My colleague has written an important study of the situation in Afghanistan and one of the conclusions we came to, as we discussed his findings in detail, was, unsurprisingly, that the role of the NGOs and tranzis in general was not only not helpful but actually harmful. Tentatively, I would go further than that. The fact that the situation in Iraq appears to be improving while in Afghanistan it is not, may well be credited partially to the fact that the tranzis and NGOs, in their hatred for President Bush and the American government, disliked the Iraqi war and wanted no part of it. Their refusal to dirty their hands with what they considered to be an unpleasant war may well now be helping the people of Iraq though that was not their original aim.
In a different way, they seem to have been inadvertently helpful to Colombian President, Álvaro Uribe, and the Colombian army, which is basking in well-deserved praise. We have already written about one rather peculiar aspect of the operation: it seems that the American government knew about it well ahead and gave its support; it seems, furthermore, that John McCain, who was visiting the country to reassure the people that he will, if elected, try to overcome Congress's ridiculous reluctance to continue with the free-trade agreement, was told (and kept quiet about the information); but President Nicolas Sarkozy knew nothing about it, despite the most important hostage being half-French and a cause célèbre in France.
One reason may have been that President Sarkozy (and the French government in general) was one of the people who had consistently tried to put pressure on President Uribe to make him negotiate with FARC and to give in, if necessary, to their demands.
In a thoughtful article in today's Wall Street Journal Mary Anastasia O'Grady looks at some other people and organizations who had tried to put similar pressure on President Uribe and who had done their very best to undermine his government in its fight against the terrorists.
She starts with a very interesting question: how is it that the army fooled the FARC brigade so easily when pretending to be from a "humanitarian NGO"?
It may have taken years for army intelligence to infiltrate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and it may have been tough to convincingly impersonate rebels. But what seems to have been a walk in the park was getting the FARC to believe that an NGO was providing resources to help it in the dirty work of ferrying captives to a new location.Well, yes, why was this seemingly improbable story believed? (Mind you, some of us recall the story of the Italian Red Cross using their ambulances to transport wanted terrorists in Iraq, which just proves that when NGOs do turn up in that country they cause appalling damage.)
Could it be, asks Ms O'Grady, because a number of NGOs have been collaborating with FARC openly and not so openly, and so the terrorist brigade had learnt to trust them? The article is well worth reading as she produces interesting information about several of the benighted organizations, some Democrat politicians and Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba, the idol of the tranzis and "currently under investigation by the Colombian attorney general for ties to the FARC".
Since the late 1990s, the NGO practice of dragging the military into court on allegations of human rights violations has destroyed the careers of some of the country's finest officers, even though most of these men were found innocent after years of proceedings. "Judicial warfare" turned out to be especially effective because under legislation pushed by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, "credible" charges against officers put at risk U.S. military aid unless the accused was removed. The NGOs knew that they only had to point fingers to get rid of an effective leader and demoralize the ranks. Given this history, it's not surprising that the FARC thought a helicopter from an NGO was perfectly natural.Hmm, a familiar tactic. Incidentally, all those "credible" charges were dismissed eventually but not without causing a great deal of damage to individuals and the security organizations, all of whom are now feeling triumphant.
At the end of the article there is a reference to Sarko, which can be read in various ways. The information comes from important FARC documents captured by the Colombian army during a raid on a guerrilla camp in Ecuador.
She [Senator Cordoba] met at the Venezuelan presidential palace with FARC leaders last fall. From that meeting the rebels reported that "Piedad says that Chávez has Uribe going crazy. He doesn't know what to do. That Nancy Pelosi helps and is ready to help in the swap [hostages in exchange for captured guerrillas]. That she has designated [U.S. Congressman Jim] McGovern for this."I doubt that President Uribe is really going crazy, having outwitted all those massed supporters of terrorists. But one cannot help wondering who exactly is the pawn Ms O'Grady refers to.
If the speaker of the House was working with Ms. Cordoba in this scheme, her judgment was more than a little misguided. The rebels write that on a trip to Argentina Ms. Cordoba told them, "It doesn't matter to me the proposal that Sarkozy has made to free Ingrid. Above all, do not liberate Ingrid." In short, why give up such a useful pawn?