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July 4, 2008
Fallout from Colombian Hostage Rescue all Good
The daring rescue by the Colombian army of 3 Americans along with 11 members of the Colombian military and ex-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt is being praised from one end of the western world to the other: The rescue alone could reverberate across the region. Hugo Chávez, the leftist leader of Venezuela who negotiated previous releases of hostages held by the FARC but failed to free Ms. Betancourt or three American contractors also rescued Wednesday, has lost the regional spotlight to Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, his top rival and a staunch ally of the Bush administration. At least temporarily, Mr. Uribe, one of Latin America's most market-friendly leaders, has usurped the regional agenda.
The White House's broader goal of stabilization for the Andes may still be a long way off. Coca cultivation surged by almost 30 percent last year in Colombia, which still provides 90 percent of the cocaine found in the United States. Meanwhile, drug enforcement officials here and in Miami say that traffickers have developed ingenious new ways to move their product, including semisubmersible crafts.
But for the FARC, the game has changed. The gritty leftist insurgency, which has survived for decades in the jungles of this Andean country and provided military cover to the world's most productive coca growers, fell prey to an elaborate ruse that Colombia's defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, likened to a Hollywood script.
Ms. Betancourt, who was reunited Thursday with her family, also said the raid seemed almost too fantastic to be true. It became real only when she saw Cesar, her captor, become a captive.
"Suddenly, I saw the commander who, during four years, had been at the head of our team, who so many times was so cruel and humiliated me," she said. "And I saw him on the floor, naked with bound eyes."
Revenge is sweet indeed. And bringing Hugo Chavez down a peg or two can only be considered a triumph. Who would have thought that Chavez could lose some of that revolutionary luster simply by the bold stroke of rescuing hostages?
And how they did it will no doubt one day make movie audiences get out of their chairs and cheer the success
At 5 a.m. on Wednesday, the sun had yet to peek through the jungle canopy in this country's Guaviare Department when the guerrillas told their captives to gather their belongings. A call had come in from a top adviser to Alfonso Cano, their new supreme commander. He said to move. Immediately.
Or so the guerrillas thought. In fact, the gravelly voice that sounded so full of authority belonged not to a grizzled leader of Latin America's most feared insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but rather to a government officer.
The fighters had been duped. With the help of satellite telephone intercepts and a spy who infiltrated the FARC's upper echelons, the Colombian military had managed to plan and execute an operation that ended a long-running international hostage saga and upended Colombia's four-decade civil war.
One aspect of the rescue not generally acknowledged (although their role, if made public, would probably be a PR boon) was the part the Israelis played in preparing the Colombian army for the risky operation.
Since word of the dramatic rescue spread, speculation in the world media has attributed the success to people trained by Israeli intelligence. But an Israeli figure familiar with the military aid to Colombia said there was "no need to exaggerate" Israel's involvement in the operation. The one weird note was sung by the idiots at MSNBC who allowed one of their hosts to posit the conspiracy theory that the raid was staged to help John McCain who was visiting Colombia at the time:
The Israelis involved in the operation feel it is important to accord the credit to Colombia. The Israeli activity, involving dozens of Israeli security experts, was coordinated by Global CST, owned by former General Staff operations chief, Brigadier General (res.) Israel Ziv, and Brigadier (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser.
"It's a Colombian Entebbe operation," Ziv said Thursday when he returned from Bogota. "Both regarding its national and international importance. Betancourt has become a symbol of the struggle against international terror. This is an amazing operation that wouldn't shame any army or special forces anywhere in the world."
According to the source, the Israelis "may not have taken part in the rescue, but they advised and guided, sold equipment and intelligence technology."
Like so many conspiracy theorists these days, he doesn't have the balls to level the accusation squarely, preferring instead to "just ask questions." It falls to Buchanan to flesh out the theory before rejecting it. Wade through some nutroots blogs and you'll find breathless reportage noting that McCain did, apparently, know in advance - around 12 hours in advance, per the NYT, after he got to Colombia. Uribe told him on Tuesday night that they were going to try a rescue on Wednesday. The Times itself states matter of factly, "the timing of the rescue was a coincidence and Mr. McCain's trip to Colombia had nothing to do with it," and since he didn't meet with the rescued hostages he gained nothing politically of any value - aside, of course, from a galaxy of leftists screeching about the timing.
Lefties aren't happy unless they believe the whole world is against them. It makes their struggle so much more meaningful if they are the underdogs and are heroically battling for truth against the forces of darkness. In this case, their conspiracy theory makes sense because of course, President Uribe wants McCain to win, ergo, he stages the most elaborate rescue operation in history just for the Arizona senator's benefit.No matter. This is a huge victory against terrorists with ties to other terrorist groups around the world. Let's hope the message is received loud and clear that the fight will come to them - eventually.
The fact that the Colombian military had been planning this operation for months - long before it was known McCain would be visiting - is apparently lost in the paranoid imaginings of our friends on the left.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky