Many politicians and intellectuals have egg on their faces over the Libyan dictatorship’s brutal, bloody turn in the past few weeks, but arguably none more so than political scientist Benjamin Barber, who helped found the Monitor Group, which received millions of dollars from Muammar Qaddafi to help burnish his image abroad. Barber sometimes failed to disclose his conflict of interest in his writings on Libya. Now Foreign Policy has done an interview with Benjamin Barber. Read it here if you have the stomach, but don’t expect any mea culpas. To the contrary, Barber doubles down on his defense of Saif Qaddafi, arguing that the charge of plagiarism is “garbage” and sympathizing with his opposition to the reformers:
What Qaddafi Sr. has done is brutal and terroristic, and he’s been doing it for a long time, but this notion that you’re bombing your own people? The story about the helicopters machine-gunning people? None of those have been verified. The air force was used to bomb the depots that were being looted by the folks in the east. He was trying to prevent the weapons from being used against him. I mean there’s a piece in the New York Times that says those weapons being looted are going to end up with al Qaeda. In reality, you can’t get swept away in the sort of media hysteria. Condemn the brutality and the shooting of innocents, but understand, as the media now is beginning to, that this isn’t Cairo, but a civil war with tribal overtones that threaten to overwhelm the genuine desire for freedom of many of the protesters.