OPERATION JUST CAUSE: The Invasion of Panama by Thomas; Margaret Roth & Caleb Baker Donnelly

OPERATION JUST CAUSE: The Invasion of Panama

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three editors of Army Times offer a minutely detailed--and adulatory--narrative of Operation Just Cause, the US invasion of Panama in December 1989. Despite Gen. Noriega's intelligence services to the US about Cuba and the Marxist forces in Central America, the authors say, it was clear to the White House that the Panamanian strongman had to be deposed. According to Donnelly, Roth, and Baker, Noriega and his henchmen had stolen elections, looted the Treasury of Panama, murdered, kidnapped, beat, and tortured rivals, built a ruthless military force, dealt in lucrative drug trafficking, detained and beat Americans, and, finally, killed a US marine officer. The general had also worked with Cuba against US interests, endangering Canal security and American citizens. Finally, President Bush, his patience exhausted, gave go-ahead orders to the planners of Operation Just Cause, Generals Powell and Thurmon, who, the authors note, had learned in Vietnam the high price of the piecemeal application of deadly force--a price not paid again in Panama as, under the unified command of General Carl Stiner, elite American units from all service branches swept away the well-armed forces of Noriega in eight hours. The authors see the kind of small, splendidly trained and equipped all-volunteer army that defeated Noriega as well suited for the role of possibly stabilizing other countries in order to buy time to allow democratic societies and free economies to develop. Starting with Carter, they argue, American policy has begun to promote democracy and human rights in Latin America, replacing the old image of ""Yankee imperialism."" Recent revelations about the high number of Panamanian casualties during the invasion leave some doubt as to exactly how efficient American forces were. Still, an unusually upbeat military history of the war that served as a training ground for Operation Desert Storm.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1991
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Lexington/Macmillan