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result of any further outbreaks of violence or conflict, but rather from recognition of the fact that the present situation is untenable on both sides and if left unresolved could well lead to repeated violence and bloodshed at almost any turn down the road.
President Carter and Secretary Vance along with our negotiators and their Panamanian counterparts have now brought down the curtain on thirteen long, hard years of painful and frustrating negotiations. Their foresight deserves our support. Particularly here at home, this kind of foresight is all the more remarkable from the standpoint that there are few, very few, political credits to be gained from any decision that lends itself to the charge of "giving away our Canal."
In sum, dealing with the Panama Canal issue is like treading a political minefield. Eventually, it will either be cleared or it will surely explode. All of the necessary ingredients are there-the political factors, the economic concerns, the social considerations, the security issues, the lines of battle. Bringing the ingredients together is a nationalistic cause, both American and Panamanian. If nationalism on either side gets out of hand, the cause will be lost on both sides.
The American Government, the American people, must not lose sight of what is at stake. Most importantly, we must not fool ourselves; we must not get caught up in our own slogans and myths about the Canal. Regardless of what ever ideology is pursued by individuals in the Panamanian Government, the driving force that brings all Panamanians together is Panamanian nationalism-and the Canal stands at the very center of it.
We should be particularly careful not to confuse Panamanian nationalism with communism, with totalitarianism or with anything else. We made that mistake once. It was called Vietnam. We paid dearly in both blood and treasure. We simply cannot afford a repetition of that mistake in the Republic of Panama.
Senator HOLLINGS. Our distinguished colleague and senior Senator from Minnesota, your fellow committeeman, Senator Humphrey would have been here as the leading witness this morning. But Senator Humphrey called me and thanked me for going ahead and leading this off because he could not be here.
Let me get to the point of where we are.
DO TREATIES HEAD IN RIGHT DIRECTION?
I remember when Adlai Stevenson was asked whether he was a conservative or a liberal. He said that that was not the question to ask an individual. Rather, you should ask if he is headed in the right direction. The same can be said of these treaties.
The question is not do the canal treaties solve our problems in Panama, or solve all of the problems in Latin America, but rather in foreign policy and international dealings, do the treaties head the United States in the right direction?
Interestingly, if you show me anyone involved in Panama, in the Panama Canal itself or our military today, or former military commanders in Panama, those familiar or having a responsibility for the foreign policy of the United States in any fashion, those who have really worked on it, by a poll of 90 to 10 they feel that the treaties are in the best interest of this country. But then the public comes around and by a vote of almost 75 to 25-three-quarters of the Nation-they appear to be against the treaties. Why?
WHY THREE-FOURTHS OF COUNTRY APPEARS TO BE AGAINST TREATIES
Beginning back about 7 years ago various conservative organizations started a drive against the new treaty. We are involved in a public relations campaign against the policy of this administration. They were aided and abetted by many in both the House and the Senate who knew nothing about Panama, but who knew too much about Henry Kissinger's détente. Inadvertently, they were aided by the White House timing on the Panama Canal treaty. It submitted, in a sense, a fait accompli while the Congress was gone in August. We, who were home, could provide no answer to all of the charges that the PR folks, the media, the radio, the TV, the civic clubs were making. They had their mailings and everything else against the treaty. They got in hearings before the Separation of Powers Subcommittee and they brought up witnesses in July-before the treaties' consummation-hoping to get adverse records. There were hearings, not by Foreign Relations Committees and not by the Armed Services. So, they were geared and running in the Congress while we were home. They had all kinds of charges.
Now that hurt those who believe this is in the best interest of this Nation. Also, the signing extravaganza was totally incongruous with the little we did know.
As one senior liberal Senator, you might say, said, "What do we care about what a bunch of dictators down in South America think?" The truth of the matter is that in this particular drive it should be emphasized that Panama has been supported in the main by the free democratic nations in Latin America and Central America, such as
the countries of Colombia and Venezuela. Those are the counsels that Torrijos has sought. I would include Mexico and Costa Rica, So, these are not just a bunch of dictators.
Those kinds of points in history should be made clear.
If we had any chance of really kicking off a drive in support of the treaties, the administration inadvertently kicked the majority leader instead. Ambassador Linowitz said that he thought the treaties could be called up for consideration this year before the Senate adjourns. To this the majority leader had to answer "that anyone, who thinks I will bring it up before January is living in a dream world." So everything started askew.
TASK WE HAVE
Now the ox is in the ditch and we have a mammoth task with a very, very complex problem. The task is self-education and education of the public. Perhaps a series of field hearings will serve best to expose America to the emptiness of the charges of the opposition. Perhaps we can get a "citizens committee" at the Presidential level to come out and be seen and heard. It is that important to this Nation.
FULL ATTENTION TO PREPARING OURSELVES RECOMMENDED
But for now we must give our full attention to preparing ourselves because in another month we are going to be back in the hands of the public, as we were in August. This time, in November and December, while we are home during our break, at the end of this year before the second year of this congressional session, we are going to have to have the answers.
This morning I liked the questioning because we were getting right into some of these things and making our very, very important record.
I noticed in studying your record of last week, though, some of our colleagues were seeking high ground on both sides of the issue so that next year they can then appear as leaders and say, "Well, last September I asked this and now that they have cleared that up, I can be for it." Or, "Last September I asked about that and that has never been adequately answered, and in my opinion I still have to oppose it." This is too important a problem to play around with. If you really want reasons to vote against treaties, there are hundreds that the public will agree with. But as to reasons to vote for the treaties, there is only one, and that is that these treaties are in the national interest.
