Sunday, May 01, 2005

Yahya Sadowski quoted in the FT

Some of us have had the honour and pleasure of being taught by Prof. Yahya Sadowski at the AUB.

The Financilal Times
US determined to keep up heat on Syria
By Guy Dinmore in Washington
Published: May 1 2005 17:25 | Last updated: May 1 2005 17:25
The US will keep up pressure on Syria long after the withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon, US officials say, outlining a policy that analysts believe is aimed at destabilising the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Responding to last week's withdrawal, the Bush administration alleged that not all Syrian intelligence forces had quit Lebanon. It insisted that Syria keep out of Lebanon's elections this month and allow the “disbanding and disarming” of militia forces in Lebanon.

For the moment the US has no plans to send its ambassador, Margaret Scobey, back to Damascus. She was recalled in February after the assassination in Beirut of Rafiq Hariri, the former prime minister. “She will return to Damascus when we feel it's useful for her to return,” a State Department spokesman said.

Officials point out that the US still has a long list of grievances against Syria: its alleged development of chemical weapons and possibly bioweapons; support for militant Palestinian groups; co-operation with Iran in terrorism; its failure to stop Iraqi insurgents using the country as a base; and the shelter it gives to Iraq's former ruling Ba'athists.

Flynt Leverett, a former official in the first Bush administration and author of Inheriting Syria: Bashar's Trial By Fire, said President George W. Bush was moving away from a policy of engagement that had never been properly formulated towards a policy that was “basically regime change”.

More US officials were now inclined in that direction, accepting that forcing Syria out of Lebanon would cause the regime to start to unravel, said Mr Leverett, an analyst at the Brookings Institution. While the US was not gearing up for military action, it believed regime change could be done “on the cheap” through destabilisation.

However, the risk of unintended consequences was very high in both Lebanon and Syria. If the regime in Damascus collapsed and, for the moment, there were signs the withdrawal had made it stronger then the ensuing chaos could lead to a heavily Islamist replacement, Mr Leverett warned.

Yahya Sadowski, of the American University of Beirut, said US policy could be described as “constructive instability”, with the Bush administration believing in general that democracy could emerge out of turmoil.

“The Americans will make what trouble they can for the Syrians, presuming that this will at least reduce Syria's ability to make trouble for anyone else,” Professor Sadowski commented. “If, at some future date, this should trigger political changes in Syria, Donald Rumsfeld [defence secretary] will remind us all that ‘democracy is messy'.”

US diplomats in Damascus insist pressure is aimed at change of behaviour, not regime. But they say Mr Assad has not accepted there is no give and take, and that he has no choice but to deliver.


Charles Malik said...

Thank you, Sadowski, for another platitude.
Sadowski's an entertaining character, but not up to par when it comes to analysis.
Most of his predictions about the future of Lebanon that he made now two years ago have proven completely false (and I have it in writing and dated in my notes).
I realize he is one of AUB's most popular professors, but popularlity does not equate with brilliance.
But at a university where few professors reach out to students (especially in ps), he is somewhat of a breathe of smoke filled air (the guy smokes constantly).

Doha said...


I must say, what a small world (I mean, blogosphere!)...So you've taken classes with Sadowski..I happen to know him closely and I wanted to clarify to you something: the "predictions" he used to make in class were not his predictions of what will happen in the country; those were made-up predictions geared to make us "think", think so we could be able to come up with solutions and so on...I rarely did see a PS prof. who played the same game and made us deeply think about Lebanon. He touched many of us in a special way. I hope this explanation helps in seeing Sadowski in a new light.

reem said...


I have to agree with Doha. It may be that you have taken other courses with other ps professors who have impressed you more when it comes to their analysis. However, academics , in addition to thinking about their subkect, also choose to work with students, and in that sense, they have to engage with them. Sadowski was one of the few at AUB who touched and inspired many of us, as Doha has already said. His classes made one come out wanting to think about issues, and wanting to do something about them. That was especially significant for students like me, who are from another academic background than ps. I think a good point that illustrates what Doha and I are saying, is that so many students from outside ps chose to take his courses as elective.

Raja said...


I was also a Sadowski student. I'd just like to say that he showed me "the light". Before I took his Political Economy class in the Srping of 2000 or 2001, politics for me was the mine field that most Lebanese percieve it to be. When I took that class though, I got an alternative view of politics: a sense that it could be a noble calling, and that there was much more to it than sectarian bickering.

