« AnteriorContinuar »
Well, they have always spelled out clearly for us, in fact in advance, fortunately, what their interpretation is. If the interpretation the Panamanians have and the interpretation that the American Government has are totally different, then this treaty is really a blueprint for disaster. What we are risking is a confrontation further down the road where there may be some kind of crisis, and each side interpreting the treaty to what it considers to be its proper authority or role to play in this crisis.
I think this is unacceptable. It is a terribly vague treaty, and I think it is the obligation of the U.S. Senate to clarify, not just with understandings, but to clarify in terms of amendments to the treaty precisely what our rights are.
In addition, I think one thing that should have been gone into more deeply—and I hope this committee will do this—is to bring Ambassador Linowitz and Ambassador Bunker back before this committee and ask them exactly what transpired during these negotiations.
During these negotiations Escobar Bethancourt stated that:
You should have seen the original draft they presented along with the military treaty. Agreeing totally to that would have been shameful. I would not have dared to sit at this table now to give you any kind of explanation if I brought with me the original draft of the military treaty and the neutrality treaty.
Well, the question is, What was the original draft? What did we compromise ?
It seems clear to me that we know so little about this treaty and what was actually negotiated and what was compromised that it is hard for us to really understand exactly what this treaty means. The only way we can understand what this treaty means is to go through the process of having the negotiators explain to us the entire process: what did we propose in the beginning and where did we end up? Well, we know where we ended up as we have the treaty in front of us. But we have to analyze very carefully, I think, what transpired in these negotiations.
I would like to move along very quickly. I know this is taking a great deal of time here.
UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF NEUTRALITY PROVISIONS
The one other very important part of the treaty that I think is very crucial is this. Article I and II of the neutrality treaty are clearly nothing more than a unilateral declaration of neutrality. That is exactly what they are. Therefore, only Panama has the right to declare when the neutrality of the canal has been violated.
Now, that means, I would assume, that if we consider the neutrality of the canal was being violated, we would have to wait first for a statement from the Panamanian Government concurring with this.
Escobar said in a statement on August 19 that: We said that the declaration of the canal's neutrality was an act relating to Panama's sovereignty in that it would have to be a unilateral declaration. After a long discussion they accepted that the declaration would be made by Panama alone, in other words, Panama would be the one to declare the canal permanently neutral.
So, I guess you can think of a lot of scenarios down the road where the neutrality question may become very crucial. But, do we legally have the right, under the terms of this agreement, to take some action when we determine that the neutrality has been violated ?
The way the treaty reads, to me it seems clear that we do not.
There are many other things in this that are very disturbing, but I don't want to go into all of them.
POTENTIAL FOR PANAMANIAN VIOLATION OF NEUTRALITY TERMS
The potential for the Panamanians to violate the neutrality of the canal down the road is very great, even under the terms of this agreement.
For example, under the provision concerning war vessels, they could simply have the power to stop any ship, to inspect it, to see that it has met all health and sanitation requirements. It would be very convenient in a moment of international crisis with Cuba, for example, for a pro-Marxist government in Panama to conveniently declare that they would quarantine all U.S. warships and inspect them. What could we do about that! Absolutely nothing.
There are many other problems, too.
Who knows, down the road, when you have Panamanian pilots in the canal guiding our ships through, they could conveniently call a strike in such a similar moment of international crisis and hold our warships again for a few days, even for a week.
In addition, Panama says they do not want to obligate themselves in the treaty to keep it open if it is not making money.
Panama could again conveniently declare that the Panama Canal is not making money and have to close it down indefinitely, right in a moment of tremendous international crisis.
Finally, I would like to summarize some of the defense problems. I think the key to the defense problem is very simple.
Our negotiators should have insisted that we be able to lease military bases from the Panamanians in perpetuity. We lease bases from the Germans, in Spain, in the Philippines, in Japan-indeed, all over the world. Does the presence of U.S. troops in these countries compromise their national integrity and sovereignty-for example, say, of the Germans, the Koreans, or the Japanese ? No. I think that is ridiculous.
Well, if Ambassador Bunker has said that there is no country in the world with which Panama maintains a closer relationship than with the United States, then why would Panama object to having the United States lease military bases, for which we would pay, in perpetuity, to maintain a military presence ?
It is very simple. This is a pro-Marxist government that wants to get us out of there at all costs. They do not want U.S. troops there.
But certainly we should have the right and we should have insisted upon the right and we should tell our negotiators to go back and get the right to maintain a military presence in Panama in perpetuity. That is the only way we can guarantee the defense of the canal. If we had done that, then the question of the interpretation of “intervention" would be meaningless.
So, we should have insisted upon that. I would suggest that the Senate insist that such an article be included in the treaty.
There is one final matter about which I would like to talk-well, a couple of more things.
RISK SCENARIO SITUATION
What we are facing, I think, is a risk scenario situation. What are the most acceptable versus the least acceptable risks!
Now I know some will probably disagree with this analogy, but I am going to use it anyway.
