The “Mad Dog” of the middle east has been put down, (Thanks Spencer Ackerman and Wired) and Libyan citizens are now in control of their own destinies, nation and natural resources. Much has been made of the vast oil reserve riches this Arab nation sits atop and many of the media reports discussing these petroleum deposits have a hint of salivation in their tone, as if the spoils are being divided well ahead of the crime. Monies from the sales of these oil reserves were long the property of Libya’s ruling classes, primarily the Qadaffi family and his tribe as well as his close associates. Lavish, gaudy palaces, expensive cars and vices were the result of the channeling of profits into a favored executive class at the cost of the populace of the country, who struggled for sustenance and lacked for employment. But as the new order, unknown at this time, takes over what will become of these riches? And more to the point, what of the riches the former dictator left behind that are not discussed at all in these news reports?
The Emperor now has been fitted with his new clothes, raiment that will last him an eternity regardless of where he spends it but what will happen to his old wardrobe? It has been suggested that Qadaffi spent millions on his outfits, gold lame with the finest of spun 24k gold fibers interwoven into it, both warp and woof. His hats alone kept a dozen milliners and veiled seamstresses at work for the forty years he reigned. And his shoes, generally practical in form as they consisted of essentially Velcro fastened sneakers, were ornately embellished with rubies, pearls and gemstones gathered from sultans of ancient times and plundered from the countries museums after Qadaffi seized power. He dressed opulently, and often, sometimes wearing as many as seven outfits a day. He met with his commanders in full military regalia and this is what he wore when personally supervising executions as the fabric was of a wash and wear type. He generally brunched wearing the garb that westerners usually associate with his inimitable style, the garish robes, the flamboyant sashes and boas and the eccentric headgear. Most of his looted funds went to these outfits, in which he was fond of being photographed. Often ridiculed by suave Europeans and the stiff suited western diplomats as the type of clothes worn by loose-screwed elderly aunties, Qadaffi actually relished the attire, claiming it lent him a freedom of movement not even afforded by Sansabelt slacks. His other outfits, though of expensive construction, were as surprisingly practical as his choice of footwear. For dining he dressed formally in a silk tuxedo and draped a napkin over his trousers and wore a bib as he ate. He met his many nurses and concubines in a conventional cotton sweat-suit but as a concession to fashion wore a diamond encrusted headband. His swim-wear, he was an avid swimmer, often floating for hours a day in the warm seas near Sirte, were male bikini briefs he had custom tailored for him by young college students, a different one each day, usually female and reticent. Most astonishing, he wore no pajamas to bed but kept a neatly folded set on a bedside chair that he donned, with appropriate robe and fuzzy slippers when the need arose for him to relieve himself in the middle of the night as he, like many others, deplored the sight of his naked body.
The people of Libya have a rough road ahead of them, new democracies are often forged form the fires of earnest, intense revolutions, but if they can equitably distribute the profits of their oil fields they should have a self- sustained, free people. And should they locate Qadaffi’s wardrobe, its sale to Michael Douglas and Matt Damon for use in their upcoming movie, could go a long way towards making the nation safer, saner and more comfortably clothed.