Where could #Gaddafi go if he were exiled? Somewhere where he can get a facelift?

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.Image via WikipediaMuammar Gaddafi has been deaf to criticisms from the international community over the last 4 decades, why would he start listening now? I’ve always thought that if you want an immediate effect on Libya short of military force, you go after his money. If he can’t pay his mercenaries, is he going to write IUOs? If there’s a chance you might die tomorrow, would you accept an IOU? If the Libyan regime is still talking, I don’t think it’s because it has any genuine desire to make any concession, it’s only buying time.   

President Obama has now signed an Executive Order on the Libya Sanctions. He also  sent a letter to Congress. Part of the EO says: 

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America,
find that Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, his government, and close
associates have taken extreme measures against the people of
Libya, including by using weapons of war, mercenaries, and
wanton violence against unarmed civilians. I further find
that there is a serious risk that Libyan state assets will be
misappropriated by Qadhafi, members of his government, members
of his family, or his close associates if those assets are not
protected. The foregoing circumstances, the prolonged attacks,
and the increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge in other
countries from the attacks, have caused a deterioration in the
security of Libya and pose a serious risk to its stability,
thereby constituting an unusual and extraordinary threat to the
national security and foreign policy of the United States, and
I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

The executive order went into effect at 8:00 p.m. EST on February 25, 2011. Specifically mentioned in the sanctions are:

1. Ayesha QADHAFI [Lieutenant General in the Libyan Army, born circa 1976 or 1977]
2. Khamis QADHAFI [born 1980]
3. Muammar QADHAFI [Head of State of Libya, born 1942]
4. Mutassim QADHAFI [National Security Advisor and Lieutenant Colonel in the Libyan Army, born circa 1975]
5. Saif Al-Islam QADHAFI [born June 5, 1972]

I do think Gaddafi is in this for the long haul, even if this leads to a running bloodbath.  He’s been in power so long, he thinks of Libya the same way Robert Mugabe thinks of Zimbabwe. He suffers from the “this country is mine” syndrome.  At his age, it’s not like he can mount a coup again, or reinvent himself after 41 years of tyranny. But every revolutionary grows old like you and me and everyone else. Except — it looks like this one will leave a trail of blood and death to his grave.

On February 21, the Guardian considered the possible asylum destinations for the Madman of Tripoli, if and when he finally gets pushed out. The Guardian points out the Gaddafi could follow Tunisia’s Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia – or seek asylum in Venezuela or a host of African countries.

Idi Amin finished up in Saudi Arabia. Mobutu Sese Seko went to Togo then settled in Morocco. Mengistu Haile Mariam, author of Ethiopia’s Red Terror, is living out his days in Zimbabwe. And so, if the once unthinkable should happen and the dictator falls in Libya, whither Muammar Gaddafi?

Burkina Faso, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are among the contenders floated by analysts if the self-declared “doyen of Arab leaders, king of kings of Africa and imam of all Muslims” was forced to seek asylum. Saudi hospitality has previously been extended to ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and overthrown Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. But its relations with Libya have been strained for years; in 2009 Gaddafi told King Abdullah: “You are propelled by fibs towards the grave and you were made by Britain and protected by the US.”

Venezuela is a stronger candidate having had close ties with Libya of late. Gaddafi was seen shopping on a Venezuelan island during a summit 18 month ago. President Hugo Chavez has visited Libya several times and a football stadium there was named in his honour.
One unlikely friend is Nelson Mandela, who never forgot Gaddafi’s support for the African National Congress in the struggle against apartheid. Mandela, now 92 and retired, was once quoted as saying: “Those who feel irritated by our friendship with President Gaddafi can go jump in the pool.”

Read more here.

Toronto’s Globe and Mail, by the way, has an interesting graphic here spotlighting the Gaddafi effect on Africa. Libya’s dictator who has quickly moved from being simply eccentric to being certifiably insane not only bought political influence across the continent, he also paid for peacekeeping missions, infrastructure and humanitarian aid in Mali, Liberia, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia.  In fact, apparently there are African countries who have already offered him asylum. According to this: Unnamed diplomats said Friday that African countries were offering refuge to Moamer Gaddafi and his family, but indicated that for the time being the invitations were being declined.