As for his predictions, I cannot but agree with you. He taught that entire class based on a doomsday scenario for the Lebanese economy. Today, even after Hariri's murder, the pound is stable, our debt has miraculously shrank (and I mean miraculously! no one knows how), and we somehow manage to stay afloat. I don't think even God can explain that one my friend! However, let me just lay out the premise of his argument for you, which at least in my opinion, was sound:

1. Lebanon was bleeding foreign currency as a result of debt servicing and imports

2. The only reason we didn't hit a foreign-reserve crisis was because Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were continually infusing hundreds of millions of dollars into our Central Bank at least twice a year(it appears that Iran financed Hizballah in their way, and the Gulf countries financed Hariri in their own way).

3. At the time, let's not forget that oil prices ranged from a low of $15 to a high of $25 per barrel. Saudi Arabia was struggling to tackle its own debt problems, and Kuwait wasn't doing too well either....

4. How the hell was Sadowski supposed to know that oil prices were going to sky-rocket to $40 per barrel.

So, lets not be too harsh on him! ;)

hummbumm said...

interesting, and i thought I was getting all this diversity on the net, and it is all former AUB students who all took the same PS course! Lebanon is a small place. Clearly this dates you guys as well as this prof could not have been there during the time 89-93 when I was in college (not at AUB, and not in Lebanon), so you guys are all post war generation. This is not to diminish all the insight and discussion that all of you have put up on these boards. I just find it kinda funny.

Charles Malik said...

Doha, Reem, and Raja,
You're right. Your points are very well taken. The atmosphere is a bit different here now, so people who took his class recently (ie, last semester) got kind of ticked.
But I'm totally with you when it comes to critical thinking. He may not have provided the most clear analysis, but he is one of the only professors who inspired us to think in class and care about ideas. Most other professors merely asked us to shut up and write.
My favorite professor is Samir Seikaly. That guy is amazing and incredibly critical. I was initially intimidated in his class, but he really warms to you if you can actually respond to his questions intelligently. However, Seikaly is never quoted in the popular media.
Yeah, we are kind of a niche group. I didn't realize it until this post either. In fact, from the dates given, I think I am the youngest. I've found my youth to be helpful and a hindrance sometimes.
When discussing the recent (I can't believe I'm modifying this phrase, it's so amazing!) Syrian presence with my elderly Palestinian relatives, I could not understand why they stood by Syria so closely. It was not until one relative poured his heart out about the Syrians saving them from everyone (ie, Amal, Jumblatt, Geagea) that I understood his undying devotion to the Syrians.
The only Syrians I knew harmed me and those closest to me.

Doha said...


My God, Raja and I also have taken Samir Seikaly's classes! I always visit him when I return to AUB. He's a great prof. but of course it's understandable why he's not quoted in the media; he's a historian and not a political scientist. As you know, usually Sadowski and El-Khazen get quoted a lot from the PS department, but these days El-Khazen is nowhere in sight...pretty busy in the Qornet.

hummbumm said...

Yes for us older guys, people like Aoun, Jumblatt, Gaega, berri, etc.. are so loaded, I lived in lebanon through 1984, so i left before the worst years really, but it took me a long time to get over it. Came back to beirut for 94-95 to see if I could live in lebanon as an adult, decided in the end no, and left again. Now i only visit, but my parents live there, and I am hopeful. Knowing that all you guys are from AUB underscores how potentially thin this hope is, as most of the country may not share your willingness for "enlightenement" I may be wrong, I don't know many people of the younger generation, my peers are all warped one way or another and few of my friends live in lebanon.

Charles Malik said...

Do you think the older generation will return? That is what a lot of people on the ground are saying.
I even have relatives talking about returning. But everyone is hesitant. They want to know if the elections will actually mean anything. We want to know if the elections will mean something.
Oddly, it is both of us working together that will guarantee Lebanon's future.
But do you think we'll be seeing a lot of people coming back?

Doha said...

I think all that we need is a bit of stability to return home...and a job opportunity. The economy needs stability to move forward; add a growing economy with job prospects and take out some corruption, you'll see people returning. I'm always optimistic and truely get inspired by those who are working right now in Lebanon for a better future; we're not better than them.

hummbumm said...

