Davies quits, Gaddafi still hanging on

by Kieran Healy on March 3, 2011

The Guardian reports that LSE Director Howard Davies has resigned in the wake of the school’s connections to the Gaddafi family and its acceptance of large donations from them.

{ 49 comments }

1

engels 03.03.11 at 9:30 pm

I wonder if there might be a domino effect, here as well? Malcolm Grant‘s involvement in this is perhaps not looking quite so clever now either.

2

engels 03.03.11 at 9:40 pm

… SNP Foreign Affairs spokesman Angus Robertson said: “Amid violence and unrest across the Middle East and North Africa, it is extraordinary that the Prime Minister has embarked on a tour promoting arms sales – particularly when questions remain over whether the UK sold the weapons and riot control equipment being used against demonstrators by various regimes. …”

3

KT 03.03.11 at 9:59 pm

I have no insight or commentary to add, but thought you might be interested in what “the right” is saying. Your list of toads may vary.

4

politicalfootball 03.03.11 at 10:05 pm

When I read “Davies quits,” I assumed that his long reign of terror over this blog had finally ended.

5

Chris Bertram 03.03.11 at 10:20 pm

Did I miss the rambling speech by Howard Davies jr, vowing to fight to the last bullet?

6

Alan Peakall 03.03.11 at 10:54 pm

To paraphrase his earlier quip at Michael Howard’s expense: “My name is Howard and I am responsible for the operational direction of this university”.

7

Jon H 03.03.11 at 11:18 pm

” “Amid violence and unrest across the Middle East and North Africa, it is extraordinary that the Prime Minister has embarked on a tour promoting arms sales – particularly when questions remain over whether the UK sold the weapons and riot control equipment being used against demonstrators by various regimes. …””

I’m guessing Egyptians and Tunisians don’t really think their countries should unilaterally disarm. Nor do I think Libyans want Libya to scrap its air force planes, even though those planes have been used against civilians in Libya.

I imagine the current protestors could even imagine a case where a riot *ought* to be controlled, using that same kind of riot control equipment. Just look at the idiotic riots in the US when some sports team or other wins.

8

P O'Neill 03.04.11 at 2:46 am

Peter Sutherland, chair of the LSE Council, said:

The Curse of Suds strikes again.

Goldman Sachs
RBS
BP

and now LSE.

He sure knows how to pick them.

9

LFC 03.04.11 at 4:39 am

KT@3: Thanks for the link to the Walter Russell Mead post, which uses language (e.g., “murderous nutjob,” “delusional windbag,” etc.) which, however accurate, I somehow don’t think Mead would ever use, or be allowed by the editors to use, in the pages of Foreign Affairs (Mead no longer works at the Council on Foreign Relations, but he did for a long time). In the 40-odd years Gaddafi was in power, did FA ever run an article calling him a delusional windbag or murderous nutjob? (It really takes no particular courage or gumption to do that now.) On the basis of this post — which is the only blog post by Mead I have read, though I have read him in more traditional (print) formats — Mead apparently thinks that b/c it’s a blog and b/c it’s the internet, he is entirely liberated from constraints that might apply in other formats (and note the dig at Walt toward the end of the post). I guess if you’re of Mead’s eminence and can publish anywhere you want, it makes sense to treat your blog sort of as if it were the equivalent of a spittoon.

10

Sam Dodsworth 03.04.11 at 9:43 am

engels – In his newsletter to staff, Malcolm Grant tried pretending the arms dealers weren’t there:

UCL was the only university to be so represented [in the delegation], primarily because of our research campus in Qatar which will open later this year… Many other UK economic interests were represented in the delegation, principally construction, architecture and the energy industry.

At this week’s academic board meeting, he apparently explained that he had no idea of the company he’d be keeping when he agreed to make the trip. The student rep invited him to resign but he declined.

11

ejh 03.04.11 at 9:56 am

I’m guessing Egyptians and Tunisians don’t really think their countries should unilaterally disarm. Nor do I think Libyans want Libya to scrap its air force planes, even though those planes have been used against civilians in Libya.

It’s also possible that they might not think buying a load of new stuff was a fantastic idea right at the moment.

12

praisegod barebones 03.04.11 at 11:36 am

I don’t see anything there about Davies resigning from his position as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. (h/t Richard Menary over in comments at New APPS). I take it that means that hobnobbing with mad dictators doesn’t bring any discredit on that institution.

