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Title:
Interview with Syed Shahzad Ahmad, April 18, 2007
Date:
April 18, 2007
Description:
Dr. Syed Ahmad describes his academic career at UNCW. He came to UNCW to teach political science in 1970. He was the second member of the political science department. The first member was his chair, Dr. James Dixon. Dr. Ahmad worked with Dr. Dixon to establish the new department, which awarded its first bachelor's degree in political science in 1972. Dr. Ahmad describes the growth of the university and the region and discusses students he taught. He is also asked about international politics, including the war in Iraq.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Ahmad, Syed S. Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 4/18/2007 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 70 minutes

Riggins: Hello, my name is Adina Riggins. I'm the UNCW archivist. I'm here in the background. I have, in front of the camera, a very special visitor here to the university archives at UNCW. Today is April 18, 2007. I'm conducting an oral history interview for Voices of UNCW, a collection of oral history interviews of faculty and staff who have made a difference in the life of the university. Dr. Ahmad, would you please state your name for the tape?

Ahmad: My name is Syed S. Ahmad.

Riggins: Syed S. Ahmad.

Ahmad: Yes.

Riggins: Thank you very much for coming today, Dr. Ahmad. Please start off with some introductory information. This is what I do when I interview faculty. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Ahmad: I was born in India in the year 1940, and the town's name was _________.

Riggins: [tape skips]

Ahmad: [tape skips] --i-e-g-a-r-h.

Riggins: [tape skips]

Ahmad: [tape skips] I- I went to the University of the same town, and I [tape skips] there in 1960.

Riggins: Oh you were young.

Ahmad: Yeah. And then I taught two years in- in my local-- in the university where I graduated. After that, I awarded a scholarship and I went to England and attended the University of [tape skips] and got a diploma in public administration. And in 1965, I came to the United States and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and I graduated from there in 1971 with my Ph.D. in [tape skips].

Riggins: [tape skips] complete information. Thank you.

Ahmad: And I [tape skips] in September of 1970--

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: --without my [tape skips]. I was the second [tape skips]. The department had only the Chairman and a faculty member who taught history, as well as political science.

Riggins: Who was the Chair at the time?

Ahmad: Dr. James Dixon.

Riggins: Oh yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, Dr. James Dixon.

Riggins: I have heard the name.

Ahmad: A very fine person.

Riggins: Yes and he's retired, I think.

Ahmad: He retired-- he retired before I did. He retired and- and there was another, Dr. Chambers. He taught mostly history, but one or two courses in political science, also. And in 1970, we did not have a major in political science. Our department was part of the- the Department of History, so we established a separate department, and in 1972, we offered our first major in political science. And our first political science graduate, his name was Robert Page.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: Yeah, he was our first graduate, first major.

Riggins: Was it a small class that first time?

Ahmad: Oh- oh yes. My- my first year, my classes were under ten.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: Yeah, there were seven or eight students. Well we did not have a major by-- at that time. But when I left the school in 2000, we were graduating, I think, 65 or 70 majors every- every year.

Riggins: That's a big jump.

Ahmad: Yeah and I'm sure-- the- the student body, at that time, was about 1,200 when I came.

Riggins: That sounds right.

Ahmad: 1,200, 1,250.

Riggins: Yes, in 1970, it was still very small.

Ahmad: Yeah. Yeah, and we had the quarter system, not the semester system, yeah.

Riggins: Oh right.

Ahmad: That was the first-- that was the last year of quarters here, and then we started on semester system here, also.

Riggins: Oh it was quarter system that long then.

Ahmad: That-- yeah, it was quarter system till 1970.

Riggins: And you would have started just when Wilmington College became a university.

Ahmad: Yeah, well that's about two years away-- two years away, and Dr. Dixon was the first person hired as Chairman. Yeah and our job was to- to develop a separate major in political science.

