In March 1979, socialist leader Maurice Bishop took over Grenada in a bloodless coup. Once deemed "a lovely piece of real estate" by U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, Grenada is a small East Caribbean island of some 133 square miles and 110,000 inhabitants. Half of its nationals live in the People's Republic of Brooklyn.
The U.S. worked to destabilize the Bishop regime but, in early October 1983, he was ultimately deposed and later murdered by a group even more to the "Left" than he. That's when America decided to risk awakening this sleeping Caribbean flea by launching a preemptive military strike.
Raygun declared that the invasion was "forced on us by events that have no precedent in the eastern Caribbean," leaving the U.S. with "no choice but to act strongly and decisively." (Sound familiar?) After adding the obligatory statements about Soviet and Cuban designs on the island, the Great Communicator sent roughly 2000 American Marines in to lead an operation called "Urgent Fury." The fighting was over in a week. Casualties included 135 Americans killed or wounded along 84 Cubans and some 400 Grenadians dead.
A Wall Street Journal headline blared: U.S. INVADES GRENADA IN WARNING TO RUSSIA AND CUBA ABOUT EXPANSION IN THE CARIBBEAN. It was also a warning to potential critics.
"The invasion was already under way, so even if we opposed it, there was nothing any of us could do," Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neil said at the time. "I had some serious reservations, and I'm sure my Democratic colleagues did as well, but I'd be damned if I was going to voice any criticism while our boys were out there." (Sound familiar?)
Let's not forget the "Grenada 17." Amnesty International's UK media director, Lesley Warner, wrote in 2003 that these 17 prisoners were "initially held without charge in cages, before being tried before an unfair, ad-hoc tribunal. They were denied access to legal counsel and to documents needed for their defense. After sentencing, the Grenada 17 were held in tiny cells with lights left permanently on." (Sound familiar?)
Raygun stopped short of donning a flight suit but did make a speech on the fourth day of the invasion which, according to journalist William Blum "succeeded in giving jingoism a bad name."
"The president managed to link the invasion of Grenada with the shooting down of a Korean airliner by the Soviet Union, the killing of U.S. soldiers in Lebanon, and the taking of American hostages in Iran," says Blum. "Clearly, the invasion symbolized an end to this string of humiliations for the United States. Even Vietnam was being avenged. To commemorate the American Renaissance, some 7,000 U.S. servicemen were designated heroes of the republic and decorated with medals. (Many had done no more than sit on ships near the island.) American had regained its manhood, by stepping on a flea."
It's all too familiar...
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.