- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2014

New audio has surfaced of President Ronald Reagan’s conversations with several heads of state — including a tape of one rather heated conversation with the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over the United States’ invasion of Grenada.

The conversation over the 1983 U.S. invasion included a contrite Reagan explaining to his ally Thatcher that America’s government feared its plans to overthrow the Marxist regime might be leaked — and thus, the secrecy, The Telegraph reported. Thatcher’s concerns about notification were based on Grenada being a former British colony that, despite its then-recent turn toward Cuba and the Soviet Union, was still a member of the British Commonwealth with the queen as head of state and a British-appointed governor-general.

Reagan broaches the topic by saying: “If I were there, Margaret, I’d throw my hat in the door before I came in,” the New York Post reported. Thatcher’s response: “There’s no need to do that,” The Telegraph reported.

Reagan also says that he and other leading U.S. authorities “regret very much the embarrassment caused” to her because of their secrecy with the invasion.

Reagan also said: “I want you to know it was no feeling on our part of lack of confidence at your end. It’s at our end. I guess it’s the first thing we have done since I’ve been president in which the secret was actually kept until it happened. But our military and the planning only had — I really have to call it a matter of hours — to put this together.”

And Thatcher’s response: “I know about sensitivity, because of the Falklands. That’s why I would not speak for very long even on the secret telephone to you. Because even that can be broken. I’m very much aware of sensitivities. The action is underway now and we just hope it will be successful. Let’s hope it’s soon over, Ron, and that you manage to get a democracy restored.”

America’s mission in Grenada came on the heels of a bloody and violent coup by Cuban-trained military officials, who put to death the prime minister, Maurice Bishop, and more than a dozen members of his cabinet. Leaders from around the world were angry at America’s invasion, however, despite the fact that it led to the surrender of the Marxists.

The audio was part of a 1996 Freedom of Information Act request made by William Doyle — who just received the tapes a few days ago. The conversation between Reagan and Thatcher took place Oct. 26, 1983.

Also on the tapes, which were recorded by Reagan: Conversations between the former president and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and between Reagan and Syrian President Hafez Assad. On the latter, Newsmax reported Reagan kept Assad waiting 13 minutes while he rode a horse.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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