Riggins: A program [tape skips] the dean who decided that they wanted--

Ahmad: Yeah, the- the dean at that time was [tape skips] Dean Leonard's, yeah. As a matter of fact, he interviewed me in Knoxville.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: I did not even come here for interview. [tape skips] I was going somewhere and he had called me that he will stop by there, and we met in the Hilton and he interviewed me there for 30 [tape skips], and then he offered me the job.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: It was very easy to get a job at that time, when I was so close to my- my Ph.D. And-- but I came here. I was single. I liked the place. I decided I'm not going to move from here.

Riggins: You liked it.

Ahmad: Yeah, I like it and I've been here. After retirement, I did not move. Lots of people come here to retire. I already had a place to live.

Riggins: You didn't have to move.

Ahmad: I did not have to move.

Riggins: What did you like about it when you came?

Ahmad: Oh one thing. I graduated from Knoxville, Tennessee __________, it was. In fact, I did not want to go somewhere where it was cold. I come from a tropical place in India, so I- I like the- the warmer weather, and saw the beach. And- and the advancement in the school was very good. The Dr. Dixon and the professor in the History Department, we became quite friendly. We've become like a family and I never want to move from here.

Riggins: That's something I hear when I talk to people who were here about 30 years ago. Yeah, when it gets sooner than 35 years ago, you don't hear that it was like family. But about 30-35 years ago, it still was like family.

Ahmad: Yes. Yeah, and so this one place, they have family. Total, I think it was 90 ________. Ninety people in the faculty, yeah, approximately 90.

Riggins: Wow, that's incredible, 90 including full time?

Ahmad: Yeah and full time. In those days there were very few part timers. We have part timers more now. In those days, we did not have as many part timers, yeah.

Riggins: So when you came, you were supposed to develop the major.

Ahmad: Yeah, and we developed. And one thing, I had to teach a variety of courses, because very few people in the department. I mean I was working 37 hours in different subdivisions of political science, including theory, competitive government, international relations, constitutional law, all the various parts of the-- of the discipline. And therefore, me and Dr. Dixon, we taught a variety of courses.

Riggins: Everything.

Ahmad: Yeah, we taught (laughs) almost everything.

Riggins: Was that a challenge?

Ahmad: It was a challenge for me, especially. I'd never taught constitutional law, because that was not my specialty. My specialty was competitive government and international relations. But I studied in England also, so I taught European political systems here by the British, French, German, those, yeah. Then we hired a third person, Dr. Loudy, who is still here. Roger Loudy was our third person, a very nice person, a very nice individual, also. In those days, he was also singing. I was singing, yeah. We were friends visiting each other, yeah. And then I met a local girl here. She was teaching in a public school. Then I got married to local girl from neighboring county, Columbus County, and we are still married after 36 years.

Riggins: This region has been good to you.

Ahmad: Oh yes, __________.

Riggins: It sounds like it's been a nice place to settle. You mentioned Dr. Paul Reynolds. I've heard that he was a character. What was he like?

Ahmad: He left-- he left the first year. Yeah, he left the first year. He left in '71. And then we hired-- his replacement was--

Riggins: Was it Dan Plyler?

Ahmad: No, no, no. That guy came late.

Riggins: Much later.

Ahmad: Yeah, I forgot his name. He ______________. In old age, you forget things, yeah.

Riggins: Oh well it doesn't take that.

Ahmad: _______________.

Riggins: Yes, I don't remember myself who it was. But when you interviewed with Dr. Reynolds, what was your impression of him?

Ahmad: Yeah, he was a typical southern gentleman. I mean he was a nice person, but I noticed him-- what- what I expected from a southern white gentleman. Yeah, he was-- obviously, he- he did not want to hire minorities on the campus _______. He was-- that was typical problem at that time.

Riggins: That was clear?

Ahmad: That-- I felt that way, yeah. I felt that way.

Riggins: But he hired you.

Ahmad: Yeah, but there's- there's a difference between an Indian and- and an African American, yeah.

Riggins: Aha, right, yeah. He was old school.

