- By Sylvie SteinSylvie Stein is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
Muammar Qaddafi has eradicated and restructured the Libyan calendar, publicly supported international terrorism and then called the Security Council the "terror council," ordered an entourage of virgin bodyguards and a Saharan camel to accompany him to public events, and even demanded that the U.N. abolish Switzerland.
So what’s the next move from the maniacal megalomaniac? The most shocking of all: a random act of kindness. Colonel Qaddafi has personally procured a plan to save a fledgling Italian town, ostensibly harboring no motivation in the project aside from altruism and affection.
The fateful meeting between Qaddafi and his newly adopted medieval mountain town was love at first sight. Last year, while traveling to the G8 Summit, Qaddafi feared the recent 6.3 magnitude earthquake had weakened the infrastructure in central Italy and demanded his caravan take a detour. The new route took Qaddafi through the financially struggling town of Antrodoco, where the 2,800-person population showed him such warmth and hospitality that he reportedly declared, "You have entered my heart and I won’t forget you." Promptly after his return home, Qaddafi sent his Roman ambassador and various other envoys to the village with promises of building luxury hotels, clean-water manufacturing plants, and a sports complex, and a general commitment to facilitating improvements in tourism and employment rates. A week-long conference to discuss the plans is now in the works.
It’s a bit difficult to imagine Qaddafi and his motorway pulling around a mountain bend somewhere in Italy, the Libyan leader emerging from the depths of his flashy limousine — decked out in his floor-length cape and Miami Vice-inspired G8 Summit suit, no less — as Antrodoco’s knight in shining armor. Then again, it was difficult to imagine him inviting five-hundred models to an evening out on the town, only to give each a personal copy of the Koran and attempt to convert them to Islam. Touché, Colonel — you’ve surprised us again.
Cara Parks is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Prior to that she was the World editor at the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of Bard College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and has written for The New Republic, Interview, Radar, and Publishers Weekly, among others.| Passport |