One could argue that any of the African countries above would be possible destinations for him.  But I don’t think he would opt for any of these places, even when an invitation is offered for one very good reason.

He can’t get a decent facelift there.

Robert Fisk writes “Only a few days ago, as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi faced the wrath of his own people, he met with an old Arab acquaintance and spent 20 minutes out of four hours asking him if he knew of a good surgeon to lift his face. This is – need I say it about this man? – a true story.”

I don’t doubt it and he needs it.

So I started looking.  Certainly there is South Africa. According to this, “South Africa boasts some of the world’s leading plastic surgeons. The quality and care you’ll receive is world-class – you’re getting the best for a whole lot less!”

It’s not like he’ll be pressed for money. But I do not think South Africa is a good fit for him. Mandela is 92 and retired, not possible to know how things might change in a couple of years…

There is one place that might be the very best fit for him.  Gaddafi was reportedly shopping for an island there?  Anyway, his revolutionary brother and BFF is also there.  Hugo Chavez (who by the way can deliver speeches as long as Muammar) can also spew rants against the United States with a drop of a hat, and without a teleprompter!  I just don’t know if Venezuela is large enough to hold both of them …

Chavez has prevailed in doing away with term limits, so he could just continue on to his 4th, 5th term and on and on.  Which makes for a more “secure” future for a newly deposed dictator, if it comes to that.  Gaddafi may also want to be sure that the country that hosts him, won’t cower and hand him over to the UN, ICJ, or whoever wants to try him for crimes against humanity.  Hugo Chavez and cower, of course, are not often used in the same sentence.  So that’s a plus point, I think for Venezuela.

But the main reason, Gaddafi might pick Venezeula is that it occupies the 3rd place in the Top 10 Medical and Surgical Vacations in Latin America.  Except for earthquakes, Latin America is a mighty nice place. Anyway, # 3Venezuela:

Venezuela is your destination if it’s just buttocks or breasts you are after. Plastic Surgery Centres here specialize in implants and augmentation for the two areas and there are additionals such as tummy tucks, nose jobs, liposuction, face-lifts and so on.

If he’s not satisfied with Venezuela, it is a short jump to #7  which is Colombia where: Body alteration vacations are the thing in Colombia. You can fly to Bogota for liposuction, a nose job and boob job for a fraction of the cost in the USA. Diego Maradona might have started the phenomena of tourists coming here for plastic surgery when he had his stomach stapled in Cartagena.”

Stapled? That sounds so painful. But a tyrant who has caused the murder of hundreds of his people, would not flinch on something as wimpy as a “staple….” 
Anyway, if Colombia does not work, there is always #8 Cuba: “once aimed its services at well-off patients from Central and South America but now attracts patients from Canada, Germany and Italy. Dental implants, veneers, crowns and general dentistry are popular packages.”

Well, dental work, too. And why not? 

Please don’t write me emails complaining that this is a weird post.  I know that already. But that mad dog of Tripoli ranting about drugs in coffee as his thugs are killing innocent people deserves an equally bizarre write-up.

CSM reported that Gaddafi’s Plan B is “to live and die in Libya.” I watched one of his sons say the same thing on television – the Plan Alphabet is to “live and die in Libya.”  Which would certainly be a catastrophe of extreme proportion for the Libyan people. 

Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton were quoted in press reports calling for Gaddafi to leave Libya “now.” I don’t know what are the chances of Gaddafi actually ditching Libya for an asylum destination.  But no matter how slim, I think there should be one chute open for him and his family.  A mad man can do unspeakable things as we have already seen. A trapped madman can do even worse. 

