Sunday, May 1, 2011

The first three strikes should have been an out

Moammar Gadhafi’s son was killed by a NATO missile yesterday, along with three grandchildren, furthering his own personal tragedies as the entrenched strongman of Libya. You might recall that he lost another son in the 80’s, at the hands of a U.S.-led airstrike.
You’d wonder how much of it would be enough, right? Seemingly forever, the crazed madman has been the pimple on the backside of everybody in the geopolitical community, the burr under the proverbial saddle. Even Libya’s friends don’t like or trust him, and nearly everyone this side of Kim Jong-il would rather see him step down, if not for a jail cell or a hangman’s noose, at the very least a secluded country exile estate in the middle of nowhere.

That’s what 30 years of state-sponsored terrorism will get you – seclusion and isolation, and no friends to turn to when your subjects – er, citizens – begin their rebellion.

That it’s taken this long to have him on his heels and scrambling to maintain control is a wonder. It’s not like the entire world couldn't realize something was amiss from the very start. The clues were overpowering.

First off, the name, naturally.

Ol’ Moammar burst on the scene as Gadhafi, Gaddafi, Qaddafi, Khadafy, and Khadafi. Never before had more people been more confused, save the first world-wide telecast of the World Cup soccer tournament, when viewers wondered aloud if the Dutch and Holland were different teams than the Netherlands. And, of course, that was just his surname. Forget that Moammar can also be Muammar. Or that it’s perfectly fine, apparently, to put an “al” in front of any of the last names, ala al-Gadhafi.

Frankly, it’s poor branding. Who cares that the root of the problem lies in the translation of Arabic? You got to use what the customers use, or in this case, the rest of the world. A good PR team, probably executed on his rise to power, would have settled on one spelling. A great PR team would have settled on just one lasting, iconic name. It worked for Elvis and Madonna, and in politics, it’s worked recently in the U.S. for W, Bill, and Barack. You hear, you know. A bad name dooms the regime form the start.

Aside from the name, there’s a bigger problem. When you’re the dictator, the ultimate ruler, what title do you bestow on yourself? For me, I’m going with Your Highness, Extreme Excellency, etc. Even the demure title of President is cool. But, Colonel? Please, you can’t get global respect among your tyrannical peers with the title of Colonel.

For crying out loud, Colonel Klink was a Colonel, and he didn’t know what the fuck was going on in the tunnels underneath him.

Think about it - Moammar has officers in his own army that out rank him.  Well, at least technically.  He doesn't seem the sort to not get his way, and a bullet, as it has for centuries, continues to be one heck of a persuader.

The third strike the global community seemingly missed was his fashion sense, those words being used in the most liberal of all possible meanings, I'm afraid. Moammar, really? Now, the fatigues on occasion, while awfully Fidel-esque in general terms, are a little pussified with some unnecessary color and bling. However, it is a uniform, and there’s something about that, so I’ll cut you some slack on that account.

But, the Vegas/Barney pajamas - c’mon man. The last time we saw something like that was Reuben in the Clooney/Pitt remake of “Ocean’s Eleven.” Oh, Moammar, it should be pointed out that Elliot Gould’s character, and his wardrobe, was a parody; you know, for laughs.

So, when you break it down to its core elements, the worldwide community should have known that Moammar was a troubled guy who not only needed to go, but probably need not ascend to power in the first place. Now, he’s dug in deeper than a tick on a Tennessee bloodhound, and is giving no indication of leaving gracefully.

The people of Libya will continue to suffer; Gadhafi himself will continue to suffer. But, the end will come, and it will likely come soon. Afterwards, we can only hope the UN passes a resolution and makes the “three strikes” inrrefutable doctrine; a criteria for instant dismissal of a country's leader.
Of course, that’s just this guy’s opinion.
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