Communism scared supporters of the canal. The text mentions anti-American imperialism in the beginning, so this may also add to the controversy surrounding his decision. This plays a role in the Cold War because of America's power and reputation. I agree with Carter's decision because I think that it was fair.

  4. During his campaign in 1976, carter specifically talked about how he would refuse to make the canal a major issue. However after being elected, it began to be brought up and turned into a major issue. All and all, what he did was regulate the treaties regarding the was to be more fair. However, it became incredibly controversial when the long decision making processes took place which created some major setbacks, like nicki said. I'm. It exactly sure why this related to the Cold War, but like others said, the us had to keep that tough country reputation. All and all, I agree with jimmy carters decision because I think that it was fair for both sides even if they don't think so.

  5. Securing the Panama canal was a key objective in the us's strategy during the cold war. the panama canal gave the us access to the world trade route and made it possible to trade with other countries on the western side of america without going all the way along the southern tip of south america. Keeping this strategic point was key because if the us were to lose that then it would be seen as weak like nicki mentioned and the us could not afford being thought of as weak. The reason why carter kept giving into the Panamanians is to keep that point, the panamanians realized we wanted the canal at all cost and they "bled us dry" because they knew we had no choice but to keep paying the heavy prices.

  6. Carter initially didn't want to make the Panama Canal a big issue, but he eventually realised that it was more important than he once thought. It was very important to have control of this area due to the amount of traffic that goes through the canal. It was hugely important for trading, and to keep the US economy strong. Whoever had control of it would be the more intimidating country, and that was basically all the Cold War was about.

  7. the reason the panama canal was so controversial was probably due to the fact that the negotiations did not have to go through congress, therefore allowing the republican party almost no say in the negotiations until the end for Carter was democratic and hired a democratic team. there were also issues in interpreting what the negotiations meant, each country sort of interpreted the words in their favor so that the people would agree, however, news of how the panama politicians were telling their people what they preferred to believe what the treaty meant reached the US in the news causing a bit of an uproar from the American side who believed carter was giving them too much power.

  8. Based on Panamanian complaints about American imperialism when it was first built, Carter sought to satisfy Panama's basic commands, ends American sovereignty and ownership, satisfy legit American interests, and maintain Panamanian nationalism. This was controversial given that some people, like Raegan, believed that, "We built it, we paid for it, it's ours, and we should tell Torrijos and company that we are going to keep it." I somewhat agree with Raegan, but at the same time it makes more sense to give Panama some control since we are taking over their land. After all, the canal "was not only a symbol of past glories, it was also a symbol of future uncertainties."

  9. Carter didn't want to completely control the country of Panama, due to civil rights policies that he began with his presidency, but the Canal itself is an enormous trade route, and the US needed control of it, regardless of how nice Carter wanted to be to the country of Panama. Most people thought that this was controversial because America was the one that bankrolled the canal and that it should be our canal, but carter signed a treaty that gave the canal back starting in 2000.

  10. I can understand that Carter made the decision of signing the Panama treaty. For he long time, he must have hesitated because it would mean a lot of negotiations and possibly conflicts when US troops might enter panama in order to protect the canal. There had to be a lot of compromises made by Carter, like having the treaty expire in 200 or paying a lot more money to Panama than planned.