The Nation: Now for the Hard Part

Signing the Panama Canal pact was easy; selling it won't be

Not since John Kennedy's funeral in 1963 had so many heads of state descended on Washington at once. Nineteen national leaders, along with top officials of eight other Western Hemisphere nations—from Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to Argentina's President Jorge Rafael Videla—were in town with full, glittering retinues. The occasion: the signing of a Panama Canal treaty that was initialed last month after 13 years of on-and-off efforts through the Administrations of four U.S. Presidents.

The event was surrounded by all the relish and trimmings that Jimmy Carter could...

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