Think tanks in Washington scramble and compete with each other to influence the policy debate on a variety of fronts — but what is desperately needed is for one of them to put forward a white paper on how to spell Moammer Gaddafi’s name.
This is not a trivial matter. President Obama’s national security and foreign policy legacy will be inextricably tied to the action against Libya’s late long-serving dictator, and the history books and blogs need a better guide than we have today on how to get the Libyan boss’ name right.
Many have struggled with this. This work by Danny Sullivan does a masterful job of drawing together many of the Gaddafi/Qaddafi/Libyan bad guy options. While this spelling struggle isn’t new — but it has bothered me that my own colleagues at The Atlantic have a variety of names for him.
The Atlantic‘s International Channel editor Max Fisher uses “Qaddafi.” I use “Gaddafi” — but flip to the Q on occasion, usually when I’m having a more festive day. Atlantic writers have also used “Khaddafi”, “Khadafy”, and “Quadhafi”.
I wonder if Moammer (and yes, there’s a spelling dispute with the first name also) used to google his different names to see what got the most hits.
If he had, here are the google mentions of a few of the myriad possibilities:
I can’t find a version of the name with more hits that “Gaddafi”, which is what I use — so at least in my editorial and New America Foundation hats, I propose that we go with what the market tells us and use GADDAFI.
As Danny Sullivan reports from a Library of Congress survey, there are a lot more possibilities:
(1) Muammar Qaddafi, (2) Mo’ammar Gadhafi, (3) Muammar
Kaddafi, (4) Muammar Qadhafi, (5) Moammar El Kadhafi, (6) Muammar
Gadafi, (7) Mu’ammar al-Qadafi, (8) Moamer El Kazzafi, (9) Moamar
al-Gaddafi, (10) Mu’ammar Al Qathafi, (11) Muammar Al Qathafi, (12)
Mo’ammar el-Gadhafi, (13) Moamar El Kadhafi, (14) Muammar al-Qadhafi,
(15) Mu’ammar al-Qadhdhafi, (16) Mu’ammar Qadafi, (17) Moamar Gaddafi,
(18) Mu’ammar Qadhdhafi, (19) Muammar Khaddafi, (20) Muammar
al-Khaddafi, (21) Mu’amar al-Kadafi, (22) Muammar Ghaddafy, (23)
Muammar Ghadafi, (24) Muammar Ghaddafi, (25) Muamar Kaddafi, (26)
Muammar Quathafi, (27) Muammar Gheddafi, (28) Muamar Al-Kaddafi, (29)
Moammar Khadafy, (30) Moammar Qudhafi, (31) Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi, (32)
Mulazim Awwal Mu’ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhaf
Gaddafi is way easier. Takers?
— Steve Clemons is Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic, where this post first appeared. Clemons can be followed on Twitter at @SCClemons
photo credit: Reuters
Update: My colleague Max Fisher had a terrific post, up a while back but that I had not seen, on Gaddafi’s passport application and the spelling there: Gathafi.