154. Letter From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Brown) to Senator Talmadge1

Dear Senator Talmadge

I have followed with interest the Senate debate on the Panama Canal Treaties of which I am strongly supportive as you undoubtedly know. Your support is needed and I trust will be forthcoming.

I understand that you have expressed concern about Article 5 of the Neutrality Treaty. I have always felt that article very much favored US interests in that, unlike the current treaty arrangements, stationing of foreign troops anywhere on Panamanian soil would be precluded.

I understand you are considering a reservation to the instrument of ratification to the effect that the stationing of US forces in Panama subsequent to the turn of the century to protect the regime of neutrality would not be precluded, should both countries feel it necessary or appropriate. While I am not a lawyer, I don’t feel such a reservation is necessary. It is not necessary for the treaty to spell out the steps we might take to meet future contingencies; the important thing is that it does not preclude the United States and Panama from negotiating, at a later date, an arrangement for a US military presence in Panama after the year 2000. The present treaty thus gives us the authority we need to protect the regime of neutrality while keeping our options open.

Therefore, while I don’t feel the proposed reservation is necessary, at the same time I cannot say that it would be undesirable if it could be achieved without causing the treaties to require another plebiscite in Panama.


George S. Brown
General, USAF
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC: 330–87–0068, Impact Study—Treaty Implementation and Responsibility (1977–1978). No classification marking.