In 1983, the United States led an invasion into the Caribbean nation of Grenada. This particular nation had a population of about ninety one thousand and was located north of Venezuela with a distance of about 99 miles between the two nations. The United States got the victory in mere weeks. Though referred to as the Invasion of Grenada it had an official US military codename Operation Urgent Fury.
This operation was designed and put together as a response to the internal conflicts in Grenada’s government (referred to as the People’s Revolutionary Government), which led to the placing under house arrest and then later execution of the nation’s second Prime minister, Maurice Bishop. Following this assassination, a new government was established called the Revolutionary Military Council with a chairman—Hudson Austin—that acted as the overall leader of the nation.
The result of the US Invasion of Grenada was to overthrow the illegal Council and restore peace and order. Another result was the establishment of an interim government before a democratic election was held in 1984. Since then up until this day, Grenada has retained a democratic system of government.
Grenada was colonized by Britain. It obtained its independence in 1974, leading to the establishment of a constitution and government. However, in 1979 there was a coup de tat conducted by the New Jewel Movement (a leftist movement led by Maurice Bishop), leading to a suspension of the constitution. Many political persons were sent to prison after this coup. Some years later, there were oppositions against Maurice’s foreign policies, which many felt were moderate as opposed to harsh. This really intensified in 1983. The result was the capturing and execution of Maurice Bishop by the hardline Stalinists. The other people that were killed were Maurice’s spouse, three cabinet leaders and two union leaders.
The organization of Caribbean States appealed to the United States for help. The Governor General of the country also appealed for help, leading to the President, Ronald Regan, accepting their plea and ordering the United States intervention.
The United States, regardless of the plea, had stakes in the matter as well, because over six hundred US medical students were on the Island and they feared that there would be a repeat of what happened in the Iran hostage crisis.
The United States invaded Grenada six days after the execution of Maurice in October 25, 1983. Over 7,500 troops from different branches of the military were deployed to Grenada. The illegally established military rule was removed after the United States were victorious in Grenada and the Governor General of Grenada appointed an interim government pending when an election could be organized and conducted.
A lot of people and nations did not agree with the United States intervention. The then British Prime Minister publicly lauded the intervention. However, privately she condemned the act particularly because she was not given any prior notice of the intervention. Canada criticized the intervention, while the United States General Assembly voted to condemn the act as a violation of international laws.
Regardless of the criticisms, the action enjoyed favorable responses within America. Even the Grenadian people praised the effort of the United States, especially because there were few casualties resulting from the war and because they now had a democratic government in power and a system of democracy in the constitution.
In Grenada today, the date America invaded Grenada is now regarded as a national holiday and is called Thanksgiving Day. This day was set aside to commemorate the freedom of the political prisoners who were then elected to office.
For the United States, the war revealed some problems in communications especially when different branches of the army were fighting in a joint operation. This led to investigations and major changes captured in the Goldwater-Nichols Act. It also led to major reorganizations of the Army.
After one month of the invasion, the Times magazine published an article describing the war as having broad support from Americans. Furthermore, Congress decided that the invasion was legal and justified because they mostly realized that the US medical students in a university that was sited near a contested runway could have been abducted just like US diplomats had been in the Iran crisis some four years before. This congressional report led the speaker of the house of representative, Tip O’Neil, to reconsider his opposition to the matter and now support it.
Investigating this claim by congress, calls were made to the US students studying in Grenada. While some told news people that they were safe in the university and didn’t feel threatened by what was going on outside the walls of the school, others expressed appreciation to the Army for what it did, saying that they probably saved their lives.
The United Nations rebuked the US for its involvement in the invasion, while also condemning the killing of Maurice Bishop. The Soviet Union accused the US of continued threats to the Grenada state, which was what led to its invasion. The Soviet Union also claimed that all small nations disliked by the US would not be safe from its aggression if the actions the US took in Grenada were not repelled.
Some countries declared the act of the US as barbaric, while others declared that the US was violating conventions and treaties that it signed.
The issues were brought up before the United Nations Security Council, however it was vetoed by the United States. The President of the United States when questioned about the 108-9 vote against the US in the UN General Assembly said intoned his lack of interest in the ramifications of such lopsided vote.
Margret Thatcher who was a close friend to Ronald Regan received a message from Regan telling her that the US may invade Grenada. The then British Prime Minister replied with an advice for him not to invade Grenada. However, the US president proceeded with the plan. After the fact, he apologized to the British prime minister for not giving an earlier warning and their friendship continued.