Both Senators McCain and Clinton have bragged that they have greater foreign policy experience than Barack Obama, and that they would be ready for that 3am call.

Clinton:

McCain:

Both Senators Clinton and McCain  had their 3am call when Colombia forces attacked and killed Raul Reyes FARC’s second in command, just inside Ecuador’s territory. These are their statements right after the attack:

Senator Hillary Clinton was quick to back the Colombian president unconditionally by supporting his military attack… and “That statement provides proof-positive of Senator Clinton’s bent when it comes to US policy in Latin America: to use any crisis to prop-up the Colombian leader while attempting to forward the related agenda of demonizing Venezuela for the problems that Colombia causes in the region. Clinton’s instincts on Colombia are identical to those of the Bush administration and those of the Clinton administration before it: continuance of a doctrine that is hostile to human rights and democracy in the region.”

“Senator McCain is forthright about speaking in behalf of one of our strongest allies in the hemisphere, president Uribe, he has clearly put up with cross border sanctuaries for far to long with  FARC and in the name of hot pursuit going after FARC which is a terrorist organization…. Uribe was absolutely right in doing what he did.” (emphasis mine)

Now, lets consider the facts: Raul Reyes, FARC’s number second in command, had been working in the release of the hostages, (among them 3 US DEA contractors, who have been captive for approximately five years). As a matter of fact, they were releasing hostages (Here and here). This was being done with the knowledge of all parties involved, including the French President Sarkozy and French intelligence services, who were relentlessly working for the release of Ingrid Betancourt (a Colombian-French citizen) who is said to be gravely ill, an possibly close to dying.

” Raul Reyes considered the second-in-command of the FARC and the guerrilla movement’s principal international spokesman and diplomatic representative. He was well known in both Latin America and Europe , having served as the principal FARC negotiator in the abortive attempt under the government of President Andres Pastrana (1998-2002) to broker a peaceful settlement of the civil conflict that has wracked Colombia for more than four decades. During that same period, he met with officials of the Clinton State Department. This ruthless attack was staged not to ward off some pending terrorist attack. On the contrary, it was designed as a “preemptive strike” against a negotiated release of hostages held by the FARC,  among them a former presidential candidate… Ingrid Betancourt. The FARC itself issued a statement that Reyes had been working through Venezuelan President Chavez to concretize plans for a meeting with Sarkozy to arrange for the hand-over of Betancourt. After the news of Reyes’s assassination, the French foreign ministry issued a pointed statement to the effect that the Colombian government was well informed that France was conducting negotiations with him.

(Also note that I have boldened  “preemptive strike” against a negotiated release of hostages held by the FARC”. Keep this in mind, for it will be important to understand why the attack really took place, and I will come back to this point!)

Soon after the attack, Colombian President Uribe argued that his country’s forces had been in hot pursuit of FARC forces (which would have given, under international law, a legal justification to peruse then into a neighboring country).  However, Raul Reyes was sound asleep. (Furthermore, I have been in Ecuador, and know that in the midst of that jungle, it is hard to see more than a few feet in plain daylight due to the dense vegetation, and it would be impossible to see anything in the middle of the night)

According to the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa , the bodies of the Farc commanders and 13 guerrillas were recovered in their pyjamas after being bombed while sleeping in a tent on the Ecuadorean side of the frontier. The Colombian air force, Correa claimed, had used advanced technology “with the collaboration of foreign powers” to locate the camp and “to massacre” its occupants. Uribe’s government is a close ally of the United States and of Israel, whereas Correa belongs to the radical camp led by Ch├ívez. Subsequent to the bombing, Colombian troops crossed the frontier into Ecuador frontier to recover the bodies.

Here is where things become really interesting. Lets go back to the boldened statement regarding the  “preemptive strike” against a negotiated release of hostages”. President Uribe has been trying to reform the Colombian constitution in order to eliminate its two term presidential limit and become “president for life”:

Uribe’s path has been less explicit but, again no less ambitious . During his first term in office, lawmakers close to Uribe pushed a constitutional reform bill to allow for presidential re-election. Politicians from different allegiances also founded the Party of the U (the U implicitly stands for Uribe), and gave birth to a strong pro-Uribe movement that supported the president’s quest for a second term. Riding a high wave of popularity that he maintains even today, Uribe won his second four-year mandate in May 2006 with 62.2 per cent of the vote.
This week, the Party of the U decided to promote a second Uribe re-election. Its secretary-general, Luis Guillermo Giraldo, announced that the party will start collecting signatures to call for a referendum in 2009, in which Colombians would be asked whether they want a third Uribe mandate. If the answer is “Yes”, the president would contest the ballot again in the 2010 election. Uribe claims he has no intention of serving a third term–but he said the same about a second one before 2006.  