Foreign Service "Cushy" Lives: 10 Ways to Help Debunk the Myth in Congress and Elsewhere


HR 1: The House of Representatives did pass a budget proposal for the FY11 budget late last Friday. There was a contentious debate surrounding this legislation in determining where cuts would occur.  The process surrounding this proposal was conducted outside the normal channels for appropriations and budget consideration, something that is highly unusual.  The bill (HR1) went to the floor of the House with significant proposed cuts from the FY11 request for international affairs, including approximately $1.1b for State, $205m in Operating Expenses for USAID, $83m for the Foreign Agriculture Service, and $93m for the International Trade Administration (part of Commerce). As AFSA understands, nearly six hundred amendments were presented and debated.

The Reed Amendment: Of particular concern is an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY 28th) designed to roll back the hard won progress we have made on overseas comparability pay. The Reed amendment was designed to restrict funds from being used to close the pay gap. Rep. Reed apparently misunderstood and mischaracterized the facts related to OCP. In the end, the Reed amendment was agreed to (without a recorded vote) and included in the final House bill.

Action with the Senate: Reliable sources in the Senate say that the House Bill (including the Reed amendment) is dead on arrival and that it is highly unlikely that there will be any backtracking on the 16% we currently have. However, the budget climate on Capitol Hill does lead us to conclude that it will be extremely difficult to secure funding for the final 8%, although we will still try.  

I have written previously about the proposed pay cut for Foreign Service Officers which passed the House last weekend. See Since you enjoy your jobs so much, Congress wants you to take a pay cut ….

AFSA has a template letter to Congress here.  A reminder if you work for Uncle Sam:

AFSA reminds active duty Foreign Service employees that it is illegal to lobby congress using official time or government resources.  If you write or call your congressional representative, do not use government time or resources (such as a government computer, letter head, telephone, etc).  If you meet in person with a congressional representative, you must take annual leave or schedule the meeting on your lunch hour.  In addition, make clear that you are writing or speaking in your individual capacity as a constituent and not as a representative of your agency.     

Donna of Email From The Embassy, currently in Jordan has a great blog post on the Foreign Service pay cut. A finger right on the button on this issue. She writes:    

Now, all you FSOs out there, are you ready for this? Here’s what I think: This is all your fault.

Seriously. Your. Fault.

And she proceeds to describe what goes into a CODEL visit and why Important Politicians think FSOs have cushy lives.

Read Current Events (Or Why We Deserve This Pay Cut).

At the end of that post, she asks, “How can we change this?”

The truth of the matter is, as one writer puts it, even informed, engaged Americans know diddly squat about the State Department or what diplomats do overseas.  Read Ben Casnocha’s post here.

DiploPundit offers the following magnifique suggestions (tongue clearly in cheek) that you may or may not like.

Foreign Service “Cushy” Lives: 10 Ways to Help Debunk the Myth  

1) Next time post gets a CODEL, reception should be at the apartment of a first-tour officer not at the Ambassador’s villa with a pool. That will help them get a feel of real life in the service that is foreign to them. [Action: STATE/H; EMB] 

2) Since Congress wants to save money, every CODEL visitor should travel by commercial air, economy fare  even for trips beyond 14 hours (not military jets), and be offered accommodations in FSO govt-housing. EFMs may not appreciate this but pizza for dinner and CODEL guests pitch in with housework. If not possible, the TDY or Interns’ quarters would do just as well.  No maid service and no wake up call. Just like life from middle class America. [Action: CONGRESS, STATE/H, EMB, FSO/EFM]

3) Every CODEL should be offered participation in “duck and cover” exercise at every diplomatic mission they visit. [Action: STATE/H; EMB] 

4) Congressional folks should be offered participation in Crisis Management Training exercise to all the hotspots. Start with posts in the Middle East and North Africa because the chances of the exercise becoming real is quite high. If they’re in town for a real evacuation, so much the better. First attendees will get lots of press clips. [Action: STATE/H, FSI, CA, EMB]

5) State has always called its FSOs smart; logic follows, they are smart enough to know what not to blog.  Take the gag off FSOs.  Allow them to blog about their lives in vivid, true colors, warts and all without the threat of a career penalty. Not in DipNote, silly [Action: STATE All hands; FSO]
6) Educate bureau and post management that every quietly shuttered blog is one less advocate for the Foreign Service. [

7) Educate the public on the challenges of personal and official expenses and how the twine sometimes meet in the service of diplomacy.  Uncle Sam’s money is all Uncle Sam’s, but the FSO’s personal funds oftentimes also covers Uncle Sam’s shorts. [Action: STATE/A; FSO/EFM].