Speaking for myself the answer is no. My mother is american so i have always had dual citizenship and the opportunities in the states are so much greater. In my case it is theoretically possible as my wife is also lebanese american so she has roots there, and everytime we visit we get nostalgic and think about, only to get real in the end: I have a great life, most of my friends now live in the States etc.... My brother for example is married with kids to someone born and raised in Wisconsin, the odds of him ever coming back are zero. Of the people I grew up, I only know of one who has come back to lebanon permanently. Now this is colored by most of my friends being dual citizens at the time, so they had family and roots abroad to start with. I always think lebanon is a great place to live if you are wealthy AND if you are not working there. But for a young professional, the opportunites in the States and the quality of life are in my view, on a whole other level. And this is even though I have big wasta in lebanon, I know the experiences of friends in lebanon, middle class, paying exhorbitant electricity, telecom bills, insurance, car payments, clothing let alone thinking of buying your own home, on on piddly take home pay. they are struggling, and I think if i told most of them, here is a US passport, they would leave. You know ten years ago, at the end of the war there was this same talk of coming back and many did, I think most were dissapointed, and the breadwinner if not the whole family left for abroad again. In lebanon I would always be linked to my father and family, in a way that is stifling, here in the states I am my own man, totally self sufficient. Of course I have a lot of family in the states so in some ways i am not making the hard choice that most emigrants are forced to make. I hope others don't share my viewpoint, but I don't think lebanon can support the talent it has, let alone returnees with the current framework. Growing up in the war, the thought of returning to a country where there is still an armed militia is the final Nyet.

Charles Malik said...

Lebanon is a great country if you are rich and can afford all of the amenities.
I don't know whether I'm going to leave or not, but my father is pressing me to go to Dubai or the US.
I would love to live here if I could afford one of those apartments in Verdun, Ramleit al Bayda, Sassine, or a big mansion in Rabieh. From there the world looks great.
But living here in the condition I do throughout the year is really taxing and not worth the money paid in return. I think the best relationship someone can have with Lebanon right now is to be really rich, have a big house in their village, a big apartment in a swanky location in Beirut, not care about politics, and only come here during the summer and religious holidays.
But right now we're working to make things better.
In my own buildings the owners are starting to repair things. There is probably going to be a new apartment rental law soon, which is desperately needed.
Hariri started fixing the streets and planting trees on them. Now more and more people are planting gardens and more quaint shops are opening.
But it was really scary to see everything stop until just last month. Everything was on hold until Bahia and Nora held their massive spectacle.

hummbumm said...

Lebanon profile, that is my feeling exactly, great place to be if you are rich and not working. I have not been to lebanon for two years, though my wife just went, and I hope to make it this year, but for me i enjoy lebanon because it is a vacation. I don't have to cook, clean, shop or do any of the chores i normally do. I go to the mountains, hang out at the beach etc... and for FREE! well on my parents'dime. But when i consider living there,even if I could duplicate my job situation, the traffic, the pollution, and all the other issues make me stop. And of course, I can't duplicate my job situation. Add on top the political situation, the existence of Hizbullah, our wonderful neighbors to the south and east, and also very importantly, arabic is my weakest tongue by far (I can make it through reading but ask me to write something no way), after english and french, and culturally i am much more in tune with the US, so i always feel out of place. in Beirut. I imagine that many of my generation feel this way especially if language is an issue.

Raja said...


its sad... but everything you wrote rings a bell in me too! I'm a bit younger than you though, and I still have the energy to want to make a difference. Hopefully, by the time I'm done, the trafic will be better! ;)

reem said...

I'm glad my initial post generated this whole discussion and enabled us to share our experiences and our stands as immigrants, or potential immigrants, vis a vis Lebanon. I have to say: I am not surprised that many of us have been to AUB and taken the same courses, although it would have been a greater accomplishment to get people from more diverse backgrounds. I suppose that it is always people with similar ideas who converge. Speaking for myself, I left Lebanon to continue my studies, and to work. I don't exclude the possibility of returning to Lebanon, I think it's more a question of later rather than sooner. I believe that studying at AUB for three years is probably the main reason I would go back. Had I pursued my undergrad abroad, I would probably see things differently...

Doha said...


I totally agree with you, especially with the fact that choosing to do my udnergrad at AUB is one of the main factors why I would return to Lebanon soon.

hummbumm said...

For me the bargain my parents originally had, was for me to do my schooling in lebanon and college in the states. Of course the war screwed with that, but I think if they had wanted their kids to stay in lebanon they should have reversed it. Not having that experience, my only ties to lebanon are through family and family friends, not enough of a social network to have someone feel at home,(there is a certain point that just because you skinny dipped together when you were 5 does not cut it anymore, anyways a lot of them left as well) whereas all my closest friends are from school and college abroad, almost all live in the States. That being said obviously going to Dartmouth College certainly was a nobrainer over AUB in 1989 when all hell was still breaking loose. Also I guess my brother and I really are American, it is not just the US has good jobs, I love this country, baseball football, apple pie the whole nine yards. I am lebanese sure but i feel american, and if my parents left lebanon...

