Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Harvard professor´s cosy relationship with Gaddafi

                                              Nye: "Tall and handsome"

Harvard professor Joseph S. Nye Jr. (of "soft power" fame) had this to say about Libya´s dictator in 2007:

How serious was Qaddafi about exercising soft power? And just how different was this new Qaddafi--with his preference for diplomacy over weapons--from the old? On a cool February morning, a car whisked me to a compound in the middle of Tripoli that was fortified with multiple layers of green metal gates. Inside the gates stood several large tents. Qaddafi greeted me at the entrance to one. He wore his trademark hat as well as two cloaks--an outer black embroidered one, and a plain tan one underneath. He was both tall and handsome in a craggy sort of way. He moved with ease and spoke softly. Occasionally, he used English, but he was clearly more comfortable speaking Arabic with an interpreter. We sat in plastic chairs by a table on which five of my books were spread out--including Soft Power. Sure enough, a half hour into our conversation, he asked how Libya might increase its soft power on the world stage.

Read the entire 2007 article published in The New Republic in here.

What is interesting is that when Nye wrote the article, he did not disclose that he had travelled to Libya as a paid consultant of the Monitor Group, a firm working for the Gaddafi regime:

In February 2007 Harvard professor Joseph Nye Jr., who developed the concept of "soft power," visited Libya and sipped tea for three hours with Muammar Qaddafi. Months later, he penned an elegant description of the chat for The New Republic, reporting that Qaddafi had been interested in discussing "direct democracy." Nye noted that "there is no doubt that" the Libyan autocrat "acts differently on the world stage today than he did in decades past. And the fact that he took so much time to discuss ideas—including soft power—with a visiting professor suggests that he is actively seeking a new strategy." The article struck a hopeful tone: that there was a new Qaddafi. It also noted that Nye had gone to Libya "at the invitation of the Monitor Group, a consulting company that is helping Libya open itself to the global economy."
Nye did not disclose all. He had actually traveled to Tripoli as a paid consultant of the Monitor Group (a relationship he disclosed in an email to Mother Jones), and the firm was working under a $3 million-per-year contract with Libya. Monitor, a Boston-based consulting firm with ties to the Harvard Business School, had been retained, according to internal documents obtained by a Libyan dissident group, not to promote economic development, but "to enhance the profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi." So The New Republic published an article sympathetic to Qaddafi that had been written by a prominent American intellectual paid by a firm that was being compensated by Libya to burnish the dictator's image.

Read the entire article in the Mother Jones magazine here.

Harvard professors - or at least one of them -  apparently are not anymore the kind of intellectual giants that they have been perceived to be.

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