The Mead List: World’s Top Ten Gaddafi Toads
Published on: March 3, 2011
show comments
  • Buck O’Fama

    What’s interesting is how many of these useful idiots turn up in other circumstances where the services of useful idiots are required. Since I assume there is no “casting call” as it were for useful idiots, I must conclude that the useful idiots find places to indulge in their useful idiocy on their own. That would seem to indicate that their reputation as idiots is well-earned.

  • abedan

    Barber in a 2008 Guardian article said he “concentrates on positive developments, such as the fact that (Saif) Gadafy is becoming “a poet of democracy”…” ¨Was Barber, a man who is the Walt Whitman Professor at Rutgers and whose favorite topic is Barber, In fact talking more about himself than Saif? What was Barber’s relationship to Saif with regards to Saif’s “logos” circa 2008 and before? 2nd question: $$$?

    Barber, in his Huffington Post article announcing his resignation from Saif’s foundation, was upset that two books ostensibly written by Saif on themes Barber has been pushing now likely would not be published by Oxford Press. Two “extraordinary” books, is how Barber put it. Again, how was Barber involved in the development of these two “extraordinary” books? 4th question: $$$$?

  • Robert Dudolevitch

    It’s a good read, but I’m not sure why some of his brother-dictators made the list. Do Castro and Chavez make themselves any worse by consorting with Gaddaffi? I’m having trouble with that logic.

  • Kevin Douglas

    I might have included Nelson Mandela.

  • nadine

    “Do Castro and Chavez make themselves any worse by consorting with Gaddaffi? I’m having trouble with that logic.”

    Yes, from that angle their inclusion makes no sense; but it is a very useful reminder that they too, are murderous dictators, not charming moderates or amusing buffoons, as the media usually chooses to portray them, as it did Qaddafi until two weeks ago. The media types are now feigning surprise: Wow, Qaddafi really is a loathsome dictator who would gun down his own people in the street – who could have suspected it? The media provided cover for the useful idiots to be taken seriously as Mideast statesmen and scholars instead of “Qaddafi toads.”

  • Tom Holsinger

    French Presidents Mitterand and Chirac (Sarkozy’s two immediate predecessors) sold French foreign policy to foreign dictators, and a few other governments in exchange for personal bribes. Mitterand and Chirac also sold confidential secret intelligence information, including that provided by NATO allies as well as that obtained by French secret operatives, in exchange for bribes. This was hardly a universal policy – Mitterand didn’t sell such matters to the Soviets – but it did happen a lot.

    I would not be at all surprised if Sarkozy has emulated them.

    Obama’s spirtual mentor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright of Chicago, was one of the many recipients of Gadaffi’s largess, and that started before President Obama first ran for political office.

    President Obama’s past associations have compromised the credibility of his policy towards Gadaffi.

  • nadine

    “But it does seem that if you are paid a consulting fee by a for-profit PR firm hired by the dictator’s government, that is something you should disclose when and if you write about what you saw.”

    It seems to me that PR flacks with ethics should be a bit more picky about the clients they choose. Once you have chosen to become the PR version of a mob lawyer, disclosure seems more a of an empty gesture than a fix.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Gadaffi’s investment in Reverend Jeremiah Wright has paid off so well that the Chnese government would do well to make similar investments in promising American lefists.

  • Don Cox

    “PR flacks with ethics ”

    A hypothetical creature.

  • A WRM classic! Thanks. I laughed until I wept, reflecting on how said “toads” helped prolong Gaddafi’s blood-soaked reign. Perhaps Nelson Mandela wishes to return the “Libyan Decoration of Steadfastness” the mad Colonel bestowed on him back in the 1990s? Nah, probably not.

  • Peter

    Tom mentions that raving racist, Rev. Wright. Doesn’t that means we can add [the President of the United States] to the list of Gaddafi’s toads — maybe in the top 20?

  • Peter B

    I liked the part in Mahanta and Corn’s article where the Monitor Group got $2 million to help Gadaffi’s son Saif write his dissertation for the London School of Economics.

  • JLK

    Having a curous nature one of the more difficult questions I have turned in my mind over the years is why so-called “intellectuals” are among the most naive, narrow minded fatuous people around.

    The answer, I believe comes from Psychology. The majority of these anointed few are suffering from Type 2 Clinical Narcissism.

    New York dinner parties, unlike the classic 18-19th Century “Salons”, have evolved into echo chambers where the guest list resembles a group of parrots all assuring each other of their monumental insight into the human condition.

    It reminds me of Brain Surgeons talking (with gravitas) about how to help the poor; a species with which they have never soiled their latex gloves by shaking hands. But hey, they read about them in the NY Times and “Economist” and being Brain Surgeons they must be smart. (Kinda like Community Organizers from Harvard Law)

  • Tom Holsinger

    Gadaffi has avoided sharing issues with foreigners, however ungenerous he has been at home. American academics justify taking his money because it’s about ‘change’.

