The Political Theory of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

by Kieran Healy on February 22, 2011

Via Shehzad Nadeem at OrgTheory comes this report on Muammar el-Gaddafi’s son and the Ph.D in Political Theory he wrote at the LSE in 2008, who as it happens also accepted a pledge of £1.5m from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which Saif ran. Gaddafi the Younger’s thesis, which you can read in its entirety if you like is titled “The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From ‘Soft Power’ to Collective Decision-making?” In it, he argues that,

inclusion of elected representatives of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) in tripartite decision-making structures could potentially create a more democratic global governing system. … the thesis argues that there are strong motivations for free individuals to seek fair terms of cooperation within the necessary constraints of being members of a global society. Drawing on the works of David Hume, John Rawls and Ned McClennen, it elaborates significant self-interested and moral motives that prompt individuals to seek cooperation on fair terms if they expect others to do so. Secondly, it supports a theory of global justice, rejecting the limits of Rawls’s view of international justice based on what he calls ‘peoples’ rather than persons. Thirdly, the thesis adopts and applies David Held’s eight cosmopolitan principles to support the concept and specific structures of ‘Collective Management’.

He goes on to say that,

The core aim of the thesis, then, is to explore the potential for the concept of Collective Management to develop a more democratic, morally justified system of global governance that recognises the rights of individuals … and is particularly focused on empowering civil society organizations (CSOs) to give a stronger voice to those currently under-represented in the existing system

From here it is only a short few steps to the view that when push comes to shove, blood will run in the streets and you and your family will fight to the last bullet. I think there’s a passage in A Theory of Justice that can be read as endorsing this claim.

{ 75 comments }

1

Chris Bertram 02.22.11 at 9:06 pm

So, a thesis like this in the UK would typically have two examiners, one internal and the other external. I think we ought to know who they were.

2

Concerned 02.22.11 at 9:10 pm

There is mounting evidence that the thesis was plagiarized, and/or ghostwritten.

See here: http://saifalislamgaddafithesis.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

I don’t know who the examiners of record were, but in the acknowledgments section of the thesis, Gadaffi writes: “First of all, I would like to thank those at LSE who advised me directly and gave generously of their time to assist me to clarify and refine my arguments. This includes Professors Nancy Cartwright, David Held and Alex Voorhoeve. I could not have completed this thesis without them.”

3

Matt 02.22.11 at 9:23 pm

I think there’s a passage in A Theory of Justice that can be read as endorsing this claim.
I think this is so, at least in the reading given by Alex Rawls.

4

Chris Brooke 02.22.11 at 9:26 pm

One Harry Brighouse features briefly in the thesis, on pp. 252-3.

5

Huh? 02.22.11 at 9:28 pm

Was the second to last sentence a joke or should one believe the events in Libya and this thesis correlated? If so, could someone explain why?

6

Satan Mayo 02.22.11 at 9:32 pm

Read this. It’s a huge long article.

Saif comes off as a well-meaning figurehead.

7

Tom Hurka 02.22.11 at 9:42 pm

This story in today’s Globe and Mail describes an interview with Saif Gaddafi in 2004 and quotes, from The Guardian, David Held, one of his tutors at LSE. Held claims that Gaddafi junior changed radically between his LSE days and today. The Globe writer finds both continuities and differences between Gaddafi junior in 2004 and today, but does attribute to him Libya’s abandonment of terrorism and the pursuit of nuclear weapons in the early 2000′s. Does anyone know if that’s true?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/doug-saunders/once-committed-to-democracy-gadhafis-son-now-crushes-all-dissent/article1915482/

8

Chris Bertram 02.22.11 at 9:55 pm

Well I like and respect some of the thesis advisors then.

9

Russell Arben Fox 02.22.11 at 9:57 pm

Just in case any mobs ever come after me demanding I step down from my position of absolute sovereignty over the corner office on the third floor (right beside the elevator) of the Davis Building here in Wichita, I’d like my colleagues to know that I actually don’t believe a word of my own dissertation either.

10

Nur al-Cubicle 02.22.11 at 9:58 pm

Money talks, nobody walks.

11

Alec Macph 02.22.11 at 10:08 pm

And Vernon Bogdanor thinks he has to be circumspect when asked to describe his influence on a certain former pupil!

Saif’s Facebook fanpage is here. He doesn’t appear to have updated it since his bro’ shut down the Internet.

