Editorial, Panama’s defense

The foreign ministry defends its headquarters in the Palacio Bolivar. Photo by MIRE.

Panama’s national defense

Amidst the most profound national crisis in most Americans’ memory, it appears that Donald Trump is ginning up a naval blockade – an act of war – against Venezuela? Will US forces be running air support operations for this out of Howard and Albrook? Has the Panamanian government’s permission been asked? Has Nito given it? Find out the answers to these questions and it’s likely that the Trump administration would be calling on the US Department of Justice to file espionage charges.

But that’s the political leadership of the USA, from whence a few corporations dominate so much of the information that Panama gets. Panama is a different country with different interests, one of which is not a war with Venezuela. Let Donald Trump worry about whether he should first move against Iran, or first move against Venezuela, when many weeks ago he should have been moving to boost US production of the paraphernalia needed to fight the coronavirus plague. He has failed in his basic duty to defend the United States of America.

If the Americans have an anti-scientific con man for a commander in chief, who has an entourage of grifters and religious fanatics as acolytes, that’s a serious problem for the United States. It should not be such a serious problem for Panama, except that it is because we have, for Panamanian national security, been a dependency of the United States. But now our health care people and emergency first responders only have the masks that protect other people from their coughs and sneezes and not themselves. The Americans aren’t sending out the right masks at this point. As we see the contagion spreading, anyone in Panama with any sense and information sees the need for more respirators in the hospitals, but Uncle Sam isn’t sending those to us, either.

Let’s not spend time on blame and recrimination, but let’s take stock of the situation.

Is Panama so tiny and defenseless and its ways of thinking so servile that in light of the current situation we must look for another patron to serve? Maybe Brazil, as our politicians made out like the bandits they are taking kickbacks from the state-sponsored corporate criminals of Odebrecht? Or maybe China, the up-and-coming world power?

Brazil’s Mr. Bolsonaro is every bit as deranged and corrupt as Donald Trump. China’s Mr. Xi, in different form than Trump – not compulsively, but because he has to – lies like a rug. A huge natural disaster has beset Xi, the champion of Confucian values, and in that tradition natural disasters are signs that the government has lost the Mandate of Heaven. This pandemic will not stop China’s rise back to its ordinary historic place as a major world power, but political instability is probably indicated in The Middle Kingdom.

Little Panama is The Crossroads of The World, and we should maintain cordial relations and accept aid from and trade with anyone if it suits our needs. But we really need to grow up and prepare our own defenses.

That means ditching the US “War on Drugs” and Southern Command “regime change” adventures as imperatives of our defense.

That means closer relations and survival networking with our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors.

That means granaries to feed a nation that might for a time be left unable to work.

That means stores of medical, firefighting, flood control and biochemical decontamination equipment – both for ourselves and to share with neighbors when the call goes out.

That means a more modern constitution. Instead of a dead letter about everyone having to bear arms in case of war, Panama needs a practiced mandate of universal preparedness and service. Everyone should be trained in one or more emergency response skills, regularly retrained and updated, and called into service in an instant in the event of a national emergency.

Panama put its national security in Washington’s hands, and saw it frittered away. That reliance left us nearly undefended, frantic and for the most part left to our own devices.

Never again. Being on our own, that we should presume. From now on we should prepare for that.


him irie

Women with babies, the blind, and those too aged and infirm to carry a spear are excused.

Rastafari’s wartime mobilization order


Bear in mind…


As you can imagine, at this time, of course, they’re going to be potentially quite busy at home with their family, as well, and their own bunnies. And so, I say to the children of New Zealand, if the Easter Bunny doesn’t make it to your household, then we have to understand that it’s a bit difficult at the moment for the bunny to perhaps get everywhere.

Jacinda Adern


Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.

Rebecca West


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