What FARC Can Teach Barack (and the Left)

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jul 06, 2008 12:26 PM

The rescue of hostages held by FARC, a Colombian terrorist group, has some important lessons to teach both Barack Obama and the left generally about dealing with bad guys across the world.

1. Sometimes, action is more effective than talk.

Reporters Without Borders was one of the groups most insistent on dialogue with the terrorists.  But after learning through laptops obtained in the wake of the rescues that the terrorists had actually had no intention of releasing the American or French hostages.  According to an account in the Wall Street Journal its leader had this to say:

"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."

Yep.  Keep in mind that there are, indeed, people out there who can't be cajoled, charmed, bribed or reasoned out of their chosen (terrorist) course.


2. Sometimes, "negotiation" is just a way to dupe the naive.

Barack Obama has said that he'd meet with Hugo Chavez without precondition (although, in fairness, he's now "refined his position" on that stand, as well).

Problem is, of course, that in this whole FARC scenario, Chavez was using the pretext of negotiations as a way to achieve a propaganda victory for himself -- and to forge closer ties with the terrorists.  Ostensibly, the purpose of the negotiations was to free the hostages.  But for Chavez, they were nothing but a cynical ploy.

In other words, we can "negotiate" with guys like Chavez all we want.  That doesn't mean that they'll be negotiating with us in good faith.