THIS PAST week I viewed some very informative documentaries and news coverage by the BBC, CNN and MSNBC, marking the tenth anniversary of the start of the US-led war against Iraq under the pretence of the Saddam Hussein regime’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
The exposure of falsehoods was impressive, as told by then US president George Bush and top officials of his administration—with support from then British prime minister, Tony Blair—despite firm denials offered by US and UK intelligence.
And they helped in refreshing my recollections of the scary propaganda, the dangerous disinformation campaign, that had been generated by another Republican president (Ronald Reagan) ahead of America’s military invasion of Grenada, 20 years earlier, on October 25,1983, after the collapse of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).
Notable archival sources in the US, Britain and elsewhere, as well as leading media enterprises would be chock-full of material mocking the lies told by the Reagan administration, with pitiful acquiescence by Caricom governments—particularly in Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica and St Lucia — about an “international communist plot” involving Cuba and the then Soviet Union to establish a military beach-head in Grenada.
In sharp contrasts was Trinidad and Tobago, whose government had strongly opposed any foreign military invasion. Then T&T prime minister, George Chambers, angrily declared he had been misled at an earlier special meeting of Caricom leaders he had convened.
The stand of then Dominica prime minister, Mary Eugenia Charles, who had proudly shared televised coverage with Reagan at the White House as he announced the invasion of Grenada by some 1,900 troops, was in sharp contrast to that taken by that fierce and passionate defender of Caribbean sovereignty, Barbados’ Errol Barrow, who was then opposition leader. Barrow was to have his own earlier warnings confirmed by the US military invasion.
While the plotting and arrangements for the invasion were secretly taking place, Barrow went public in August of that year with his information that the administration of then prime minister Tom Adams had been “stockpiling medical supplies for apparent war preparations…”
Adams was to offer a sharp denial of such preparations or any involvement by his government. However, with the invasion of Grenada a fait accompli, and governments of Barbados, Jamaica and OECS openly lined up with the US, Barrow was to denounce what he described to the media as the “high noon cowboy” jingoism of the US president for the war he had authorised against Grenada.
The unprecedented invasion by the US of a former British colony was the climax of a concerted campaign, directly orchestrated out of Washington, to get rid of the then People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of Maurice Bishop. It was the Caricom government that Washington just loved to hate and which, unlike Cuba that it hates even more, it felt it could easily take out.
Ironically, the PRG was to implode, six days before the invasion, with the execution of “comrades” by “comrades” and a “Revolutionary Military Council’’ (RMC) established while grieving, traumatised Grenadians were grappling to cope with survival challenges amid political promises of new elections soon and co-operation with foreign governments and institutions.
But none of those occurrences had any impact on Reagan’s “Urgent Fury” military invasion that went into effect precisely at 5.40 a.m. on October 25, 1983.
The US-led invasion of Iraq, like the military invasion of Grenada, was ruthlessly carried without any hard evidence to justify such a development
Further, while the US, under the Republican George Bush administration had arrogantly ignored any referencing to the United Nations about its planned invasion of Iraq—the shattering, mind-boggling human and material consequences of which are still being experienced by the suffering Iraqis—the Reagan administration was to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning mighty America’s military invasion of little Grenada.
And while Britain’s Tony Blair remains on the defensive for his role in Bush’s war plans against Iraq—ostensibly to capture “stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction” that were never found—it is perhaps relevant to recall also the distancing of former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher from Reagan’s “urgent fury” war against Grenada.
According to Reagan’s secretary of state, George Schultz, in his published Turmoil and Triumph, the British position on the invasion “remained a puzzle’….Whatever the reasons for Thatcher’s position, she and her government opposed the American rescue operation and did so vehemently…”
Sadly, we no longer have among us quite a few of the regional political leaders/officials and those in the US itself who were either proponents or opponents of the invasion of Grenada. The Caribbean, indeed no sovereign nation can afford to ignore the lies told for the invasion of Grenada and Iraq by the world’s sole superpower.