Where will dictator and self-appointed Muammar Al Quathafi, Gadhafi, Kadhafi or Qaddafi or whatever his name is go and what will he do? He is quickly running out of options. Sadly, he has proven once again that it is never too early to start planning for retirement even if you are a despot.
Clinging to the idea that he was still in power, last Sunday Gadhafi ‘appeared’ on government TV by telephone. On the call he stated repeatedly that the speech was live, citing the day and time as evidence of his reality TV telephone appearance. I am reminded of the time I went to a party in high school and repeatedly called my parents from the car assuring them that I was in the library citing the exact book I was reading. They didn’t believe me either.
I can’t totally blame Gadhafi for his desperate attempts to remain in power as Libyan dictator. He would be leaving much behind. For example, it’s hard to believe that he would be able to bring his Amazonian Guard in exile. The Amazonian Guard that has protected him at all times for over 25 years consists of a select group of attractive women, all virgins, personally selected by Gadhafi. The guard is trained in weaponry and martial arts. (That’s no joke even I couldn’t make that up.) Also, he would likely have to leave much of his vast wardrobe behind. Gadhafi has many personas and wears an outfit befitting each role. When he is Colonel Gadhafi, he dons his military uniform replete with epaulets and medals worthy of any five star general or hotel doorman. When he plays the role of Gadhafi tribe leader he wears the appropriate robes – as he did on his trip to Paris in 2007 requiring five planes for his Bedouin tent and camels.
Historically, many tyrannical dictators have made the same mistake as Gadhafi, neglected their exit strategy and were ultimately forced to end their life in a miserable retirement. Former tyrants, including Liberian Charles Taylor now reside in an assisted living facility in the Hague. The challenge for these individuals, all members of the Crazy Leaders Club, is that there are so few countries in the world that will tolerate their craziness and permit them residence.
Long-time member of the Crazy leaders Club, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, former president and tyrant of Tunisia, attempted to flee to France with his family and pet tiger. France declined entry and Mr. Ben Ali negotiated with Saudi Arabia and remains there in exile, as did Uganda’s Edi Amin.
On the other hand, Manuel Noriega, dictator of Panama and self-appointed general, readily gained entrance into multiple countries without negotiation. Mr. Noriega recently completed a 17 year jail term in the United States and was then extradited in 2010 to France where he is currently serving a seven year sentence for money laundering. After his sojourn in France he will be extradited to Panama where he was convicted in absentia to a 20 year sentence for human rights violations. Born in 1934, Mr. Noriega will be 102 years old when he is released from his third and final imprisonment.
Ferdinand Marcos, president and despot of the Philippines is arguably a founding member of the Crazy Leaders Club. Mr. Marcos wasn’t seeking retirement so much as he was seeking to extend the vacation that was his life when he sought the advice of the U.S. government in 1986. After much negotiation, he and his well shod wife Imelda Marcos (also a member of the club) fled to Hawaii where they remained in exile.
Most dictators don’t want to leave their positions as tyrants because their retirement plans just don’t look that good. Let’s face it -- there are no golf carts in the Hague. It would appear that Gadhafi may be out of exile destinations as all countries on the entire continent of Africa have declined exile negotiations.
For many years Gadhafi funded and armed three significant tribes in Libya to serve as his regime. The tribes now recognize that the leadership of Libya is up for grabs and skirmishes have broken out within Gadhafi’s own regime between the tribes. During the reality TV telephone appearance, Gadhafi begged his supporters to “march by the millions” and fight the Libyan rebel “rats” as a group and not as small groups, obviously referring to the tribal conflicts. Millions aren’t marching and Gadhafi’s authority as Colonel and despot is rapidly dwindling.
Like so many other members of the Crazy leaders Club, Gadhafi’s performance as dictator is now determining his retirement plan. If he escapes rebel forces he will most certainly be enjoying the assisted living center at the Hague.