RUMORS TO BE DISPELLED
I think we should dispel some of the rumors and I will bring up some questions that I formed.
As I was listening to and reviewing the record, I think it was good that we dispelled the idea that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are walking the plank. Another was about the unfriendly ships' assumed passage. Or, as was said, and I quote: "We oblige ourselves to guarantee access in time of war." Commonsense indicates that we would sink the enemy long before he reached the canal. But General Brown answered it specifically when he said that our duty, under the treaties, was to escort them through the canal, but not to it.
I think we should lay that kind of thing to rest.
I constantly hear a statement that Latin American leaders have two opinions on this, one public, one private. This is totally unfounded. It was brought up when I traveled recently with a gentleman who opposed the treaties. The adversary proceeding was brought up with each head of state. I continue to hear, and I continue to see in the ads being run in my home State, that really the Latin American leaders, the heads of state, have an official position in favor of the treaties, but personally and unofficially, on the side-if you call them aside they will whisper in your ear that they really oppose it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I had to go through that exercise in Colombia, when we landed, with their president, and in the Argentine, and in Peru and elsewhere. I asked what they really thought.
Now it was demeaning in one sense to have to ask. But there was no doubt-and you can ask those who traveled with us. We had the Secretary of the Senate, the secretary to the minority, the staff person of the Western Hemisphere Affairs Subcommittee of your committee. In no instance did they find any kind of unofficial opposition, or opposing view, as compared to their official view.
What they really wanted was Panama to have the question of sovereignty solved; for Panama to own and operate the canal. They told us to a man that they realized, however, that only the United States in the Western Hemisphere was strong enough to defend it. Now we have, they said, with the two treaties, the best of both worlds. That is what they are really saying.
They want the United States. We come back again to the initial question of can Panama protect it, can the United States protect it? They realize that only both can protect it because it is an external, as well as an internal, security problem. On the external side they have now preserved under these treaties the integrity of nationhood in the Third World, and for a much, much smaller country by the largest and most powerful country. And, additionally, they have a pledge and responsibility that the largest and most powerful country will guarantee militarily to defend that freedom of transit guaranteed to them. That is highly important to Colombia. You know, she drills oil on the Pacific side and refines it on the Atlantic side, the eastern side. The same is true for Peru, Ecuador, and Costa Rica-it is vital to all of them.
Invariably, by the way, since you talk of Communists and communism, it is not just a question of human rights in many of these countries-it is a question of human survival. You know, President Videla has had three attempts on his life by the Marxists in the Argentine. So, it is not a question of what might happen; he knows that he has to succeed, or what will happen. They are very, very supportive of these treaties. That rumor going around really should be erased, once and for all.
I get a lot of talk about the banks having a conspiracy to get their money paid. There is $2.3 billion owed in debt. But there is only $300 million to the country of Panama, and necessarily the banks are in there doing business. That proves to me that private free enterprise is going on. That is the best example of private free enterprise that could be.
There are also slurs against our Joint Chiefs of Staff and against Ambassador Linowitz. I could show those to you. They are in a South Carolina paper and were signed by a Senator saying that really he was just forced to finally expose himself, when actually for 3 years he served as the Ambassador for President Johnson; that he adhered to the requirements of the State Department on conflict of interest. It was only a $4 million loan that the Marine Midland Bank had. The inference is that Marine Midland would engage in international intrigue for $4 million, or that Ambassador Linowitz would, since he had been a director. But to try to remove this stain, he got off in March of this year-but they are still advertising in September and October of this year that Ambassador Linowitz was not representing the country, but was representing himself. This is insulting.
Regarding the matter of Communists, on Sunday I saw where a colleague said that there were six Communists serving in the government there and thus it is a Communist government. Now, I don't think it is the purest government. Incidentally, I would immediately counter that I visited with Bay of Pigs survivors down in Panama who serve in the Government of Panama. So, I could jump immediately to the point that I have an anti-Castro government-or a Communist government. Now, what is a Communist? Today anybody for social reform is looked upon as a Communist. But the fact remains that Torrijos exiled the head of the party. They are right, none of the parties can participate as he is a dictator. On our briefings we are told that there are no Communists serving in significant positions in the Panamanian Government. I believe that. But I think that some paper ought to be put out to make certain that we know what the true facts are.
When we talk about Panama being unstable, we should remember that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot have a 9-year stability under Torrijos and then say the government is unstable because he is a dictator. He has more stability than we want him to have. I am trying to get some of that away. I think I can disarm Torrijos in that sense with these treaties.
I want you to remember this and put it positively in this record. Every head of state was asked, "If we turn the treaties down in the United States Senate, would it weaken or strengthen Torrijos?" To a man, they all said it would strengthen him. A couple of them said that it would make him a hero. Well, I can tell you that right now. It would make him a hero, no question about it. This is a nationalism issue, and in the country of Panama, Torrijos is a man of the people. Our friend, Lopez-Michelson, the President of Colombia, said to make no mistake about it-Torrijos is a man of the people. I will give you the exact quote. He said: "He is not a patrician." He said that all of the rest of the previous leaders were born in the city of Panama and educated out of the country. They came back and momentarily held power. But Torrijos grew up in the country. His parents were teachers in the countryside. He was a major in the National Guard and he reflects the nationalism of the people better than any single man they have ever had.
Let me discuss the economics of this. I cannot see how we can in good faith talk about Panama's $1.5 billion debt when we are running our national debt at something like $750 billion. We as a Congress are