~alec

12

N NUMBER OF COMMENTATORS 02.23.11 at 2:33 am

Finally academic politics is relevant to something.

13

LFC 02.23.11 at 2:38 am

“…drawing on Hume, Rawls, and Ned McClennen…”

Oh ****, now I’m going to have to go find out who Ned McClennen is. He doesn’t appear to be in the first online resort of the lazy and ignorant. (I’m tired, think I’ll put it off till tomorrow.)

14

P O'Neill 02.23.11 at 2:52 am

Just goes to show that in the recent Arab context, “reformer” = “person who can impress Western interlocutors”, and nothing else.

15

Myles 02.23.11 at 3:01 am

And Vernon Bogdanor thinks he has to be circumspect when asked to describe his influence on a certain former pupil!

Be thankful that Cameron was at least tutored. George W. Bush went to Yale and didn’t even get that, and he ran the most powerful country in the world for eight years, being thus untutored.

16

John Q. 02.23.11 at 7:42 am

A facebook group has been established to campaign for the revocation of Gaddafi Jr.’s PhD:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_155824164471810#!/home.php?sk=group_155824164471810

17

Chris Bertram 02.23.11 at 8:10 am

I wish I could say with confidence that the next relative of a dictator/child of a Russian oligarch/family member of the Chinese hierarchy who makes an application to Oxford/Bristol/LSE/Duke/Harvard … will be treated solely on their academic merits and that the promise of a few millions in donations will be refused by principled academics and university administrators anxious to avoid dirty money and stand up for human rights. It isn’t going to happen, and those, like Fred Halliday, who try to stop it will be belittled and ignored.

(Incidentally, when the name Henry Clay Frick comes up, do most people think “benefactor of the arts” or “ordered the shooting of workers in the streets”?)

18

Charles S 02.23.11 at 9:15 am

I’m afraid I only thought “Who?” but now I think “Oh my God, the man responsible for the Johnstown Flood!” and “It was a recreational lake and not a coal empoundment? I had no idea.”

What a horrible man!

19

ajay 02.23.11 at 9:43 am

17: you can bribe your way into Oxford or Bristol? Really? Who’s done it?

20

Myles 02.23.11 at 9:56 am

17: you can bribe your way into Oxford or Bristol? Really? Who’s done it?

As I have noted before, if someone I know who has straight A’s, has a 150 IQ, whose relatives donated a good sum to Oxford, whose family had gone to Oxford or Cambridge for something like eight generations, and most of whose family had gone to first-rate public schools, couldn’t get into Pembroke, this supposed route doesn’t fucking exist.

The notion that you can bribe your way into Oxford is a pure figment of an extremely febrile imagination.

21

ejh 02.23.11 at 10:04 am

“Because person A didn’t manage to do it, it follows that no other person could do it.”

Wouldn’t survive the first year studying logic.

22

Chris Bertram 02.23.11 at 10:21 am

Well Myles, I know of no definite recent cases at undergraduate level and everything I do know is based on hearsay and anecdote.

However, at Oxford I taught at least one very thick uk whose family had made a substantial donation, I heard of a case involving the admission of the nephew of a prominent German politician described as a “royal princes case” and at another university, the admissions office once made a “mistake” which over-rode the negative judgement of academics and admitted the nephew of a prominent peer. At postgraduate level, you can be assured that standards will be much much slacker, since universities are chasing unregulated fee income (whereas numbers are capped at ug level).

23

Myles 02.23.11 at 10:55 am

Wouldn’t survive the first year studying logic.

Yes, except I am talking about the ideal case here. We are talking about someone who would more or less have had a good shot of getting in sans donation, who still didn’t get in. This is the most plausible case possible. I mean, he’s happy because he’s off somewhere there are even more toffs, but seriously.

However, at Oxford I taught at least one very thick uk whose family had made a substantial donation, I heard of a case involving the admission of the nephew of a prominent German politician described as a “royal princes case” and at another university, the admissions office once made a “mistake” which over-rode the negative judgement of academics and admitted the nephew of a prominent peer.

I have heard that Oxford does make exceptions for foreign royal houses, but that’s been a part of a long tradition, and not really related to bribery. It’s unjust, but it’s not about money. WRT the peer’s nephew, it’s extremely unlikely if it’s a hereditary peer (because I have heard people talk about how Oxford is filling up with “riff-raff” and the rest of that sort of talk, so people are mentally adjusting to being shut out), but I mean, if the peer had been an actual politician (life peer) then the consideration would presumably be about funding. But I mean, a nephew.

