Thirty years ago this week, radical Marxist forces took over the Caribbean island nation of Grenada after having murdered their own leftist Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. The Marxist forces were a danger to regional security and American citizens. In response, President Ronald Reagan made the popular and correct decision to immediately liberate Grenada.
Grenada is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly known as the British Commonwealth. While Grenada’s government is run by a Prime Minister, Queen Elizabeth II is the formal head of state. She is represented on the island by a Governor General. In 1983 that was Sir John Scoon.
After killing Bishop, the coup leaders imposed a 24-hour curfew (violation was punishable by death). That’s also when Governor General Scoon asked the United States to intervene in Grenada. The Organization of East Caribbean States, representing six other island nations in the area, also asked for intervention.
Either of those requests were enough to justify American-led allied intervention. However, the most compelling reason to intervene was the direct threat to U.S. security, namely American citizens. At least 600 American medical students were studying at St. George’s Medical School in Grenada. After the imposition of curfew, many of the students had already been held hostage for a few hours by communist forces and there was the very real possibility this could happen on a much more permanent basis; as happened in Iran just a few years before.
Reagan would have none of it. He ordered an American-led, allied invasion and retook Grenada. Captured intelligence shows that, like Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and other areas, communist forces intended to use this island nation for their own ends, starting with the possibility of taking the American students as hostages. Thankfully the students were rescued, order was restored to Grenada, and our two nations are again friends. The American medical students returned home, kissing the tarmac.
Communist and socialist sympathizers will decry the October 1983 liberation but it was a further turning point which led to the reawakening of the American spirit against the murdering, despotic evil called Communism. Leaders around the world took note that President Reagan was serious. When American security was threatened, he acted.
Some 30 years later, with the “red line” in Syria erased, Iran flexing its nuclear muscle, and American standing in the eyes of our friends and enemies diminished, it is impossible to make the same argument.
Let’s consider how far we’ve come and ask ourselves: Are we really going in the right direction?