FOREIGN POLICY: Panama Theatrics

The Panama Canal is one of those emotional foreign policy issues on which reckless politicians can sound ringingly certain about a simplistic solution—so long as they do not have to face the consequences if their rhetoric is translated into policy. Time after time in Texas last week, Ronald Reagan thundered about the canal: "We bought it. We paid for it. We built it. And we are going to keep it." As President, Reagan vowed, he would say just that to any "tinhorn dictator" in Panama who sought to gain control over the waterway. The Reagan theatrics, designed to win him...

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