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Bush Administration Attempts to Save Face by Sacrificing Lives in Panama

Following the failed October 3 coup attempt against Panamanian leader Gen. Manuel Noriega, the Bush administration received sharp criticism for its lack of involvement. In response, President Bush first defended this decision but then subsequently began discussions with Senate leaders on amending the executive order which prohibits U.S. assassination of foreign officials.

In 1975, President Ford ordered this pro-hibition following invest-igations which implicated the CIA in several assassination attempts against foreign leaders opposed by the U.S.

The administration released a memo in the second week of November detailing its legal justi-fication for targeting foreign leaders for elimination.

One may strongly oppose Noriega's actions and despise his tyranny without granting that the U.S. or any nation has the right to eliminate him or any other unfavorable foreign leaders. Such arrogant interventionism oversteps the Biblical jurisdiction of the State. Scripture limits the activity of any civil authority, like the U.S., to matters of criminal justice and defense (Rom. 13; I Tim. 1:8).

Moreover, the jurisdiction of that civil authority is limited to the realm over which it rules. This should be a truism. If a State were to intervene beyond its borders, then it would violate the protection of life and property of foreign individuals (Ex. 20: 13,15; Deut. 17:14ff; Deut. 19:14).

The result of the U.S. invasion of Panama is scandalous. At last count, 23 U.S. soldiers and 139 Panamanian soldiers are dead. 241 Americans and 95 Panamanians are wounded. Several people are still missing. Looting and bombing have turned Panama city into what some call a "pocket Hiroshima."

The administration allegedly aided in the sacrifice of life and property in order to preserve life! Les Aspin endorsed the President's action because "it broke up the drug cartel." Thus, responsible U.S. citizens sacrificed their lives in order that irresponsible citizens would not abuse their bodies with drugs. On top of this, we are supposed to rest assured that our taxes are being wisely used as million dollar bounties.

This sort of intervention is common. Under Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. wrenched the Panamanian isthmus from Columbia in 1903 when we sent troops to quell a staged revolt. We kept Columbian troops from putting down a revolt in their own territory and quickly negotiated a treaty granting the canal to the U.S. at an excellent price.

Roosevelt would later boast, "I took the canal zone and let Congress debate." Things haven't changed much, except for much less debate.

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