If you want to get cynical, you can get into images of the Wehrmacht marching bands on the streets of Paris, with stormtroopers passing out candy to the kids. But that's certainly not the way that Panamanians look at the visit of the US Navy's hospital ship Comfort.
Part of that visit will be the strengthening of close and long-standing ties between the United States and Panama in the field of music. The Comfort's bands will be playing in Panama City this weekend, and one of the events will be hosted by a Panamanian who lives partly here and partly in the USA and who advanced his stellar career by way of a Fulbright Scholarship, one Danilo Pérez.
So what's different? Arguments over trade treaties and this or that irritant notwithstanding, most Panamanians like most Americans and think that the government in Washington is making changes for the better. Barack Obama is very popular here.
During the primary campaign, some dismissed Obama's having spent some of his formative years abroad as irrelevant. But he surely was taught at a young age that not everybody is like Americans, not everybody likes Americans, and that a young American needs to be careful about what he or she does or says lest it lead to some unfortunate international incident.
Barack knows, Barack cares and people around the world appreciate that. It accrues to the benefit of the millions of Americans living abroad, including the men and women of the US Armed Forces stationed overseas.