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I’ve read the arguments against allowing ownership of the Panama
Canal to be transferred back to the Panamanian government on Dec. 31,
1999. I’ve read Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage’s legislation
– The Panama and America Security Act (H.J. Res. 77) — and agree with
its intentions.

Like independent presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan and Adm.
Thomas Moorer, I concur that it is a grave security risk to allow
Chinese military front companies to operate the Canal. I also believe
the conclusions drawn by congressional investigator Al Santoli and
others in their latest report
about the impending takeover of the Canal Zone in Panama by potentially
hostile narco-terrorists aided by China and others.

There’s no question in my mind that the decision to give up the
Panama Canal in the first place was extremely shortsighted and — well
stupid. Its strategic significance is obvious and its
importance to global and hemispheric trade is enormous. Not only that
but plenty of Americans died building the thing.

What I don’t understand, however, is why it has taken so long to
mount opposition to an initiative we’ve seen coming for over two
decades.

I would agree that in 1979 few could have predicted that
China, of all countries, would have been powerful enough to wield
enough influence to fill the power vacuum we left by abandoning the
Canal. But, come on — it is the nature of nations to fill power
vacuums; when important geostrategic positions are abandoned,
someone always moves in to fill them. We spent nearly 50 years
playing such chess games with the former Soviet Union.

Another thing that bothers me is why only now have people
“discovered” that the Carter-Torrijos Treaty wasn’t even properly
ratified? Are we to believe that after 22 years — most of them under
Republican administrations (including a Reagan/Bush invasion of Panama)
no one noticed the Panamanians ratified a different version of
the same treaty?

I remember well the debate over ownership of the Canal in 1979; I
don’t, however, recall any opposition to the treaty based on the
ratification of a different document.

Even Mrs. Chenoweth-Hage, who has been in Congress now for several
years, waited until it was impossible to effect change before submitting
her legislation to “save” the Canal.

So what gives? The strategic importance of the Canal has not changed
in 22 years, has it?

I wonder — if the Soviet Union was still around — would Moscow have
tried to fill the power void we are leaving in Panama? I’d bet they
would — and that alone should have been enough to spur some action to
save this important waterway long ago.

But no one did. And yet, lots of good, moral and ethical congressmen
of Chenoweth-Hage’s caliber have served — and are still serving –
since 1979.

I really don’t know what the expectations are of those few voices in
government who don’t want to see this transfer take place, but I hope
they’re not too high because I believe they’re going to be
disappointed. This “deal” is going through, and at this late stage of
the game, I don’t see what can be (quickly) done about it,
unfortunately. Depending on a Clinton-era federal court to stop it is
ludicrous.

Worse, playing “catch up” — trying to get the Panamanian canal horse
back in the barn after the first of next year — will be even harder.
When that happens, who will support sending U.S. forces back into Panama
if the Panamanian government won’t support it?

Unless there is an obvious real threat that most Americans can easily
see, getting the Canal back is going to be difficult at best. In fact,
we may have lost it for good — along with any chance of preventing the
dangerous power vacuum we have set in motion.

Outside of WorldNetDaily and few congressional voices, I don’t hear
anything from ordinary people about the Panama Canal, let alone the
manner in which the Panamanian government ratified a different version
of the treaty. We can blame that on the establishment media, perhaps,
but regardless it leads me to believe there is no “groundswell” of
support for preventing the Canal’s transfer.

We simply waited too long to do anything about it. We’re a day late
and a dollar short on this thing.

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