From Hubris to Humiliation

The U.S. failure in Panama stems from backbiting, bluster and gross miscalculation

Does anyone deliver bad news with a more mournful mien than Secretary of State George Shultz? Last week, as President Reagan headed off to Moscow, his dispirited Secretary of State announced the collapse of U.S. efforts to force the resignation of General Manuel Antonio Noriega, Panama's pugnacious strongman. Shultz had delayed his own departure for the summit, believing that Noriega was about to yield. Instead, at the eleventh hour the general rejected the U.S. terms, which included a controversial offer to drop federal drug- running charges against him. With that, Shultz broke off talks and denounced Noriega as a "burden on...

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