Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Let's You And Him Fight
Hugo Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe start calling each other names, and the loser is... Nicolas Sarkozy. Huh? you might be wondering. Simple.
When Sarkozy took office in May, one of his first acts as President was to call Uribe and personally intervene to get the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt back onto the front burner. Why? Because like the Bulgarian nurses, the liberation of Betancourt -- a French-Colombian dual citizen whose husband and daughters live in Paris -- would be a high-profile success story that would demonstrate Sarkozy's ability to get results.
And it's that desire above all others -- to be perceived as the man who gets the job done when all others have failed -- that led Sarkozy to accept an offer from Hugo Chavez to negotiate directly with FARC, Betancourt's captors, when common sense and good judgment would have argued for some measure of reserve.
Chavez immediately went ahead and pulled a Sarkozy (ie. hogging the spotlight) and flew into Paris last week promising good news. Most of the French government and media assumed that meant proof of a sign of life for Betancourt. For Chavez, though, the good news was more or less that he got a great photo op at the Elysees Palace. Basta.
In the meantime, Uribe has barred Chavez from any further involvement in mediating Betancourt's release. The first reports I read referred to his "unauthorized" conversations with Sarkozy as a pretense, but the article I linked to above mentions Chavez's direct conversations with unnamed Colombian generals.
So Sarkozy ends up with quite a bit of egg on his face in the aftermath of his Chavez lovefest. Not only has whatever momentum on the Betancourt negotiations been lost, but he also lent Chavez an enormous amount of legitimacy, with absolutely nothing to show for it in return. Sacre bleu.