At postgraduate level, you can be assured that standards will be much much slacker, since universities are chasing unregulated fee income (whereas numbers are capped at ug level).

This is the same in America, so this is not surprising. I wouldn’t really get too exercised about it, because this is basically win-win for British institutions: free money, and very little downside prestige-wise. The President of Taiwan has some sort of degree from Harvard (some sort of “research” law degree), so does the son of the former president of China; I mean, seriously.

24

ejh 02.23.11 at 11:01 am

” It doesn’t happen. Oh all right, it does happen, but when it happens, it doesn’t count. Oh all right, it does count, but it’s a good thing, hey?”

25

Myles 02.23.11 at 11:04 am

However, at Oxford I taught at least one very thick uk whose family had made a substantial donation

I think you’ll be surprised at where some of my thicker friends from school ended up, without any donations being necessary. Systems fail. It’s not impossible to game the system. And people who are good at gaming the system also tend to be wealthy and thus likely to donate, so there’s a correlation without any necessary causation. It’s a lot more likely that the system just failed in his case, with the attendant correlation.

(The interview, for example, is ideal for gaming by people from public schools.)

26

information 02.23.11 at 11:16 am

@1: ” So, a thesis like this in the UK would typically have two examiners, one internal and the other external. I think we ought to know who they were.”

Here’s one part of the answer:
http://londonersdiary.standard.co.uk/2011/02/desai-tells-lse-not-to-disown-gaddafis-son.html

27

Myles 02.23.11 at 11:31 am

” It doesn’t happen. Oh all right, it does happen, but when it happens, it doesn’t count. Oh all right, it does count, but it’s a good thing, hey?”

The point is about money, and one’s own money doesn’t buy admission as an undergraduate.

In general, this sort of thing is very hard to do, and much harder than is commonly presumed. Even in the case of the U.S., I know one fellow whose pater is a leading partner at a huge law firm and sits on serious charity boards, and whose mum went to the Ivy he was applying for, who still didn’t get in. I have known of one case where someone bought his way into NYU, but a) it’s NYU and b) he was worth the GDP of a small country.

28

Chris Bertram 02.23.11 at 11:36 am

_I know one fellow whose pater_

Have you escaped from Downton Abbey or Brideshead Myles?

29

Myles 02.23.11 at 11:42 am

Have you escaped from Downton Abbey or Brideshead Myles?

Just thought it was rather pregnant subject matter for that sort of thing, after all. But the story is completely reliable, because the relevant facts about the background were verified by information I later saw in the New York Times, and I saw his bloody application, so I know he applied.

30

Myles 02.23.11 at 11:50 am

(And I’ve never seen Downton Abbey.)

31

ajay 02.23.11 at 12:09 pm

I know of no definite recent cases at undergraduate level and everything I do know is based on hearsay and anecdote.

Well, that’s good enough for me!

(Giving credence to unsourced, unbacked rumour when it happens to coincide with your preconceptions will get you to all sorts of places. Baghdad, for one.)

32

Manta1976 02.23.11 at 12:18 pm

I don’t see what is the problem with recruiting a student because he donated lots of money to the university.
Isn’t it (essentially) the same as asking less able students to pay larger tuition fees?

33

novakant 02.23.11 at 12:19 pm

Cool, so for only 1.5 million I can get a PhD in PolSci – what a bargain!

34

ejh 02.23.11 at 12:24 pm

Well, that’s good enough for me!

Since I know of very few actual cases where a businessman’s receipt of government contracts, or a title, have been specifically linked by those awarding them to the donation their political party received from the lucky awardee, I am disinclined to think that there is any connection between large political donations and the fortunes of those who make them.

35

pumatissue 02.23.11 at 12:24 pm

^ Don’t forget to add the fees for the ghostwriter to write the thesis for you!

I’d do it for around £100,000. Call 0800 -WRITEAPHD for more info!

36

Myles 02.23.11 at 12:43 pm

Since I know of very few actual cases

There’s a couple issues with this. One, your perceptions might be based on past experiences, which might be wildly out of date. I have known an astounding number of people who are the very first generation to not go to Oxford, whose dads went there in the 80′s or thereabouts. So it might be just in the last couple decades, perhaps even only after the 1997, that this sort of thing has been phased out.

