More on GaddafiGate

His resignation came as a US consultancy admitted mishandling a multimillion dollar contract with Libya to sanitise Gaddafi's reputation in the west. Monitor Group, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, organised for academics and policymakers from the US and UK to travel to Tripoli to meet the Libyan despot between 2006 and 2008, as part of a $3m (£1.8m) contract.

In a related development, the director of LSE has resigned, there is more here.  Hat tip goes to Kieran Healy.


Honestly, I still don't quite understand the scandal in all of this. Arranging for elites to meet with Gaddafi isn't sanitizing his reputation, but allowing Gaddafi to make his own impression on them- it in no way obligated them to do anything as far as I can tell. Whether or not some of them were fooled is no scandal either, these men and women have free will to either make fools of themselves, or not. As for the training of a cadre of elites by the LSE, I still don't understand why this is a scandal in and of itself.

Hmmmm... I don't find western intellectuals receiving millions from Ghadafi nearly as interesting as western companies paying Ghadafi billions.

I also think that this supposed scandal is ridiculous. Based on the information at the relevant time, there was a positive probability that Saif al-Islam was genuinely interested in reform and might be in a position to make it happen. The potential upside was massive and the potential downside was negligible in comparison so only a small probability was required to make it a good bet to engage with him. The fact that it did not work out is no argument against this calculation.

From The Independent:

"Among the people who will feature in the inquiry is Professor David Held, the co-director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance and one of Saif Gaddafi's mentors. He had argued in favour of the grant for his centre being accepted and was appointed a trustee of GICDF in June 2009, but was forced to quit several months later by the LSE's council over concerns of a potential conflict of interests. He denies any impropriety.

But questions about Professor Held were raised over claims that he pressured an admissions tutor to accept the niece of former Clinton aide Sydney Blumenthal on a master's course.

Erik Ringmar, a professor in international relations at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said: "I was David Held's colleague from 2001 until 2007. For the first two years we worked closely together as fellow members of the MSc in comparative politics." He described an incident in late 2002, when Professor Held "insisted I accept a student to our MSc programme who was a relative of Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton crony. Unusually, I was sent an applicant's file not from the admissions office, as always was the case, but straight from the office of the LSE director – at that time Anthony Giddens. In the [applicant's] file was a handwritten note from 'Sid' to 'Tony,' making the case that accepting his niece to do a degree at the LSE would be a wonderful opportunity to 'continue to deepen our trans-Atlantic ties'."

Professor Ringmar claimed that Professor Held telephoned him and said: "You should consider it very carefully, just read the name again. It's Blumenthal, OK? That Blumenthal'."

He added: "In the end, I accepted her, although her grades were substantially lower than what we usually required. I'm not proud of this but I felt intimidated by all the pressure from Giddens, the LSE director, and from David Held. I was a mere lecturer at the time – and easily intimidated."

Gadaffi's bad enough, but a Clintonite? Yuch!

So it is clear, I do not view this as a scandal at all.

There is more : Gaddafi's thesis isn't his, but some minion's.

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