Harvard Academic ‘Mildly Flattered’ That Senator Plagiarized His Work


One of the academics whom U.S. Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) plagiarized in his 2007 master’s thesis said Thursday that he was “mildly flattered” — though he added that the work Walsh plagiarized was already out of date at the time.

“Why the United States Should Spread Democracy” was one of the works that Walsh appropriated without citation, the New York Times reported Wednesday. It was written in 1998 by Sean M. Lynn-Jones, a scholar at Harvard University’s Belfer Center.

“Honestly, I’m not outraged,” Lynn-Jones wrote Thursday in the Washington Post. “Although I don’t condone plagiarism, I was surprised and mildly flattered that Sen. Walsh had decided to incorporate so much of my paper into his, albeit without citing me once.”

Lynn-Jones did add, however, that the 2007 thesis’s use of his 1998 article needed “significant revisions” considering what had happened in the interim.

“Even in 2007, my paper … was out of date,” he wrote. “I wrote it in 1998, when the Clinton administration was embracing the strategy of spreading democracy.”

“By 2007,” he continued, “U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan had, to put it mildly, given democracy promotion a bad name.”