13

Ted 03.04.11 at 12:39 pm

more proof that Bernard Williams was right about Moral Luck.

14

bianca steele 03.04.11 at 4:46 pm

The Boston Globe has more about the thesis.

15

LFC 03.04.11 at 5:16 pm

My favorite paragraph of the Globe article:

“As far as I could tell, Monitor wanted to introduce Khadafy to Western thought,’’ said [Joseph] Nye, who was paid a consulting fee, which he did not disclose, for two trips [to Libya]. He also said he commented on a chapter of Saif’s thesis for free.

This is both ludicrous and disgusting.

16

Retief 03.04.11 at 6:34 pm

Isn’t it his job to get large donations from rich people?

17

Steven 03.04.11 at 9:10 pm

Knowing what I happen to know about the academic standards applied to rich and powerful students *in* North African and Middle Eastern countries, I was highly skeptical of the fact that G’s son wrote a passable, original thesis not produced by means of academic dishonesty. I was hoping that I was wrong because these standards wouldn’t hold for rich and powerful students *from* these nations when they studied elsewhere. Alas, a hunch is not a hunch for no reason. It is sad to see, however, that the LSE was willing to give so much away, for so little.

18

Mike Otsuka 03.05.11 at 6:30 am

“I don’t see anything there about Davies resigning from his position as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. (h/t Richard Menary over in comments at New APPS). I take it that means that hobnobbing with mad dictators doesn’t bring any discredit on that institution.”

Just as telling is the absence of any word of his standing down from his position as a student at Bowker Vale County Primary School. (h/t TARDIS.)

19

Hidari 03.05.11 at 10:35 am

‘“As far as I could tell, Monitor wanted to introduce Khadafy to Western thought,’

I don’t see what the problem is here. Western ‘thought’, at least of the kind that the Monitor group espouses, is based on the idea that if you don’t have something, then the solution is to get enough money (where one gets that money is something organisations like Monitor rarely go into in much depth) and then you buy it.

PhD’s, prostitutes, cocaine, political influence, whatever. You want it? You buy it. Nowadays, this idea is not just some ‘add on’ or whatever to the ‘mainstream’ of Western Thought. It is Western Thought.

20

Hidari 03.05.11 at 10:52 am

Good article below about the fetishisation of ‘external funding’ although we have to wait for the last paragraph to find out the ‘why’: Why do universities love ‘external funding’? Because it is opposed to ‘internal funding’: i.e. funding from central government.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/04/university-funding-lse-libya-legitmacy-source?INTCMP=SRCH

21

Chris Bertram 03.05.11 at 10:59 am

Lord Desai engages in shameless self-exculpation here:

http://tinyurl.com/69ve3lw

Includes the demonstrably false (because Fred Halliday briefed the governing council) claim that no-one could have know, benefit of hindsight, etc.

The new information is the identity of the external examiner, Professor Tony McGrew of the University of Southampton, who, it turns out, has many times co-edited or co-authored works with the thesis advisor, David Held.

22

Chris Bertram 03.05.11 at 11:00 am

“known”, obviously.

23

Hidari 03.05.11 at 12:48 pm

‘Drawing on their view of how (the University of ) Glasgow is run, the academics argue universities are increasingly controlled by small groups of officials out of touch with the rest of the university.

“In practice, the powers of both Court and Senate have been eroded by the emergence of executive management groups, within which strategic decisions are made in the absence of widespread consultation,” the letter states. “These decisions are then reported to the governing bodies with limited supporting and background information.”

The academics go on to warn of the “substantial increase” in the proportion of university funds being spent on administration.

Decisions, whether strategic or managerial, are increasingly made without appropriate consultation, and are, in effect, top-down decisions from a senior executive management group,” the letter adds.

“Consideration should be given to academic elections or confirmations in respect of key administrative posts. The academic body should, by vote, be able to confirm the appointment of the principal.”

The submission also calls for a review of the salaries of senior managerial staff with a view of capping salaries in future.

“Universities … exist for the public good, not as profit-making organisations. As such, they have charitable status. The high salary levels currently commanded by senior management are not compatible with this status and further alienate management from the academic body.”’

http://www.heraldscotland.com:80/news/education/academics-in-bitter-attack-on-university-management-1.1087967

24

Mike Otsuka 03.05.11 at 2:15 pm

On a more serious note than my previous comment, I think the following might shed some light on why Howard Davies said, in his resignation letter, that he made ‘a personal error of judgment’ in accepting a ‘Libyan invitation to advise their sovereign wealth fund’ in 2007 (and for which the LSE was paid $50,000):

But now new evidence has emerged that despite his denials, Saif in fact controlled the multi-billion-pound Libyan sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).

