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ISSN: 1463-6689

Online from: 1999

Subject Area: Strategy

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The American invasion of Grenada: a note on false prophecy

Document Information:
Title:The American invasion of Grenada: a note on false prophecy
Author(s):Wendell Bell, (Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA and a member of foresight's Editorial Board.)
Citation:Wendell Bell, (2008) "The American invasion of Grenada: a note on false prophecy", foresight, Vol. 10 Iss: 3, pp.27 - 42
Keywords:Conflict, Decision making, Ethics, Forward planning, Information management, Politics
Article type:Viewpoint
DOI:10.1108/14636680810883107 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:This is a revised version of an essay that was first published in The Yale Review, Vol. 75 No. 4 (1986), pp. 564-86. The author would like to thank The Yale Review for permission to publish it here. Also, the author thanks Professor Percy C. Hintzen, University of California, Berkeley for sharing an early piece he wrote on Grenada from which the author has drawn, and Yale colleague, Professor Kai T. Erikson, and former Yale colleagues, the late Michael G. Cook and M.G. Smith, for their comments on a draft of this paper.

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to evaluate the reasons, especially the assertions about the future, given by the US administration under President Reagan, to justify the decision to attack and invade the Caribbean island of Grenada.

Design/methodology/approachThe methodology is analysis of existing records and reports on the assertions, events, and decisions leading to the invasion.

FindingsThe Reagan administration gave three main reasons for the invasion. They claimed that Americans on Grenada, particularly the students attending the St George's University Medical School, would be harmed from continuing social disruption on Grenada; that the militarization of Grenada was intended as a means for the future export of terrorism or revolution to its Caribbean neighbors; and that the planned international airport at Point Salines was intended to be a future Soviet-Cuban military base. Each was false.

Research limitations/implicationsDecision making includes assumptions about the future and invites the use of foresight. Such foresight, of course, can be presumptively true and, thus, useful. But also it can be wrong, sometimes deliberately manipulated, leading to wrongheaded actions and devastating consequences.

Practical implicationsAn analysis of the 1983 American invasion of Grenada illustrates the power of authority to distort the truth and corrupt morality, processes that re-occurred 20 years later with much greater consequences in the case of the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq.

Originality/valueThe case study of the American invasion of Grenada can be used by decision makers and others to improve future decision-making situations. Before doing violence to other people, we need to ask what violence we are doing to truth.

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