Sources of The Strongman's Strength

Strongman's Strength

Noriega's ability to hang on in the face of fierce opposition from the U.S. stems mainly from his tactic of buying or winning the support of a handful of key officers within the military. He has convinced some leaders of the 17,000- strong Panama Defense Forces of two dubious propositions: first, that the country's political opposition will eviscerate the PDF if it comes to power; second, that he alone represents the military's best interests. The soldiers, says a foreign diplomat, "view Noriega as the keystone in an arch; without him the arch will crumble."

The general also has a significant civilian...

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