Sir Howard Davies has resigned as director of the London School of Economics (LSE).
He said the decision to accept £300,000 for research from a foundation run by Col Gaddafi’s son Saif had “backfired”. The LSE council has commissioned an independent inquiry into the university’s relationship with Libya,
reports the BBC.
OK. Cracks aside.
Was Sir Howard really wrong to advise the LSE to accept the donation from the Saif Gaddafi’s Foundation and visiting Libya to advise its regime about financial reforms?
It seems he was only wrong because the Gaddafi regime, of which Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was a natural member, is now most probably on its way out in Libya. No power, no business.
Others may argue that the brutality with which the Libyan regime – reportedly – clings on to power so far – was something that its business friends couldn’t have foreseen, and that we now have a new picture of that regime. Which would be bullshit.
Sir Howard, I believe, shouldn’t have resigned. Not for this reason, or not for this reason alone. If money from a Gaddafi foundation is reason to resign, countless other directors or deans elsewhere would have to resign along with him, for all kinds of connections with illegitimate regimes. The London School of Economics isn’t the only renowned international school which would teach dictators’ children from all over the world, and cultivate fruitful relations with them. The only difference between Libya’s, and most other regimes: Libya’s regime is stumbling. It’s no longer good for business. And that hypocrisy doesn’t backfire on Sir Howard. It backfires on all those of us who believe that you can “make friends” with systematic violators of human rights.
When a student in Cambridge, Martin Jahnke, acted in a pretty natural way – he threw a sneaker at China’s chief state councillor Wen Jiabao and added some unfriendly remarks, during Wen’s visit to Cambridge University in February 2009 -, Britain’s then prime minister Gordon Brown wrote a letter of apology to Wen.
But in the light of the current LSE “scandal”, we should think again. Jahnke’s manners left a lot to be desired, but he had tagged a legitimate question to his shoe, which would have deserved more attention than did his shoe’s trajectory:
How can the University prostitute itself with this dictator here?
Yeah, how could it? How can they do that, if connections with Saif-al Islam Gaddafi are, all of a sudden, a reason for a director to resign?
Let’s not become distracted. The issue about “the Western media being biased” in their coverage on a “Jasmine Revolution” in China was just a side show, and a successful bit of agenda-setting by CCP proxies. The real issue is elsewhere.
The number of people showing up for “Sunday strolls” in China last month was small – single-digit in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping district, apparently. But as the Telegraph’s correspondent Peter Foster pointed out,
the ruling Party, far from taking encouragement from last weekend’s dismal showing, appears increasingly nervous and heavy-handed. They must feel they have something to fear. Since last Friday rights groups say that more than 100 assorted activists and lawyers have been arrested or beaten or put under house arrest and the internet is grinding slow under the censorship apparatus.
There’s much reason to believe that demonstrations in Beijing would become uncontrollable for the ruling party, if demonstrators had a snowball’s chance in hell to even go back home unmolested by the security apparatus, after a demonstration of, say, an hour or so. Understandably, they aren’t out for getting themselves tortured, or killed, with zero chance of political success.
That a “Jasmine Revolution” or whatever other kind of revolution may not happen in China any time soon is no reason to think more highly of the CCP and its princelings, than of Colonel Gaddafi, and his offspring.
No reason except that the princelings have more money to spend, and that they are closely connected to those in power, that is.
British PM writes to Chinese PM, February 10, 2009