The Rise and Fall of a Superpower

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The Rise and Fall of a Superpower

Building the Panama Canal was one of the greatest chapters in American history. It helps to reveal how America became a superpower, if we understand the complete history. Today we see an almost totally different spirit in our leaders. The meaning behind that change contains the strongest warning ever for America!
From the January 2000 Trumpet Print Edition

How much do Americans understand their own history? We are called the world’s greatest superpower ever! But how did we rise to such heights? Most Americans are ignorant of how it all happened. And that ignorance places us in grave danger!

Our building and now surrendering of the Panama Canal reveals a large part of the story. It gives a powerful insight into the rise and fall of the world’s greatest superpower.

President Theodore Roosevelt led our people to build the Panama Canal. He had a spirit and courage that I don’t see in our leaders today.

Why would he struggle against great opposition to build one of the foremost symbols of America’s power? And why do our leaders today have a peculiar zeal to surrender the Panama Canal?

What does it all mean to you? We need to understand, because it will affect all of us in a terrifying way.

A Noble Project

Edmund Morris wrote in The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt that “Roosevelt has been accused of having…contempt for international law, ever since that afternoon in 1903 when he allowed a U.S. warship to ‘monitor’ the Panamanian Revolution. If [Roosevelt] loses any sleep over his role in that questionable coup d’état, he shows no sign. On the contrary, he glories in the fact that America is now actually building the Panama Canal ‘after four centuries of conversation’ by other nations. A few weeks ago he visited the Canal Zone (the first trip abroad by a U.S. president in office), and the colossal excavations there moved him to Shakespearean hyperbole. ‘It shall be in future enough to say of any man “he was connected with digging the Panama Canal” to confer the patent of nobility on that man,’ Roosevelt told his sweating engineers. ‘From time to time little men will come along to find fault with what you have done…. They will go down the stream like bubbles; they will vanish. But the work you have done will remain for the ages’” (pp. 11-12).

Roosevelt gloried in our building of the Panama Canal! There had been talk, talk, talk about building the canal for years by other nations. Teddy Roosevelt built it! He believed there was a certain “nobility” in this mighty undertaking. The work of those laborers remains to this day as a monument of a rising superpower. America felt a strong desire to build the canal to serve the whole world.

What would Theodore Roosevelt think of our leaders today who have a passion to surrender such an awesome possession?

Our leaders are ashamed to provide the leadership that a great nation should. What a dramatic change from Roosevelt’s administration! This change portends a grave danger for the U.S.

Do we understand, even slightly, why our leaders are so different today?

Mr. Roosevelt said there would be “little men” who would criticize the canal project. He would clearly label our present leaders who surrender this awesome canal as “little men.”

My purpose is not to play politics. But if Teddy Roosevelt was right, “little men” will lead our nation to disaster.

Our history books thunder that he was right. Great nations led by “little men” end up on the trash heap. How can we so easily push aside the deep wisdom of one of our greatest leaders?

The Rough Riders

Theodore Roosevelt demonstrated the same spirit when he led the “Rough Riders” to drive Spain from Cuba. Noel F. Busch wrote in T.R.—The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (emphasis mine throughout): “In 1897, just before his 39th birthday, Roosevelt was summoned to Washington again, this time as assistant secretary of the Navy. Twenty months earlier, Cuba had risen in arms against her Spanish masters, and the United States had made plain that her sympathies were on the Cuban side. Roosevelt believed that the best way to win, or to avoid, a war was to be prepared to fight one. Accordingly, he saw his task clearly: get the Navy ready for possible war with Spain….”

Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders went to Cuba. “The order came to attack, beginning for Roosevelt what he termed ‘my crowded hour.’ Leaping astride his horse, he began pushing his men forward from the rear of the regiment, ‘the position in which the colonel should theoretically stay.’ But under his urging the rear rank moved faster than the others, closing with the ranks ahead. Brashly breaking through the line, Roosevelt found himself not only at the front of his own regiment, but jammed up against the regulars ahead who were firing on the hills from the cover of the jungle.

“‘I spoke to the captain in command,’ Roosevelt wrote, ‘saying that we could not take the hills by firing at them, we must rush them.’

“The captain hesitated; he had no such orders. Roosevelt asked for his colonel, but the man was not in sight.

“‘Then I am the ranking officer here,’ Roosevelt declared, ‘and I give the order to charge. Let my men through, sir!’

