In 1983 the United States invaded the island of Grenada and overthrew the communist government in favor of a pro-Western one. The tiny Caribbean island nation, best known for its spices, gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1974. During that time the island was ruled by its first Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy (). He was widely regarded as an eccentric and authoritarian leader. Initially viewed as a champion of the working class, Gairy served as Prime Minister until March 13, 1979, when he was over thrown in a bloodless coup by a young attorney named Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement.
Though he would have likely won, Bishop never held free elections but his party ultimately maintained control in the country. The regime was primarily concerned with the wellbeing of the Grenadian people and had interests in improving health care, education, and standard of living on the island. Despite the popularity and success of the Movement there were some who wanted Bishop gone, like Bernard Coard. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of Bishop’s movement who led a military coup on October 19, 1983 and placed Bishop and others under arrest. In response, there was a nationwide protest and some of Bishop’s supporters freed him from prison. Following his liberation an army was dispatched to seize the fort where he was being held, which led to the killing of dozens of protesters and the execution of Bishop and two other cabinet members.
When Bishop came into power relations were closest with Cuba, which brought in hundreds of skilled labourers, medical personnel, military advisers, and development workers to Grenada. This reality troubled relations between the tiny island and the United States. America’s president at the time Ronald Reagan determined that Grenada’s turbulent Marxist government posed a threat to US national security. He began warning the United States of Soviet expansion in Grenada after the construction of an air strip backed by Cuba’s Fidel Castro began. There were concerns that Cuba and the Soviet Union were establishing a military foothold in the country.
After a 24-hour curfew with a shoot to kill order was imposed following the execution of Maurice Bishop, Reagan cited the importance of protecting the almost 1,000 Americans on the island who were students at the St. George’s medical school. Operation Urgent Fury was planned and about 2000 marines and paratroopers landed on the island in the early morning hours of October 25, 1983. The conflict had the U.S. military pitted against Grenadian revolutionaries and the Cuban army. The operation was over by November 3rd, with minimal U.S. casualties and was deemed a success by the Reagan administration.
It was the only time in the long history of tense American-Cuban relations that two countries engaged in open warfare. (c1947). Many have speculated and countless ulterior motives has been discussed for operation Urgent Fury. The justifications for the 1983 operation wasn’t well received by the international community, many believe that the invasion violated international laws. Many believed that the current administration feared what was the start of a global tide rising against U.S. dominance since the Vietnam war and they intended. The strive for power and the quest to have a more westernized government in Grenada, a case of realism has often been blamed for Operation Urgent Fury. Realism is the theory that each state acts on its own behalf, and that they will corporate when it’s in their own self-interest. (2016). The Priority of the United States was ensuring the survival of its citizens. Seeing the island as a treat to US national security prompted the US to act putting them in a position of power to protect itself. Realist seek to achieve both power and security