Following the successful rescue mission to Grenada by US Military forces in October 1983, liberals scoffed at Ronald Reagan because it seemed to them like an 800-pound gorilla had just beaten a helpless child. Tell that to the 19 service members who lost their lives and the approximately 100 who were wounded. It was only because liberals didn't care to understand both sides of the issue that they made such baseless claims, which claims gave aid and comfort to our erstwhile Soviet enemy.
As the Iranian Hostage rescue mission, known as Desert One, indicates, even the best laid plans turn out some times not to be easy. In the case of Grenada, plans were executed nearly without flaw, but it doesn't mean that the mission was easy. Would Grenada have been more acceptable to liberals if we had let a few hundred (or thousand) of our soldiers die?
It helps if the news media gets out the entire story and doesn't make value judgments about it. In the case of Grenada, the media didn't do a very good job. It helps if members of Congress look at military operations from both sides of the issue. Many at the time did not. Here are some facts to help put the Grenada mission in perspective.
- Radical Cuban-inspired Marxist group had murdered Maurice Bishop, the Prime Minister. His supporters were jailed, tortured, and shot. A 24-hour curfew had been imposed, with violators being shot on sight. 1,000 Americans were living in Grenada.
- Only two days prior to the invasion, 241 US marines had been killed in Beruit, Lebanon by a suicide bomber.
- Seven months prior to the Communist takeover, it had become known that a 10,000 foot runway was being built in Grenada, with Soviet financing. Its only purpose could have been military. A Soviet beachhead in Grenada had the possibility of affecting Panama Canal traffic.
- Six of Grenada's Caribbean island neighbors sent a request to Reagan to come to their aid. Not knowing the size of the Communist military contingent in Grenada, a 5,000-man US force was sent in. An excellent plan, excellently executed, resulted in 19 American dead and 100 wounded. One gun battle was fought against 800 Cuban enemy soldiers.
- Although the United Nations General Assembly voted 108 to 9 against the US action, all six Caribbean nations voted, as an appreciation of their rescue, with the the United States.
- American students studying in Grenada were visibly moved and relieved to have been safely evacuated to American soil.
- Following the fighting in Grenada, US troops discovered a plethora of weapons, ammunition, patrol boats, and personnel carriers. Weapons included tens of thousands of rockets and thousands of hand grenades and land mines.
Somehow liberals in Congress and the media used the overwhelming success of the mission to bolster their cries that an injustice had been committed by the Reagan administration. At the time, such American reaction to the Grenada invasion gave the Soviets a great deal of cannon fodder. Soviets were, for several weeks thereafter, fond of quoting American liberals who had chastised Reagan for (a) rescuing Americans in harms way, and (b) coming to the aid of six countries who had requested assistance.
Was Reagan justified in using force against Grenada? Absolutely. Even many of those who questioned his motives early on later agreed that the mission had been necessary. American resolve and optimism--tempered by a brave rescue and lack of subsequent occupation of Caribbean territory--skyrocketed.
Was the rescue mission to Grenada easy? No. It only appears that way in retrospect to Americans who haven't studied their history.