“I’ve seen the Godfather. This is the closest thing in real life,” commented a Libyan investment banker familiar with how the LIA was run.

“It is as if it is his own private farm. This was almost like a mafia operation.”

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12626320

25

musical mountaineer 03.05.11 at 5:17 pm

Bravo. Excellent post, excellent comments.

Here’s more.

26

tieffen 03.05.11 at 5:45 pm

What if donations from tyrans to academia (or to any presumably valuable institutions) were double good ? First, it is money that the tyran will not spend on tyrranical activities. Second, it is money that will actually be spent on valuable activities, i.e. research.

27

Chris Bertram 03.05.11 at 6:26 pm

Re my @21 – actually it looks unclear whether or not Held was the thesis supervisor.

28

dsquared 03.05.11 at 6:59 pm

I don’t see anything there about Davies resigning from his position as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England

This is presumably because he did that in 1997, to become Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority, which he in turn resigned from in 2003 to take up the LSE job.

29

information 03.05.11 at 7:22 pm

Re Chris at 21 and 27: held was not the actual thesis supervisor

30

Herminio Martins 03.05.11 at 10:22 pm

Who was Saif’s supervisor?
To date the name of this person (or persons) has not emerged.
It was a thankless task, to be sure, but why is the name of this person being kept secret by LSE? Prof. David Held claims he was not his supervisor, only an informal mentor. If that was indeed the case, someone else must have been appointed as his supervisor for the Ph. D. programme (possibly more than one). Did he hand in draft chapters to his supervisor during the four years of his PhD. ? What was his supervisor’s final report before signing the necessary form for handing him the PhD thesis for examination? Knowing these facts would help to determine the real authorship of the final thesis, in view of the claims of plagiarism or ghost-writing.
Another person on the academic staff must have acted as his supervisor for the MSc. previously. We don’t know his or her name. It is not a question of blaming anyone, only so that we have a full picture of his academic career at LSE.

31

Robert Waldmann 03.06.11 at 1:16 am

Don’t scare me Kieran Kealy

I thought you meant that Daniel Davies has quit blogging. I didn’t even know there was someone else named Davies who is important enough to be mentioned here.

I am not joking.

32

pit 03.06.11 at 10:09 pm

I am a current student at the LSE
I must say I am baffled by the superficiality, hypocrisy, and moralism of some of the comments I have read here and elsewhere
to recap
the thesis seems to be that the LSE has sold a PhD to a dictator who paid for it with blood money….
I believe this is a crazy representation of the situation, and you might want to consider the following:

1) david Held was not the supervisor of said gaddafi
2) the amount of money received from the school is, in proportion to general expenses, ludicrous
3) the amount of money received by the research centre on global governance is less than 20% of its annual budget
4) the money was not given, or did not appear to be given by the lybian governemnt, but by a charity who raised money from the private sector in europe and internationally
5) at the time, said gaddafi was credited to have convinced his father to drop his nuclear programme and open up to the west; even if you think this is unproven, there are no doubts that many government saw him as the future for a power transition that would have brought lybia back into the international community in a more peaceful position
6) the LSE was creating a reserch programme on civil society and training civil servants (and frankly I doubt that teachings included rpj or granades handling, I haven’t seen it yet on any of the professional profiles or school courses)
7) and this is what triggers my deepest feelings of, well yes, resentment, ALL BRITSH UNIVERSITIES ARE DROWNED BY MONEY COMING FROM A) SAUDI ARABIA; B) E.U.I C) BAHRAIN… think of Oxford’s Said business school, and its Middle Eastern Centre (and here we are talking of almost 100% funding, 10s of millions of pounds, so where is the outraged talk about lost academic independence??)… perhaps all of this should be reconsidered but to do so, arbitrarily, by confining our so-called ‘moral outrage’ to one single institution and two or three people is just frankly unpleasant to watch, a very bad spectacle akin to hyenas trotting around the soon to be corpse of a bleeding animal…

and for the people at UCL, particularly unpleasant form a human point of view: years of envy for reputation and ability to attract funding and fully paying students seem what drives their comments, rather than genuine thinking.

I, for myself cannot claim to be fully impartial, but frankly, I have been shocked by the superficiality of the discussion, and the readiness to condemn and damage people’s reputation. If this is what years of moral philosophy teach us, if this is the attitude we take towards complex real-life situations … well I am seriously thinking to get into banking: I will become simplistically immoral, but at least go home with a big paycheck.

33

Mike Otsuka 03.07.11 at 10:47 am

LSE student ‘pit’,

You write: ‘and for the people at UCL, particularly unpleasant form a human point of view: years of envy for reputation and ability to attract funding and fully paying students seem what drives their comments, rather than genuine thinking.’

As far as I can tell there are two ‘people at UCL’ who have commented in the above thread: Sam Dodsworth and me. You must not be referring to Dodsworth, a student at UCL, since his comments are directed at UCL’s Provost and aren’t in any way critical of LSE.

So I assume that your remarks are directed at me. (And your subsequent ‘If this is what years of moral philosophy teach us…’ lends support to this assumption.)

My first comment (#18) above was not critical of LSE or its director. Rather it was a sarcastic response to the ill-informed suggestion that recent revelations about Libya should have prompted Howard Davies to resign from his post as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. (As Daniel Davies subsequently points out in the thread, he had left that post over 13 years ago.)

My second comment (#24) was a genuine attempt to make sense of my initial puzzlement over Davies’s listing his advising the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund as among his two reasons for stepping down. That didn’t initially strike me as a resigning offence. It makes more sense, however, that he should regard his provision of advice in setting up this fund as a ‘personal error in judgment’ in the light of subsequent information that has come to light about the nature and control of that fund. Note that it is not just the BBC reporter to whom I linked above who concluded that this fund is effectively controlled by the Gaddafi family. Evidently, the British government drew the same conclusion in freezing the assets of this fund. See this illuminating post:

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2011/03/04/504796/

I hope, in the light of my explanation above, that you’ll withdraw your remarks about ‘people at UCL’ who have commented on this thread.

34

RS 03.07.11 at 10:57 am

Chris, an addition to what you mentioned on a previous thread, Open Democracy has published Fred Halliday’s memorandum to LSE regarding his concerns about accepting money from the Qadaffi/Gaddafi foundation: http://www.opendemocracy.net/fred-halliday/memorandum-to-lse-council-on-accepting-grant-from-qaddafi-foundation?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=201210&utm_campaign=Nightly_2011-03-07%2005%3a30

35

Chris Bertram 03.07.11 at 10:58 am

_1) david Held was not the supervisor of said gaddafi_

Do you know who was? Does anyone?

_4) the money was not given, or did not appear to be given by the lybian governemnt, but by a charity who raised money from the private sector in europe and internationally_

Yes, but the independence of the Gaddafi foundation (and indeed the Gaddafi family) from the Libyan state is plainly a fiction. SG is a member of a kleptocratic family which has siphoned off oil revenues for its private purposes. That some of those purposes purport to be “charitable” really makes no difference. (This point was, incidentally explicitly made by Fred Halliday when he advised the LSE not to take the money.)

_7) and this is what triggers my deepest feelings of, well yes, resentment, ALL BRITSH UNIVERSITIES ARE DROWNED BY MONEY COMING FROM A) SAUDI ARABIA; B) E.U.I C) BAHRAIN… think of Oxford’s Said business school, and its Middle Eastern Centre _

_All_ British universities? I think that’s untrue. But you are right to say that there’s not a lot of difference here. (There may be _some_ difference, given that the Saudis have not afaik, committed assassinations and other acts of terrorism in the UK.)

36

Chris Bertram 03.07.11 at 11:01 am

Thank you RS. That’s the document I had seen, but I didn’t know it was in the public domain.

37

Sam Dodsworth 03.07.11 at 11:30 am

and for the people at UCL, particularly unpleasant form a human point of view: years of envy for reputation and ability to attract funding and fully paying students seem what drives their comments, rather than genuine thinking.

Actually my comments are driven largely by a visceral dislike of Malcolm Grant – or at least of his public persona.

I’m non-academic staff and I’ve only been at UCL for a couple of years so I’ve not really experienced the “years of envy”. As far as I can tell, our main rival is supposed to be Imperial… but it’s not something that comes up a lot here in the IT department.

Would it be unfair to summarise your post as “it’s not as bad as you say it is and anyway everyone else is doing it too and you’re just jealous”? It seems like it might have been better for a couple of revision passes.

38

john b 03.07.11 at 11:49 am

given that the Saudis have not afaik, committed assassinations and other acts of terrorism in the UK.