37

ejh 02.23.11 at 12:44 pm

“Although it used to happen, it might not happen now.”

38

belle le triste 02.23.11 at 12:46 pm

Don’t worry, a libertarian will be along in a moment to explain that Myles’s “people who are good at gaming the system also tend to be wealthy” are manifesting their genetic talent in the only way none can gainsay; hence have causally a far better qualification for [insert post here] than any mere exam or peer review or what-have-you dreamed up by state-employed rent-seekers can demonstrate.

Handing the cash over as used 20s in a brown paper bag: discreditable lack of imagination or admirably blunt muck-is-brass directness?

39

ajay 02.23.11 at 12:52 pm

Since I know of very few actual cases where a businessman’s receipt of government contracts, or a title, have been specifically linked by those awarding them to the donation their political party received from the lucky awardee, I am disinclined to think that there is any connection between large political donations and the fortunes of those who make them.

“very few” != “none”, by the way. This is sort of an obvious point but it needs making.

40

ejh 02.23.11 at 1:10 pm

Similarly, I know of no case where a judge or magistrate has attributed their harsh sentencing decisions, or their directions to acquit, to their dislike of trades unionists or racial minorities, or their sympathy for the police. I therefore conclude that such things do not happen.

(Sort of an obvious retort, but it needed making.)

41

RS 02.23.11 at 1:51 pm

@ Chris 17: “and those, like Fred Halliday, who try to stop it will be belittled and ignored” – I’m not familiar with this Chris, is there a link/brief comment you could add? Thanks

Some may be interested in the presentation Saif Alqadhafi gave at the LSE last year, where he talks about some of the stuff in his thesis and responds to a few generally easy questions (though D Held does try with a couple of direct questions related to Saif’s family and its control of Libya. Its available as an mp3 (http://richmedia.lse.ac.uk/publicLecturesAndEvents/20100525_1830_libyaPastPresentAndFuture.mp3) and video (http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/publicEventsVideos/publicEventsVideosPrevious.aspx)

42

Chris Bertram 02.23.11 at 2:12 pm

There’s a comment from RS languishing in moderation at the moment (from which I’m unable to release it) asking for a link to back up my claim that

“those, like Fred Halliday, who try to stop it will be belittled and ignored”

Since I don’t have any direct evidence that Halliday was belittled, I’d better withdraw any suggestion that he, personally, was. He was certainly ignored though. My own experience is definitely consonant with the idea that those who raise ethical objections to large donations to UK universities (or questionable business associations etc) are seen as quaint, silly and over-fastidious. Halliday’s opposition is documented in the Guardian at

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/21/saif-al-islam-gaddafi

43

RS 02.23.11 at 2:21 pm

Thanks Chris

44

Sean 02.23.11 at 4:05 pm

I have to say, when I first read about the Saif-LSE connection, I was put off. I taught there earlier in my career and I would say that the LSE has done a good — but not great — job of navigating the treacherous waters of attracting lots of foreign students (and, more importantly, their money) while maintaining its integrity as an institution dedicated to serious scholarship. On first glance, this story seems like it is a stumble along that path: LSE accepts millions from dictator’s son; dictator’s son turns out to be power-hungry.

But, the more I think about it, was it really wrong for the LSE to want to built a bridge into this backward country? To attempt to educate one person — the dauphin of Libya — who might be able to lead the country toward a closer relationship with the west? Sure, with hindsight, it seems that change in the middle east will come through a revolutionary wave; a jolt. But there was no way of foreseeing that and the LSE (along with lots and lots of other western institutions) made the calculation that there was a high likelihood that change would come incrementally. So why not take the money and admit Saif, educate him and forge a relationship that would allow the LSE to play a role in Libya over the long term?

Lets not be so quick to judge.

45

very anon 02.23.11 at 4:11 pm

It was long rumoured that a pupil from the top private school I attended made a 6 figure donation to the Oxford college he/she was admitted to (back in the early 1990s). Whether this student would have got in without the donation is of course unknown. For the rest of us, just paying the school fees and having 5 hours extra tuition each week in ‘Oxford Entrance’ throughout the sixth form was enough to get in.

