Panama Canal Returned

Panama Canal ReturnedPanama Canal Returned


Though widely criticized by the right domestically, the Carter administration’s decision to turn over the Panama Canal to Panama proved immensely popular with Latin America. The Canal was a vital strategic link for the United States navy both during the First and Second World Wars. However, by the time of the Korean War, the canal was no longer large enough to accommodate contemporary warships. With its utility to the U.S. military greatly diminished, while its propaganda value as a relic of American imperialism still on the rise, Carter realized that gradual hand-over of the canal was the best policy alternative.

Time: Mid War
Side: US
Ops: 1
Removed after event: Yes


In many ways this is similar to Allende, with sides reversed.  If the US is already in South America, then it’s not a big deal: maybe buff up Panama/Venezuela a little bit before playing this, or don’t even bother if the US already controls both of those countries.  (Who cares about Costa Rica?)

But if the US isn’t in South America, and especially if you don’t yet have the region locked down, this is hugely problematic.  You could theoretically use the 1 Op to realign the US out of Venezuela, but your odds of success are only 27.78%.  A better use is often to headline Panama Canal Returned, and then try to coup Venezuela on AR1 (or, if you are concerned about the US dropping DEFCON in the headline, use the 1 Op of Panama Canal Returned on AR1 to coup Venezuela, but with only 1/2 chance of success).


I normally use this for the event only when I need to establish access to South America, though of course I will be careful to do so only at DEFCON 2.  It can also be useful as an AR7 play to break USSR control of Venezuela or Panama (preferably both).

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12 Responses to Panama Canal Returned

  1. Kristofer says:

    I like the USSR play of headlining a US card. What else US cards are there that warrants a Soviet headline? Defectors, possibly, for an empty headline if your hand is strong enough to throw away two ops (can’t realistically see this happening though.) OAS founded? Camp David accords?

    • Ioan76_TM says:

      CIA created – of course, for some desperate situations to avoid a DEFCON suicide … 😉

      • Kristofer says:

        Ioan: in the headline phase?

        • Ioan76_TM says:

          Of course – because in that moment DEFCON is on 3 and the risk is somehow minimal.

          • SnowFire says:

            Kristofer’s point is that the USSR traditionally throws away CIA Created on AR1, because any kind of DEFCON-dropping US headline (even Summit!) can ruin your day. Although if you have two DEFCON suicide cards in hand and no China you might as well go for it of course since if the US does drop DEFCON you’ve lost anyway.

            • spuddddddd says:

              Also, CIA/Lone Gunman is such an awful headline to play on yourself. Give away your hand, and a free Op. You’d have to be totally desperate.

              • Kristofer says:

                Yeah, correct play or not, headlining CIA is the equivalent of… … doing something very counterintuitive in… some other game. Although playing CIA on AR1 isn´t much better…

                Following the comments so far, what I´ve seen is: Sadat, Panama Canal, OAS, possibly (but probably not) Camp David. All cards you could concievably headline as USSR. It opens up a bunch of interesting plays. Please fill in the list if you got any more!
                On a side note, could there possibly be any USSR card what so ever the US would want to headline? How about We Will Bury You when you have UN intervention? Since it’s a 4 op it’s a possible defcon trap and it has no consequences for the US.

                • The Archon says:

                  I’ve done it before; not a terrible idea. Steals the Soviet coup advantage, can get you out of a bad (even game-ending) hand, and has no other side-effect other than forcing your play of UN on AR1 (which isn’t terrible). I can think of worse ideas.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve headlined Sadat and coup’d Egypt back on AR 1.

  3. Dan Levy says:

    I find this card to be one of the more annoying cards as the USSR player. So many times I manage to get control of Venezuela and Panama and then have to deal with this card (or US plays it for the event, but that’s less problematic). You can’t space it. You don’t get enough ops to respond and save both battlegrounds. And the headline trick (done it before and thought I was brilliant for thinking of it on my own) doesn’t sufficiently mitigate the damage when USSR controls both battlegrounds, unless you use AR1 to place ops and let US get the 1st coup.

    I do not agree that the 1 influence in Costa Rica is useless to the US. Costa Rica is the one stable BG in the region, so it’s useful to score or prevent domination. And it allows the US access back into Panama if they get coup’ed or realligned out.

  4. Re: ‘who cares about Costa Rica?’. I agree with Dan Levy here (although it isn’t a BG). in a lot of the games I’ve played, the US has pre-emptively played into Costa Rica to ensure that they still have access to the Panama/Colombia/Venezuela region after a successful USSR Panama coup. Control of it gives you a stable non-BG in a volatile region, and a decent chance of re-aligning Panama. I’m interested in why you think it’s useless?

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