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The CHAIRMAN. Senator Gravel, we have a long list of witnesses this morning. You have made a very clear and full statement, and we very much appreciate your efforts.
To summarize your statement, you do support these treaties, do you not?
Senator GRAVEL. I support these two treaties for a very simple reason: They will guarantee that we will continue to use the present canal and prospectively a new canal, and the present status quo does not give us that guarantee.
The CHAIRMAN. That can be done under the treaties.
Senator GRAVEL. Yes, bringing about a new Panama Canal and laying the necessary political climate to guarantee our use, yes again. The CHAIRMAN. Senator Church.
Senator CHURCH. I have one question, Mr. Chairman.
RIGHT TO BUILD NEW CANAL UNDER EXISTING TREATIES
Senator Gravel, you have made an excellent case for the advantages that would accrue to the United States if a new canal were to be built, commensurate with the commercial and military needs of the future.
Of the studies to which you have referred, there is little question in my mind but that the new canal would have to be located in Panama, as compared to the costs and difficulties elsewhere. I am sure that those studies make clear that Panama is the proper site.
The route that seems to have the greatest promise lies outside of the present Canal Zone. My question is this. If that were the route to be chosen, and it seems to be the preferred one, do we have any present right under existing treaties to build such a canal without the consent of Panama? Also, under existing treaties, is Panama under any obligation not to consider building a new canal outside the Canal Zone with some other foreign nation, such as the Soviet Union? We hear so much about the pro-Marxist proclivities of this government and the possibility of some Communist government taking over in the future. Under the present arrangement, is there anything to prevent such a government from entering into an agreement with the Soviet Union, let us say, to build a new canal outside of the zone?
Senator GRAVEL. In the present situation there is nothing at all. I might harken back to a period of history with which we are all familiar, and that is 1956, when we decided not to help Gamal Nasser build the Aswan Dam. The Soviet Union came in and built the Aswan Dam. The situation here is exactly the same. If we thwart their natural and normal aspirations, there is no reason why 2 or 3 years from now they cannot sit down not only with the Soviet Union, but with West Germany, Japan, or any of the major industrial powers of the world with the necessary technology and money and build this. I think it would be very easy and not at all difficult to bring about. Then we would be in a very embarrassing situation because it would take little or nothing to stop our canal and then to hold us up with this other sea level canal.
Senator CHURCH. So, what we really gain under these provisions of the treaty in exchange for promising not to undertake to build another canal outside of Panama is an exclusive option to build a new canal in Panama for the rest of this century.
Senator GRAVEL. Very much so. In fact, I think that is a very significant gain.
Senator CHURCH. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Case.
Senator CASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, but I have no questions. I do want to thank Senator Gravel for an excellent presentation, however.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Stone.
Senator STONE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
INTERPRETATION OF TREATY'S SEA-LEVEL CANAL PROVISIONS
Senator Gravel, have you read the provisions of the treaty dealing with the sea-level canal that is proposed, the actual words?
Senator GRAVEL. I was quoting the actual words.
Senator STONE. And you feel that the actual words of the articleI believe it is article XII-grant an exclusive option to the United States?
Senator GRAVEL. Yes.
Senator STONE. Thank you, Senator Gravel. I disagree with that. interpretation. But it doesn't matter whether I disagree or you affirm. What counts is what the Panamanians think, and we will be finding out about that.
Thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Javits.
Senator JAVITS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
ALTERNATIVES TO TREATY
Senator Gravel, I think you have chosen to concentrate upon a very important aspect of the treaty, and I think the conclusions to which you have come are extremely helpful in respect of what is going on down there. What I like particularly about what you have developed in the way of a factual base is to me the $64 question: what is the alternative. What is the alternative of you don't make a treaty?
One of the alternatives is a complete situation of grave disorder, an irredentism in Panama. The other alternative which you have developed most admirably is competition by some other power for a canal across the isthmus, which Panama is at perfect liberty to negotiate, and which, in a moment of national outrage, she easily could without any regard for her own or the Western Hemisphere's best interests. I am indebted to you and I think the country is indebted to you for taking the time and having the interest to make the detailed analysis that you have.
Thank you very much.
Senator GRAVEL. Thank you, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to make a very brief comment at this point.