144. Letter From Secretary of Defense Brown, Secretary of State Vance and Secretary of the Army Alexander to Members of the Senate1

Dear Senator:

As debate begins on the Canal Treaties, questions have arisen about the financial viability of the Canal under the new arrangements and also about financial obligations the United States will incur as a result of the new Treaties. Enclosed are answers to some of the principal questions which have been raised.2

In the last analysis, the U.S. security and commercial interests these new Treaties are designed to serve cannot be measured in dollars. Under the past arrangements, the benefits that we have received from the Canal have far outweighed the costs of construction, security and the nominal annuity paid to Panama. We feel the costs associated with U.S. operation of the Canal between now and the year 2000 will be more than offset by the benefits derived from our continued use of the Canal during an orderly and efficient transition to Panamanian [Page 378] management, and from the continued maintenance of U.S. troops and facilities in Panama for the next 22 years.

With best wishes.


  • Harold Brown
    Secretary of Defense
  • Cyrus Vance
    Secretary of State
  • Clifford L. Alexander, Jr.
    Secretary of the Army
  1. Source: Department of State, American Embassy Panama, Political Section Unclassified Files 1978, Lot 81F58, Box 2, POL 33.3–2(B) Finance and Compensation, 1978. No classification marking.
  2. Undated, attached but not printed.