“With that, he parted the ranks and rode on, followed by the grinning Rough Riders.

“It was too much for the regulars. ‘They jumped up and came along, their officers and men mingling with mine, all delighted at the chance.’ And, as Roosevelt waved his hat and shouted orders, the troops advanced up the hill, cheering, firing, running forward in a spirited charge….

“As he set out again, the men of the various regiments came on in a rush, charging across a wide valley toward the Spanish entrenchments. But before they reached them, the enemy ran. Not content, Roosevelt charged again, and by the end of the day the Rough Riders found themselves atop a chain of hills which looked down on Santiago. The battle was over.

“Two days later the Spanish fleet ventured out of Santiago harbor to its complete destruction, and shortly afterward the city surrendered. Roosevelt’s entire experience in battle had consisted of a week’s campaign and one hard day of fighting, but that was sufficient to change the course of the coming century. For it was this victory which first made the United States a great world power, and Roosevelt—now the beloved ‘Teddy’ of San Juan Hill—was a national hero who would soon guide the destinies of that power.”

That is how Teddy Roosevelt led America to solve the Cuban crisis, and that is the same spirit he manifested in solving the Panama problem.

That was America on the rise to becoming a superpower. Today we see America going in the opposite direction. And no amount of intellectual reasoning will change that sickening fact.

Something horrifying has happened to America.

Where do we find such a leader today? Roosevelt was a man who wanted to lead his country in battle—not avoid his country’s warfare!

What a contrast to today.

It takes courageous leaders like Teddy Roosevelt to lead a nation to greatness! It takes that kind of leadership to deal with Cuba or Panama. Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, “I preach to you, then, my countrymen, that our country calls not for the life of ease, but the life of strenuous endeavor. The 20th century looms before us big with the fate of many nations.

“If we stand idly by…if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world….

“We are face to face with our destiny, and we must meet it with a high and resolute courage. For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”

He called upon Americans to “hazard…their lives” for their country. Politicians today fear risking any American lives—and our enemies know it! They exploit that weakness continually.

A serious military threat will inevitably happen in Panama. America can’t respond with an attack from the air as we did in the Persian Gulf and Kosovo. We would have to risk the lives of American soldiers. Our politicians have already shown the world that we fear such bloodshed.

The truth is, we are surrendering the canal because of that very fear! So we get American soldiers out of Panama to avoid such a clash. Then we just act like the canal is unimportant. But we still fantasize like children that we are a superpower. No real superpower acts that way!

Was Roosevelt a warmonger? While he was president, the U.S. didn’t have to fire one pistol. America was at peace.

Do you know why? Because the whole world knew he and America were prepared for war and had the will to fight. Today the world knows America is unwilling to risk lives in defense of freedom.

On December 16, 1999, we surrendered the Panama Canal. Now “bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world”—because of America’s weakness!

Teddy Roosevelt demonstrated the spirit that made America great. Any good history book should teach us that America has changed radically since the time of Theodore Roosevelt. If he was right, we are about to lose our superpower status—and a lot more!

American Decline

During the past 200 years, at the height of their power and prior to their recent decline, Britain and America possessed nearly every major sea and land gate in the world (see map).

When Britain truly “ruled the waves,” its naval forces controlled Gibraltar, Malta, the Dardanelles, the English Channel, Suez, the Gulf of Aden, the Andarman and Nicobar Islands, Zanzibar, Cape Town, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the Straits of Malacca, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Falkland Islands.

America had control of the great Pacific sea lanes by possessing the Aleutians, Hawaiian Isles, Midway, Guam, Wake Island, the Philippines and the Panama Canal.

Panama is, by far, of the greatest strategic importance to the U.S. It is the gateway controlling access to and from the two greatest oceans—the Atlantic and the Pacific. This great sea gate has for almost 85 years controlled most of the flow of goods by sea from the eastern to the western hemisphere and from the West to the East.

Although the French began the project in 1879, it was the U.S. which funded and completed the Panama Canal. The U.S. concluded the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty with Panama in 1903. This treaty granted the U.S. control of the ten-mile strip stretching across the Central American isthmus, designated the Canal Zone. We paid $10,000,000 to Panama for this grant of sovereignty “in perpetuity.” (That sum was more than we paid for Alaska and Florida.) Additionally, the U.S. gave compensation to the owners of the land which comprised the Canal Zone and thus obtained complete ownership of the land within the Canal Zone.

