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Going Broke Cluelessly

The New York Times has no idea why they are dying.

By Will Offensicht  |  July 7, 2008

The New York Times did it again.  Just when we thought they'd lost enough market share to get some sense pounded into their editorial board, their electronic edition of July 4, Independence day, introduced their editorial "Freeing Ingrid Betancourt" by saying:

President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia should offer the FARC rebels, who long ago traded the business of political liberation for drug trafficking, a political settlement. [emphasis added]

The Times knows who these FARC people are; they noted that FARC had "long ago" left its roots in "political liberation" in favor of drug trafficking.  The Times recognizes that FARC, even if they once might have been freedom fighters, are no longer: they've become kidnappers and drug dealers.  In spite of their criminal activities, however, the Times wants the government of Colombia to negotiate a "political settlement" with the FARC bandits.

In commenting on the daring rescue of Ingrid Betancourt by the Colombian military, their article echoes that sentiment:

... the operation by undercover Colombian commandos - who tricked the rebels into handing over the captives without a shot - offered further evidence that the guerrilla group is in disarray.

President Álvaro Uribe should now capitalize on that disarray and offer the rebels, who long ago traded the business of political liberation for drug trafficking, a political settlement.

What on earth is the Times smoking?  The International Herald Tribune reports that FARC makes about $200 million per year in drug trafficking because of our brain-dead War on Drugs.  Despite the liberation of 14 others who were rescued along with Mrs. Betancourt, FARC still holds about 700 other kidnap victims, hoping to trade them for concessions or cash.

FARC kidnappers don't treat their victims very nicely.  The Tribune told us how Mrs. Betancourt looked after her rescue and quoted what she said about her treatment by FARC:

Tropical diseases, long marches through the mountains and a lack of nutritious food shriveled her to a thin post with stringy hair flowing to her waist.  "It was not treatment that you can give to a living being," Betancourt told France 2 television Thursday. She added: "I wouldn't have given the treatment I had to an animal, perhaps not even to a plant."

The later Times follow-up reported that Mrs. Betancourt had been tortured and quoted her as saying that her captors had fallen into "diabolical behavior," adding, "It was so monstrous I think they themselves were disgusted."  And the Times wants a political settlement with these monsters?

The FARC are criminal drug dealers who, by engaging in violence against non-military personnel, meet Scragged's definition of terrorism, but the Times doesn't get it.  The Times calls FARC victims "hostages" instead of "kidnap victims."  These pontificating fools want the Colombian government to negotiate with FARC, which will, in effect, recognize a bandit gang as a legitimate government - don't we already have enough rouge states running loose without creating another one?

A more rational view is found on the opposite side of the pond: the International Herald Tribune understands perfectly well how to deal with terrorists.

The mission could not have taken place without months of painstaking intelligence and counterinsurgency work.

Where the Sigint Meets the Road

Other stories on the rescue praise US capabilities in Signal Intelligence, or "sigint."  By tracking who telephones whom, watching where text messages and emails go, and studying the patterns of terrorist and criminal communications, government forces are able to infiltrate criminal gangs, rescue kidnap victims, and put the bad guys in jail.

It might be worth pointing out that Mr. Obama recently angered his base by voting for a proposal which would permit these intelligence gathering activities to continue, although many of his Democrat colleagues don't want to let our government use this major tool for fighting terrorism.

The Times is correct in noting that the FARC terrorists are in disarray.  Three of their top leaders have either been killed or died of natural causes and their followers are deserting.  That's the time to increase the pressure and put the top leaders in jail where they belong.

Instead of following up their current advantage, however, the Times wants Colombia to negotiate with FARC and "offer amnesty for most guerrillas and the possibility to participate in Colombian politics."  [emphasis added]

Aren't there enough criminals in office already?  Would the Times have recommended that Eliott Ness offer Al Capone amnesty and bring him into the Chicago government?  What about the Unabomber?

They Know They're Dying; They Don't Know Why

The Times knows that their business is dying as readers go elsewhere and revenue drops but they don't seem to know why.  Their blogger blames market forces but Fox is gaining while CNN is losing.

Not all traditional media are going down, just some of the traditional brand names.  The Times blaming their decline on a decline of interest in news would be like GM blaming their decline on Americans losing interest in cars.  Americans haven't lost interest in cars, they've lost interest in GM cars.

Actually, the reason for the Times' decline is pretty simple.  The Tribune reported on the political fallout from the well-planned rescue:

Hugo Chávez, the leftist leader of Venezuela who negotiated previous releases of FARC hostages but failed to free Betancourt or three American contractors who also were rescued Wednesday, has lost some of the regional spotlight to the president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe, his top rival and a staunch ally of the Bush administration. [emphasis added]

There we have it - Mr. Uribe, who inspired the rescue, is a "staunch ally of the Bush administration."

We've noted that the Times seems to dislike Mr. Bush so strongly that they'll recommended policies which will help the Islamic militants in Pakistan get their hands on the Pakistani nuclear bombs.  The last thing the Times wants is for Mr. Uribe, who opposes Mr. Chavez, an avowed enemy of Mr. Bush, to look good.

They don't want Mr. Uribe to defeat the FARC; they're giving aid and comfort to our enemies by urging Mr. Uribe to bring a gang of sadistic, murderous criminals into the Columbian government.  Would the Times suggest that Israel bring Hamas into the Israeli government?  Dare we even ask?

When Not To Negotiate

In recommending that Colombia negotiate with FARC, the Times documented the best reason not to negotiate, saying, "President Álvaro Uribe should now capitalize on that disarray ... and offer the rebels [sic - the Times says they're criminals, not rebels] a political settlement."  How can anyone negotiate with a group that's "in disarray?"  The FARC hierarchy is in flux, nobody knows who's in charge, there's nobody to negotiate with who has the power to enforce a peace agreement.

History shows that negotiating with terrorists tends to be futile until they've been weakened to the point that the rank-and-file know they have no hope of victory; the "negotiation" is more in the nature "Take it or leave it."  Failing that, it's hard for terrorist leaders to stop the violence no matter what commitments they may make because one man with a gun can start the terror all over again.

Past experiences show that the only effective way to deal with terrorists is to demonstrate their criminality to the world so that nobody supports them willingly.  Mrs. Betancourt's eloquent accounts of years of sadistic mistreatment by FARC kidnappers may have that effect; opening negotiations would move in the opposite direction by legitimizing them.

The Times' attitude toward Mrs. Betancourt's rescue is repugnant; despite the best efforts over many years of the Times and their multifarious liberal media allies, most Americans instinctively recognize this.  The liberal - dare we say unpatriotic? - mainstream news media, captained by the Times, will probably continue to lose revenue, as well they should.