The Betancourt ransom conspiracy theories

So did they pay $20 million for her and others? We’ll probably never know. But as I was thinking about the different ransom theories I recalled a story about an American food critic in the South of France (you’ll see where I’m going in a minute). So this food critic arrives in the South of France to some dingy bed and breakfast type place and they direct him to this local restaurant. He goes in there and orders a number of dishes and they all come back pretty awful. This is a guy who has eaten just about everything the world has to offer, from the finest restaurants in Europe to the wildest tin shacks in China and Africa. The restaurant staff ask him how his meal was and he offered up some criticisms of this and that and how it could be better. Later when he tells the hotel staff of his unpleasant dinner, they call the restaurant to ask “what happened?”. The owner picks up the phone and tells the hotel staff ‘he came in here and was upset that is ‘didn’t taste like McDonalds’?” Guffaw, laugh and the hotel and restaurant employees just put it off to him being an American. Of course that wasn’t true, but it shows how easy it is to come up with something if you just fall back on your preconceived notions of what does and doesn’t happen based on which parties are involved. So as it relates to the Betancourt story, you have to start to ask ‘why’ would someone leak a story like this? Is it to back up their pre-conceived notions that the evil and corrupt Americans are behind everything that goes on in the world? Of course the Americans paid this money. It’s all part of the modis operandi. I mean, after all, these hostages were front page news (not) and returning them will deliver votes in November for McCain, who just happened to be in Colombia. Or is it because some Swiss diplomat, tired of the non-neutrality policy of the Swiss and annoyed at playing a role of world mediator decided to risk his entire country’s role and stature in the world by divulging something sensitive about a negotiation? (note: this is the country that negotiated the PLO-Israeli truce over a period of years without a peep to anyone). Or maybe the opposite–maybe they want to be involved in more negotiations so sending a message to the world that the US is paying millions is a great way to get more people taken hostage Or maybe it is something like this: FARC, a leading supplier of drugs to Europe and the United States, is suffering a massive military setback from this operation. Not necessarily tactically, but from a perception standpoint. Troops will desert, drug production will go down, money will be lost. So someone plants an innocent story on the other side of the world saying ‘no, it wasn’t because they were tricked, but because someone was paid off.’ FARC commanders show this to their under-educated troops and the desertions don’t take place, the drugs continue to be made, and the money and profits continue to flow in Europe and Colombia. Conspiracy theories are generally pretty stupid, but easy to create. Just look at this one I thought up while thinking about a food critic and McDonalds. We’ll see what else comes to light this week…]]>

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