A McCain Effect In Colombia Rescue?
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Americas: Colombia's rescue of 15 hostages from FARC is more than just good news. It signals that the surest path to victory is in fighting, not appeasing, terrorists. Colombia's path is now clear to end the scourge for good.
was Magical Realism, the Colombian literary genre, come to life.
First, America's most famous former prisoner of war flies to Colombia on Tuesday to stand by the country in its 45-year war against the communists. Then on Wednesday, Keith Stansell, Marc Goncalves and Thomas Howes are rescued after spending the past 6 1/2 years in jungle tiger cages.
Flash back to 1980, when innocent Americans were held hostage for 444 days in Tehran as bids to bargain with their Iranian captors went on and on and on. Then, on the day of Ronald Reagan's swearing-in as the 40th U.S. president, the hostages were suddenly released — not as a result of peace talks or negotiations but because they knew Reagan was no Jimmy Carter.
The facts of the Colombian rescue are sketchy for now. But FARC may have surrendered the hostages as a massive force of 10,000 Colombians encircled them like an anaconda in an operation that began about three weeks ago.
It's not absurd, however, to also think that FARC let go of its hostages knowing that Colombia was getting support from a fiercely committed potential U.S. president such as McCain, one who cared enough to visit the country and who knew firsthand what it was like to be held hostage in the jungle for many years by brutal communist guerrillas? It raises questions of a McCain Effect.
Coincidence or not, it underlines that massive force, even the threat of it, is the most effective way to deal with terrorists.
It also changes everything. For too long, the Colombia hostage situation has provided ample fodder for those who would prefer to appease terrorists. Some, such as the families of hostages, had understandable motives.
Others, such as Colombian negotiator Piedad Cordoba, had political motives: FARC computer records show that she secretly urged FARC to keep holding the hostages as leverage.
The French also were somewhat problematic, offering hundreds of terrorists a comfy retirement in Paris along with other incentives if they would just release Betancourt. In the end, however, U.S. officials said France's role was constructive and did no harm.
In the realm of questionable were congressional junketeers such as Massachusetts Reps. Jim McGovern and Bill Delahunt and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. They used the hostage issue to get face time with Hugo Chavez, loudly claiming that the Venezuela dictator was key to any hostage rescue, thereby boosting his capacity to meddle.
In fact, Chavez was the worst player in this whole affair. Along with Ecuadorean cabinet members, he used the pretense of mediating with the FARC to rescue hostages to support FARC and aid its effort to overthrow the Colombian government. This rescue slaps that weapon — along with his pretenses to meddle and encourage appeasement — right out of his hand.
Although FARC still holds some 700 other hostages in the jungle, this victory demonstrates the importance of force and the political courage to defy pressure from appeasers. It's what McCain stands for, and it's what Colombia has shown in the wake of his visit.
FARC now has lost the human bargaining chips it used to exert leverage, demand concessions and otherwise manipulate its enemies. With the rescue of these 15, FARC has only two options: surrender or run.