46

anon 02.23.11 at 4:35 pm

I’ve just seen David Held rehash the argument of his Guardian article (replete with “Shakespearean tragedy” allusions) in a piece to camera on Al-Jazeera, interspersed with clips of a correspondent reading out portions of the thesis.

The next time the LSE alumni relations office calls me and asks for a donation, I’m going to tell them to go whistle.

47

Abhinav 02.23.11 at 4:37 pm

Europe has been hand in glove with the regimes in Middle east, Africa, Asia and South America. The regimes sons and daughters attend oxford/Cambridge, keep money in Swiss banks , spend on Football clubs (and night clubs), weapons etc etc. All the time preaching democracy and human rights.

I hope LSE does a thesis on this.

48

skidmarx 02.23.11 at 5:05 pm

We are talking about someone who would more or less have had a good shot of getting in sans donation, who still didn’t get in.
One example, with only context given that which would support the source’s proposition. And still only that they would have nad more or less a good shot. From what I recall of my first year at Oxfor studying logic, that’s not quite the stuff that deductive syllogisms are made of.
(The interview, for example, is ideal for gaming by people from public schools.)
I was told (as I was being kicked out a couple of years later, which would tend to give this credence) that I had conducted my interview very well. I didn’t attend public school. Does this one counter-example conclusively refute your argument?

49

ajay 02.23.11 at 5:34 pm

40: it’s a bit of a low-grade retort, really, because you are probably hoping that I will not notice the little jump you made from “cases where this has demonstrably happened” to “cases where the perpetrator has admitted doing it”.

50

bianca steele 02.23.11 at 6:30 pm

Sean @ 44
Well, does the LSE believe they graduate the kinds of students who may want to work someday as advisers to the dictator of Libya? If they do, enrolling dictators’ sons probably makes sense.

And don’t underestimate the benefit to people like Ross Douthat, Matthew Yglesias, and Andrew Sullivan of having really rich men and rich foreigners’ sons as classmates. (I don’t know what the benefit is, but it’s supposed to exist.) Just like those other kids benefit from going to class with non-wealthy people who attended the best high schools in the United States.

51

anon 02.23.11 at 6:33 pm

The list of claimed instances of plagiarism on the wiki is growing (http://saifalislamgaddafithesis.wikia.com/wiki/Saif_Al-Islam_Gaddafi_Thesis_Wiki)

I wonder how long it will be until LSE revokes his PhD.

52

bianca steele 02.23.11 at 7:11 pm

Chris Bertram @ 17
When the name Frick comes up, I think of someone I read once who said, “The Frick is the only museum where I have ever been shooed away by a guard for standing and looking at one painting for too long.”

53

Myles 02.23.11 at 7:18 pm

When the name Frick comes up, I think of someone I read once who said, “The Frick is the only museum where I have ever been shooed away by a guard for standing and looking at one painting for too long.”

Brilliant.

Interestingly, I was informed of Frick’s less salubrious activities in art history, so he’s not gotten off there.

54

Boris Badinoff 02.23.11 at 7:50 pm

I know one fellow whose pater is a leading partner at a huge law firm and sits on serious charity boards

Are you talking about Patrick Bateman from American Psycho?

With a dictator’s son, once again, reality takes over fiction…

55

Norwegian Guy 02.23.11 at 8:55 pm

Well, the University of Bayreuth today revoked the doctoral degree of Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg. Seams like it isn’t only the Libyan aristocratic politicians that are into plagiarism.

56

leederick 02.23.11 at 10:13 pm

“The point is about money, and one’s own money doesn’t buy admission as an undergraduate.”

The trick is to apply as an international (where there’s no subsidised funding and student numbers aren’t capped, and to make a big deal of your background as academics are downgraded because of the benefits of having an internationalised student body).

57

Myles 02.23.11 at 10:41 pm

The trick is to apply as an international (where there’s no subsidised funding and student numbers aren’t capped, and to make a big deal of your background as academics are downgraded because of the benefits of having an internationalised student body).

The only place where that trick works on a large scale is St. Andrews, which I unfortunately elected not to attend, out of sheer ignorance.

58

Castorp 02.24.11 at 1:12 am

Myles don’t you have some tedious economics busy work you should be doing?

