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adversary, the Panama Canal would become an immediate crucial problem and prove a serious weakness in the over-all U.S. defense capability, with enormous potential consequences for evil.
Mr. President, you have become our leader at a time when the adequacy of our naval capabilities is being seriously challenged. The existing maritime threat to us is compounded by the possibility that the Canal under Panamanian sovereignty could be neutralized or lost, depending on that government's relationship with other nations. We note that the present Panamanian government has close ties with the present Cuban government which in turn is closely tied to the Soviet Union. Loss of the Panama Canal, which would be a serious set-back in war, would contribute to the encirclement of the U.S. by hostile naval forces, and threaten our ability to survive.
For meeting the current situation, you have the well-known precedent of former distinguished Secretary of State (later Chief Justice) Charles Evans Hughes, who, when faced with a comparable situation in 1923, declared to the Panamanian government that it was an "absolute futility" for it "to expect an American administration, no matter what it was, any President or any Secretary of State, ever to surrender any part of (the) rights which the United States had acquired under the Treaty of 1903," (Ho. Doc. No. 474, 89th Congress, p. 154). We recognize that a certain amount of social unrest is generated by the contrast in living standards between Zonians and Panamanians living nearby. Bilateral programs are recommended to upgrade Panamanian boundary areas. Canal modernization, once U.S. sovereignty is guaranteed, might benefit the entire Panamanian economy, and especially those areas near the U.S. Zone.
The Panama Canal represents a vital portion of our U.S. naval and maritime assets, all of which are absolutely essential for free world security. It is our considered individual and combined judgment that you should instruct our negotiators to retain full sovereign control for the United States over both the Panama Canal and its protective frame, the U.S. Canal Zone as provided in the existing treaty.
ROBERT B. CARNEY.
Admiral MOORER. Regarding the question of sovereignty, ownership, and control of the U.S. Canal Zone and the canal, I am not a lawyer, but I am satisfied with the Supreme Court's decision of 1907 in the famous Wilson v. Shaw case that the United States does have legal sovereignty and ownership for the purposes enumerated in the treaty of 1903. Judge Crowe described that much better than I.
This ruling, I think, was reaffirmed by a lower court as recently as 1972. Also, our Constitution states in article IV, section 3, clause 2, that only Congress has the authority to dispose of U.S. territory and other property of the United States.
The language in the Supreme Court's decision of 1907 is quite precise. It is not ambiguous. So is the language in our Constitution. Since the Supreme Court's decision of 1907 still stands-it has never been overruled and since the Constitution, in my opinion, is still the best governing document in existence, I can only conclude that we would be well advised to abide by these documents in our negotiations with other countries.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator ALLEN. Admiral Moorer, thank you for your very fine statement. I must say that you do not leave much unsaid in opposition to the giveaway of the Panama Canal. You leave very little that can be said by those who favor giving away the canal. Your logic is unanswerable and certainly unassailable. As you pointed out, the experience that you have had in the Navy, and all the way up the ladder to the
very highest rank in the Navy-from Commander of the Pacific Fleet and the Atlantic Fleet and the Supreme Allied NATO Commander and the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefsin all of these capacities you saw the great value and necessity of our ownership and control of the canal.
Admiral MOORER. Yes, sir. Absolutely.
Senator ALLEN. I do not know of anybody in the entire country that is better qualified to speak on the value of the Panama Canal to the American people than you. I think that you have made a fine statement.
You pointed out the danger of the Panama Canal falling into the hands of our adversaries. I have in mind that you feel that there is an excellent chance that it would fall under Communist domination, greatly to our detriment. I agree with you that very little has been brought forward to show the necessity of doing this.
Why give the canal away? The postulated necessity for that is something you cannot understand, and something we cannot understand. I feel that you have made a fine statement not only on the question of the provisions of the Constitution on the disposal of American property, but of the tremendous value from a national security standpoint of the Panama Canal. Certainly it seems to be a great folly on our part to even consider doing this, but certainly we feel that not only the Senate should pass on this question, but if a treaty is agreed upon we further believe that the Constitution should be followed in the matter of the disposition of American property.
