National Security

The Latest in Dictator Fashion

There was a coup in Sudan yesterday. Ho hum. A coup in an African nation. Yawn. And the sun comes up in the east. This one was favorable to U.S. national security, as toppled dictator Islamist Omar al Bashir was no pal to us or the West. As of late there has been mass protests in the streets of the nation against Bashir, who took power in his own coup in 1989. Though some of the protestors are naturally not thrilled that a military junta was established to rule Sudan for at least two years.

As I was reading the report something caught my eye. The leader of the coup, Sudanese Defense Minister General Awad Mohamed Auf (a German would ask, auf what?) had the most rad shoulder boards I had ever seen. Not content with the usually British-inspired crossed swords, fruit salad, beret flash, crowns, oak leaves, stars, and other absurd accoutrements beloved by tinhorn flag officers worldwide, this guy is going with most of the above and then breaks the dictator fashion barrier by including a huuuge (and vaguely reminiscent of a Christmas ornament) insignia at the top of his boards.

Is Auf trying to update the look? If so he needs to understand the history and depth of the subject. Luckily for you —and for him for the right price— I do.

You can go old world with a Franco or helicopter optional Pinochet feel. But too much of a good thing can ruin the show bigtime, as Mussolini and Gaddafi found out. If you’re from what used to be called The Third World, you want to go for a natural air but played down so as not to look like a raving bumpkin. The beau ideal is the former ruler of the Congo Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga; even his name totally rocks, he of Saville Row suits and leopard skin headgear. Perfect balance.

Sukarno had a subtle understated mien when in uniform and Marshal Ky had no equal in a flight suit.

Google these guys and look at Images if you want to get my point. The modern dictator out of mufti should look the medal-bedecked part and also when called for, be chic enough in up-to-date Paris or Milan menswear to wheedle untold billions from both us and the Chinese at swank diplomatic receptions. Fashionable for that inevitable UN cocktail party hosted by another despot, yet down to earth enough to appear the epitome of casual elegance while torturing political prisoners.

Yes, the fashion challenges are myriad for today’s stylish tyrant. For if you’re going to terrorize your people, rob the national treasury blind, and play superpowers against each other to fund your lavish corrupt lifestyle, there is no reason in the world you can’t be well-dressed while doing it.

N’est-ce pas?

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
David Kamioner

A veteran of service with US Army Intelligence, the Pershing Nuclear Brigade, and the First Infantry Division, Kamioner is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s European Division and spent over twenty years as a political consultant, college instructor, non-profit director, and corporate PR director. He hails from New York City and grew up in South Florida. He served with the American Red Cross as part of the relief effort for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. For several years he ran homeless shelters, most recently homeless shelters for US military veterans. He currently is a Senior Contributor for, a writer for American Greatness, and has been published in LifeZette. He is the author of the novel "Prisoner of the Chattering Class" and lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

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