Any dictator worth his salt holds a rank or a title befitting his position. Hitler was der Fuehrer, Stalin a Premier and Castro the leader of the people’s revolution. Despots invariably come packaged with lofty monikers, either by personal choice or popular declaration. So what happened to Col. Muammar Gaddafi?

Gaddafi is no doubt the perfect thug. But he falls short when it comes to image. Gaddafi has ruled in Tripoli since shortly after Thomas Jefferson’s forces persuaded the Barbary pirates to give up the ship. Yet the highest rank he has attained is that of colonel?

No disrespect intended toward colonels, mind you. Some of America’s greatest military leaders wore the silver eagle at one time or another: Pershing, Patton, Ridgeway, McArthur, Eisenhower, Schwarzkopf. But each one moved on to general before making their reputation and securing their fame. Few are the colonels who are household names.

Sure, there are some. Col. Sherman T. Potter of the 4077th M.A.S.H. comes to mind, as well as Colonels Hogan and Klink from Stalag 13. A colonel managed Elvis Pressley, at least for a while, and Col. Sanders is famous worldwide. There were also the Kentucky Colonels of the defunct American Basketball Association. Yet “Colonel Gaddafi” lacks the requisite pizzazz we would expect from an iron-fisted dictator who has ruled for half a lifetime.

Col. Gaddafi, your grip on Libya is tenuous at best. Still you’ve vowed to die rather than surrender. If the time is nigh for your departure to the land of seventy virgins grant yourself a promotion before you go. I assume you possess that authority, and it’s only fitting for a tyrant to outrank his military generals.

Pick a new title, Colonel. Call yourself a Six-star General, or High Commander of the Libyan Revolution. How about Exalted Excelsior or Perpetual Potentate? Or you can go the acronym route. How about the Sympathetic, Understanding, Caring, Knowledgeable and Excellent Ruler of Libya (S.U.C.K.E.R. for short)?

Chose anything you like. But don’t die a colonel. You don’t want to be the lowest ranked despot gathered around Satan’s fireplace. The other dictators–the ones with cool titles–will laugh at you. “Hey, Col. Gaddafi, fix me another cup of brimstone.”

Your boasts are bold, Muammar. You’ll fight to the last drop of blood. Judging from the mobs in your streets, the defection of senior diplomats and air force pilots, and the fall of one city after another you’ll probably get your chance. Don’t disgrace history’s great dictators by checking out of here a mere colonel. Go out with a new title, something grand, eloquent and memorable.

Libya’s Supreme Sultan of the Ceaselessly Shifting Sands. Now there’s an epitaph any tyrant would envy, and it’ll look great on your tombstone. What’s more, a Supreme Sultan won’t spend his eternity fetching cups of brimstone for Chairman Mao.

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