Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in History



Faculty Advisor(s)

Sharon Bailey Glasco

Subject Categories

American Politics | Cultural History | Defense and Security Studies | History | International Relations | Latin American History | Latin American Studies | Military and Veterans Studies | Military History | Peace and Conflict Studies | Political History | United States History


In December of 1989, the United States launched Operation Just Cause, a military invasion of the country of Panama, capturing Manuel Noriega and overthrowing his government. This research project examines how Colin Powell, Richard Cheney, James Baker, and George H.W. Bush presented Operation Just Cause in their memoirs. It attempts to determine how these senior leaders’ depictions of this invasion incorporated it into the Bush administration’s overall foreign-policy strategy. The research finds that their general approach was to present the Panama intervention as an isolated incident which had no intentional link to other major events at the time, was not made for strategic or political gain, and was driven entirely or almost entirely by idealist reasons. These former leaders accomplished this by neglecting to connect the Panama intervention with the decline of Soviet power, painting the media as an antagonistic force which hindered the invasion rather than helped the administration’s standing, connecting the intervention to the Gulf War in incidental or only minor ways, frequently holding each other responsible for the decision to invade instead of taking responsibility themselves, and justifying it by appealing to democracy and self-defense.