Imagine President Obama doing what President Reagan did during Grenada invasion
A recording of a conversation between President Ronald Reagan and Dame Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister of Great Britain was released by the Regan Library that reveals President Reagan apologizing to Thatcher for not informing her of the Grenada invasion ahead of time.
Reading the transrcipt, I was struck by the president's solicitiousness toward Thatcher's personal feelings as well as her political position.
A recorded conversation between an apologetic Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher over the invasion of Grenada has been published for the first time.
"We regret very much the embarrassment that's been caused to you," the US leader said during the call.
Baroness Thatcher was angered that she was not consulted before the Americans invaded a Commonwealth state.
United States troops were sent to Grenada in 1983 to topple the Caribbean island's Marxist regime.
While US forces were still in action, the president phoned Lady Thatcher to explain the action he had taken.
"If I were there, Margaret," he said, "I'd throw my hat in the door before I came in."
The saying refers to an Civil War-era practice in which a visitor might throw his hat in to a room before entering - if he was unwelcome, it might be thrown out again or even shot at.
"There's no need for that," Lady Thatcher replied.
Ronald Reagan called Margaret Thatcher to apologise for not sharing information about the Grenada invasion
Reagan continued: "We regret very much the embarrassment that's been caused to you, and I would like to tell you what the story is from our end."
He explained that military commanders only had "a matter of hours" to mobilise the troops and that he was prevented from discussing it with her sooner because of security fears.
"We were greatly concerned because of a problem here - and not at your end at all - but here. We've had a nagging problem of a loose source, a leak," he told her.
Lady Thatcher went on to suggest she understood why he had not been more open with her, saying she had been subject to similar restrictions at the time of the Falklands invasion.
"The action [in Grenada] is under way now and we just hope it will be successful. There is a lot of work to do yet, Ron," she said.
The pair discussed the situation in Grenada further before she ended the call by saying she had to return to a "tricky" debate in the House of Commons.
Reagan then pitched in with some advice for her: "All right. Go get 'em, eat 'em alive."
Part of this conversation was pure theater. Reagan did not inform Thatcher of the invasion in order to give her plausible deniability with members of parliament who would object to American troops on the soil of a British Commonwealth nation. The "leak" excuse was a useful fiction. Conversations between the two leaders were very secure. But by giving Thatcher the ability to say that she didn't know of the invasion, it also meant that she couldn't have given approval for it.
The two leaders fully understood the game. What was really on display was their high regard for each other and warm personal relationship.
I couldn't imagine Obama having that conversation with any world leader. He's not built that way and America suffers for it.