To do so, Uribe has to maintain the image of  being tough on the FARC, and to continue the fight without conceding anything to the armed group. Thus, he cannot negotiate the release of the hostages in exchange for clearing areas in the jungle where the FARC have been operating nor to exchange hostages for imprisoned rebels. Therefore he sabotaged the release of hostages Raul Reyes was trying to set free. Uribe not only ordered the killing of Reyes, but while those hostages who were released were trying to reach the negotiators  that would set them free, he also ordered the Colombian security forces to continually bomb the areas where they suspected that the hostages were.

When the attack took place, they used five “smart bombs” (photo)
Colombia uses the Brazilian made Super Tucano. This aircraft does not have the capability to launch smart bombs, and only infrared heat seeking missiles Coincidently enough, at about the same time the attack took place,  a US HC-130 (in Spanish )  plane took of from the Ecuadorian base of Manta, which has been leased to the US

It should be no surprise that

President Correa has decided to close that base : approving a measure that would go a step further and effectively outlaw foreign military bases in Ecuador after the lease expires. Since the American post at Manta is the only foreign military outpost in Ecuador, it was clear the move was a deliberate and very public swipe at the United States, which spent more than $60 million to build the facilities here for Awacs surveillance planes and crew members.

 

Now, lets take a look at President Alvaro [Scarface] Uribe. He and his family have had a long history of association with the drug cartels. The president’s father helicopter (AKA the Ghost Helicopter was found at the   Tranquilandia cocaine lab  

Famous drug lord Pablo Escobar truly admired Uribe:

“Virginia Vallejo claims that Pablo Escobar idolized Álvaro Uribe. When the man who is now president was director of Civil Aviation, he granted dozens of licenses for runways and hundreds of permits for planes and helicopters, on which the drug trade’s infrastructure was built. “Pablo used to say,” she told the Spanish newspaper, “that if it weren’t for that blessed little boy, we would have to swim to Miami to get drugs to the gringos.”

 
There are picture of Uribe’s brother Santiago with the drug-dealing clan Ochoa and Alvaro Uribe said he was taken a picture with Justo Pastor Perafán, another drug dealing lord currently in a U. S. prison  (this article indicates that Al Gore had cancelled its participation at an environmental forum in Miami because Uribe was going to be present ) The same article indicates that Pablo Esocobar’s cousin, José Obdulio Gaviria, is one Uribe’s presidential advisors.

The President’s Cousin, Mario Uribe , was a member of what is called Para-politics (members of Colombia’s Congress who are controlled by the Paramilitary)

Now, Mark Penn, [together with Joe Lockhart, who was chief spokesman for the president; Howard Wolfson, (Mrs. Clinton’s campaign communications director)], was a partner at the firm but has taken a leave of absence a top adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton,  lost his job as a lobbyist for the Colombian Government because Senator Clinton opposed NAFTA, which Penn was supposed to promote:

“According to the Justice Department, the Columbian government has paid Penn’s firm $300,000 to lobby for Columbia’s point of view and to secure $5 billion for the war on drugs  program known as Plan Colombia”

Although Senator Obama also condemmed the attack , his tone was more moderate and conciliatory:

The Colombian people have suffered for more than four decades at the hands of a brutal terrorist insurgency, and the Colombian government has every right to defend itself against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The recent targeted killing of a senior FARC leader must not be used as a pretense to ratchet up tensions or to threaten the stability of the region. The presidents of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela have a responsibility to ensure that events not spiral out of control, and to peacefully address any disputes through active diplomacy with the help of international actors.

He was not  among those who came out bragging about having a superior foreign policy experience nor about their readiness for the unexpected 3am call. Instedad, those who did , proved that they were only bragging, and if they would have had to make a decision, they would have taken the wrong one:

    1-This was not the case of “hot persuit” and thus contrary to international law.

    2-We patrticipated in, and approved a situation that created a serious international incident that caused regional instability, and brought three countries to the brink of war (and possibly US involvment in support of Colombia, ” our regional strongest ally”).

    3-We jeopradized the lives of three American citizens, and managed to kill the only one person who could have set them free.

    4-We lost  a sixsty million Dollar base in the region.

    5-We finance a country which has as a president someone who appears to be closely related to the drug cartels.

In any case, neither Clinton nor McCain are in a better position when it comes to foreign policy than Obama, whose promiss of change comes at a perfect time.

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