Does anyone remember why the United States invaded Panama? The day after the invasion, President Bush supplied his reasons. “The goals of the United States,” he said, “have been to safeguard the lives of Americans, to defend democracy in Panama, to combat drug trafficking and to protect the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaty. . . . I directed our armed forces . . . to bring General Noriega to justice in the United States.”
Let’s take a look at these claims.
To safeguard the lives of Americans. A few days before the invasion, an American marine was killed by Panamanian soldiers, and another American serviceman and his wife were arrested and beaten. Horrible actions—but do they justify an invasion in which more than 500 people died? Alfred Rubin, professor of international law at Tufts University, commented that normal U.S. policy during similar occasions is to “restrict our personnel to the base areas until things can be worked out. I know of no other case in which we have seized on such an incident as a rationale for changing the government...
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