Norwegian guy: If you speak any German you should really check out the plagiarism Wiki on Guttenberg. It is amazing.

http://de.guttenplag.wikia.com/wiki/GuttenPlag_Wiki

At this point 72% of the pages have some sort of irregularity. Some of them quite serious, such as the first two paragraphs of his introduction being copied from a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article, inadvertently of course. It also appears that he used used reports wholesale he requested from the Bundestag’s equivalent of the CSR (the parliamentary research service). All of which is to say it could get much worse.

59

sg 02.24.11 at 1:57 am

That evening standard article is hilarious. So Gaddafi funded an institute of global governance, eh? Excellent. Show us how it’s done Mr. G (or should that be Dr?)

I love this pearler:

I grilled him for two hours on it — there was no suggestion he hadn’t written it himself.

Perhaps the good folk of LSE need to move into the 20th century. Perhaps they haven’t heard of google? Perhaps they are unaware that anti-plagiarism software exists and is very good at catching this shit? Or perhaps they weren’t too eager to catch him out.

What follows is classic though:

We were struck by how idealistic it was. We said it was not realistic and needed some realpolitik in it

Well, he certainly added some realpolitik, didn’t he? And I’m sure that when the Libyan people are done with him, he’ll have had a chance to see realpolitik up close and personal, along with a bit of “peaceful democratization”.

Is this what British educational institutions have been reduced to? passing rich thugs’ plagiarism?

60

Epikhairekakia 02.24.11 at 2:44 am

Perhaps Chris Brooke of the Virtual Stoa can tell us the story behind his (former) Oxford college admitting the son of a leading CCP member to read PPE a couple years back.

61

LFC 02.24.11 at 4:24 am

Elites in what used to be called the 3rd world have been sending many of their children to be educated in the West for a long time. With one or two exceptions, probably the entire first-generation governing class of independent India and Pakistan was educated in Britain. Then U.S. institutions got more into the act. The long-time former head of the Saudi intelligence service, Prince Bandar (can’t remember his full name), went to Georgetown. Benazir Bhutto went to Harvard. And lots of their peers continued to go, I’m sure, to LSE, Oxbridge, etc., etc. Bracketing for the moment the issue of the alleged plagiarism, there is thus nothing especially unusual in this case, ISTM. The disjunction between the political slant of his thesis topic and his recent speech is striking, but the combination of wealthy foreign student receiving degree and then later giving large donation is not. I bet virtually every university in D.C. (and probably much the same in other big U.S. cities) has either a building or a professorship or something donated by a wealthy Arab alumnus or his relatives.

Of course Lord Desai advised the global governance center at LSE to take the money. It was really a no-brainer.

62

John Hamilton-Rhys 02.24.11 at 6:08 am

I too earned a Phd Berkeley after undergraduate at Oxford. We all went to “public” schools (private schools) had interview courses and application tutors to get into the only two Universities in the UK. Most of my chums were thick as boards but from aristocratic families who still had money and made contributions to the schools. If I hadn’t taken one of those undergraduate spots it would have been quickly filled by another of my thick chums or one of their friends or cousins. Don’t believe any of that nonsense about quality getting in. It’s about good blood and connections and money contributions. And I even extend my criticisms to so many of the soft faculties. A Oxon Phd in sociology is really worth about as much as one from the University of Seven-Eleven. And a Phd from LSE in political theory? Worth even less. So why bother to even try to get it retracted? Recognize it for what it is.

63

Myles 02.24.11 at 6:13 am

Elites in what used to be called the 3rd world have been sending many of their children to be educated in the West for a long time.

It’s a heavily British phenomenon, curiously enough. England seems to do it to an even greater extent than America, which to me is intriguing. But the basic reasoning is sound; sending your kid to Harrow and Balliol (as Chinese minister of commerce and now Chungking governor, Bo Xilai, did) is a life insurance policy on their behalf. One of the chaps I know failed his gaokao (the Chinese national matriculation exam) and so was packed off to a Canadian university, paying international rates. The really clever parents pack their kids off to traditional boarding schools in Canada and Australia and so skip the entire Chinese system. I know at least one chap who by virtue of having gone to the right boarding school got into Columbia, and is now working for Goldman in HK.

The long-time former head of the Saudi intelligence service, Prince Bandar (can’t remember his full name), went to Georgetown.

Prince Saud did him one better: he was a Princetonian.

Is this what British educational institutions have been reduced to? passing rich thugs’ plagiarism?

Given how much London has been shaped by expatriate Arab and Russian largesse, I don’t think one should be too surprised when its institutions get caught up in Arab or Russian affairs.

