360. Memorandum From Richard Feinberg of the Policy Planning Staff to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake) and the Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Kreisberg)1


  • Grenada: Next Steps

Next week, while I am in La Paz,2 Grenada may be the subject of two meetings, one with the British to discuss regional security issues, and a second within the USG, perhaps at the White House level.3 Neither [Page 895] meeting is yet firm. Should they occur, I would hope S/P might attend to restrain less cool heads who seem to have been thrown into a panic over Bishop’s recent comments4 and ties to Cuba. I think S/P should make points along these lines:

—A regional coast guard, to nab mafiosos, smugglers, pirates, revolutionaries and other undesirables, sounds constructive, but a security force sounds dangerous. In the Grenadian case, would such a force have tried to retake the island from the New Jewel Movement after their pre-dawn seizure of power? The British, including Rowlands, seem to doubt the feasibility of a multinational force in a region of strong nationalist rivalries. Moreover, the CIA and others predict that CARICOM nations, under increasing economic pressures, will become more authoritarian politically; the beefing up of security forces, which have a tendency to fall under the influence of evil forces, could, ironically, end up accelerating this trend.

—We should not write Grenada off. Certainly, Bishop’s recent deeds and words are disturbing, but in fact only Cuba was prepared to rapidly provide security assistance, and, as Brandon Grove has observed, some of Ambassador Ortiz’ comments may have left room for misunderstanding.5 Even if Bishop turns sour, strong centrist forces, untainted with Gairyism, exist on the island to compete with the Jewels. If we turn hostile, Bishop will be given a good excuse to repress political activity in the name of national security.

—Most importantly, we should avoid lumping Guyana and Jamaica together with Cuba, as though they have similar interests or ideologies. Each has very different internal political structures, strong, competitive and egotistical national leaders, and distinct foreign allegiances and policies. Despite the Cuban use of Guyana as a transshipment point for arms, we should see Jamaica and Guyana as counterweights to Cuba, and not discourage their ties to Grenada.

—We should avoid dividing the Caribbean into the good guys (“moderates”) and the bad guys (Cuba, Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada). The Carter Administration consciously undertook to avoid this manichean dichotomy, partly in order to reduce polarization and draw the more nationalist governments toward the center. In fact, this policy has succeeded admirably. Notwithstanding some possible flirtations with the DGI or KGB, over the last two years Manley has steadily bcome more conservative (and is a spent political force in any case) while Burnham has dropped his previous Third World rhetoric (although he has become more repressive—against a real left-wing [Page 896] threat—domestically). If a policy of competition through friendship—and superior financial resources—moderated Manley, Burnham, and before them, the dean of Caribbean black power leaders, Eric Williams of Trinidad, why not Bishop also?

—We can seek to increase cooperation with the “moderates,” although our AID levels are already quite high on a per capita basis, especially considering the islands’ middle-income status. Such increased cooperation should be framed in terms of strengthening democracy and economic development, rather than forestalling radicalism, and remain open for Grenadian participation if Bishop is so inclined.

—While we should compete with the Cubans, we cannot pretend to eliminate all Cuban influence from the region. Cuba is the largest, richest, most highly motivated, militarized, and internally cohesive country in the Caribbean. We need to define, with the Cubans, the rules of the game in the area; but to do that, we need to open a dialogue with Havana, as I gather we have, to some degree, over African issues.6

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country, Box 23, Folder: Grenada, 4/1–22/79. No classification marking. A handwritten note at the top of the page reads, “FYI—Mr. Pastor.”
  2. Feinberg was traveling to Bolivia to attend the meeting of the Economic Commission for Latin America, which was held from April 18 to April 26. (Telegram 91463 to all American Republic diplomatic posts, April 12; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790169–0112)
  3. See Documents 361 and 319, respectively.
  4. See footnote 6, Document 317.
  5. See Document 317.
  6. See Document 41.