05 July 2008

Ganando (Winning)

One of the reasons why I have supported ambitious (and imperfect) missions in Iraq and Afghanistan is that I believe we can win. It may take time, include some failure, but ultimately we will win.

The decades-long fight of the Colombian government against the Marxist FARC is an endeavor like that. For years the government has failed to make headway of any significance. Now, under the leadership of Uribe they have struck yet another blow against that terrorist organization with the rescue of hostages, including several Americans and the prominent Ingrid Betancourt (read details here).

In today's Wall Street Journal there is some commentary and details into how the operation worked and what role the U.S. played in it. On the latter subject here is an excerpt:

U.S. involvement in the mission underlines the close ties between Washington and Bogotá, the Bush administration's closest regional ally. Colombia is the third-biggest recipient of U.S. military aid behind Israel and Egypt, receiving some $5.4 billion in U.S. aid since 2000. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and President George. W. Bush speak regularly by telephone, Colombian officials say. Trust between both sides is so strong that Mr. Uribe told Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, who visited Colombia this week, about the mission on Tuesday night, the night before it took place.

Uribe has been insistent in his aggressive and militaristic action against the FARC. For years this was an unpopular approach with many other governments:

But things changed dramatically March 1, when the Colombian military killed the FARC's No. 2 man, Raul Reyes, in a bombing raid on his camp just across the border in Ecuador. Laptop computers that belonged to Mr. Reyes showed that Mr. Chávez and the FARC were using the negotiation process to try to gain international legitimacy for the rebels and force Mr. Uribe to call off his military offensive.
Emails in the laptops also revealed that the FARC had no intention of releasing either the three Americans or Ms. Betancourt, calling her their most valuable negotiating card. But in one dramatic stroke this week, the rescue mission won support for Mr. Uribe's get-tough approach.
"I have to recognize that the strong hand has prevailed," said human-rights activist Robert Menard, founder and secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders. "Our insistence on the need to negotiate with the FARC, hoping they would release their most valuable card, was foolish."
Governments from Havana to Caracas to Paris moved closer to backing Mr. Uribe's campaign against the FARC. In Cuba, retired dictator Fidel Castro on Thursday praised the Colombian action and said the hostages should never have been held to begin with. Such a "cruel" detention was not justified by any "revolutionary purpose," Mr. Castro said.

To have Castro say such a thing is remarkable. FARC has been left for dead, and dead they should be. I hope other terrorists are taking notes. This is an inspiring success.

1 comment:

Sportsattitude said...

Reading up on all this, it seems FARC is operating "in the 70's" in terms of communications and methods. I get the fact finding people in the jungle can be tricky, but I am surprised that there have not have been more aggressive attempts to reel in all these hostages. On a less somber note, FARC sounds like some organization Maxwell Smart would be hunting down. Bad choice of letters.