Ahmad: Yeah, he was old school. Yeah, he was old school, but as a- a gentleman, yeah, a gentleman. He- he offered me a job from just about 30 minutes of interview.

Riggins: Right. Right, he just had a feeling that it would work out.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah. He- he had-- he had a feeling there. He- he was pleased with me, because he asked me lots of questions, you know ________ will ask in 45 minutes.

Riggins: Right. (laughs) I hope this interview will be longer than that, even.

Ahmad: (laughs) Yeah, he liked my personality. And- and ever since I came here, I have a vary good rapport with my students. If you ever meet Dr. Lee Johnston-- have you ever meet- met him?

Riggins: Yes. Yes, I know him.

Ahmad: Yeah, he- he will tell you about me and my classes.

Riggins: Oh okay.

Ahmad: Oh yes.

Riggins: What was known about your classes? Since I don't have Lee right here--

Ahmad: Yeah, my classes were very lighthearted. I was-- I was--

Riggins: You used humor?

Ahmad: Yeah, I used humor as- as part of yeah, my classes, told jokes, political jokes, not dirty jokes, yeah, political jokes. And I was very popular. I had the- the-- in every- every year I was here, I had the largest amount of students in my class.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: Yeah and my classes were always full. Yeah, I had-- I was a popular teacher here, but not easy, but popular, yeah.

Riggins: How would you get students interested in political science?

Ahmad: One thing, given a different perspective, coming from a- a different country, born, raised in India, educated in England, I- I had a variety of perspectives that I presented, yeah. Yeah, I was-- also, I tried to be more objective, because I wasn't born and raised in America, so I- I could give both views, both sides. And uh... the students liked my approach.

Riggins: It opened their eyes. When you first came, you probably encountered a lot of local students, right, students from North Carolina.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, most- most are-- they- they were lo- local people, most North Carolina. But then I got students from New Jersey and other states, once the department got going. And we had started with 12, 13, 30, 35 majors. At the time, it was full of students, well lawyers now who I taught. Yeah, at least a dozen from my years are my former students.

Riggins: You could call upon them for some help if you ever needed it.

Ahmad: If I ever-- I hope I don't need it.

Riggins: Right, right.

Ahmad: Yeah, but my former students, one of them helped me while buying some property, yeah, and he gave me a special rate. (laughs)

Riggins: Oh and he was your student.

Ahmad: He was my student a long time ago. As- as a matter-- I not only taught him, but I taught his mother and father also.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: Yeah, his- his name was Blackburn. The mother graduated from here and father graduated from here, and the son graduated from here and went to- to law school, and he practices now in Hampstead. Yeah, he- he lives in Hampstead, yeah, he's Ray Blackburn. I remember him.

Riggins: I think I've heard of him.

Ahmad: Yeah. Ten years go, I bought some property there and he was my lawyer.

Riggins: Oh that's great! That's great! Do you see your students around town still?

Ahmad: Oh yes, I meet them at restaurants or- or shopping places in the mall. The Assistant D.A. here-- what was his name.

Riggins: Oh the Assistant D.A.

Ahmad: Yeah, his name is--

Riggins: I'm forgetting, too.

Ahmad: Yeah, fos-- no, fos-- Fennel, Todd Fennel.

Riggins: Oh very good.

Ahmad: Yeah, he is a lawyer. He is-- he is Assistant D.A., yeah. And then I retired. We had a party for me, a retirement party. He showed up. Some of my students showed up. Some of them came from distances, it was. We sent them letters that Dr. Ahmad is retiring, and I had about 25 students came, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Oh that's wonderful, alumni from political science.

Ahmad: Yeah, political science, yeah. They came to that party. And one of my most favorite, he was an older person, he just passed away about two years ago, his name was Vonderberg, Ray Vonderberg. And he was on the-- on the school board, also. He- he retired from the Marine Corp. and then get-- got an _______ in political science and then became a public school teacher. And then he ran for the school board. He was at my- my party. He- he was not in good health, but he showed up. Yeah, he showed up, because he's retired. He used to call me the teacher's teacher. (laughs)

Riggins: Oh the teacher's-- well that's a compliment.