    “Local consultants aided Khadafy

    Cambridge firm tried to polish his image

    By Farah Stockman
    Globe Staff / March 4, 2011

    CAMBRIDGE — It reads like Libyan government propaganda, extolling the importance of Moammar Khadafy, his theories on democracy, and his “core ideas on individual freedom.’’

    But the 22-page proposal for a book on Khadafy was written by Monitor Group, a Cambridge-based consultant firm founded by Harvard professors. The management consulting firm received $250,000 a month from the Libyan government from 2006 to 2008 for a wide range of services, including writing the book proposal, bringing prominent academics to Libya to meet Khadafy “to enhance international appreciation of Libya’’ and trying to generate positive news coverage of the country.

    … The firm said that assistance and the book proposal were mistakes. But its statement stressed that the firm’s main effort was designed to help Khadafy’s dictatorship bring about change.

    … Barber said much of Monitor’s work tried to bolster change.

    … The activities of Monitor — a company with 1,500 employees and 29 offices around the world that boasts governments, nonprofits, and companies as clients — also raise questions about the line between academic research and advocacy. “People who do these consultancy jobs don’t hesitate to mention Harvard and so forth, but is it really academic work?’’ said Ronald Bruce St John, author of academic books on Libya who served on the International Advisory Board of the Journal of Libyan Studies.

    … In 2007, Monitor wrote a proposal seeking about $2 million in expenses and fees for the Khadafy book, according to the memos.

    “The book will allow the reader to hear Khadafy elaborate in his own words, and in conversation with renowned international experts,’’ the proposal states. It said that Barber would “clarify several questions from previous conversations with Khadafy’’ while Giddens “will visit to deepen understanding of the merits and problems of direct democracy vs. representative democracy.’’

    Barber, who is described in Monitor memos as a “subcontractor,’’ said he refused to work on the book, which was later abandoned by Monitor.

    He said he was not ashamed of working on the Monitor project, because it was worth trying to bring change to Libya …”

  • Cynic

    And there is this chatty travelogue from Steve Walt, the self-styled “realist” who claims to have penetrated the dark and evil secrets of the Israel lobby.

    So now we are made aware that it was no academic artifice but work of the Loonacratic Libyan Lobby.

  • athansius

    Once again, Mr. Mead fails to make important moral distinctions. The UN Human Rights Commission and Fidel Castro, for example, are interested in promoting not the neo-imperialist Western bourgeois understanding of rights as procedural guarantees, but rather substantive democracy, involving much more important outcomes like the right of everyone to be poor and the right to be arrested whenever their leaders are in an irritable mood. Of course it’s a common error that Mr. Mead makes, one shared by other members of the vast right-wing conspiracy like Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

    Those of us in academia “get it”, of course, and I find it baffling that Mr. Mead does not. I’m sure that had George W. Bush declared himself to be in solidarity with the oppressed of the world, learned the phrase “Viva Fidel”, and provided a little more money for basic health care and literacy, we would have been delighted. And were he to round up and imprison his domestic enemies in perpetuity, we would have understood that this was merely a first step on the long road to substantive freedom.

  • Jock Davies

    The British government did not set free the Lockerbie bomber. It had no jurisdiction. He had been convicted under Scots law not English law and was freed by the Scottish government which makes independant decisions about clemency much as the Governor of Illinois can. Gordon Brown is not the only (F)lying Scotsman. Jock

  • WigWag

    Steve Clemons at the Washington Note ended up doing the same thing that Walt, Nye, Lewis, Perle and Barber did; he traveled to Libya on the dime of the Gaddafi family and wrote nice things on his blog about Libya; the problem is that just like the rest of the crew he never disclosed to his audience that the Libyans had paid for his trip. While he did mention the largess of the regime when he appeared on broadcast outlets, he neglected to mention that his trip was underwritten by Libya when he wrote two blog posts that were mildly complimentary to the Gadaffis.

    In fairness, Clemons is a good guy. WRM knows him well because they are both associated with the New America Foundation. Nevertheless, when I enquired in the comment section of his blog whether the Libyans had paid for his trip in March, 2010, his response was,

    “Please get on a better track or go play on another blog for a while…”

    Reluctantly, in response to my question, Clemons admitted for the first time to his blog readers that his trip had been underwritten by Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son.

    Clemons also made this time tested response,

    “It was a fascinating trip — and my writing was influenced neither way by who sponsored it.”

    I am sure that each of the experts who received a free trip to Libya courtesy of the Gaddafis would claim the same thing; the largess of the Libyan Government had nothing to do with what they wrote. My question is why, if the fact that the Libyans paid for the trip is so irrelevant, did each of the experts refrain from disclosing who had paid for the trip? Shouldn’t it be up to the reader to determine if a writer’s credibility is impacted by the financial support that he receives?

