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consider deviating from what I understand the committee tradition, that we do not request the attendance of witnesses who are representatives of foreign states?
Am I correct that it is the tradition of the committee that we do not hear foreign witnesses? Second, if it is the tradition of the committee, would we deviate from that and invite representatives from the Government of Panama to testify!
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Baker, we have, on occasion, had testimony from people from other countries, but never in connection with consideration of a treaty. I think I am correct in that statement.
Senator PERCY. That would not prevent us, Mr. Chairman, in lieu of a hearing format, from just listening, would it? We have frequently talked with representatives of foreign governments to solicit their views. If we don't do it in a hearing format, we could do it in a more informal capacity. I intend to go as an individual if the committee does not go, and it would be my intention to talk to members of the Panamanian Government about their interpretations of these treaties, about how they can bind their Government to it in the future under Panamanian law.
The CHAIRMAN. I don't think we have to decide that question at this time. I think we should finish our hearings here and then if the committee thinks it is advisable to go down there, we can go. Frankly, I don't react too favorably to our going. I am not sure the hearings would be such that they could be considered official hearings. For the time being, I think we had better leave that open.
Senator BAKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator PERCY. That would not apply, Mr. Chairman, to individual Senators who decided that they needed additional information? This Senator feels the need for additional information, firsthand, and it is my intention to go down.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, any individual can go. I have been to Panama several times myself.
Senator PERCY. I think we ought to reserve judgment on the question of conducting hearings there. I did not address myself to that formality.
The CHAIRMAN. My wife and I were down there a good many years ago. We went through the canal.
Senator Glenn, do you have a statement ?
NEED FOR CLEAR STATEMENT OF INTENT OF PANAMANIAN GOVERNMENT
I think what is needed, more than a trip to Panama, is a clear statement of the intent of the Panamanian Government, of the top officials, of General Torrijos, as to exactly how they interpret the treaties. The two points that seem to be our problem areas are the expeditious passage part and the right of intervention.
It seems to me that once we lay those two things out and get them cold-and that can be done just as well from this end of the line as it can in Panama-then we will have diminished about 90 percent of the difficulty in whatever the educational program is going to be in giving this to the American people. I don't rule out any trip to Panama or anything like that, but I think we should take that up in executive session where we can carefully lay out all of the pluses and minuses of it before we commit ourselves to a committee trip to Panama.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Pell. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, but I have no statement at this time.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well. Admiral Moorer, you have a prepared statement that will be printed in full in the record. But we would be glad for you to present it in any way you see fit. We would be glad to hear from you at this time.
STATEMENT OF ADM. THOMAS H. MOORER, USN (RETIRED),
FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, MCLEAN, VA.
Admiral MOORER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First let me say that I am the only one present, so far as I know, among the four who signed the June 8 letter to the President.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Foreign Relations Committee, I am honored to be here as a witness. I would like to emphasize at the outset that I am not here representing a particular group, an organization, or a political party. Rather, I am here as a concerned citizen who has had far more than average involvement in the Panama Canal as it relates to the vital security of the citizens of these United States. Accordingly, I will speak primarily in terms of global maritime strategy.
My military experience during the last 12 years of active duty, from 1962 to 1974, offered me some extraordinary and unique opportunities to assess the importance of the Panama Canal to the United States, as well as its value to our allies and friends and, indeed, to all maritime nations.
My evaluation of this waterway as an invaluable possession of the United States was intensified in 1962. At the time I was Commander, Seventh Fleet, operating in the Western Pacific. Frequently my fleet's capabilities depended on the prompt arrival of supplies from the Atlantic seaboard, supplies loaded aboard ships which were utilizing the Panama Canal.
From the Seventh Fleet I went to Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet; from there to Commander in Chief, Atlantic; and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic; from there to Chief of Naval Operations; and from there to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Each of these commands provided unique opportunities, and sometimes urgent reasons, to evaluate the Panama Canal. I saw this strategic waterway from many vantage points and under stressful circumstances.
USE OF CANAL DURING VIETNAM ERA As Commander in Chief, Pacific, I recall in some detail the Tonkin Gulf era of 1964. During that period I saw the Panama Canal as a conduit for rapid reinforcement from the Atlantic Fleet should the naval forces of the Soviet Union or mainland China become involved in the Vietnamese war. The U.S. high command was never sure during those early phases of the war of the intentions of either the Soviet Union or mainland China. We knew that they had the naval and air capabilities to make trouble and therefore we had to draw up contingency plans for such eventualities.
In order to equalize the wartime exposure and hardship throughout the entire Navy, large numbers of Atlantic Fleet units were continuously rotated through the Canal to the combat theater in the Pacific.
In addition, as the Pacific Fleet Commander, I looked to the Atlantic side for rapid logistics support. The U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Navy all required a continuous and heavy flow of logistic support; such necessities as fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and food.
Our allies fighting with us in Vietnam also required considerable support from the United States. If the Panama Canal had not been open and available, the war in Vietnam would have been much more difficult and costly to conduct.
This conclusion is also true for the war in Korea. Going back a few years, here is no question but that the availability of the Panama Canal shortened World War II by many months.
CANAL'S USAGE MAGNITUDE AND RELATIONSHIP TO MILITARY OPERATIONS
To give you some idea of the magnitude of Panama Canal usage and its relationship to military operations. in 1963 there was a total of 300 U.S. Government transits through the Panama Canal. As the Vietnam war escalated, the number of Government ships transiting by 1966 was doubled. The records show that for the year 1966, a total of 591 Government ships transited the canal. Most of these ships were carrying critically needed logistics support to the forces operating under my command.