Let's look at Israel's situation with the West Bank territory. Many people argue that Israel should give up the West Bank territory because if she doesn't, she is going to risk another war with the Arabs and continued guerrilla attacks by the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). Certainly that is a risk. But, I agree with Israel that it is a greater risk for her to give up the West Bank and then to have a hostile Palestinian state right next to her belly which would threaten her even greater.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Jarmin, let me ask you if you would be willing to place the rest of your statement into the record?
Mr. JARMIN. Yes, Mr. Chairman; but please first let me finish this one scenario.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. JARMIN. The situation we are facing in Panama is the same thing. Obviously we run risks, but the risks that we face down the road by giving up this territory are far greater than the risks that we may face from rioting students.
I will conclude with that, Mr. Chairman.
there were a couple of more points that I wanted to make, but they are in my testimony. [Mr. Jarmin's prepared statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GARY L. JARMIN Mr. Chairman, the American Conservative Union appreciates the opportunity afforded by the committee to present our views with regard to the proposed Panama Canal Treaties. The ACU is the nation's largest conservative organization with over 100,000 members and 40 state affiliate chapters. The ACU is one of the leading organizations opposed to these treaties and has, as a part of this effort, established a “Task Force to Save the Panama Canal" headed by the distinguished senior Senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond.
We believe there are many valid reasons why these treaties should be rejected by the Senate, but chief among them is the problem of the contradictory interpretations by Panamanian and U.S. officials with regard to key provisions guaranteeing: (a) the United States the right to intervene to defend the canal; (b) preferential passage for U.S. warships in times of major conflict or war; (c) the neutrality of the canal; and (d) keeping it open under all circumstances (except in the case of natural disasters).
The major source for this conflict over interpretations is primarily based on the statement made by Panama's chief treaty negotiator, Dr. Romulo Escobar Bethancourt, before the Panamanian National Assembly on August 19th and the remarks by another of Panama's treaty negotiators, Carlos Lopez Guevara. as disclosed in a confidential State Department cable made public by Senator Robert Dole. The ACU, we feel, is particularly justified in addressing this issue since it was the ACU which first obtained a copy of Dr. Escobar's speech as printed in the August 20th issue of Matutino, a Panamanian newspaper, translated these remarks and made them public on September 2nd by issuing numerous copies to many Senators, including some members of this committee, Congressmen, the media and others.
In his speech, Dr. Escobar made eleven points about the Neutrality Treaty and its Protocol but, reduced to basics, four items stand out. First, the U.S. will not have any defense rights past the year 2000 and will not be the guarantor of the neutrality of the Canal. Second, U.S. warships will not get preferential treatment in terms of transiting the Canal, even in time of war, after the year 2000. Third, the Panamanians think that it will not be necessary for them to abide by the Neutrality Treaty in cases of foreign attack or internal disorder. In short, from the Panamanian standpoint, the U.S. role in Canal affairs will be very limited until 1999 and virtually non-existent thereafter, which is a far cry from what we have heard about how the Canal will be kept open and that adoption of this treaty will make it easier to defend our interests.
The question of interpretation is extremely crucial with respect to any treaty and, especially, with regard to this one. But just as important, what actually transpired during these negotiations, i.e., what original proposals were offered by both the U.S. and Panama, what was rejected by either side, why it was rejected and what was compromised, is something that must be fully disclosed in order to clearly understand the intentions, interpretation and strategic outlook of the respective parties (fortunately, Senator Howard Baker had the wisdom to request this information from Secretary Vance on the opening day of these hearings). For example, when he made his speech before the Panamanian National Assembly, Dr. Escobar stated :
“You should have seen the original draft they presented along with the military treaty. Agreeing totally to that would have been shameful: I would not have dared to sit at this table now to give you any kind of explanation if I'd brought with me their original draft for the military treaty and the neutrality treaty." (emphasis added)
The question that must be answered is: "What was the United States' original draft for the military and neutrality treaty and why did we compromise?" It seems clear from Dr. Escobar's statements, and, those of other Panamanian officials, that they consider it absolutely intolerable for the United States to have the right to intervene to defend the canal. It should be equally intolerable for the United States Senate to agree to such an outrageous prospect. If the United States does not have the clear, legal right, under the terms of this agree ment, to defend the Panama Canal, so vital to the protection of our commerce and national security interests, then how can we justify or have the right to defend our interests anywhere in the world?
The United States and Panama are now attempting to resolve these differences by issuing some statements to satisfy opponents of the treaties in their respective countries. But watered down, generalized agreements of interpretation to satisfy opponents of the treaties will not suffice. Whatever actions are necessary should be taken by the United States Senate in order to clarify in the neutrality treaty precisely what our (U.S.) rights are. We cannot, and should not, leave it up to anyone's "interpretation," now or in the future, as to exactly what the United States' rights and privileges are under the terms of this treaty.
