Contributions of the Panama Canal to US Foreign Policy

The Panama’s canal influence on U.S. Economic and political policies has been significant. Initially, when at the control of the US, the Canal provided a strategic resource for the US government to secure its aspects such its oil interests in the region and advance trade with the partners in the region.[1] Following the signing of the treaty to relinquish the canal’s control to Panama, various political aspects also arose. Opposing such a treaty were for instance individuals arguing that the relinquishing of the Canal signified US declining influence in the global arena, a perception that could foster other rising powers to undermine its authority.[2] On the contrary, those in favor of the treaty viewed that the increasing globalization and the changing landscape from military interventions to negotiation necessitated US to adopt a more diplomatic approach to foster its relations with other countries in the Latin-American subcontinent.[3] The approach that the US adopted would thus be core to defining the country’s foreign-policy approach in subsequent years.

The Panamanian Canal treaties also came into focus during US’s invasion of Panama in 1989. During this invasion, the use of force seemed to signify the end to the diplomatic approach that the US had adopted in relinquishing its interests in the country.[4] Such invasion had followed the murder of an influential opposition figure by the Panamanian armed forces that had also embarked on extensive drug trade thus threatening the security of US assets in the region.[5] However, at the background of such opposition, as noted by Sanchez, was the US attempt to curtail the increasing Russian influence in the region.[6] Such demonstrated that irrespective of ceding the Canal to Panama, the US foreign policy towards Panama has always remained to maintain its control of the region’s economic and political direction.

Conclusion

The Panama’s Canal has been a source of significant influence to the US foreign policy in Latin America. Built after the agreement with the newly independent Panamanian government, the Canal provided a way for the US to enhance its economic and political control over the region. Although increasing resistance to such control resulted into ceding control of the canal to the Panamanian government, the more evident conclusion appears to be that such an action was only to gain positive appraisals that would enable the US foster its interests in the region in light of the changing global realignments.

 Notes

[1] J. F. Hornbeck. “Panama’s Canal and Economic Relations with the United States.” Congressional Research Service, report. 10/17 (2011): 4-8

[2] Natasha Zaretsky. “Restraint or Retreat? The Debate over the Panama Canal Treaties and U.S. Nationalism after Vietnam.” Diplomatic History 35, no. 3 (2011): 535-562.

[3] Ibid., p. 537

[4] Peter M. Sanchez “The End of Hegemony? Panama and the United States.” International Journal on World Peace 19, no. 3 (2002): 57-89.

[5] Ibid., p. 57.

[6] Ibid., p. 75

 Bibliography

Hornbeck, J. F. “Panama’s Canal and Economic Relations with the United States.” Congressional Research Service report 10/27 (2011): 4-8.

Sanchez, Peter M. “The End of Hegemony? Panama and the United States.” International Journal on World Peace 19, no. 3 (2002): 57-89.

Zaretsky, Natasha. “Restraint or Retreat? The Debate over the Panama Canal Treaties and U.S. Nationalism after Vietnam.” Diplomatic History 35, no. 3 (2011): 535-562.

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