It is easy, with the problems America has had in Iraq, to begin to question whether liberating people really works. The best answer is this: Sometimes. The Russian people were liberated at the end of the Cold War, but Russia is slipping back into a tyrannical state that menaces its neighbors. Some of the old fragments of the Soviet Union also may be drifting back into old patterns of strong arm rule.
But twenty-five years ago, the world saw liberation work. Communist thugs deposed Maurice Bishop, a Leftist running Grenada who wished his island nation to remain non-aligned. The People's Revolutionary Army then executed Bishop and schemed to hold as hostages 1,000 American medical students who had been studying in Grenada - just like the Iranian revolutionaries had captured and held American embassy staff in Teheran three years earlier. Grenada was on the road to becoming another Cuba, and the humiliation of the Iranian Hostage Crisis was threatening to arise in our own hemisphere. This was not because the citizens of Grenada wanted their nation to become the police state proxy of Cuba. It was because the people with the guns, the terrorists who seized power and killed Bishop, believed that they could act unopposed. Hudson Austin, the leader of this communist coup, thought he would be president for life, like Fidel. Austin and other communists guessed wrong.
On October 25, 1983, Operation Urgent Fury defeated the Marxist bullies of the People's Liberation Army, chased the Cuban soldiers sent by Castro to insure that Grenada joined the ranks of the Soviet Empire, and safely liberated both the American hostages and the people of Grenada too. Did it work?
Today, Grenada has a relatively high standard of living. Freedom House lists the island nation as a "free" country. There is a functioning democracy with a multi-party system. Grenada threatens no one. It is peaceful. On the streets of the capital city of Grenada graffiti expresses the gratitude of the people of Grenada to the United States for the liberation of their country can still be seen - twenty five year later.
If the entire world was like Grenada, there would be no need for armies, little need for counterterrorism, and general prosperity. Liberation works. Liberation did work. It was, and is, the very best way to make our world safe, comfortable, and happy. We see Grenada as a triumph now, but almost no one did at the time.
Democrats in Washington viciously attacked President Reagan for his "invasion" of Grenada - men like Joe Biden were at least as hateful toward Ronald Reagan twenty-five years ago as Biden has been to President Bush and his policy of liberating Iraq. We bemoaned the absence of allied support when Operation Iraqi Freedom (which was, by the way, not called Operation Iraqi WMD, but Operation Iraqi Freedom - something it has achieved) but when Reagan liberated Grenada, practically no nation sided with him. Britain and Canada opposed Operation Urgent Fury. The United Nations General Assembly, by a vote of 108 to 9, condemned the liberation of Grenada as "a flagrant violation of international law."
It seems that the only people who wanted Grenada to be liberated were ordinary Grenadians and ordinary Americans. But that was enough. For the first time ever, a Marxist dictatorship was tossed, unceremoniously, out of power. After Grenada, Moscow saw that America rejected the Marxist idea - so similar to the radical Moslem idea - that land once taken by them can never be reclaimed by the rest of mankind.
Iraq is an example of introducing freedom and democracy to a land that has, really, never had it. Lands captured by the Baathist Party decades ago, lands threatened by radical Islamicists from outside of Iraq, watch now and see these lands becoming free and democratic. Can liberation work? Of course! Go back twenty-five years and see how it has worked. Without Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada would have descended into a dreary, bloody, hateful prison state just like Cuba or North Korea. It did not have to be that way. Ronald Reagan, utterly ignoring punditry and world opinion, willed that Grenada be free. Grenada was liberated and it has stayed free.
Iraq, of course, is not Grenada. A small Caribbean island is much easier to manage than a diverse and ancient land like Iraq. But other liberated nations like Germany and Japan, which did become peaceful, prosperous, and free parts of the community of nations were just as difficult to tame as Iraq. What America had after 1945, what America had in 1983 (at least the noble and decent part of America), was a will to truly liberate and an intention to take a problem and turn it into part of the solution.
I wonder what Barack Obama thinks about the twenty-fifth anniversary of the liberation of Grenada? Marxists were thrown out of power. Americans were liberators of the grateful Grenadian people. Would President Obama have acted in October 1983? Or would he have visited with Hudson Austin and paid a call to Castro? Does Obama consider the liberation of Grenada a success? Surely that is a fair question for the mystery who wants to lead America.