"Operation Urgent Fury," the title of tonight's typically provocative installment of "Frontline," was also the code name for the invasion of Grenada, a quick act of U.S. interventionism in 1983 that, its supporters would argue, surgically--and prudently--removed a small but strategically ominous communist malignancy from the Caribbean.
The invasion was considered by conservatives as the foreign policy triumph of President Reagan's first term. But, not surprisingly, liberal investigative reporter Seymour Hersh--who wrote and narrates "Frontline's" critical chronology of what became the first major U. S. military action since Vietnam--offers a differing view (at 9 p.m. on Channel 15, 10 p.m. on Channels 28 and 50).
Early on, Hersh asks two rhetorical questions: Were the 600 American medical students living on the island ever really in imminent danger from the Marxists running Grenada (the putative reason for the invasion), and did the Reagan Administration seriously try to resolve the crisis by diplomatic means?
The documentary's answer to both questions is a resounding no, based on interviews with the chancellors of the medical school and with U. S. students who were there during the invasion, as well as with former Grenadian officials and ex-U.S. State Department staffers.