8) Keeping a stiff upper lip as part of the old culture is just that. Old and sooo 19th century. You can be the change you want to see, but for that — folks need to speak up. Or blog about it [Action: FSO/EFM] 

9) Connect with the American public about real life in the Foreign Service.  As long as the misconception remains that the Foreign Service is an exclusive, elitist institution full of rich people rolling around in the galaxy, there won’t be any sympathy for pay cuts or for any other issue. [Action: STATE: All hands; FSO/EFM]    

10) Advocate for the official change of name for the U.S. Foreign Service to the United States Diplomatic Service. That will stop getting diplomatic folks confused with the other USFS – the Forest Service. [Action: STATE/H, FSO/EFM]  

A note on the acronyms: “H” is the legislative bureau of the State Department and works with Congress; “CODEL” stands for congressional delegation when members of Congress makes trips overseas, “A” is the administration bureau, “FSO” is Foreign Service Officer, “EFM” stands for eligible family member, normally spouses and under 18 year old dependents of diplomats. 


Most items on my list above only works in a parallel universe.  Feel free to  come up with your own list this side of the universe. Whatever you do, you need a better plan because things will not get any better or any easier. 





Ambassador Hunstman stumbles into Beijing’s "Jasmine Revolution" … web police springs to action….

Jeremiah Jenne is a PhD candidate in Chinese history, living and working in Beijing. He is the author of the blog Jottings from the Granite Studio.  Below is an excerpt from the guest post he did for The Atlantic’s James Fallows: Ambassadors Caught on Tape, China Edition:

While there weren’t all that many actual protesters at last Sunday’s “Jasmine Revolution” in Beijing, one attendee who did not escape the notice of sharp-eyed Chinese netizens was US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.

The website M4 (四明网) posted footage of the ambassador being harangued by bystanders.

This is how the writer describes the group: “They represent a kind of lunatic fringe.  And by “lunatic,” I mean seriously…take a look at the site. These guys make Glenn Beck sound like the very model of reason and moderation.”

Then asks the really important question: “Just what the hell was the ambassador doing standing in front of that particular McDonald’s on that particular afternoon?”

Apparently, the US Embassy spokesperson told AFP it was “purely coincidental.”  Mr. Jenne surmised that “Having the ambassador and his family blithely wandering through the area unawares would at the very least seem like bad staff work.”

Also this:

“Now as most know, Ambassador Huntsman last month made official what had been the third worst kept secret in Beijing (behind Hu Jintao’s hair regimen and the fact the government routinely replaces Mao’s body in the mausoleum with a wax “stunt Mao”), tendering his resignation in preparation for a possible White House bid in 2012.”

You have to go here to read his pitch for a 30-second ad spot. And yes, we note that Ambassador Hunstman is wearing a black leather jacket with the American flag emblazoned on the sleeve in the video.  It’s not like he’s trying to blend in with that.

Remember that sensible advice you often hear when you’re overseas? Do not call attention to yourself by your demeanor or attire; and stay away from demonstrations as even peaceful ones can easily turn ugly?  What happened to the checklist?

You can view the video here via The Shanghaiist, which also reported that the Ambassador’s Chinese name has now been filtered in China.  “Searching for “洪博培” on Sina Weibo, China’s largest microblog portal, now yields the error message, “According to relevant laws and regulations, the search results may not be shown.” Curiously, search results for “Jon Huntsman” in English appears to remain unfiltered. Similar behaviour on QQ Weibo has been observed by Shanghaiist.“