Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mother Jones looks at Saif Gaddafi's LSE PhD thesis

Mother Jones:
Saif Qaddafi’s performance [his "speech" on Tuesday] was right out of the autocrats’ playbook. It was also totally out of sync with a PhD dissertation he finished in 2007 (with the help of a Harvard-connected consulting firm retained by Tripoli) for the London School of Economics, when he was a doctoral candidate in its philosophy department. The 429-page thesis was entitled, "The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From Soft Power to Collective Decision Making?" Drawing heavily on the work of American philosopher John Rawls, who formulated a theory of justice and fairness, the work is chockfull of pro-democracy sentiment. Saif Qaddafi’s main point: international organizations and NGOs are central to spreading democracy and their member states must reflect the same dedication to core democratic principles.
On his acknowledgements page, Saif noted that his thesis was made possible, in part, due to the assistance of a “number of experts...especially Professor Joseph Nye” of Harvard. One of the godfathers of the international relations theories of neoliberalism and soft power, Nye read portions of the paper and provided “advice and direction.” Probably not coincidentally, Nye twice visited Libya in 2007 and 2008 as a paid consultant for the Monitor Group, a Boston-based consulting firm then working for the Qaddafi government. He tells Mother Jones that he read one chapter of the dissertation and "found it intelligent." After the 2007 trip, Nye wrote an essay for The New Republic, extolling Qaddafi's efforts to clean up his image.

The Monitor Group, which is connected to leading professors at the Harvard School of Business, sent several prominent foreign policy thinkers (in addition to Nye) to Libya to meet with the Libyan leader, including neocon Richard Perle, another paid adviser for Monitor. This was part of its paid-for-by-Tripoli effort to rehabilitate Qaddafi. And as Saif Qaddafi wrote in his acknowledgements, the group also helped him conduct research for his dissertation—raising the possibility that this thesis was another component of the Monitor Group’s makeover campaign for the Qaddafi regime. The consulting firm pocketed $3 million a year for its pro-Qaddafi endeavors.

Quite apart from what Saif is up to these days, Harvard and the London School of Economics has some (more) explaining to do.



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