American taxpayers funded the canal project to its completion. The finished project included port facilities at both the Pacific and Atlantic ends of the canal, three major locks and all associated equipment to power, operate and maintain these facilities. As President Reagan stated, “We bought it, we paid for it, it’s ours, and we are going to keep it.”

He had been pre-empted, however, by President Jimmy Carter, who, in 1977, concluded dubious “treaties” with President Omar Torrijos of Panama, promising to give the canal to Panama at noon on December 31, 1999. The fact that two thirds of the American people were opposed to these “treaties” did not faze President Carter at the time. Subsequent research has thrown doubt on whether the treaties were legal within the context of both the U.S. and Panama constitutions.

Even though two thirds of the American people were opposed, Mr. Carter undemocratically led us into a shameful treaty!

The undemocratic process continues. Now we surrender the canal when most of the Panamanian people don’t even want us to leave. That is because they understand the danger better than our leaders do!

Is this the act of a superpower?

History clearly demonstrates the kind of spirit and courage it takes to build a superpower. But we are ignoring this history; American leaders are naively dismantling the number-one superpower in a world full of tigers.

Still, this descent goes even deeper than our history books could ever reveal.

Building the Canal

Charles Dorothy wrote in The Plain Truth magazine, November 1965, when Herbert W. Armstrong was the editor in chief: “The American (California) gold rush in 1849 caused urgent need for a quick route to the West Coast. By crossing the isthmus at Panama (territory owned by Colombia), travelers from the American East Coast to the west could save 8,000 miles!

“The dense, humid isthmian jungle gave way to swinging axes and dynamite as gleaming railroad tracks joined the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 1855 saw the completion of the $7,500,000, 471/2-mile Panama Railway—the first cross-continental railway ever built.

“America built that railroad.

“The success of the American railroad in turn encouraged the building of the canal. But America was not interested in, nor able to build a canal. God’s time had not come.

“Try as she might, however, America could not pull out of the isthmus.

“Between 1850 and 1904, there were ten separate landings of American troops on Colombian (Panamanian) soil to preserve peace and order, to keep the railway open, to protect the lives of American citizens.

“In his book Fear God and Take Your Own Part, pages 313-317, President Roosevelt lists the ten landings, along with 53 revolutions, revolts, unsuccessful rebellions, uprisings and other outbreaks in Panama between those same years—53 riots in 53 years!”

Ten times America had to send troops to protect the Panama Railway. The uprisings were stopped because the rebels knew America would not tolerate it. That is how America did things in our past as we rose to greatness.

Even the railway would not have been built today. Which of our leaders has such a global vision today? We can never serve the world without using our God-given power.

Fear God and Take Your Own Part sums up the firm convictions of Roosevelt—his belief in God and in taking a strong role in world affairs. The fruits of that understanding were magnificent. But which of our leaders looks to his example?

Surrendering the Canal

“September 24, 1965, saw the startling announcement…that the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty is to be abolished! The U.S. will give up whatever semblance of ‘ownership’ it has left.

“The new treaty will effectively recognize Panama’s sovereignty over the area of the present Canal Zone….

“As James Kilpatrick reports: ‘What kind of bargaining is this?… The defense and canal installations represent an investment of billions of dollars in American tax funds…. It is not accurate to describe this treaty as a sell-out, for a sell-out implies some payment in return for principles yielded. This is surrender, abject surrender, to a gang of blackmailers whose bluff came down to this: Throw in your hand or we’ll riot again’ (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 5, 1965).

“Remember, it is not the Panamanian people who are blackmailers; it is the crooked political leaders.

“History proves we will lose the canal. We negotiated a defeat with Panama on July 28, 1926, again in 1936, and again in 1963 when riots broke out over the question of flying a Panamanian flag in the Canal Zone. The United States has done nothing but hedge, crawl, dodge, yield, relinquish, back down and give up ever since we began to build!…

“One of the greatest engineering masterpieces the world has ever seen, one that has ‘served the United States and the world well for 50 years,’ one that played a big hand in raising America to the top of the world, is going down the drain….

“The Panama Canal stands as one of America’s foremost symbols of greatness and power. Our ‘pride’ is largely Panama” (ibid.).

This was written in 1965! James Kilpatrick called the rebels “a gang of blackmailers.”

History did indeed prove that the U.S. would lose the canal as our leadership got weaker and weaker. Now watch and see what a disaster the Panama Canal becomes for the U.S.

