German Minister of Defense Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg is stepping down because he plagiarized his dissertation. Given that he was more honest about Germany's effort in Afghanistan (calling the war ... a war) than the previous MoD, this is too bad. However, it does help give us scholars a prime example of plagiarism costing a person a career, especially since zu G had been considered Chancellor material not that long ago.
The timing does put this all into context. In a democracy, the Minister of Defense is gone after a relatively brief controversy over his plagiarized dissertation. Qadaffi, on the other hand, not only seems willing to fight to the last drop of Libyan blood, but damn near got awarded recognition for Libya's human rights record by the UN.
Of course, accountability does always work out that great in democracies, as we have Donald Rumsfeld running around pimping his book that is a pack of lies and he gets off scot-free for not only mis-managing two wars, but also being responsible for the crimes at Abu Ghraib. Rummy is not only avoiding punishment but he has already profited from his experiences. If I end up reading a pirated copy of his book, I will feel no guilt (and this from a guy who refuses to download pirated music and movies). I certainly will not pay a dime for Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell a.k.a. Rummy's memoir.
How did a post about plagiarism lead to an anti-Rumsfeld rant? Just a habit, I guess. Of course, today's piece by Woodward attacking Rummy's lies at Ricks. foreign policy.com is enough to get another rant going.