64

LSEGrad 02.24.11 at 7:05 am

“Desai tells LSE not to disown Gaddafi’s son

Yesterday the LSE was beating a hasty retreat over its Libyan connections after it emerged that its former pupil Saif Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, had granted the school a £1.5 million grant through the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation. But former LSE professor Lord Desai says there is nothing to be ashamed about.

“Academic research needs money — Rockefeller was a robber baron once but we take his money,” Lord Desai told me this morning. The economist and Labour peer founded the Global Governance Unit, beneficiary of the Gaddafi donation. “I left in 2003 but I said to them, if the money has no strings attached, take it.”

Saif had taken a Masters and PhD at the LSE, finishing in 2008. After he appeared on Libyan television on Sunday night denying the legitimacy of the protests, the LSE hurriedly put out a statement saying that so far it had only taken £300,000 of the money and had “reconsidered” its links to the Foundation.

Lord Desai reveals that he examined Saif for his PhD, entitled the Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions. “I was an examiner with one other for this PhD at the university,” said Lord Desai. “I grilled him for two hours on it — there was no suggestion he hadn’t written it himself. We were struck by how idealistic it was. We said it was not realistic and needed some realpolitik in it.”

Of his former student’s performance on Libyan TV, Lord Desai added: “I was disappointed by the speech because he was not behaving as if he had had an LSE education.””

http://londonersdiary.standard.co.uk/2011/02/desai-tells-lse-not-to-disown-gaddafis-son.html

This is so, so embarrassing for LSE.

65

bianca steele 02.24.11 at 7:34 pm

I’ve thought about it more, and decided LFC is right. Western universities would have much less going for them without the input of those from other places. There was no reason the LSE should have been embarrassed about admitting him until the apparent fact of his alleged plagiarism became known.

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LFC 02.24.11 at 7:39 pm

As expressed at 60, I don’t think this is especially embarrassing for LSE since so many other universities do the same thing. (For the record: I have no ties of any kind to LSE.)

However, if LSEGrad @63 wants to spend emotional energy being vicariously embarrassed on the institution’s behalf, who am I to say no?

67

LFC 02.24.11 at 7:41 pm

Bianca @64: I agree, obviously. Posted 65 before seeing your comment.

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bianca steele 02.24.11 at 9:38 pm

And anyway, maybe after the current bloodshed is over, Saif Gaddafi will take over and, because of the contacts he made at LSE, will in fact be an enlightened ruler. Then won’t it all have been worth it?

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CMK 02.24.11 at 11:41 pm

64 – Are you being sarcastic? The omens don’t look good for Saif Gaddafi being alive in a few days time, nevermind taking over as ‘an enlightened rule’. I’ve just watched Benjamin Barber on BBC 2′s ‘Newsnight’ programme get very heated when pushed about his work for Gaddafi’s foundation. First Held and now Barber; this is not, I’m sure, the kind of publicity liberal democratic theorists like to receive. Will any more be outed?

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bianca steele 02.25.11 at 12:18 am

I’m not sure why you would think I was being sarcastic. On the one hand, he’s just another rich man’s son. On the other hand, he’s someone with lots of contacts in the government and other high places, and a good chance of someday being in those places himself, in a country that needs all the help it can get. If it’s not usual for universities to discriminate against students because of who their parents are, or to condescend to make distinctions between types of governments, there’s no reason to expect that to have happened in this case.

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Harry 02.25.11 at 12:44 am

Glad to see that he has the sense to put Gillian Brock’s and my co-edited book in his bibliography.

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Jaibaba Bholanath 02.26.11 at 12:05 am

Lord Desai should immediately own up responsibility of passing a plagiarised thesis and resign from his post.

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novakant 02.26.11 at 3:20 am

Universities should be run by the state, education should be free and selection of students should be based on merit. And before you call me crazy, that’s how it works in e.g. Germany (for the most part).

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ogmb 02.27.11 at 3:56 pm

selection of students should be based on merit. And before you call me crazy, that’s how it works in e.g. Germany (for the most part).

Unless they’re von-und-zu’s…

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Soraya 02.27.11 at 7:36 pm

So what if there is mounting evidence that this PhD was plagiarized? Few PhDs these days are original works! In any case, Lord Desai who I believe was one of the markers argued that there is really no evidence to suggest that Gaddafi had earned his PhD

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