Memorandum to the Secretary of State, by the Deputy Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Woodward)1

top secret

Subject: Defense Plans of General Crittenberger in Canal Zone and Possibly Panama.

General Crittenberger has summarized his apprehension concerning the possibility of political disturbances in Panama in the attached telegram.2 He feels that such disturbances might so endanger the Canal that it would be necessary for him to move United States forces into Panamanian territory under the provision of Article X of the 1936 Treaty. Article X provides “In case of an international conflagration or the existence of any threat of aggression which would endanger the security of the Republic of Panama or the neutrality or security of the Panama Canal, the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Panama will take such measures of prevention and defense as they may consider necessary for the protection of their common interests”. The authority of the United States to intervene in Panamanian territory to maintain public order, granted by the 1903 Treaty, was specifically abrogated by the 1936 Treaty.

The Department’s view on the possibility of moving United States forces into Panamanian territory was covered in the Department’s telegram no. 338 of April 29, 1948, in reply to a query from the Embassy. The Department of the Army has repeated our telegram to General Crittenberger stating that the Department of the Army is in accord with this position of the Department of State and adding that the message does not prevent the taking of defensive measures.

This memorandum is sent to you in the belief that you will be interested in knowing that the Department of the Army has expressed this agreement with the Department of State.

Robert F. Woodward
  1. Initialed by the Secretary of State: “G[eorge] C. M[arshall]”. Handwritten marginal note, unsigned: “Mr. Lovett has seen.”
  2. Not printed.