Monitor Group, a large consulting firm founded by Harvard professors, received $250,000 a month from the Libyan government from 2006 to 2008 for an array of services, including writing a proposal for a flattering book about dictator Moammar Qaddafi, bringing academic luminaries to Libya to meet him, endeavoring to generate positive news coverage of the nation, and helping Qaddafi’s son Saif with his doctoral dissertation at the London School of Economics.
As the turmoil in Libya intensifies, reports the Boston Globe, Monitor’s role in Libya is being criticized.
Dirk Vandewalle, associate professor at Dartmouth College and author of “A History of Modern Libya,” comments:
“The really nefarious aspect of this is that it reinforced in Khadafy’s mind that he truly was an international intellectual world figure, and that his ideas of democracy were to be taken seriously. It reinforced his reluctance to come to terms with the reality around him, which was that Libya is in many ways an inconsequential country and his ideas are half-baked.’’
Already there have been repercussions of the involvement of prominent academics with Libya. Sir Howard Davies resigned yesterday as a director at the London School of Economics, which pledged to investigate the institution’s ties with the Khadafy family.
High-profile professors sent to visit Qaddafi included Joseph Nye, former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; Lord Anthony Giddens, former head of the London School of Economics; Francis Fukuyama, political philosopher from Stanford University; and Benjamin Barber, who has written about democracy.
Ronald Bruce St. John, author of academic books on Libya who served on the International Advisory Board of the Journal of Libyan Studies, asks the most telling question: “People who do these consultancy jobs don’t hesitate to mention Harvard and so forth, but is it really academic work?”