1989 U.S. invasion of Panama

“But Bush did share Reagan’s desire to relegitimize the use of force and maintain a massive military capacity. His chance came in Panama” Pg. 411


In the post cold war world, the United States emerged as the only legitimate super power in the world. George H.W. Bush felt that as the only super power, the United States had a responsibility to police the world and maintain its personal interests globally. The most famous recourse from the this ideology was the invasion of Iraq after Saddam Hussein had himself invaded Kuwait, but the Bush had already started a precedent when he invaded Panama. After they deemed that the leader and trained United States agent Manuel Noriega no longer served his purpose, Panama was invaded and Noriega was arrested. This invasion would be a prelude to an era of United States history that was plagued with foreign invasions to protect self interests.

The Invasion of Kuwait by Iraq


“Panama eased the way for the Bush administration when it decided to lanunch a much larger military operation in reaction to Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait. Saddm Hussein was Noriega writ large. Over the years, the United States had aided the Iraqu dictor when it served its purposes. During the Iran-Iraq War, the Reagan and Bush administrations had sold arms and provided credit to Iraq and opposed sanctions of Hussein’s regime for its repression of the Kurds, seeking to bolster what it saw as a useful check on Iranian power. But when on August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded neghboring Kuwait, the Bush administration moved rapidly to force its withdrawal.” (Pg. 411)


After the Cold War had been over, George H.W. Bush became the 41st U.S. president, but he took over huge deficit and a restriction on Congress domestic initiatives which Reagan left. Thus, Bush mainly focused on foreign policies rather than domestic affairs. The first chance of military activity came in Panama in 1989. The Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega, supported drug trade, invalidated a democratic election and disturbed the U.S. army activity in Latin America. Hence, Bush administration decided to send soldiers to thrust Noriega. The army quickly captured Panama, and arrested Noriega.


Moreover, on August 2, 1990, Iraq started invading Kuwait, and Bush quickly warned the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, to pull out of Kuwait. In the fall of 1990, the U.S.-led coalition started military action against Iraq that was called the Gulf War, and Iraq surrendered within few months. These victories gave Americans confidence to build “new world order” by the American initiative and Americans conquered “specter of Vietnam”, but the world seemed to be involved in wars more than the era of the Cold War.

United States led Coalition in Iraq

“On January 17, 1991, hte U.S.-led coalition launched a massive air attack on Iraq.  The pummeling from the air of Iraq and Iraqi forces in Kuwait continued for third-eight days, as the United States and its allies unleashed just about every nonnuclear aerial weapon they had in their arsenals.”


With the United States advanced military technology, they successfully subdued the Iraq Republican Guard and eliminated Iraq’s formal military within days.  Also, the U.S was able to invade the country with ground forces and able to take over the country.  The U.S. led coalition forces only suffered 248 casualties opposed to the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed.  The casualties suffered in Iraq does not even compare to the ones suffered in Vietnam and prior wars.  This military victory for George Bush validated America’s military after they were unsuccessful in Vietnam.

“Operation Just Cause”


Chapter 17, titled “I’m Running Out of Demons” is a quote from Colin Powell which accurately describes the attitude evoked by the “new world order” that began at the anticlimactic end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War freed the United States from a forty-year battle with the Soviet Union which international relations were structured around. The war ended in a manner that left Americans feeling uncertain in two ways. The fact that the end of the Cold War came as a result of their own demise rather than by direct U.S. action made it unclear whether or not the finale could be considered an American triumph. Also, with no remaining definite enemies to tackle, Americans were uncertain about what was going to happen next. What eventually happened next was the election of George H.W. Bush, who truly believed that the Cold War was a victory, and was determined to make his mark through foreign policy. Bush was a supporter of the use of force and occupying an enormous military. He was finally able to take part in foreign relations with the invasion of Panama. Tensions rose with leader  Manuel Noriega, who originally had been employed by the United States. When he became involved with arms and drug trafficking after forming an allegiance with Cuba, he became seen as unnecessary and was planned to be removed from office. When the U.S. attempted to replace Noriega he nullified the election that would have replaced his leadership, causing hostility. After an incident in which Panamanian soldiers killed an American soldier and abused an American couple who had witnessed the murder, the Bush administration called for an invasion, led by 27,000 soldiers. Noriega eventually surrendered, and the invasion, also called  “Operation Just Cause” was a success. The strength and swiftness of the United States army were proven during the invasion, making a spectacle of its technological talents and its ability to evade the entire country in the nick of time. The success of Operation Just Cause assisted the image of force military action and helped pave the way for future larger military operations, more specifically, the Gulf War. Bush’s “new world order” provided a new landscape for international relations, and according to Freeman, “Rather than a new world order, global disorder became normalized, as even relatively small groups, through low-tech terror tactics and guerrilla warfare, found that they could disrupt less developed and even advanced societies…Rather than a sense of security and peace, the end of the Cold War ushered in a period of unsettledness, at home and abroad.” (415)