Doha said...

Okay, hummbumm, I think we're starting to know every single detail about your life....Listen, you don't need to explain to all of us why you can't return to Lebanon for good and explain to us why you're more attached to the U.S. Using citizenship jargon, you qualify to be a "cosmopolitan" citizen, a citizenship that transcends boundaries. Others, like me, perhaps feel a larger sense of attachment to Lebanon, not the sentimental sense of attachment, but the sense of civic duty towards that country, which perhaps makes me more close to an "Athenian" citizen who qualifies as a citizen by virtue of political and civic participation (as opposed to a citizen of "Rome" who is a citizen by virtue of membership)....A bit philosophical here:)...But I have dual citizenship and at one point I struggled with making sense of it all...I was glad however to figure out the Athenian versus Roman types of citizenship; it just explained my situation perfectly.

hummbumm said...

Yeah, I guess I was getting sappy, but I don't really self analyze much. Maybe it is a little guilt about foregoing my homeland, that leads me to justify my decision in every possible way. You are too philosophical for me, but now i know something more about definitions of citizenship.

Charles Malik said...

I used to go through those identity crises, too. I've lived in a bunch of different places.
I'll tell you, it means a lot more to be Lebanese in France, Africa, or the US than it does in Lebanon.
I found myself becoming more sectarian in Lebanon and France, but much less in Africa and the US.
i struggled for a long time between a Lebanese, French, and American identity. Getting citizenship in Africa meant little to my parents, and i would never completely fit into the culture there.
I still identify with the three main cultures in my life. But I gave up worrying about what they did to me a long time ago. I think that fretting was something I picked up in the US.
In France, Lebanon, and Africa identity really didn't matter that much. In France I was tainted French (tainted by America, but with an overly Bois de Bologne accent). In Lebanon, I am like millions of other foreign influenced Lebanese. In Africa, I was just Lebanese regardless of where I came from.

Inheriting Syria said...

Carl G. Mueller, Nam 68
PO Box 120707
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315-8944

Phone: (909) 866-9310

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m retired and my “activist hobby” has inspired me to write this letter while reading the book:
“Inheriting Syria: Bashar’s Trial By Fire”
By Flynt Leverett
From the books cover jacket it reads:
Leverett is a “senior” fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He has served as “senior” director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, and as a “senior” Middle East analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Subject: Friendly Twenty-first century counseling with the Curse of Justice requested.

My viewing of Syria web pages, from which I received your email address, has shown me excellent examples of President Bashar al-Asad’s statement as being true. Bashar’s statement according to Leverett is that Bashar, is seeking to present himself as someone capable of leading Syria into the twenty-first century and one of his tools will be the Internet. This was written on page 64.

Below is a shorten version of a letter I sent to about 75 American newspapers and intellectuals of varying types. I’m ATTEMPTING to show how evil Internet Service Provider groups could easily make a client’s web site look as if the client is doing wrong.

Dear Markos (Unknown spelling of last name) Belindas @

Warning to Markos, the creator of the most visited Internet political web blog, A political web blog, which Markos claims, and it appears to be true, gets half a million Internet visits a day.

I saw you being interviewed on Brian Lam’s TV C-Span show: Q&A, 4/10/ 05. It appeared to me that your Internet web blog company is an unknowing puppet of the Democratic Parties, “Covert Propaganda”.

Your wanting to find out if you are NOT a puppet takes time, money and moral charter. Since you Markos, appear as a young innocent man with strong morals, I suggest you try auditing the companies that advertise on See if the companies are really earning enough money to justify there advertising on your website. See if all those businesses advertising on your web site exist as individual businesses or if some are part of a conglomerate just buying space on your site in order to keep alive. Keep your company alive so they can use it to push their political propaganda under the disguise as public opinions. You might also like to audit the companies controlling computer servers to see if they are “under” charging you. Under charging you as another life saving devise for your company.

Please investigate to see if the companies controlling computer servers might be infiltrating other computer networks, thus obtaining information illegally from “anyone’s” personal Internet connected computers. Investigate to see if computer servers share that information with the Democratic Party in someway to cause computer election registration and computer Vote manipulation. I make this request because this information sharing is POSSIBLY a “secret design of the computer chip’s main function” for Internet servers. Today’s newest spyware by Microsoft’s Windows “OneCare” isn’t free or capable of stopping professional. In my opinion “OneCar” is only a form of hush money. For every action there is a counter action and the programmers and chipmakers are worldwide. It’s Microsoft and some other smaller players like Symantec Corp. going against the world, and the USA and the CIA are just some of the competitors. So it looks like job security for Microsoft and the others. Witticism intended.

