"We have an amazing military. I think only the Israelis can possibly pull off something like this."
— Ingrid Betancourt
Just a week or two back, I read a front-page story in the WSJ about Ingrid Betancourt. The thrust of the story ("A Hostage to Fame") was that she was such a cause celebre around the world that she had too much value to the FARC, and therefore would probably never be traded. This caused me to think, "And this story isn’t helping with that, is it?"
But what wonderful news yesterday! Just goes to show good things can happen, even when they seem impossible.
And good for the Colombian military — they now have their own Entebbe, and that’s saying something. Nobody but the Israelis can say that, and the Israelis have gone through a good, long dry spell without one. Sure, there was the Syrian/North Korean nuke plant, but that’s nothing like putting boots on the ground way into the interior of Africa, complete with major-league deception and an impossible rescue.
One of my colleagues said this was better than Entebbe — it was, after all, cleaner. No hostages or rescuers killed, the deception complete from start to finish. Absolutely. Of course, the rescuers in this case had a lot more time to plan, months in which to infiltrate and gain the guerrillas’ trust. In the end, different kinds of operations. Entebbe was a brilliantly executed military coup de main. This latest caper was more of a perfect intelligence operation, involving no actual combat between armed antagonists. No, that’s not a perfect distinction — the military operation involved great intel, and the intelligence operation required military skills and discipline — but it serves.
Anyway, it was a great job, and the Colombians deserve a big Way to Go! from civilized folk everywhere.