Home > American history, military, war > The U.S. Intervention in Grenada: Apologism City   [ Part 3]

The U.S. Intervention in Grenada: Apologism City   [ Part 3]

July 4th, 2008


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[9] Considering these outward gestures, Bishop’s government appeared to be following a route of foreign policy similar to Cuba’s, attempting to ensure its survival by aligning with the “anti-U. S. ” Soviet and miscellaneous powers. A viable purpose of the conference, then, was to visibly demonstrate to these powers that Grenada was ready for a serious commitment in return for economic and military assistance. Whether this predicament was caused unfairly or not, Bishop’s strategy would become grounds for U. S. concern. The 1983 MRC coup, however, drastically altered Grenada’s strength. After imprisoning and executing Bishop and his cabinet, General Hudson Austin, the military architect of the coup, realized that his new government had overstepped and become isolated, condemned by Cuba, sanctioned by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and only supported with words from Moscow. In the language of British correspondent Hugh O’Shaughnessy,

There is every reason to think that in the case of Grenada the MRC would have collapsed under the great weight of the opprobrium it was suffering within the island, combined if there had been a need with the outside pressures exerted on it by its neighbors… had [Austin] and Coard not given up their narrowly dictatorial aspirations it is difficult to see what force they could have relied on to maintain them against the popular anger at the massacre they were responsible for. [10]

Indeed, though Austin desperately sought to negotiate his government out of its helpless position and the previously mentioned security concerns were all but dissipated for the time being, the U. S. immediately seized the opportunity to invade and claim a victory in the name of liberation.

Ideological Security

In another political dimension, Grenada presented an ideological challenge to the United States and its economic system. Keenly aware of this, the Bishop government used it to explain the hostility of the “big-powers”:

From the outset, the anti-imperialist nature of Grenada’s solution and the “danger” of a new, successful, non-capitalist model in the bosom of the English-speaking Caribbean was more than the Washington/London axis was willing to tolerate. The hostility of imperialism and the threat of instant confrontational politics were on the horizon the very week following March 13, 1979. [11]

Initially influenced by Black Power ideology, a typical vessel for dissent in the Caribbean, Bishop gravitated toward the formation of the JEWEL, a rural-oriented faction aimed at undermining Prime Minister Gairy’s support among the “agro-proletariat. ” Eventually, the New JEWEL Movement was created by merging similar socialist political factions. It is important to note that long before any U. S. involvement, the NJM was already Marxist-Leninist oriented (in direct refutation of the belief that like Castro in Cuba, Grenada’s leadership was “forced” into leftist ideology to find allies against a hostile United States). In the Party Manifesto of 1973, it was made clear that atop the goal of redistribution of economic and political opportunity was the absolute transformation into a socialist economy with a full welfare system. [12] Early reforms were met with big success in the diversification of agriculture, strong growth rates, increases in literacy, and a slew of ambitious programs to boost development of important economic sectors. Bishop also capitalized on racial and ethnic appeal and took it to the United States, where he garnered the support of Black-American unions and Communist/Socialist groups who attended the 1981 Grenada conference, such as the Black Workers Organization and the U. S. Communist Party. [13] In the period of “Reaganomics” and dissatisfied minorities, a socialist “Black Power” movement could prove to be, however small in breadth, a considerable domestic political threat. Over an extended period of time, Bishop’s government would have likely been the target of a major U. S. -sponsored destabilization attempt had it continued its course of domestic and foreign policy. However, the MRC coup, executed by hard-line Leninists within the government, proved to be an effective substitute to remove the arguably successful “socialist experiment. ”

Military Pride

The actual invasion of Grenada in 1983, Operation “Urgent Fury,” is best explained by the urgency and fury with which Reagan needed a successful military campaign. A show of significant force would make governments in Latin America and the Caribbean think twice about stirring the political cauldron without permission from the United States. Already in the pessimistic shroud of the post-Vietnam era, the U. S. was dealing with the after-effects of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 servicemen a mere 2 days before the invasion. The MRC had largely disarmed and dismantled a majority of the militias for being “pro-Bishop,” leaving the bulk of what would be costly resistance to the American Marines out of the picture. As a quick and generally low-cost intervention (18 American dead, 116 wounded), the attack paid off. 7,000 servicemen were awarded medals for participating in the operation.

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