Oct. 25, 2000
Jim Lehrer put the ultimate foreign policy question on the table
during the second presidential debate when he ran through the list of
eight military actions taken by the last three Presidents and asked the
candidates to give a thumbs up or thumbs down. While Gore gave a
thumbs down to Somalia, and Bush to Somalia and Haiti, no one pointed
out the crucial difference between the Reagan and Bush actions in
Grenada and Panama and the Clinton actions in Bosnia and Yugoslavia.
It's getting very tiresome the way so many of the media try to
justify Bill Clinton's unconstitutional 78 days of bombing civilians in
sovereign, faraway Yugoslavia by comparing what he did to Ronald
Reagan's liberation of Grenada. The analogy is false from the get-go.
Reagan's liberation of Grenada, a small island on our own doorstep
in the Western Hemisphere, was in furtherance of the Monroe Doctrine,
which has been a fixed star in American foreign policy since December
2, 1823. The operative words of the Monroe Doctrine are these: "The
political system of the allied powers is essentially different from
that of America. We should consider any attempt on their part to
extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to
our peace and safety."
The Monroe Doctrine thus defines its parameters for U.S. military
action: "this hemisphere" and "dangerous to our peace and safety."
Yugoslavia and Bosnia met neither test.
Another key word in the Monroe Doctrine is "system." It is not
limited to military aggressions; it prohibits extending the "system" of
foreign powers to the Western Hemisphere, recognizing the fundamental
difference between our constitutional republic and Old World empires or
The Marquis de Lafayette immediately called the Monroe Doctrine
"the best little bit of paper that God ever permitted any man to give
the world." Throughout the 19th century, the Monroe Doctrine was
successful in keeping Old World dictatorships out of our Hemisphere.
In 1823, the Monroe Doctrine was specifically directed at Imperial
Russia when Czar Alexander was trying to colonize our Pacific coast.
President James Monroe's courageous statement to preempt this extension
of Russian influence was made at a time when America had no standing
army and our navy had only five sailing ships.
But we had a proud sense of national identity and national
security. Monroe's Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, stated,
"There can, perhaps, be no better time for saying, frankly and
explicitly, to the Russian government that the future peace of the
world cannot be promoted by Russian settlements on any part of the
In the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the problem was Russia again,
and the American people fully backed President John F. Kennedy in
forcing Khrushchev to remove the Soviet Union's offensive missiles from
Cuba. Unfortunately, Castro remained as a Soviet lackey and Khrushchev
taunted us: "Now the remains of this Monroe Doctrine should best be
buried, as every dead body is, so that it does not poison the air by
Proclaiming the death of the Monroe Doctrine was premature, as
Mark Twain could have said. Successive U.S. Presidents haven't yet
figured out how to cope with Castro, but Ronald Reagan certainly did
act decisively to stop the next Russian violation.
In October 1983, the Soviet Union tried to make the island of
Grenada function as a Soviet base with supplies from Cuba. The
American people fully backed Reagan's use of U.S. troops to counter
this threat in the Western Hemisphere.
Historians will probably look back on Ronald Reagan's rescue of
Grenada in 1983 as the turning point in official American policy toward
Communism, and maybe that's why the media pundits don't explain the
Grenada incident for the benefit of today's audiences. Reagan simply
saved us from the establishment of another Communist regime in the
The U.S. State Department later published a selection from the
35,000 pounds of captured documents proving how the Soviet Union was
planning to use Grenada as a base of operations and supplies. Grenada
was becoming a major Soviet-aligned military fortress staffed with
Soviet military personnel.
Grenada was being prepared as an air base for Soviet military
jets, a port for Soviet vessels, and a base for exporting revolution.
One document quoted a Soviet military chief as saying, "Nineteen years
ago we had only Cuba. Now we have Cuba, Nicaragua and Grenada -- we
are making progress."
The Monroe Doctrine is part of our history and our heritage and is
essential to our national security. Presidents' actions in
implementing it through two centuries have enjoyed as near unanimous
popular support as is possible in a democracy.
Bill Clinton's actions in Yugoslavia were certainly not to defend
U.S. "peace and safety." The purpose was defined by his Rhodes scholar
buddy and NATO Supreme Commander of the Yugoslav bombing, General
Wesley Clark, who declared on C-Span on September 26 that our goal is
"to build a multi-ethnic, democratic society in Kosovo."