Few of our people are deeply concerned about the canal today. That is another sign that we have lost our world vision and are bogged down in a greedy present.

I predict—based on history and the Bible—that the Panama Canal area will be a great curse to America in the near future. And that curse has already begun!

Enter China

Through an underhanded deal struck by a money-grasping Panamanian government and the giant Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa conglomerate, control of the Panama Canal virtually went to a declared enemy of the U.S. at the canal’s handover.

The Panamanian government sold two prime U.S.-built port facilities to a Chinese company, which many say operates as a front for the Chinese Communist Party. The 50-year contract between Panama and Hutchinson Whampoa effectively places the ability to open and shut this great sea-gate into the hands of an enterprise based in, and subject to, the influence and direction of Communist China. Not only has Hutchinson Whampoa been granted full control over the ports at both entry and exit points of the Canal, the Panamanian government has granted long-term options to this Chinese enterprise for the takeover of a number of military installations scheduled for evacuation by the U.S.

Any student of military strategy should see the startling possibilities which are opened up by such a deal. At 12 noon, December 31, 1999, an enterprise of China, the nation possessing the world’s largest army, which is aggressively expanding its navy and air force, took control of the major sea-transit gateway between East and West. In effect, this gave Red China the power to deny the U.S. Navy right of access through the Panama Canal. Transit of military matériel, personnel and provisions via the canal was crucial to the U.S. strategic efforts during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf.

It is feasible that this secret, illegal deal between Panama and the Chinese will open up a base for Chinese warships, submarines and bombers only 900 miles from Miami. Should the Red Chinese choose to base their J-11 attack jets in Panama, ostensibly to promote the “security” of the canal, this would place them within striking distance of the U.S. mainland. The potential threat to U.S. and world security posed by the Panama-China deal is difficult to fathom!

Recently the current U.S. administration abandoned one of its strongest Asian allies. The U.S. president renounced the old alliance with Taiwan, reading from a prepared script concocted by the Red Chinese leaders! To make genuine mistakes in dealing with foreign policy through misunderstanding, or even incompetence, is one thing. To make public statements, over a period of time, in a manner which encourages the known strategy of an enemy, is another!

China has already declared their plans to take over Taiwan—by war if necessary. Would we defend Taiwan as we have in the past? Not likely. Especially since China could now attack us from Panama!

Many believe this whole affair is tied to illegal political contributions by the Chinese in the last U.S. election. Regardless, the rotten fruits of this whole China-Panama deal smell to high heaven!

It is a colossal disaster that will haunt us to the very end. It will play a key role in destroying America as a superpower.

The American people are being bombarded with foreign-policy surrenders on the part of their leaders!

It is reported that last summer, in a closed session with the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN (Ret.), former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of grave security risks brought on by the Chinese takeover of the Panama Canal. The admiral declared, “I’m an old sailor now, but I know trouble when I see it…trouble that could evolve quickly into a conflict in our own hemisphere with worldwide implications…. I speak of the transfer of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian government under the circumstances which now exist. There’s far more going on there than meets the eye” (WorldNet Daily, Oct. 19, 1998).

One of the most strident voices speaking out on the Panama Canal issue over the past 15 years is G. Russell Evans, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.). In the preface to his recently published book, Death Knell of the Panama Canal, Captain Evans states, in relation to the Panama/Hutchinson Whampoa deal, “If this scandalous swindle is consummated, Americans will have surrendered the greatest single achievement of our 221-year history, the most meaningful contribution ever made by one nation for the benefit of all nations, and most important, we may have ‘written the final chapter in the history of America’s greatness as a world power’…and it will all have been done by deliberate violations of the Constitution of the United States” (pp. xxi-xxii).

Please read that again.

Admiral Moorer, in his 1978 Senate Armed Services Committee testimony, said, “The defense and use of the Panama Canal is wrapped inextricably with the overall global strategy of the United States and the security of the free world.” Twenty years later, Admiral Moorer declared to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “We are talking about the control of a strategic part of the world in our hemisphere, shortly to be controlled by the largest country on earth, Communist China…. We have dropped the ball in the Canal Zone, and the game is almost over.”

These are frightening words from an important authority on the subject.

Sin Against Our Birthright

Here is how James J. Kilpatrick analyzed the conflict: “There comes a time when great powers must behave as great powers. Not every source of conflict can be removed. Some conflicts must be endured; they must be lived with. Not every wounded sensitivity can be soothed.