Ahmad: Yeah, it was. I was his teacher, yeah. Yeah, I was his teacher and he enjoyed several classes under me.

Riggins: Did you find that the students grew more interested in political sciences?

Ahmad: Not only students grew more interested in political science, but the quality of the students improved.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: Yeah. When I first came here, it was a rather new school. We were accepting students with SAT scores of 800, 850. (laughs) I remember some of them were weak students, but after a few years, the quality improved and kept on improving, I mean and we all that. Nowadays not that easy to get in UNCW, but in the early '70's, you know, we took some very special students, ath- athletes or some other. But we were taking students who had lower SAT's, but that has changed.

Riggins: Yes.

Ahmad: Yeah. We are a quality school now.

Riggins: Oh yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, we are a quality school. We were a small school just started, a bigger number now. We are well established. I was proud to be associated with this institution for 30 years.

Riggins: I'm pleased that you were here. You certainly led the department to do a lot of great things.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: You probably got to know people from outside your department, as well.

Ahmad: Oh yeah, e- especially from history department. We are in the same building. Oh and during my 30 years, I moved five times.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yeah. The first year when I came, we used to teach in the Alderman Hall. The first year in that quadrangular, the first building, and below me was the office of Dr. Regina[ph?]. And we were teaching upstairs, yeah.

Riggins: Did you have your own office?

Ahmad: Yeah, we had a small office. And each- each individual had their o- own office, but my office did not have a window in those days. (laughs) I had a window last office. Then we moved from there to--

Riggins: Hard to keep track.

Ahmad: Hard to keep track, but five times, we moved. The last- last was this-- in Lake- Lake--

Riggins: Lakeside?

Ahmad: Lakeside. That was my last office.

Riggins: And it became Leutze Hall.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, Lakeside.

Ahmad: I did not know that name, Leutze. But Lakeside, that was my last office there.

Riggins: Speaking of Dr. Wagoner, did you get to know him?

Ahmad: I knew him in the sense, not in-- on a personal basis, but he- he was also a lecturer in political science.

Riggins: Was he really?

Ahmad: Yeah. Once in a while, he taught a course in state legislature.

Riggins: That was his area.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, state legislature, yeah. So he appeared in the department once in a while and-- but I did not get to know him as a person, no personal friendship or anything. But in those days, we-- _________ used to go to the Chancellor's residence more often, yeah.

Riggins: And see other faculty.

Ahmad: Yeah, on- on Christmas and- and other occasions.

Riggins: Who did you get to know in history?

Ahmad: History Department, Dr. Mosley and Dr. Gay[ph?]. Both of them are deceased, yeah, yeah, Paul Mosley and Karl Gay, yeah both of them. We became friendly with them. I mean Dr. Mosley, we visited each other's house quite often, yeah, Dr. Mosley. And there was another history professor, James McLean. We're good friend with him, also, yeah. It- it was a- a small in-- group of people and we had-- went to lunch together. In those days, we did not have a cafeteria here. Everybody went out to lunch. Yeah, I mean this-- there were f- five, six buildings here only.

Riggins: At first, there was no cafeteria, and then Westside Hall had a cafeteria.

Ahmad: No, not a cafeteria, no. Yes, that came later on, yeah, later on, yeah.

Riggins: But when you came, it was--

Ahmad: Yeah and there was first dorm, the Schwartz Hall was built, I think, 1971.

Riggins: Schwartz Hall in '71?

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, somewhere around that.

Riggins: That was a big deal.

Ahmad: Yeah. Yeah, that was the first residence hall. And apparently, a commuter school when I came, yeah.

Riggins: Right. I can imagine that.

Ahmad: And now you can see how parking is a problem. Parking has always been a problem.