This disposition would require statutory action by both Houses of Congress. I certainly agree with your analysis and feel that your testimony makes a valuable contribution to the solution of the problem and the direction that we should take. I think you have performed a service to the committee and to your country, which has been your way of life all of your life.
We appreciate it.
Admiral MOORER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to say that during the Cuban crisis and immediately thereafter I made a speech wherein-everybody was quite excited about Russian missiles in Cuba. It really did not concern me, because you could deploy a submarine and do the same thing.
I said at the time that it would be far better to have an agreement with the Russians to leave the missiles and take the Russians out.
Who would have thought at that time that we would have 12,000 Cubans by proxy in Angola? Anyone in this country who thinks that Soviet Russia is not staring down the throat of the Panama Canal is very naive, and I think it says something to note that the Soviets understand the importance of the Panama Canal apparently far more than many in our own country.
Senator ALLEN. You are certainly correct.
Admiral Moorer, I think you and I, as Alabamians, can take pride in the work of Senator John P. Morgan in pushing for a canal, because he favored the Nicaraguan route and almost won out there in the Senate. The Panama route was decided on, so he switched to that, as you know. He has been called "the father of the Panama Canal."
I guess we wish now that he had won out on the Nicaraguan route, because it might not be as difficult now. I recall Senator Morgan with pride when we talk about the Panama Canal.
Senator SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would want to associate myself, Admiral, with the comments that have been made by our distinguished chairman. I am glad to hear about these great Alabamians, because I just do not feel that Virginia should be alone in forming the leadership of the Nation.
Senator SCOTT. Admiral, you have held the No. 1 military position in our Nation. You held the very top post by being Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Even though that is a military position, I think that as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs you have been concerned with maintaining peace in the world.
In a position such as that you would be concerned with political as well as military affairs. Here we have a nation of roughly 1.6 million people, compared with a nation of something close to 215 million people. We hear oftentimes that we are one of the two superpowers in the world, and the world looks to us for leadership.
I do not suggest for a moment that because of our size we take advantage of any small nation in the world. However, we have valid rights. The Panama Canal would not have existed without the United States. It could not have been maintained through the years.
Will we lose our influence in world affairs by knuckling under to the propaganda that is coming from the Panamanian Government that perhaps is coming-at least in part-from Communist sources? If we give away this canal, what effect-if any-in your judgment would it have upon our relationship with other countries of the world?
I am not in any way attempting to minimize the effect that the loss of the canal would have, but over and above what effect that would have, how will the world community view something like this as far as our leadership in the world is concerned?
Admiral MOORER. Senator Scott, I do not think there is any question about the fact that the perception of what you call "the world community," concerning the will and determination and strength of the United States would be significantly lower.
When that happens they tend to drift over to those who have interests different from those of the United States. At the same time, the other side of the coin is that the perception of the Soviet Union as to what stand we will take in a crisis situation will be such as to tempt them to take additional steps in their own interest.
As a matter of fact, I think that that was perhaps one of the most damaging effects of the Vietnamese experience. We backed away there and indicated that we were not going to finish what we started. You also have the Cuban experiment in Angola, and so on.
I have been very concerned about this for the last 4 or 5 years. The worldwide perception that we have permitted to develop as to our will and determination has been demonstration for years and years and years. If we buckle under here I think, as I said earlier, that the remainder of the South American countries will not like it. It will make them feel uncertain. They will look to more instability.
I do no think that the United States has to apologize for what we have done worldwide. We have given more of our blood and treasure than any nation in history. The record speaks for itself. Anyone that
would suggest for 1 minute that we are engaged in some kind of aggression or stamping down of a small undefended country is just speaking nonsense.
In my view, if we do not maintain a solid position with respect to the Panama Canal-and other areas too, for that matter-our position vis-a-vis the other nations in the world is going to deteriorate further.
Senator SCOTT. Did I understand from your testimony that if South Africa or the nations in southern Africa should fall under Communist influence to a greater extent than they are now that that would make the canal more vital than it is today?
Admiral MOORER. Exactly, because you would be forced then to at least attempt to transport oil from the Persian Gulf, from Indonesia, and those areas as well as from Alaska, and perhaps even from California, through the canal to most of our refineries which are either in the Gulf States of Louisiana and Texas, or along the east coast of the United States.