As Commander in Chief, Atlantic, and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, I saw the situation at Panama in another perspective. That was for the period 1965 to 1967. The war in Vietnam was still expanding, but now I was looking at the canal not only as a means of sending support to the Commander in Chief, Pacific, but also from the Atlantic perspective. I saw the possible need to reverse the flow of ships through the canal, particularly if the situation deteriorated in the Middle East or in the Caribbean during those volatile months of tension and conflict in both these areas.
Both in our U.S. planning and in our NATO planning we envisioned contingencies calling for reinforcements from the Pacific area to the Atlantic. We clearly foresaw the need for transfer of combatant tonnage, Army and Marine divisions, and in particular we saw the need for transfer of amphibious lift.
As Chief of Naval Operations, I had to look at the Panama Canal as an essential means of equalizing the strength and providing the balance between the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. The canal made it possible to preposition certain types and tonnages, but always with the knowledge that the balance could be shifted to meet unforeseen situations. The Panama Canal gives the naval planner much flexibility and versatility that he would be deprived of without it.
CANAL AS MEANS OF PROTECTING U.S. SECURITY
As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I became even more sensitive to the strategic value of this U.S. canal as a means of protecting the security of the United States. My job as Chairman involved all of the Armed Forces of the United States—their collective requirements—and I was primarily responsible to the President for their ability to carry out their roles and missions as assigned by the Congress. Any naval commander acting in that role in wartime will immediately perceive that it is vital to U.S. interest to retain complete ownership and control of the Panama Canal.
POTENTIAL DANGERS OF SURRENDERING CANAL
In view of the above, I am very much concerned about the proposals to surrender the Panama Canal to a leftist oriented government allied with Cuba. There exists the potential danger for giving this U.S. advantage to a man who might allow or might be persuaded that it was in his best interest to permit Soviet power and influence to prevail by proxy over the canal, in much the same manner as happened in Cuba.
I was convinced as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I remain convinced today, that if the Soviet Union ever gained even proxy sovereignty and control over the U.S. Canal Zone and canal through Cuba, U.S. security as well as U.S. prosperity would be placed in serious jeopardy.
The United States would be placed in jeopardy because interocean mobility would be threatened. The mobility of allied commercial shipping and naval forces would face the same threat. The economic lifelines of the entire Western Hemisphere would be needlessly jeopardized, and the point is: There is no point in surrendering this vital interest. Also, by relinquishing control of the Canal Zone and the canal, we would force all those nations who depend on our power and leadership to accommodate to the adverse implications of such action on our part. Recent history clearly indicates that the Canal Zone could quickly become the satellite base of an adversary. The advocates of this proposed treaty do not appear to take this factor into account.
The Panama Canal is one of the four maritime gateways of the world, together with the Malacca Straits, the Suez Canal, and the Gibraltar Straits.
Anyone who reads Soviet literature concerning maritime affairs soon learns that the Soviets fully understand the strategic importance of the Panama Canal, even if some here in Washington do not. In my view, the prime reason for the burdensome support of Cuba by the Soviet Union is related directly to the interest in the canal as they greatly expand their maritime capabilities in the form of both warships and merchant ships.
We have, in fact, in my view a Torrijos-Castro-Moscow axis. Castro has sent thousands of troops to Africa aboard Soviet ships. He has been to Moscow where he has been greeted with open arms. Torrijos has been to Havana where he has been decorated by Castro while both extolled the success of their respective revolutions. He has also been to Libya to visit Qadhafi who, next to Castro, is the most active international revolutionary in the world.
When Torrijos overflew Havana on his return from Washington to Panama after the ceremonies last month, he sent the following message to Castro, and I quote:
On my return trip to my country and flying above the sky of Cuba, I salute you with friendship always. I wish that the Cuban people under your skillful leadership continue its ascendant march toward progress. In Latin America your name is associated with feelings about dignity that have been channeled toward the ending of a shameful period of colonialism.
In addition, I would note that a large Russian commission has recently visited Panama seeking concessions and offering economic assistance.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, do not be surprised if this treaty is ratified in its present form, to see a Soviet and/or Cuban presence quickly established in the country of Panama. Such a presence will seriously complicate the exercise of the claimed “right” of the United States to intervene. I can find no such specific right contained in the treaty, however.
In any event, any confrontation then becomes one with the Soviets, rather than with the Panamanian guerrillas or terrorists. With the Soviets already on the scene, fighting our way in will not be simple because at that point it will be about 1,000 miles to the nearest American air field, and that air field is in Guantánamo. I am certain that the same logic that is being applied to the current proposal with respect to Panama can quickly be transferred and in a very short time you will find people in this country clamoring for us to return Guantánamo to Cuba. A permanent U.S. presence on the other hand, in Panama in my view is the only feasible and safe posture.
REASONS PUT FORWARD IN SUPPORT OF TREATY
Mr. Chairman, I have yet to hear any convincing justification advanced as to why the United States should willingly sacrifice the strategic and economic advantages afforded the United States and, for that matter, all the nations in the Western Hemisphere by our exercise of full control of the Panama Canal
as provided for in the current treaty. In fact, stripped to the essense I have heard only three, only three reasons put forward in support of the proposed treaty: one, by signing the new treaty we will divest ourselves of the stigma of colonialism harped on by Mr. Torrijos and others and thereafter everyone will love us; two, if we do not surrender the canal, some unknown individuals in the Isthmus of Panama will blow it up; and three, the canal is not of much use anyway. Traffic between oceans is a convenience but is not vital. Furthermore, the big ships of the Navy cannot use the canal and only about 10 percent of merchant ships passing through the canal are U.S.-flag ships.
So, why the concern?
First, with respect to the image of the United States, the United States does not have to apologize to anyone for its generous outpourings of blood and treasure in an effort to assist the underprivileged