Joseph Nye of Harvard’s Kennedy School wrote in The New Republic in 2007 that Muammar Qaddafi was interested in discussing “direct democracy.”
Anthony Giddens of the London School of Economics wrote in the Guardian the same year that Libya under Qaddafi could become “the Norway of North Africa.”
Benjamin Barber of Rutgers University wrote in the Washington Post, also in 2007, that Libya under Qaddafi could become “the first Arab state to transition peacefully and without overt Western intervention to a stable, non-autocratic government.”
Great minds think alike? Actually, no: all were being paid by Libyan money, under a $3 million per year contract with a consulting group which promised to “enhance the profile of Libya and Muammar Quadhafi” in Britain and the US.
One more thing: none of them said in The New Republic, the Guardian, or the Washington Post that they were being paid by Libyan money. That seems to be a clear violation of journalistic ethics—at least that’s what the then-editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer, told David Corn of Mother Jones about Nye: “If we had known that he was consulting for a firm paid by the government, we wouldn’t have run the piece.”
Documentation about their employer, the Monitor Group, founded by Harvard faculty members, was obtained from a Libyan dissent group by David Corn and published at MotherJones.com. A 2006 letter from the CEO of Monitor, Mark Fuller, to an official in the Libyan government, published by Corn, declared, “Libya has suffered from a deficit of positive public relations and adequate contact with a wide range of opinion-leaders and contemporary thinkers. This program aims to redress the balance in Libya’s favor.”
Benjamin Barber, now Walt Whitman professor emeritus at Rutgers and a senior fellow at Demos, a pro-democracy think tank (and a longtime contributor to The Nation—see “America’s Knowledge Deficit,” Nov. 10, 2010), is the author of many books on democracy, most recently Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole.