Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Invading Grenada!

Commander K "Invades" Grenada!

Thanks to Cunard and the Queen Mary 2, I had a chance to launch an entirely peaceful albeit brief "invasion" of Grenada this March (www.cunard.com).  I disembarked at St. George's and had a chance to do some hiking on this verdant Caribbean island.  We hiked through an area that was fought in by US soldiers in the 1983 invasion.  We did not run into any Cuban revolutionaries but there were a few treacherous river crossings to negotiate with my fellow Cunard passengers...

River Crossing Grenada

The Grenadians are remarkably friendly to American tourists.  A Catholic priest friend of mine from New Hampshire (Monsignor Peter Dumont) who visited St George's told me that he was high-fived and thanked just for being an American!  Why are Grenadians so grateful? 

Perhaps with Putin's brutal an unprovoked 2022 invasion of Ukraine it is more important than ever to remember that some invasions are truly liberations.  It is nice to also recall a time when American leadership under Reagan focused on Peace through Strength and was able to deter...

This is what we had to say about Grenada in 2014's America Invades (www.americainvades.com)...

Fresh Nutmeg from
The Island of Spice

"Grenada is a beautiful small island in the Caribbean with a population of about one hundred thousand, which is also known as the “Island of Spice”—it produces cinnamon, cloves, and about 20 percent of the world’s nutmeg. It’s a popular tourist destination, especially for cruise ships to its capital, St. George’s. And yes, as you already know, we have invaded it.

Grenada was a former French and, then from 1763, British colony. So inevitably there was a certain amount of French and British invading that went on then. During the British period, we first got involved militarily with Grenada. Nothing major but still worth mentioning.

During the Revolutionary War, for instance, American privateers targeted ships leaving Grenada’s ports. Mind you, we didn’t have it all our own way. There were also privateers operating out of Grenada that preyed upon American shipping.

Then during World War II, US forces occasionally visited the island, on one occasion allegedly attempting to set up an artillery post on Richmond Hill, but finding no suitable site.

Grenada gained its independence from Britain in 1974 but remains part of the Commonwealth.

Reagan did put "boots on the ground" in Grenada...
Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA

In 1983, Grenada was the site of America’s largest military intervention since the Vietnam War. Ronald Reagan had defeated Jimmy Carter in the election of 1980 to become our fortieth president. Reagan took a more aggressive view about confronting Communism than his Cold War predecessors. Political upheaval on the island of Grenada gave Reagan an opportunity to reverse militarily what he saw as a dangerous expansion of Cuban and Soviet influence.

Reagan avenged the death of
Grenada's Maurice Bishop

On October 19, 1983, Bernard Coard, a hard-line Communist deputy prime minister, led a coup against Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a Marxist who had assumed power after a coup in 1979. A few days later, Bishop and two other members of his cabinet were assassinated.

Even before the coup, Reagan had been agonizing about exactly what was happening on Grenada and what it meant for the United States. There were intelligence reports indicating that Russia and Cuba had been building military infrastructure, in particular a ten-thousand-foot airstrip. That summer, he had already told vice president George Bush to make contingency plans, and now Reagan didn’t hesitate for long in enacting them.

With the Organization of East Caribbean States calling for a military response from the United States and despite being warned that there would be “a harsh political reaction” to a US invasion, on October 22, just a few days after the coup, Reagan decided the invasion should go ahead.

Navy Seal Badge
US Navy Seal Museum
Fort Pierce, FL

Operation Urgent Fury was launched on October 25, 1983. The US Army Rapid Deployment Force, including Ranger battalions, the 82nd Airborne Division, marines, and Navy SEALs (see...https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/4122629330054677829/3366282885862768943), was augmented by a few hundred troops from Jamaica and other countries. These forces engaged about fifteen hundred troops from the Grenadian Army and about a few hundred Cuban military special forces. The fighting was short (three days) and sometimes sharp, costing nineteen American lives and over one hundred total fatalities, including some civilians.

Grenada tested the "Special" Relationship
Reagan Presidential Library
Simi Valley, CA

The UN General Assembly condemned the US invasion calling it “a flagrant violation of international law” and voting 108 to 9 against it. Reagan’s ideological soulmate, Prime Minister Thatcher, was thrust into an awkward position by the US invasion as Grenada was still a member of the Commonwealth. Thatcher was disappointed by the American lack of consultation prior to taking action in Grenada.

However, there was also widespread American support for the invasion, particularly after the ABC broadcast Nightline featured an interview with American medical students from St. George’s University School of Medicine who expressed their gratitude for the invasion and towards the US Army Rangers. Americans were obviously particularly anxious about the potential for hostage taking after the Iranian crisis of 1979, so anything that took Americans out of a potentially dangerous political situation was likely to be popular.

US troops were withdrawn in December of 1983, and Grenada held elections in December of 1984. The operation can be seen as having laid to rest some of the inevitable reluctance for overseas military interventions evident in the period after the end of the Vietnam War.

October 25, the day American forces arrived, is celebrated in Grenada as a national holiday—Thanksgiving Day. The airport has been renamed “Maurice Bishop International Airport” in honor of the assassinated prime minister."  (Source: www.americainvades.com).

Beautiful Grenada!


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