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THE PANAMA CANAL The Crisis in Historical PerspectiveAmerican Foreign PolicyNovember 30 1994In 1825 a group of American businesspeople announced theformation of a canal building company with interests in constructing acanal system across the Isthmus This project was to take place in anarea now called Panama The endeavor was filled with controversy Though the canal itself was not built until the early 1900s every steptoward the building and ownership was saturated with difficulty Walter LaFeber illustrates the dilemmas in a historical analysis Inhis work he states five questions that address the significance of thePanama Canal to United States This paper will discuss the historicalperspective of the books author address pertinent three questions andgive a critique of LaFebers work The Panama Canal For proper historical analysis one must understand theimportance of the Canal The Panama Canal and the Canal Zone theimmediate area surrounding the Canal are important areas used fortrade Even before the canal was built there were to large ports onboth sides of the Isthmus Large amounts of cargo passed through theIsthmus by a railroad that connected the two ports The most importantcargo was the gold mined in California before the transcontinentalrailroad was completed in the United States It has strategicsignificance because of its location acting as a gateway connecting thePacific and Atlantic oceans This allows for rapid naval deploymentbetween fleets in either ocean These two facets make the Panama Canalvery important in the region LaFeber notes that Panamanian nationalism played a large role inthe creation of the canal and consequently the cause for the areasconstant instability The first expression occurred in the late 1800swith Panamanian struggle for independence from Columbia The UnitedStates eager to build the canal and control its operation used andbacked Panamanian nationalist During the Roosevelt administration notonly did the United States manipulate factors isolating Panama fromother world powers through the Monroe Doctrine but it committed troopsaiding the revolutionaries against another sovereign state The reasonthis is a surprise is because the Roosevelt administration
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