Middle East

Pay-to-Play Qadaffi Apologia in The New Republic and Elsewhere


Putting the "soft" in "soft power"

Some quality raking of the journalistic muck from Mother Jones:

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.

Lovely! It gets worse….

Presumably, Nye was sharing his independently derived view of Qaddafi. Yet a source familiar with the Harvard professor's original submission to the magazine notes, "It took considerable prodding from editors to get him to reluctantly acknowledge the regime's very well-known dark side." And Franklin Foer, then the editor of the magazine, says, "If we had known that he was consulting for a firm paid by the government, we wouldn't have run the piece." […]

Several thought-leaders were brought to Libya by Monitor to chat with the Leader—including neoconservative Richard Perle (who then briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on his visits), political economist Francis Fukuyama, and conservative scholar Bernard Lewis (who briefed the US embassy in Israel on his trip)—and a few of the "visitors," as Monitor referred to them, did write mostly positive articles, without revealing they had been part of the Monitor Group's endeavor to clean up Qaddafi. Some might not have even known they had been recruited for an image rehabilitation reffort.

Whole thing, well worth a read, here

Michael Moynihan just over a year ago went on a Libya junket financed by Saif al-Qaddafi himself. His take was a little, ah, different.

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  1. Whoever coined the term “useful idiots” really hit the nail on the head.

  2. Joseph Nye Jr. visited Libya and sipped tea for three hours with Muammar Qaddafi

    Sucker! I sang four crappy songs for his son at $60K a minute.

  3. The useful idiots that supported Stalin often got Russian beauties to take home with them–I don’t think that was as crass as this.

    The useful idiots were mostly true believers. They thought communism was a noble enterprise, and when they were shown model villages of happy Russians living in communism, they truly believed what they were shown. They were “idiots” because they were so easily fooled.

    This case looks different from that.

    It doesn’t look like this was a case of a true believer spinning the truth in ways he thought were in the best interest of working people everywhere.

    This looks like pure deception for filthy lucre. If that’s the case, then this isn’t a case of useful idiot. “Useful idiot” would be too kind.

    1. Well, “useless idiot” is available.

      1. Nice.

    2. I thought the staff of New Republic were the useful idiots here.

  4. Michael Moynihan…went on a Libya junket financed by Saif al-Qaddafi himself. His take was a little, ah, different.

    If only Moynihan had more “balance”.

  5. Chavez and his pals would still agree with Nye.

    Maybe they’ll hire him next.

  6. “If we had known that he was consulting for a firm paid by the government, we wouldn’t have run the piece.”

    Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and not believe that shit. Foer’s had a creepy “LEAVE LIBYA ALONE!” Qadafy crush going for as long as I can remember.

  7. what were they mindthinking?

  8. Over at Vice Guides, Shane Smith has a video that documents his trip to Libya.


    Not quite as good as North Korea and Liberia videos, but still well worth watching.

  9. Is Joseph Nye Jr. the evil brother of Bill Nye (the Science Guy)?

    One brother chose politics, the other chose science…

    1. One brother chose politics evil, the other chose science…

  10. I love this from the Moynihan article:

    On a crumbling yellow wall outside a bootleg DVD shop, someone was inspired?doubtless by a contraband hip-hop CD?to scribble “fuck yo” in defiance of nothing much at all.

    1. I just can’t catch a break.

    2. I blame the hip-hop

  11. Michael Moynihan just over a year ago went on a Libya junket financed by Saif al-Qaddafi himself. His take was a little, ah, different.


    Funny stuff. I guess there are advantages to poeple thinking incorrectly that Moynihan is a neocon.

    How else could have Reason gotten their fox in that hen house.

  12. You know what’s funny? Everyone points at right-wing publications for being in the tank, in the can, of fabricating stories, yet it always seems like it’s the folks at the left-wing ones like The New Republic (see: Hysterical Andy) and the NYT (see: Blair, Duranty, etc.) that have the issues with complete fabrications winding up in their pages.

    I could be missing some instances, but it’s funny how loud the howling from the left is, huh? Almost like if they do it loudly enough, people will hear the noise and just walk on by.

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