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Cold War Mindset: Hot War Engagement. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum Education Department. Friday , June 25, 2010. The Situation. The Caribbean Nation of Grenada Size & Population about 131 square miles about 110,000 civilians Member of British Commonwealth

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cold war mindset hot war engagement

Cold War Mindset:Hot War Engagement

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

Education Department

Friday, June 25, 2010

the situation
The Situation

The Caribbean Nation of Grenada

  • Size & Population
    • about 131 square miles
    • about 110,000 civilians
  • Member of British Commonwealth
  • Seized by follower of Cuba’s President Castro and military, 1973
  • Gained independence from Britain, 1974
  • Ruled by Communist New Jewel Movement,1979
concerns neighboring states
Concerns: Neighboring States

5 out of 7 member states of the

Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS) requested U.S. military assistance

- Antigua - Barbados

- Dominica - Jamaica

- St. Lucia

St. Vincent wanted an investigation

concerns u s
Concerns: U.S.

The new Communist leader in Grenada, with strong ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union, may influence and aid other Soviet-Cuba takeovers in the region.

2. 800 American medical students in Grenada could become hostages in a Communist controlled regime.

3. Reports state that Grenada is building up and storing weapons to invade other Caribbean countries.

reagan doctrine
Reagan Doctrine

“We must not break faith with those who are risking their lives on every continent from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours since birth…Support for freedom fighters is self-defense.”

--President Reagan, in the State of the Union, February 1985

“The Reagan Doctrine proclaims overt and unashamed American support for anti-Communist revolution. The grounds are justice, necessity and democratic tradition.”

-- Charles Krauthammer, Time, April 1, 1985

major players
Major Players

Milan Bish

CBS News- Broke story of naval ships diverting from Middle East to Caribbean despite Reagan Administration pleas for press cooperation.

United States Ambassador

major players8
Major Players

Bernard Coard

Maurice Bishop

President of Grenada, leader of Communist movement. Assassinated along with 12 others in violent coupe in Grenada.

Radical Communist New Jewel Movement leader who took over Grenada, October 13, 1983. Formerly Bishop’s Deputy.

major players9
Major Players

Eugenia Charles

Leader of Dominica, head of OECS in 1983, urged President Reagan to intercede in Grenada on behalf of region.

Organization of East Caribbean Countries (OECS)

major players10
Major Players

George Shultz

Ronald Reagan

Secretary of State

major players11
Major Players

General John Vessey

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

events unfolding
Events Unfolding

President Reagan making an early morning telephone call to staff regarding the situation in Grenada. 10/22/83.


General John Vessey discussing the situation in Grenada a group of bipartisan members of congress including Trent Lott and Dick Cheney in cabinet room. 10/25/83.


President Reagan meets with Prime Minister Eugenia Charles of Dominica on events in Grenada .

(George Shultz and Robert McFarlane also visible) 10/25/83 .



What options does the

United States government

have for responding to this issue?

  • Invade Grenada and set up a new government.
  • Send a rescue mission for the American students.
  • Establish an international coalition to invade Grenada.
  • Ignore the issue.
  • Ask the American Congress to decide what to do.
  • Continue sanctions of Grenada which have already been established by the Carter Administration.
  • Engage in diplomatic talks with the new Grenadian officials to secure the safety of American students and prevent the spread of Communism throughout the Caribbean.
  • Sponsor an internal take-over by Grenadian para-military groups.
  • Would the Reagan Administration have ordered an invasion of Grenada if American Medical students were not considered at risk?
  • Did President Reagan have the authority under the War Powers Act to call for the invasion? Explain. 
  • Was the mission a success?  Explain?
  • What role did the press play?
  • Was this an example of what we would now call “nation building”? Was “nation building” in keeping with the Reagan Doctrine?
  • What were some of the concerns expressed in a post-Vietnam world?
  • Why would the State Department be more interested in an invasion than the Defense Department?
  • Was the invasion legal according to international law?

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

Education Department

Mira Cohen

Director of Education