Blanton, Troy Franklin (2007-04). Prudence in Panama: George H.W. Bush, Noriega, and economic aid, May 1989-May 1990. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • In front of the White House press corps, George H. W. Bush stood with Panamanian President Guillermo Endara and proclaimed AcA?A?democracy has been restored,AcA?A? the AcA?A?peace is now preserved,AcA?A? and AcA?A?we must see that prosperity returns to the people of Panama.AcA?A? True, democracy had been restored, but at a great price to the Panamanians and without a plan for recovery. The struggle to remove Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega began with Ronald Reagan and ended in the first year of BushAcA?A?s presidency. While sanctions decimated the Panamanian economy, the military invasion left the country with inexperienced political leaders and internal instability. Academics who have studied the Panamanian crisis have not focused on the crucial twelve-month period between May 1989 and May 1990. It was the first military action without Cold War priorities for the United States and first attempt at economic restoration in what would become standard practice for later administrations. Scholars have not thoroughly examined the Bush administrationAcA?A?s crisis with Panama. The literature is scarce, but what has been written can be divided into three groups: disgruntled policy makers, academics, and journalists. Principally, this literature investigates the December 1989 military invasion, and only a few scholarly articles and books examine both the pre- and post-invasion periods. Lacking primary source material, journalists and scholars relied on articles and participant interviews. This thesis focuses on events and the outcome. It examines BushAcA?A?s policy toward Panama and the successes it engendered along with the failures it brought. Unlike Reagan, Bush successfully removed Noriega from power, but his administrationAcA?A?s unsuccessful post-invasion planning hindered the needs of Panama during the establishment of the young democratic government. Noriega may have decimated PanamaAcA?A?s economy, but the United States also failed by not helping with a clear and concise objective after NoriegaAcA?A?s departure. This thesis demonstrates that Bush acted with prudence in 1989, invading Panama only when all other diplomatic options failed. Yet, this thesis shows that the Bush administration did not have a plan for PanamaAcA?A?s economic restoration. By focusing too much energy on removing Noriega rather than on helping Panama regain a solid economic foundation, Bush allowed his desire to help the fledging country to be overshadowed by a lack of post-invasion plans.

publication date

  • April 2007