The Immaculate Deception

I once thought imperialism was a thing of the past, an uncivilized part of American history from which we had progressed. That is, until I saw The Panama Deception.

This documentary, released by the Empowerment Project, categorically dispels the myths of "Operation Just Cause," a tidy label for an ugly U.S. invasion of Panama, an assault that occurred only eight months before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Barbara Trent and her producers report inescapable, disturbing facts that were left unreported when a superpower sent 26,000 troops to invade and occupy a Third World country, ostensibly to catch one man.

Was this a moral crusade to protect American lives and topple a drug-trafficking dictator? And was it another triumphant notch for U.S.-promoted democracy with low civilian casualties? Media reports filtered through the Pentagon stated these things, and most people in the country accepted them. Trent, however, would have us believe the invasion wasn't quite so clean and simple--in motive, in human consequence, and in future foreign policy implications with Panama and with the rest of the American continent.

Deception makes some rather shocking assertions. Why the military option, it asks, and why such an overwhelming proportion of soldiers and advanced weaponry? Trent claims two principal U.S. motives for the invasion: to wipe out the Panamanian Defense Forces in order to create a protection gap for the canal and a permanent U.S. military presence in Panama, and to overcome our president's image problem by showing brute strength and future military capability to a captive world audience.

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Sojourners Magazine January 1993
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