Johns Hopkins Make Reports Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

KazakhstanAs part of a broader public relations and lobbying push, Kazakhstan's government paid Johns Hopkins University to author three reports about the country. The arrangement was brokered through APCO Worldwide, Kazakhstan's Washington DC lobbying firm. The Kazakh government paid $52,300 for reports titled "Kazakhstan's New Middle Class" and "Parliament and Political Parties in Kazakhstan." A third report, "Kazakhstan in its Neighborhood," was "also underwritten by the government," but lobbying reports that would disclose the amount paid for it are not yet available. The reports, issued by the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins, do not disclose the Kazakhstan funding. Institute director S. Frederick Starr said their "relationship was only with the lobbying firm and not directly with the government." He added that "the entire editorial process was 100 percent in our hands." The author of the third report, Hudson Institute fellow Richard Weitz, said, "It's an important topic so I would have written about it anyway." The Kazakhstan funding also required the Johns Hopkins Institute to sponsor "think tank discussions" on each report, "sponsored by the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute."


A cousin of mine attended JHU and spoke of it with enthusiasm bordering on reverence. As I recall, the place built its reputation on seeking and defining Truth in the grand tradition of Socrates, Plato, et al. Questioning how an apparent truth has been arrived at is the key; through constant challenges, students are taught to dig deeper and deeper into things, and look from all angles at how they look at things. But, as I wrote the head of JHU after seeing this news item on the ABC website, he has about a week to decide whether all that was just hot air and a bad joke. As we've seen in Louisiana and Burma, it's not the size of the initial storm that counts as much as whether and how the authorities deal with it. (I suggested the NY Times response to made-up news features offered a good parallel — everybody involved got fired, right up to Howell Raines.) No reply of course — nor from the Baltimore Sun editors and JHU department heads I cc'ed my message to. Now that Harpers is running the story — — it will have to be discussed at academic dinner parties at least.