“When every reasonable and prudent concession to Panama has been made, a line has to be drawn: No more.”

America has shown little or no resolve regarding the Panama Canal. Will our surrender of the canal win us respect from Latin Americans?

One expert on U.S.-Latin American affairs said in 1965 (in the April Plain Truth magazine): “Americans should not accept the superficial view about the ultimate reaction in Latin America to the giveaway of the canal. The Latins respect power. What they distrust and deride is weakness, appeasement and surrender. I can assure you that they will look upon American withdrawal from Panama with incredulity and contempt.

“Besides, their own security is clearly involved. It’s a slur on their common sense to assume that Latin Americans could really welcome control of this all-important commercial and naval passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific by a small, weak and chronically unstable country.”

Will America win respect from Latin America and the world? No, just “incredulity and contempt.” America refuses to see that we have become a spineless spectacle before the world. That is the way the world sees us.

All the Panamanians had in 1965 was a 6,000-man national guard. They had no army! They have not even had a military since 1989. But America backed down in 1965 and continues to do so today!

We are demonstrating a military weakness this world has never seen before! How disgustingly weak can we become?

America the superpower has a terminal illness and is about to die. All you need in order to understand that is a basic education in history.

If you understand Bible prophecy also, you absolutely know our days are numbered.

How can Panama, a tiny country of 2.8 million people and no military, possibly protect the canal and those great military bases left behind by the U.S.?

These jewels will attract terrorists or nations who have the power and vision to see their value!

Our problems in Panama are just beginning!

What few people realize is that the Panama Canal was a part of our birthright from God.

Write for our booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy. It will fully explain what is happening to America and Britain today.

“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Gen. 22:17). The major “gate” spoken of here is the Panama Canal. This is what was prophesied to befall us in “the last days” (Gen. 49:1). God gave us these blessings, and now He is taking them away because of our sins.

These words of Moses contain great prophecies for the end time. The prophet Daniel, whose message is for the end time, tells us so (Dan. 9:12-13; 12:4, 9).

“And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass” (Lev. 26:19). God has “broken” the pride in our power. That is why our people are not stirred by what is happening in Panama. Something is terribly wrong with us! We are afraid to use the power God gave us. Our immediate future is very bleak unless we turn to our great God, and not to some false religion that professes to follow the Bible, but really doesn’t. That includes any leaders who surrender the Panama Canal and call our weakness righteousness!

Why is the canal so unimportant to us and so important to the Chinese? Because the Chinese have pride in their power and a world vision!

China deceitfully established themselves in Panama even before we left. Our politicians should have made a deafening outcry over this nation-threatening disaster. But they didn’t.

Why don’t they respond as Theodore Roosevelt did? Because he had a pride in our power that they simply don’t have.

Our sins have made us a weak spectacle before the world.

We are too foolish to realize that a superpower can’t run and hide like a child. Several nations lust for the renown of destroying the world’s only superpower!

“And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth” (v. 36). Today we flee from a shaken leaf! From a tiny nation with no military! How shamefully weak! A few students, or thugs, rioted against us in Panama, and we fled in fear! Just as God said we would.

How shameful an end to such a great power.

Assistant Secretary of State William Rogers said in 1965 that if the U.S. failed to recognize Panama’s full rule or sovereignty over all its territory, it could “lead to a confrontation with Panama…and a real possibility that the canal would be closed in the process.”

We cowered before their 6,000-man national guard! Can’t we see what has happened?

How pathetic! Teddy Roosevelt would have bitterly scorned such weakness. One man helped greatly in building a superpower—Fear God and Take Your Own Part. The other one helped to tear it down.

We have such problems because our leaders have less and less faith in the God who gave us our birthright.

“And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (Deut. 28:52). God said our enemies would surround us—we are becoming besieged as a nation and besieged in such sea gates as the Panama Canal. This is happening in the land “God has given” us. Therein lies the problem. We don’t know that all these blessings came from God. So now God is replacing the blessings with curses.

How long must God curse us before we awaken? That is the big question each one of us must answer. The decision is in our hands—nationally and individually.

If the nation won’t heed, you can do so individually, and God will protect you. But you can’t be weak like the U.S. God wants us to be strong, physically and spiritually.

The whole world is watching. Unless we repent before God, they will see our ignominious end! And so will you.

Thankfully, America’s downfall will usher in the return of Jesus Christ!