A Plea for Sovereign Desecration

Robert E. Hughes

March 1, 1990

To the dismay of ultra-liberals, left-wing ideologues, right-wing autocrats, Third-worlders, narco-terrorists, and anti-Bushists everywhere, one General Manuel Noriega, the pineapple-faced bandito who has brutalized Panamanians and Americans in the Isthmus alike for over two decades, who has misused our Canal as a conduit for drug merchants and leftist guerilla armies, who has declared Panama and the U.S. were in “a state of war”, and who has repeatedly served as the prime target for the Left’s assault on President’s Reagan and Bush’s foreign policy throughout his seven-year reign, has, in less than one month’s time, metamorphosed from dictator-extraordinaire in Panama City, to absconder-in-residence at the local Papal Nuncio, to United States prisoner in Miami.

But enough superfluous name-calling. Let the record show that this lewd S.O.B. will be rotting behind bars until the day he descends to Hell.

Now, for those of you concerned citizens who have not managed to keep an accurate account of Tony’s misdeeds during the past two decades (For this you may be pardoned, for his deeds are exorbitantly numerous.), a brief history lesson:

In 1968, Colonel Noriega was part of the coup led by General Omar Torrijos which overthrew the popular government.

In 1979, Noriega allowed the Sandinista rebels to pass through Panama on their way to dislodge the Nicaraguan government, and to oppress the Nicaraguan people for the next decade.

In 1981, Torrijos died in a “mysterious” plane crash, a crash which was later to be revealed as the plan of Architect Noriega. Colonel Daniel Paredes became the new commander-in-chief.

In 1983, Paredes decided to run for the presidency, and gave command of the Defense Forces to General Noriega, who in exchange turned on Paredes and gave the military’s backing to Ardito Barletta, who became president. However, Commander-in-chief Noriega retained actual power.

In 1985, Noriega devised the assassination of opposition leader Dr. Hugo Spadafora. After the unlikely duo of Senators Jesse Helms and John Kerry rallied for an end to Panamanian aid, Noriega made a secret offer to the CIA to assassinate his Sandinista friends in exchange for increased aid.

In 1987, the Defense Forces attacked the home of Noriega’s second-in-command, Colonel Roberto Diaz, after his revelations that his boss had murdered Torrijos and Spadafora, amongst other charges of corruption and drug smuggling. After pressure from the Reagan Administration for the General to step down, Noriega attacked the U.S. Embassy, and paid visits to his fellow dictators and part-time allies, Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega.

In 1988, U.S. federal grand juries in Miami and Tampa indicted Noriega on drug-trafficking charges. Noriega then promised free elections for the following year.

In May, 1989, after opposition leader Guillermo Endara defeated Noriega’s marionette candidate, Carlos Duque, by monitored election, the General dispatched his infamous “Dignity Battalions” to beat his opponents and seize ballot boxes. And President Bush received criticism domestic and abroad for not acting.

In October, 1989, the military crushed an attempt to overthrow the regime by Major Moises Giroldi, who was shot immediately. And President Bush received criticism domestic and abroad for not acting.

In December, 1989, an unarmed U.S. Marine, Lieutenant Robert Paz was murdered, and a naval officer and his wife were assaulted by the Panamanian Defense Forces. Noriega declared that Panama and the U.S. were in “a State of war.” And President Bush received criticism domestic and abroad for not acting.

Just in case any readers are not quite ready to withdraw their membership to the Tony Noriega Fan Club, may I also mention that the general is a cocaine addict, porno-obsessive, Satanic voodooist, child-molester, bisexual, and admirer of Adolf Hitler and Moamaar Quadafi.

However, these whining ultra-liberals, left-wing ideologues, right-wing autocrats, Third-worlders, narco-terrorists, and anti-Bushists love to raise the eternal (yet functionally worthless) question of foreign policy, “Was it legal?” Let us, for now, pretend to assume the extremely objectionable assumption of the existence and legitimacy of what is known as “International Law”. What international doctrines have been violated? Though the invasion was utterly condemned by the United Nations and the Organization of American States, one should take note that both of these distinguished institutions stress (a) human rights and democracy; (b) decent treatment for citizens of other nations; (c) respect for treaties between nations; (d) opposition to the international drug trade; and (e) condemnation of terrorist acts. Noriega’s regime has violated each of these principles. Nevertheless, the UN and the OAS both condemn military intervention by one nation upon another “on any grounds whatsoever”, even to extinguish violations of the principles just listed. Rather, the Utopian idealists who promote “International Law” encourage “peaceful” courses of action, which had been United States policy in Panama for the better part of the past three years, and, not by coincidence, had been just about as effective as the efforts of Noriega’s defense attorneys’ plea that Noriega be granted diplomatic immunity.

