The Limits of Victory: The Ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties

In This Review

The Limits of Victory: The Ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties

By George D. Moffett III
Cornell University Press, 1985
264 pp. $24.95
Purchase

The negotiation in 1977 and ratification in 1978 of the treaties providing for the full transfer of the canal to Panama was a major achievement of the Carter Administration. Even those who ardently opposed the treaties at the time would not now want them undone. But, as this excellent study by a former White House aide (1979-81) demonstrates, President Carter's political power was diminished, not enhanced, by the success. Although Herculean efforts produced just enough Senate votes for ratification, the majority of the American people remained opposed. Carter's achievement probably prevented a serious and even bloody conflict, but it contributed to the perception that he was weak and indecisive.