Should the U.S. Senate ratify these treaties in their present form, we will be risking, down the road, a major confrontation with Panama over whether or not the United States can intervene militarily to defend the neutrality of the canal.
On the neutrality issue, it is clear that Articles I and II of the Neutrality section are unilateral statements of neutrality by Panama alone. Neither article mentions the United States in conjunction with a declaration of neutrality; they are simply a unilateral declaration by Panama. The fact that Panama alone makes the declaration of neutrality is crucial for one important reason: It simply means that only Panama can declare when the neutrality of the canal has been violated. This means the United States could not legally take any action to defend the canal, if it thought the neutrality of the canal was being violated, without Panama first declaring a violation of the neutrality.
For example, in his August 19th speech, Dr. Escobar stated that Panama could not agree, in writing, that it be obligated to keep the canal open if it was not "making money" or in the case of "internal disorder." Refusal by Panama to oblige itself with maintaining the openness of the canal under these circumstances is very important for several reasons. First of all, it must be understood that the Panamanian government is basically Marxist in orientation and outspokenly aligns itself with Cuba and other "pro-socialist" countries. In an in
ternational crisis, such as occurred in Cuba in 1962, can we be assured that riotous students, in sympathy to Cuba, would not attempt to disrupt the operation of the canal to prevent the passage of U.S. warships? Could not the Panamanian government conviently declare during such a crisis that the canal was not making money and, therefore, have to close it indefinitely?
In addition, given the heavy communist influence in Panamanian labor unions, could not one day, in a similar crisis, the pilots who move ships through the canal suddenly declare a strike and, thus, paralyze the transit of U.S. warships.
There is also one other provision that would provide for the Pananians a perfectly legitimate (legal) excuse to halt the transit of U.S. warships. Under Article III, section 1, subsection (e), the treaty provides that warships can be "required to certify that they have complied with all applicable health, sanitation and quarantine regulations." Obviously, the Panamanians could, in an international crisis, declare that all U.S. warships transiting the canal be stopped indefinitely to undergo a health and sanitation inspection. And what could we do about it? Send in the Marines ? It makes no sense that this provision be listed under the "vessels of war” section to begin with. Yet, it provides a convenient excuse for the Panamanians to violate the “principle” of neutrality.
MAINTAINING ADEQUATE DEFENSE OF THE CANAL From the outset, it should be clearly understood that the Panama Canal is still and always will be vital to the defense of the United States. We do not have a two-ocean navy. We have instead a one-ocean navy with two-ocean responsibilities. The transit of warships and war material, troops, etc., from one ocean to another, as during the Cuban missile crisis and Bay of Pigs invasion, is still critical to our national security in moments of international crisis.
There is only one way to guarantee the adequate defense of the canal: The United States should continue, in perpetuity, to maintain a military presence in the Canal Zone. By the year 2000 all U.S. military troops are to be withdrawn and the defense of the canal will be entirely in the hands of the Panamanians. However, the Panamanians are poorly trained and equipped to adequately defend the canal. If 10,000 U.S. troops cannot completely defend the canal, as the Pentagon has stated, then how can 10,000 soldiers of the Panamanian National Guard defend it?
Today we have only 10,000 U.S. troops defending the Canal Zone and, thus far, they have been able to defend it without any major problems. The major reason for this success is quite simple : They are U.S. troops, not Panamanian. This deterrent role is validated by the same reason our troops in Guantanamo protect it from attack by the Cubans. After all, if we accept the Defense Department's argument that we cannot defend the Panama Canal with 100,000 troops, then how can 5,000 troops in Guantanamo defend it against 300,000 Cubans? We can and do defend Guantanamo primarily because of the deterrent of a U.S. military presence. It is obvious that the United States military presence in the Canal Zone serves as a deterrent to any potential foe whether it be foreign or domestic. Once U.S. troops are withdrawn, the deterrent is removed. Under these circumstances the canal will become more vulnerable, not less. There is only one way to guarantee an adequate defense of the canal and that is to insure a permanent U.S. military presence.
The United States should have insisted on the right to keep U.S. troops in the Canal Zone indefinitely and not agree to any termination date. Ambassador Bunker told this committee that there is no country with which Panama maintains a "closer" relationship than the United States. If this is true, then why shouldn't the United States be allowed to keep troops in the Canal Zone? The U.S. has military forces in many countries throughout the world. There are few that would argue that Germans, Greeks or Koreans feel their national sovereignty and integrity are threatened by the presence of U.S. troops. And neither should the Panamanians. Yèt the U.S. capitulated on this very crucial issue. Obviously, the best way to keep a military presence in Panama would be to reject these treaties and keep control of what is rightfully U.S. territory. However, at the very latest, the U.S. and Panama could have agreed to lease military bases to the U.S. after the year 2000. If the U.S. had insisted on such a provision in these treaties, then the question over whether or not we have the right to intervene would not exist. The United States Senate can and should insist that the treaties he altered to provide for a continuing U.S. military presence in Panama. The Canal is too vital to the commerce and defense interests