    While Clemons is an honest person, why should we be so sure that Walt, Perle, Lewis, Nye or Barber weren’t influenced by thirty pieces of silver or the 21st century equivalent; first class airfare and accommodations in a luxury hotel?

    The exchange at the Washington Note (which is on Mead’s blog roll) can be found here,

    In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Walter Russell Mead has a fascinating article entitled, “The Tea Party and American Foreign Policy: What Populism Means for Globalism.”

    In the essay, Mead talks about how American populism is influenced by the Jacksonian tradition. According to Mead, Jacksonians makes up a substantial portion of the American population; perhaps as many as 110 million people. Mead says,

    “Jacksonians regard supposed experts with suspicion, believing that the credentialed and connected are trying to advance their own class agenda. These political, economic, scientific or cultural elites often want to assert truths that run counter to the commonsense reasoning of Jacksonian America.”

    The behavior of the commentators who went to Libya as guests of Gadaffi and then wrote positive things about Libya without disclosing the regimes largess, perfectly epitomizes why the vast majority of Americans don’t trust foreign policy professionals.

    Too many of these so called experts are corrupt and too many of those who are not corrupt treat average Americans like their Rubes to whom relevant facts can be disclosed or withheld at the whim of their betters.

    The next time these so called experts lament the fact that Americans don’t take their advice seriously on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, on Muslim extremism, on China, on Iran or on anything else, they should stop and reflect on their behavior towards the Gaddafi regime.

    Then maybe they will understand why so many Americans hold the so called experts in contempt.

  • Reading some of these comments really expose
    the goings one by folks in responsible places
    and frankly it will continue to evolve into
    cover most people in political levels of our
    governments. Kep a wary eye folks, you may be

  • nadine

    Wigwag, I think ‘honest’ is a fraught concept when it comes to anyone loaded with modern multicultural political correctness. The standards of political correctness are so conveniently malleable that they allow the rationalization of a great many prejudice-confirming or career-enhancing conclusions.

    Look how many of the ‘Qaddafi toads’, like Stephen Walt, had no problem concluding that the behavior of Israel and the dread ‘Israel Lobby’ is execrable and beyond the pale of tolerable human rights; but Qaddafi and his ‘Libya Lobby’ were quite excusable, and his well-suited son Saif was clearly a modern reformer.

    Obviously, this conclusion involved a rather large double standard, since Qaddafi’s human rights record was always atrocious, yet its proponents denied being prejudiced for Libyans or against Israelis or American Jews. Once your base methodology includes double standards, you can generally rationalize any conclusion you wish to reach.

  • j. baker

    Human Rights Watch should either be on the list or receive honorable mention. In the past, they refused to issue reports on Ghaddafi’s crimes and claimed that his despotic son was a reformer whose foundation was helping to open Libya up when it was really quashing dissent.

  • Zuzu

    Tom and Peter, your attacks on Obama don’t make any sense. You are asserting that Obama is soft on Gaddafi for crony reasons. But Obama is not being soft on Gaddafi. He led the funds freeze and is pushing the no-fly zone, and pushing as well the limits of what he can do without taking the US into a third war (fourth if you count Pakistan separately). If you want to object to Obama, take a more logical tack.

  • Louis Proyect
    A 2007 Monitor memo named among the prominent figures it had recruited to travel to Libya and meet with Qadhafi “as part of the Project to Enhance the Profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi” Perle, historian Francis Fukuyama,

    American Interest Masthead

    Francis Fukuyama

    Charles Davidson
    Publisher & CEO

    Adam Garfinkle

    Walter Russell Mead
    Editor-at-large & Director, The American Interest Online

  • Wayne

    Mr Mead: I printed your story at the office and took it home to read. I’m now have it before me in the smallest room of the house. Soon I shall have it behind me.

  • Joe

    Wow, the Obama as Qaddafi toad angle is the biggest stretch I’ve seen in a while. Tom particularly seems hellbent on closing that mile-wide gap. Try again!

    As for the article, you got lazy on some of the entries, as if you knew you wanted to throw in some socialist leaders because you despise them in general. Some backup would’ve helped those entries. To vilify Chavez and Castro, not only that but putting them high on the list, for simply not condemning Qadaffi while excusing the US for dealing with Libya out of pure ‘protect the world’ concerns is naive and rather unacademic and analytical for a professor, or even a high school student.

  • The Libyan representative to the Human Rights Council made it abundantly clear that their loyalty and efforts were on behalf of the Libyan people on the street and against Gaddafi. Perhaps with such overwhelming numbers of Libyan diplomats turning against Gaddafi rather than strip them of UN based seats it is wiser to empower them to employ such as platforms to speak out against and undermine Gaddafis rule. ……LIBYA-Gaddafi UN Human Rights Council by is licensed under a …

  • Like the appearance of the site …

  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.   - Colin L. Powell

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.