rianVince Dhimos answered a question at Quora.
Q: AS A PERSON FROM A COUNTRY THAT THE US HAS INVADED, SUCH AS IRAQ, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE US MILITARY AND VETERANS?
My adoptive country, Panama, was invaded by the US in 1989–90, and while the US military helped rid the country of a cruel dictator, Manuel Noriega, it was the US that had trained Noriega at the infamous CIA-run School of the Americas in this country. That school is noted for its preparation of Latin American dictators and one of the courses of study includes torture methods. Noriega excelled in this. He is known for having dissidents taken up in helicopters and throwing them out at great heights over the sea. Perhaps his best known torture/assassination victim was the dissident Hugo Spadafora, whose horribly mutilated body was found in Costa Rica near the Panamanian border. This and other assassinations of this kind show that these atrocities were not only meant to dissuade others from rebelling but also revealed a certain grimness that had no other purpose but to savour the inflicting of pain on others. It bore the unmistakable imprimatur of the US Establishment that would later openly advocate the use of torture in the Iraq war.
So while technically, you might say the US did us a favour by removing Noriega, it only helped to remedy and cover up its own past evil deed of training this sadist.
Many Panamanians believe that it was the CIA that downed the aircraft that was carrying strong man Omar Torrijos, whose death led to the installation of Noriega. The evidence is rather convincing. It is a bit of a stretch to accept that the US would have invesged so much time and effort in grooming Noriega unless it had a plan to install him, and it certainly would have been impossible to install him without getting rid of Torrijos.
Many Panamanians recognize Torrijos as the best leader the country ever had, even though he was never elected president. It is he to whom the handover of the Panama Canal is attributed, thanks to his negotiations with Carter. But beyond that, Torrijos was a progressive who did more for Panama than any other leader before or after him. He built hundreds of miles of new highways and roads. He founded the Technological University of Panama, the best university in the country, which still prepares the engineers who work at the canal and who build major projects. The new Constitution of Panama was his brain child. He instituted school lunches for public school students. Generally, he was the only leader who was seen as having the interests of the common people at heart and not just the oligarchs, although he made a truce with the oligarchs so as to keep peace and harmony. He embraced no ideology, and when asked, famously said “neither with the left nor the right.”
In short the US had prepared a ruthless dictator to replace Torrijos, and then when this dictator posed a threat to the US (possible black mail), they got rid of the dictator (same scenario as with Saddam Hussein, who had also started out as a US protege).
In the US invasion of 1989–90, in the administration of George H. W. Bush, the US paratroopers killed everyone in their path, mostly unarmed civilians, numbering an estimated 4,000, and buried their bodies in mass graves.
The cynical name of Washington’s mission was Operation Just Cause.
In discussing this invasion with native Panamanians, I was surprised to find that they do not hate the US military. One man told me that most Panamanians have fond memories of the US service men who were stationed in the Canal Zone. They think the invading paratroopers have nothing in common with those soldiers that they knew and respected. Indeed, the service men in the Zone were a major source of income for the locals, whom they hired to clean their homes and tend their lawns, paying them salaries at least twice as high as any they could have received working on the local economy. By contrast the locals think of the invading troops as bloodthirsty and inhuman.
In these discussion I got the impression that former CIA head George Bush Senior may have introduced a new military doctrine and a new kind of cold blooded soldier. Some analysts consider the Panama invasion a prelude to the Iraq war, which saw scores of civilians, including a high percentage of children, killed. It also saw the native Assyrian Christian community decimated. And this under a president who self-described as a "born again Christian."
It almost seemed as if the US Establishment, which had in any case never shown much aversion to war in the past, rose to a higher level of blood thirst around that time and began to relish not only the power but also actually a psychopathic thrill in killing, maiming, destroying infrastructure and bringing utter misery to people of different cultures, languages, races and religions, in short, people who did not belong to or bow to the Exceptional Nation – the exclusive club of people entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
The Syrian war shows that nothing has changed. The US still subjects the war-ravaged Syrians to killer sanctions, steals the oil they desperately need to sustain their lives, and imposes third-country sanctions on anyone who dares to help them rebuild the nation destroyed by US-backed jihadists.
I sometimes imagine I see Satan himself sitting on his throne in Washington, DC.