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Essay/Term paper: American foreign policy

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Research Papers

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Research Papers: American Foreign Policy, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

In 1825, a group of American businesspeople announced the

formation of a canal building company, with interests in constructing a

canal system across the Isthmus. This project was to take place in an

area now called Panama. The endeavor was filled with controversy.

Though the canal itself was not built until the early 1900's every step

toward the building and ownership, was saturated with difficulty.

Walter LaFeber illustrates the dilemmas in a historical analysis. In

his work he states five questions that address the significance of the

Panama Canal to United States. This paper will discuss the historical

perspective of the book's author, address pertinent three questions and

give a critique of LaFeber's work, The Panama Canal.

For proper historical analysis one must understand the

importance of the Canal. The Panama Canal and the Canal Zone (the

immediate area surrounding the Canal) are important areas used for

trade. Even before the canal was built there were to large ports on

both sides of the Isthmus. Large amounts of cargo passed through the

Isthmus by a railroad that connected the two ports. The most important

cargo was the gold mined in California before the transcontinental

railroad was completed in the United States. It has strategic

significance because of its location, acting as a gateway connecting the

Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This allows for rapid naval deployment

between fleets in either ocean. These two facets make the Panama Canal

very important in the region.

LaFeber notes that Panamanian nationalism played a large role in

the creation of the canal and, consequently, the cause for the area's

constant instability. The first expression occurred in the late 1800's

with Panamanian struggle for independence from Columbia. The United

States eager to build the canal, and control its operation, used and

backed Panamanian nationalist. During the Roosevelt administration, not

only did the United States manipulate factors isolating Panama from

other world powers through the Monroe Doctrine; but it committed troops

aiding the revolutionaries against another sovereign state. The reason

this is a surprise is because the Roosevelt administration normally held

a position favoring stability. The United States had no legal right to

use force against Columbia.

Nationalism came back to haunt the United States. With the

treaty signed and a 99-year lease given to the United States, the Canal

was built. Since then, the United States has varied on its stance of

ownership and the principles of sovereignty concerning the Canal. The

ever persistent debate of who owns the Canal and who should have

sovereign control over it, has not been solved. The United States has

occasionally attempted to "claim" the Canal zone through various methods

such as military occupation, exclusion of Panamanians for important jobs

in Canal operations and even through the customary aspect of

international law. However, each time the Panamanians have managed to

maintain claim to the Canal despite the United State's imperialistic

posturing to get it.

The most recent and notorious of the United States' attempts to

annex the Canal Zone was during the Reagan administration. President

Reagan said that the Canal Zone could be equated as a sovereign

territory equal to that of Alaska. The question here is, was he

correct? LaFeber points out that, "the United States does not own the

Zone or enjoy all sovereign rights in it." He uses the treaty of 1936 in

Article III that states, "The Canal Zone is the territory of the

Republic of Panama under the jurisdiction of the United States." The

entire topic was summed up neatly by Ellsworth Bunker, a negotiator in

the region, when he said, "We bought Louisiana; we bought Alaska. In

Panama we bought not territory, but rights."

A second important question, is the Canal a vital interest to

the United States? LaFeber gives three points suggesting that it is

not. First, the importance of the Canal decreased after 1974, because

of the end of the Vietnam War and all related military traffic ceased.

Second, is the age of the antique machinery dating back to 1914.

Inevitably the machinery will need to be replaced. Lastly, the size of

the new tankers and cargo ships. The capacity of the canal is too small

to handle such a large amount of tonnage. These are viable factors;

however, the first argument is concerning whether a war is taking place.

It is circumstantial in providing a solid reason for increased traffic

through the Zone. This can easily change through and emergence of a new

conflict or trading habits of other countries.

Thirdly, why have the Panamanians insisted on assuming total

control of the Canal. The Panamanians are making millions of dollars

annually and the United States run the Canal efficiently. LaFeber

points in the direction of economics as the principal factor and

nationalism as secondary. The Panamanians fear the amount of reliance

they have on U.S. investments. The fear is enhanced by the large

dependence of their national economy on MNC's, American banks and mining

companies. LaFeber continues saying that Panamanians find it difficult

to cross the Zone because of check points and resent their country being

split in half. Continuing he asserts that perhaps if the Panamanians

were to have complete control the Zone the amount of revenue would

increase. Panamanians could also develop spinoff industries such as

drydocks and ship building creating an increase in profits.

Walter LaFeber develops a persuasive argument for the

interpretation of historical events surrounding the creation of the

Panama Canal. As is consistent with other LaFeber's works, his research

and fact finding technique in The Panama Canal is complete if not

exhaustive. He presents an objective outlook on issues surrounding the

Canal. He uses a historical approach in presenting his contribution to

a subject that is lacking in information and scholarly examination.

In conclusion, this paper has addressed the historical

perspective that the author of the book used. A discussion also

included three important questions concerning the Canal, its importance

and the relationship between the United States and Panama. Furthermore,

this paper examines the effectiveness and usefulness of LaFeber's, The

Panama Canal.


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