Perhaps, rather than offering his own thoughts on the subject, McCain could answer his question better by reading Reagan’s own words explaining his decision to send U.S. armed forces to Grenada. On the evening of Oct. 27, 1983, just days after U.S. forces landed on the island, the president addressed the nation.

“I believe our government has a responsibility to go to the aid of its citizens if their right to life and liberty is threatened. The nightmare of our hostages in Iran must never be repeated,” Reagan said.

These words shouldn’t have been surprising to McCain — Reagan had tipped his hand years earlier. Accepting the Republican nomination in 1980, Reagan had this to say about the responsibility of the president and America’s role in the world:

“It is the responsibility of the president of the United States, in working for peace, to ensure that the safety of our people cannot successfully be threatened by a hostile foreign power. As president, fulfilling that responsibility will be my No. 1 priority.”