In John le Carré’s The Tailor of Panama, we encounter the British ambassador to Panama, a pompous idiot being misled by a crooked British spy, who in turn is being fed fabricated stories by the novel’s protagonist, Harry Pendel, a British expatriate running a successful tailoring business in Panama City. The political machinations and conspiracies that the British spy concocts, through the fertile mind of Harry Pendel, are taken seriously by the British and American governments, and the decision is taken to invade Panama.
The novel is a satire on the callousness with which the Americans and the British manage their foreign policy and make the decision to go to war. There is a section in the novel in which Carré gives an account of the destruction that the Americans caused in Panama during their invasion. Why did America invade Panama in 1989 and 1990?
The primary purpose of the invasion was to capture the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. The Americans claimed that he was involved in racketeering and drug business. The secondary purpose of the invasion was that the Americans were led to believe (by informants of the caliber of Harry Pendel) that the Panamanians were planning to cede control of the Panama Canal to the Japanese or some other rival of the United States. The Americans could not allow that to happen. They believed that it was their God-given right to control the Panama Canal.
Noriega was a paid informant for the American government since 1967. He had collaborated with the Americans in their covert operation (the contra insurgency) in Nicaragua. In 1989, it suddenly dawned on the Americans that Noriega was a gangster who could not be allowed to rule Panama. They were forced to use his association with the drug cartels to justify their invasion because the Soviet Union had collapsed in 1988. In the time of the Soviet Union, they used to justify their every military action by claiming that they were trying to save the country from communism.
The Americans are the world’s leading experts in subverting democratic movements and installing puppet regimes in poor countries. In the Dominican Republic, they brought Trujillo to power. The thirty-one years of Trujillo’s rule are the bloodiest in the history of this country. They funded and armed the Contras in Nicaragua. They enabled the rise of Duvalier in Haiti. Without their support, Marcos could not have ruled the Philippines for 21 years. In the last 100 years, they have created havoc in the Middle East and the Islamic countries in South Asia.
When a few people from South America cross into America, the American conservatives are up in arms. The conservatives forget that they were the cheerleaders of Reagan, Bush, and other presidencies which subverted the political process in several nations. If you send your military to attack another country then the people of that country will migrate to your country—this is the rule of history. By coming to America they hope to escape from the pernicious effects of America’s foreign policy. America is the only place that the American military won’t attack.