The Nation: The Canal Debate Begins

The military weighs in, but few Senators listen

It was the formal opening of the great national debate over ratification of the Panama Canal treaty. Yet the spectator seats in the Senate's historic Caucus Room were rarely close to being filled.

The members of the committee, weary from the energy bill filibuster, and knowing that the crucial treaty votes will not come until early next year, attended only sporadically. Nonetheless, in this surprisingly subdued setting, the nation's highest ranking military officers last week voiced the Carter Administration's best political argument for the accord: they insisted that ratification would ease their task of guarding...

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