This dilemma illustrates the overall inconsistency and impracticality of “International Law”. For all their hyping and griping, the UN and the OAS are two of the most futile organizations on the globe. A more cogent source of the legality of the Panamanian incursion is the Panama Canal Treaty. The treaty finally ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1978 features a splendid reservation, added by the Honorable Dennis DeConcini (the Arizona Democrat now facing troubles in an unrelated mess), which gives the United States sole authority to protect and defend the Canal as the United States deems necessary. Now, some of these Ultraliberals, left-wing ideologues, right-wing autocrats, Third-worlders, narco-terrorists, and anti-Bushists claim that the Torrijos regime never nodded the DeConcini Reservation. Be that so, then the two parties never reached an agreement on the terms, hence the treaty was never actuated, hence the United States has rights to the Canal forever. Obviously, very few Ultraliberals, left-wing ideologues, right-wing autocrats, Third-worlders, narco-terrorists, and anti-Bushists will make that argument. At any rate, Manuel Noriega was misusing the Canal and Bush had every legal and moral right to intervene.

In wake of the reality of the impotence of “International Law”, the question which should be asked is the old conservative standard, “Was it in the interests of the United States of America?” Now, it is undeniably correct to argue that there are worse tyrants in the world, posing an even greater threat to American interests. Yet lack of action by the Administration in the latter case does not concoct an excess of action by the Administration in the former case. Noriega may have helped the CIA earlier in his career, and his generous proposal of 1985, if it had been accepted, could have saved Ollie and the boys tons of headaches. But overall, especially in recent years, Noriega has been a nuisance. The little monkey attacked our embassy, made alliances with our foes, trafficked drugs which eventually reached our streets, and threatened our soldiers and their families. By now, Bush had a very legitimate casus belli, but Noriega chose to declare war himself. Now, in order to fight the “war” for which Noriega so passionately yearned, the two armies would have to meet on a common battlefield. And, arrogant rag that he is, even the General knew better than to invade Florida. So, we had to go down to Panama. An unjust, immoral, illegal desecration of the sovereignty and the integrity of the Panamanian people?

Shame on you, George!

Which brings up to the next complaint of the Ultraliberals, left-wing ideologues, right-wing autocrats, Third-worlders, narco-terrorists, and anti-Bushists: perhaps Operation Just Cause did satisfy the interests of imperial Americans, but it did so at the expense of the Panamanian people. Now, there are these unhappy instances in which U.S. interests and Third World interests contradict. Yet these instances are, in actuality, seldom confronted. At least, they do not constitute the great foreign policy dilemma which the Left wishes to make it out to be. Yet even in these rare, bothersome circumstances, one should not be too quick to deplore U.S. interests. Keep in mind this fact: if the United States’ vital security interests were ever damaged, and the United States were then to cease to be the strong and free nation that it is, freedom and democracy everywhere would cease to exist within a matter of months! Panama, by the way, was certainly not one of these instances. The invasion, approved by 80% of Americans, was approved by 92% of Panamanians. The Ultraliberals, left-wing ideologues, right-wing autocrats, Third-worlders, narco-terrorists, and anti-Bushists, however, wish to stereotype the Panamanian people as comprising the other 8%, who probably would have voted for Duque again. I find such stereotyping of the Third World unconscionably unfair and insulting to the people. The Left, which so vocally condemns racism and ethnocentrism in this country (where it is rare) strangely ignores, nay, encourages such assumptions abroad. Whatever these people whine about, the Panamanian people now admire the United States more than do any other people in this Hemisphere, with the probable exception of the Grenadines, whose sovereign dignity was violated by Ronald Wilson Regan in 1983.

Of course, even a legally and morally just intervention must be successful. In this two-week “war”, we only lost 23 lives. More U.S. soldiers died in automobile accidents back home during the same period. Of course we mourn any loss of life, but these were a small price to pay, considering (a) Panama is now a democracy; (b) the Canal is now safe; and (c) the Western Hemisphere is now devoid of its #2 drug lord.

And, with the evil empire crumbling from Berlin to Beijing, the Bearded Fat Man may be lighting one of his final cigars.