Senator ScoTT. Without the use of the canal, do I understand also that we would have to have a larger fleet to maintain the effectiveness that our fleet has with the use of the canal?
Admiral MOORER. There is absolutely no question about that, Senator Scott. It is simply a time and distance problem. You can easily compute that.
Senator SCOTT. Did I also understand that you have a concern about the Communist influence in connection with the canal that if transferred to the nation of Panama that it might more readily come under Communist influence than it would by remaining in the United States?
Admiral MOORER. In my personal view there is absolutely no question about this. Torrijos has been to Havana. He has been decorated by Castro. They have patted each other on the back and suggested that their revolutions are identical. The Russians are in Cuba lock, stock, and barrel.
Senator SCOTT. Admiral, with all of this, what is wrong with our State Department? Could you answer that for me?
Admiral MOORER. No, sir, Senator Scott. That is not in my jurisdiction.
Senator SCOTT. You are a private citizen now. I understand that you are not even-as a retired military man, you are not even going to be reassigned if you speak whatever you might want to say. I think the Nation does need to turn to people like you for advice. I share everything that my distinguished colleague from Alabama has said about
It is a very frustrating thing to be as convinced as I am and you have just indicated and the Senator from Alabama has indicated that you are. I want to be proud of my Government, and yet there is a sense of frustration when it seems that it is so obvious that we are going in the wrong direction.
I am sure that I speak for all of my colleagues here that if you have any advice as to the action we might take, we would like to hear them. We have some ideas of our own. I do not mean to suggest that we are not without resources, but I do not have the slightest intention of voting the ratification of a treaty that just gives away the Panama Canal. I do not think any of us do.
Do you have any further thoughts that you might offer us as Members of the U.S. Senate? We would welcome hearing them.
Admiral MOORER. Senator Scott, I feel as I am sure you have concluded at this point that this would be a big mistake. I think one of the great things about our system of government is the balance that is inherent in the coequal branches of the Government.
I would hope that at least 34 Senators agree with you. Senator SCOTT. Well, we had sense of the Congress resolution cosponsored by more than a third of the Members of the Senate. I would hope that the people down there at the State Department can at least count to 100. If they can, they can see that more than one-third expressed the sense of the Congress in writing by cosponsoring a bill which said that they would not ratify a treaty, but it is going right along just as if no sense of the Congress resolution had been introduced.
Don't you think they have enough intelligence to count heads down in the State Department?
Admiral MOORER. Well, apparently they do not, Senator. [Laughter.]
Senator SCOTT. I am not going to belabor this any further. Thank you very much, Admiral.
Senator ALLEN. Senator Hatch?
Senator HATCH. Admiral Moorer, I do have deep regard for you, as you know. I have appreciated your testimony today.
However, I have really made an effort to try and look at both sides of this matter. I have met with Mr. Linowitz twice and Mr. Bunker once. I have also met with a variety of other people. I have also read, and I have studied.
One of the comments that Mr. Linowitz made in the first discussion that we had about this was that he said that the present Joint Chiefs of Staff had listed the canal as important but not vital. Would you agree with that?
Admiral MOORER. No; I would consider the canal vital. I do not agree that you can attempt to describe it as being important, unless, for instance, we are prepared to as I pointed out in my statementbuild, in fact, a two-ocean navy.
The same thing goes, Senator Hatch, when you discuss some of the other outlying facilities we have, such as the Azores, for instance. If you are willing to spend many billions of dollars to permit you to put the concentration of forces anywhere in the Atlantic that you can with access to Azores, then perhaps you could make a point that you could do without it.
I do not see that in the cards in the first place. However, even when that takes place I think that in peacetime the prosperity of the United States is heavily supported by the existence of the Panama Canal. In wartime what it permits you to do is to concentrate force, which is one of the fundamental military actions, in a far shorter time than you can without it.
That is so straightforward and simple to me that I do not see how anyone could quarrel with it.
Senator HATCH. I have shared your concern that this country has become 50 percent dependent upon foreign oil and gas supply, mainly