No, just paid for them.

(Saudi Arabia: definitely funded the widespread dissemination of the lunatic ideology that led directly to 7/7 bombings. Libya: shot one cop and definitely didn’t bomb an aeroplane. You’d have to be pretty willfully blind to pick Libya as the morally worse player out of those two…)

39

dsquared 03.07.11 at 11:50 am

Libya did provide quite a lot of funding to the INLA.

40

Walt 03.07.11 at 11:56 am

pit, if your hold on morality is _that_ weak, then I suggest you go into banking now, and spare the world your one-to-two years of handwringing before you abandon the pretense of morality that you’re now acting out.

41

Chris Bertram 03.07.11 at 12:01 pm

John B: are you claiming that the Saudi’s have paid for the commission of acts of terrorism in the UK, or are you claiming that funding the “widespread dissemination of the lunatic ideology” is tantamount to paying for the commission of such acts?

42

pit 03.07.11 at 12:15 pm

Ok,

perhaps I misunderstood the comments from people at UCL who write here, so I can withdraw those on this specific blog.

That said I am still puzzled by the overall attitude people have taken to this whole affair. It seems to me that the move has been like this: first judge harshly then perhaps evaluate.

It is not simply the personal comment that need an answer:
When and from whom do we accept money for research?
Why is the money from Saudi Arabia good and the money from a Lybian charity bad?
Chris Bertram writes that the indepedence of the said gaddafi charity is a fiction. Perhaps that is the case, but how much independence does one need to have from an authocratic government in order to donate money that is not tarnished?

Chris Bertram also questions the universality of the practice of taking money form authocratic regimes in british unis, but it is unquestionable that places such as Oxford and cambridge or exeter do get far more money and much more targeted (that is constituting a far bigger share of a given research centre) than it has been the case at the LSE

43

pit 03.07.11 at 12:21 pm

to chris bertram again
but lets concede that the gaddafi foundation was totally dependent
does it matter at all that the money, apparently, did not come from lybian oil (but private donations) ? Note that with the saudis we know that it comes exactly from there. Or perhaps we have to assume that someone who is internal to a powe structure in an authocratic regime and pledges to reform his countries is necessarily lying in order to reinforce its regime by gaining international recognition? if that is the case how are we to deal with this people?

44

Chris Bertram 03.07.11 at 12:27 pm

Pit: read the Halliday memo.

45

pit 03.07.11 at 12:41 pm

I read it and i still find two major points that do not sit well in the overall picture

the money is a downpayment to Lybia for contracts? Ok, but isn’t it better than money coming directly from the lybian people as it would be the case if we were taking petro-dollars?
lybia is worse on human rights than saudi arabia? It has a different record of human right violiations but I doubt that any meaningful comparison would show real differences given a moderately expansive version of what consititute human rights

the bottom line seems to be that saudi arabia is simply more effective in repressing dissent and more culturally backward and homogeneous
and to Mike Otsuka: I am sorry, I did not wrote the post in the cool hour and it was a mistake, but please do contribute further to the dicussion because the questions I ask I believe are real

46

Mike Otsuka 03.07.11 at 3:37 pm

pit,

Thanks for your apology, which I appreciate.

I’m not, however, among the morally outraged anti-LSE ‘hyenas’ to whom these questions are addressed.

I have enormous respect for people in the Philosophy Department at your institution. I’ve been especially impressed by Alex Voorhoeve. When all the facts of the Woolf inquiry come out, I believe that he will be revealed as someone who consistently displayed good judgment, integrity, and responsibility throughout this.

Since you obviously care a lot about LSE and are pained by the damage that has been done to your institution, I think you ought to direct some of your outrage at the reckless imprudence of those at LSE who accepted and approved the donation from the Saif Gaddafi Foundation, in spite of clear warning at the time of how unwise this was.

Even though I know nothing about Libya compared with Fred Halliday, even I was able to work out in the summer of 2009 that it was a mistake for LSE to accept money from the Saif Gaddafi Foundation at the time. I came to this conclusion after watching this BBC interview of Saif on Lockerbie from 2008 (i.e., well in advance of LSE’s decision to accept his money):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/7573244.stm

In an email entitled ‘Wouldn’t touch with a 10 ft pole’, I pointed to various things in the video that struck me as alarming and disturbing and at odds with the depiction of him as a liberal reformer. I wrote at the time that that ‘one has to wonder what such a person will be prepared to do in the future that might prove highly embarrassing to, e.g., someone whose academic centre is named after him’. After the recent events in Libya, one doesn’t have to wonder anymore.

