The Panama Canal in American Politics: Domestic Advocacy and the Evolution of Policy

The Panama Canal in American Politics: Domestic Advocacy and the Evolution of Policy

The Panama Canal in American Politics: Domestic Advocacy and the Evolution of Policy

The Panama Canal in American Politics: Domestic Advocacy and the Evolution of Policy

Synopsis

Hogan analyzes the Panama Canal debate, one of the most emotionally charged issues to divide American opinion in this century.

Hogan first provides background for his detailed analysis of the historic debate between the Carter administration and the New Right. Preparing the reader for that confrontation and the senate debate that followed, he examines the heritage of political controversy surrounding the Panama Canal, particularly the impact of that controversy on the evolution of U. S. policy throughout the 20th century. He documents the canal's mythic status in American politics- its transformation from a symbol of America's rise to world leadership to a symbol, for many, of American colonialism and imperialism.

Hogan's analysis covers the substance of the debate over Panama in both the mass media and in the senate. Without becoming an advocate for either side, he analyzes both the protreaty campaign by the Carter administration and the counterattack by the New Right.

Excerpt

Jimmy Carter had no special interest in the Panama Canal before he became president. Like generations of politicians before him, he became embroiled in controversy over the canal because it was a convenient symbol of American adventurism in the international arena. For Carter the Panama Canal represented a philosophy of international relations that had eroded America's prestige and produced the tragedy of Vietnam. He viewed the canal as a monument to national chauvinism, misguided interventionism, and the perversion of American ideals.

With the euphoria of his successful presidential campaign not yet muted by the frustrations of governing, Carter sought to fulfill promises of a new era in American foreign policy by negotiating a new treaty with Panama. Like all new presidents, he expected cooperation, even deference, during his "honeymoon" period. But instead he found himself fighting a bitter political battle over the Panama Canal throughout most of his first year in office. Carter did not seem to realize the depth of domestic political opposition to the idea of a new treaty with Panama. He did not seem to realize that in calling for a new treaty with Panama, he rekindled one of the most persistent . . .

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