Friday, May 18, 2007
A Man Of Action
As an example of the kind of activism we can expect from Nicolas Sarkozy in the foreign policy arena, take the case of Ingrid Betancourt. She's the French-Colombian woman who, while campaigning for the presidency of Colombia in 2002, was kidnapped by FARC guerillas and hasn't been heard from since. She's become something of a cause célèbre here in France, to the point where I remember thinking at one point during the presidential campaign how odd it was that no one had mentioned her.
Well, apparently Nicolas Sarkozy had. And yesterday, in one of his first real gestures as president, he spent a half-hour on the phone with the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, in order to re-invigorate the efforts to obtain her release. Then today, before the first ministerial meeting of his newly formed government, he met personally with her family.
If Betancourt is freed soon, luck will have had something to with it: As I mentioned yesterday, a Colombian police officer who just escaped from FARC captivity claims she was kept in the same compound, which helps to pinpoint her location.
But Nicolas Sarkozy, through the strategic use of his presidential intervention, will have played a role as well.
Update: According to this French language report, Uribe has now ordered the Colombian military to liberate Betancourt. I'm not sure if this is what Sarkozy had in mind. If so, it shows the danger of activism when it veers into impetuousness (see "George W. Bush", for example), because raids on the FARC's jungle camps have normally been unsuccessful and resulted in the executions of the prisoners being rescued.