Buying influence

In their contracts and internal documents foreign governments are often explicit about what they expect from the research groups they finance. The article written by Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams and Nicholas Confessore and published by NYTimes (Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks, NYTimes.com, September 6, 2014) tracks how foreign governments try to influence research in not so innocent manner:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/07/us/politics/100000003097265.mobile.html

Even if there is a public debate and outrage, it must be kept in mind that money matters and it is part of our daily lives. Donor ‘influence’ is part of the game even at the lowest research/researcher levels. EU Marie Curie grants, such as the one behind this blog, cannot be obtained unless the applicant is able to ‘outline the benefit that will be gained from undertaking the project at Community level and how the integration grant will contribute to enhance EU competitiveness’ (copy pasted from ‘Instructions for preparing proposal Part B for Marie Curie Grants’). The benefit and competitiveness – in most fields/disciplines of social sciences – is ‘something political’ or at least ‘policy-related’. And it applies to any research on value-sensitive topics, such as human rights, governance, democracy, religion, violence, foreign aid, etc. If a government (a private person, for that matter) is motivated to influence masses in the Middle East, it has to support Islamic charities and/or movements. In the West, one can win more by giving money to research establishments and researchers, because their (our) activity, academic and intellectual independence, legitimacy is perceived to be sacred. Motives and mechanisms are the same.

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