It’s possible that if the Democratic Party gets caught in this illegal information sharing they just point fingers at as the unknowing responsible party selling voter information or identity theft. The matter goes to court, possibly a world court, and everybody pleads ignorant and the only ones hurt are the victims of war. A war created because of corrupt information. Information cunningly distributed by computer chips.

With that being said one can easily relate to Leverett’s book page 96, where Syria’s “Old Guard” is unwilling to summit too quickly to the capitalist Internet. But Leverett makes it appear as if the “Old Guard” is wrong in not submitting to the gradualist model of reform. I personally agree with the “Old Guard’s” unwillingness to submit too much to fast to the Internet world of “serious business”. As an educational tool and for fun the Internet world is beyond comparison, except for many personal experiences. Again reason to be more acceptable to many of the “Old Guards” old ways.

I myself don’t trust Leverett because of his ties with the CIA, the most untrusting agency in the world. I say FIRST America should show they have good intensions by sharing information that takes “quality” ACTION that helps the poor. The CIA helps American capitalism distort information while the starving and suffering poor only get prayers and crumbs of promises, which dribble artfully from the cunning lips of political and religious groups.

Computers of Mass Destruction, A Friendly Twenty-first century counseling.

Carl G. Mueller, Nam 68

Syria’s Old Guard’s smiling responds in regards to Leverett’s book:
“Inheriting Syria: Bashar’s Trial By Fire”

“Old Guard Internet Statement of 1 Million Plus”

Because we of the “Old Guard” have had many years in government and have accomplished many great things, we would like to see a web-blog where we could make hyperlinks within the same page. Then we could make a long web-blog, say about 25 pages with an index on the top. Visitors and or Gamers could then click one of use “Old Guard” members name, then view and or Install into a game profile, the many wanted qualities each “Old Guard” member may have used to accomplish the achievements. That hyper link is not limited to just one 25-page web-blog of course. Visitors/gamers then should be able to easily congratulate the “Old Guard” member with a response to that particular achievement, and suggestions for helping the visitor/gamer.

Of course we of the “Old Guard” would expect all the other Internet up dates like web cam, video, easy connection to mobile phones, extra large folding screen to help us elders with our fading eyesight and special stereo volume control for those elders that can’t hear as good any more. Since many of us “Old Guard” members have lost our typing skills we would need voice command, with automatic translation into 50 or 100 of the most common languages, so replying to blog visitors/gamers doesn’t become to consuming of our time. Once the gamer/education idea catches on as fun, we members of the “Old Guard” would employ our own gamer staff to help educate other gamers.

Force-Feeding of Education to the Energy-Monopolizing Countries
Let’s not forget two of some “Old Guard” goals, which could be introduced into Internet educational games. These goals are intended to bring the U.S.A, Russia and others to their energy-monopolized knees.

First goal:
Inexpensive Photovoltaic cells. We can put cells in the electrical towers (that run along rail road lines) to energize batteries to run generators to run bigger generators that run trains etc.

Second goal:
Easley constructed desalinization plants using photovoltaic cells to heat seawater into steam, steam evaporates true pipes leaving the salt in the heating basin (which droops salt onto freight cars), cools then turns into fresh water. With these programs our poor Moslem brothers in Africa will not need to be under the thump of the oil stealing countries. Of course we will share our knowledge (Educational Games) worldwide for FREE. This force-feeding of education to the energy-monopolizing countries could stop one BIG reason for going to war.

Now start designing cities that are Senior friendly with lots of schools to teach the poor about making Photovoltaic and Desalinization plants. Lots of hospitals with stem cell research facilities to extend lives of the Senior members of the “Old Guard”. Hurry up. If we “Old Guard” members were your age we would have the plans already done and construction beginning. We would be pushing wars to the side and start writing laws to make woman totally equal to men. Deep in the hearts of many “Old Guard” members we know woman are superior to us men when it comes to teaching. Therefore most “Old Guard” members want to stress education for woman and male servants in the home to do the housework.

In order to make the above more achievable for you “Youngies” we the Old Guard weblog Statement of 1 Million plus, understand that mathematics, physics, social structures and God can best be taught to young girls and boys by the powerful teaching tools of games. For now Internet Games can educate and thus save the world in a manner that no other medium can match.

Afifov said...

Does anyone know where is Sadowski now?

(man this is way too late of a comment)

Tarik said...

"Sadowski" is currently in China. How do I know? He is my father!