Exit Strategies

Getting “Gaddafied”


It’s a well-known fact that the Eskimos have 88 words for snow and Baskin-Robbins 57 varieties of ice cream – or is that Heinz Baked Beans? – anyway, my point is that certain subject areas of language are clearly overdeveloped and replete with vocabulary, while others are not.

One of the areas less well served by language is politics and geopolitics, where multifaceted phenomenon of great complexity are described and explained using an impoverished vocabulary that does nothing to convey their essence.

A case in point is the recent brutal murder of the US ambassador in Libya and his staff. Explaining that these unfortunates were killed by an angry Islamic mob incensed by a movie that the embassy had been pushing, and then quoting Hilary Clinton – “This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people and government of Libya” – only shows the semantic shortcomings of the geopolitical narrative.

Missing from the prim little network reports that brought this news to the uncomprehending public is the whiff of geopolitical naivety, the pong of inept deculturalization, and the stench of reckless destabilization that inevitably emanates from America’s dealings with the non-Jewish Middle East. But most of all these bare accounts miss the exquisite sense of karma that this action actualizes: a few short months after the USA brought about the lynching of the country’s previous leader, its own ambassador is killed in a remarkably similar fashion by the same nasty Islamic id that was unleashed and empowered on that occasion by USA foreign policy.

The paltry phrases of AP and Reuters, and the dumbspeak of Clinton, are incapable of touching this event and doing it justice, and, because they don’t, the blindspot will remain and fresh incidents of a similar nature are certain to occur.

New concise words have to be coined to bring meaning and insight to these meaningless acts. In fact a whole ‘Politicosaurus’ of new terminology will have to be filled to help shed light on and knit understanding of America’s increasingly arcane interaction with the rest of the world.

As a first contribution to this massive lexical project let me offer a new transitive verb “gaddafi” as in to gaddafi someone or to be gaddafied, meaning to be killed by an angry Islamic mob usually against a background of American cultural and political destabilization undertaken in the name of democracy.