47

P O'Neill 03.08.11 at 1:45 am

House of Commons Monday 7 March

Mr Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): Since this crisis started, I have been reading The New York Times and European papers, and watching al-Jazeera, and the notion that Britain is seen as the leader in this crisis exists only in the Foreign Secretary’s head. Last week, to restore the good name of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies did the honourable British thing and accepted his responsibilities. Has the Foreign Secretary considered his position at all?

Mr Hague: As I have said, I take full ministerial responsibility, as Ministers do. I believe very strongly in the doctrine of ministerial responsibility for everything that happens in a Minister’s Department, so I am very clear about that. We have been busy drafting the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council while the right hon. Gentleman has been struggling to read the newspapers from around Europe.

48

pit 03.08.11 at 8:59 am

To p o’neill and Mike Otsuka

I believe we have to make a basic distinction here: do we want to say that ‘mistakes were made’ and with hindsight we can agree that it is a reasonable opinion to entertain. Or do we want to say that there was a moral failure in the institutional behaviour at the LSE?

I am not sure that given the current funding politics I can see any real difference between what the LSE did and what, say, Oxford did and is doing (and Oxford is only an example, becauser I know that they are heavily funded by the saudis). I am pretty sure that human rights vilations in Saudi Arabia as a bad as in Lybia (pre-crisis). At least if we include fair treatment of women. I am also pretty sure, but wold have to research the topic, that if we interviewed the persons behind the Saudi donations in british universities, their opinions and worldview would seem morally repugnant for the vast majority of the readers of this blog. Although, perhaps, Davies did the honourable thing, I believe that he did resign to protect the LSE not because he believes that something wrong happened. In the end reputation, depends on how you are portryed by the media and only loosely tracks real arguments.

The real issue is the following: how do we discriminate between sources of funding? In the type of academic environment created in the UK, to accept funding only from persons and institutions that share in thoguht and action what the a School and research centre stand for in terms of values, in most cases, would mean to accept funding from a very limited number of sources. Perhaps that s the most ethical thing to do, but the collective policy we have chosen, I mean in british universities, or at least some important ones in the UK, is that preserving academic independence is paramount. Money, given that it can be put to good use, can come from almost anywhere, provided that it does not affect the way in which the institution is run. If these are the assumptions that are at work, when we selct donors, and it seems to me that they are, then to diversify sources of funding and to limit the preponderance of certain donors on budgets is perhaps one way forward.

Again, perhaps this is not the honorable thing to do, perhaps we should revise this policy. But then, I would like to see all donations to top brtish insitutions by authocratic regimes properly investigated. How many persons from the Saudi royal family attended Oxford in the past 10 years? Are we sure that all of their essays, dissertations and whatever else are free of plagiarized sentences ? Have we checked all dissenting advice on receiving money from a regime that is internally repressive, affords almost no political rights, and treats women as children? Did we go through all the interviews of their princes to check that we did not think they are creepy?

I would like to conclude with the follwoing thought, which is banale, but still…i am almost 100% sure that Halliday (a great scholar) could not really predict what would have happened this winter in North Africa. No one could have seriously claimed, based on evidence, that they believed that the whole of North Africa would have undergone the largest political transformation for at least a generation. And yet, I believe that if these transformations did not take place we would not be talking about the small (because it is small) donation made by said Gaddafi to the LSE and I am practically sure that no newspaper would have mentioned it.

49

Mike Otsuka 03.08.11 at 10:22 am

pit,

If a university wants to remain morally pure, then it will need to forswear all money from all autocratic regimes (not just Libya, but also various Gulf States), plus robber barons, union busters, sweatshop owners, etc. In other words, it will need to take a vow of poverty. I agree that many major research universities, and not just the LSE, are tainted by the uncleanliness of various sources of funding.

Where I think the LSE stands out is in the reckless imprudence of some of its managers. This not a trivial failing, since dirtying one’s hands doesn’t exhaust the things one really ought to try to avoid. It’s also wrong, at least when others will suffer as well, to reach into a beehive in order to grab honey even after having been warned of the dangers.

Of course, nobody could have predicted the precise way in which the Gaddafi donation would have backfired. It was nevertheless apparent at the time that the donation was accepted that Saif Gaddafi was an accident waiting to happen in one way or another (though ‘accident’ isn’t quite the right word, given the human agency involved).

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