Riggins: Yeah, every campus, I think.

Ahmad: Yeah, every campus, I think. I think we need a multi-story parking lot.

Riggins: Those are expensive, though.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: That's what the Chancellor says, expensive.

Ahmad: Yeah. But it's one thing now, as a retired faculty, I- I get a free sticker for the whole year. But I'm not really here for a long time, so I- I did not even get my free sticker.

Riggins: Oh you mean you're not in the area very much?

Ahmad: Yeah. Yeah, I'm not- not _______. I-- if I go to the library, I go public library right there on Military ________. I very rarely come this side.

Riggins: You are enjoying your retirement.

Ahmad: I am enjoying my retirement. I play golf three days a week and that's my life. I live for pleasure now, not for lectures in the classroom.

Riggins: Right, not because you have to--

Ahmad: I am happy I don't have to.

Riggins: When you first came how many classes were you teaching a semester--

Ahmad: First, I- I--

Riggins: -- a quarter?

Ahmad: Yeah, four classes.

Riggins: Four classes.

Ahmad: Four classes, two sections of American Government that everybody has to teach. As a matter of fact, I taught something about American Government in every course that I taught, yeah.

Riggins: To relate.

Ahmad: Yeah, you have to give examples of our Constitution and our system. When I talked competitive governments, I compared it to American government, yeah, _______ government and American government, yeah, the Parliament with the-- with the Congress. And there was a little bit of American Government in every political science course.

Riggins: Well this just a little bit aside, but do you think our system makes sense, not having a parliamentary system?

Ahmad: It- it is not as smooth running as a parliament system is, yeah.

Riggins: That's interesting. So a parliamentary system--

Ahmad: Yeah, but with the same party that has a majority is-- also controls the Executive Branch.

Riggins: So it's probably somewhat easier to get things done.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But they- they would-- in fact, also, some- sometimes you could have really rare wording. In our system, there are too many blocks. Yeah, we- we have-- things become very slow, especially when there is a divided government, yeah, like right now, yeah. There are good points, but somebody once said for forms of government, let fools contest. Whatever is best administered is best. We have been under this system for 200 years. We don't have a problem with the British, yeah. But most countries of the world follow the British example, yeah, parliament system, including my former country, India. Yeah, it's better now for the British system.

Riggins: I thought New Zealand, too. I thought they had the--

Ahmad: I think mo- most of them. I don't know. I never thought about New Zealand. New Zealand and Austria, they're all parliament. Well they were all British parliaments.

Riggins: Yeah, right.

Ahmad: They were settled by the British people there.

Riggins: Yeah, right. See, I thought one of those countries was kind of similar to the U.S.

Ahmad: I really don't know. I don't know whether-- most countries in South America are populated with British, copy the American system, yeah.

Riggins: Oh really?

Ahmad: Mexico is a presidential system, yeah.

Riggins: Right.

Ahmad: And many of them, they are mostly dictatorships. They are not democratic systems. Most democratic countries in the world are parliamentary.

Riggins: Like Canada.

Ahmad: Like Canada, yeah, like Canada, like Germany.

Riggins: France.

Ahmad: France is a-- is a hybrid. France has some- some elements of parliamentary and some presidential, because the French president is very powerful, yeah. See- see, in Germany, there is a president, also.

Riggins: Chancellor, yes.

Ahmad: No, no, no. There is a president. Chancellor is called the Prime Minister. Yeah, there is a president. We don't ever hear of him.

Riggins: What does he do?

Ahmad: He __________ thing like-- just like the British Queen, yeah, but does the j- job of president.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yeah, and the same thing in- in Israel, also. In Israel, there is a president.

Riggins: Right, but it's ceremonial.

Ahmad: But- but-- yeah, but ceremonial. The real power is in the hands of the Prime Minister.

Riggins: But sometimes, for political purposes, they'll put somebody in as president.

Ahmad: Oh yes. It's- it's a honorary job. Somebody, you have been-- you have been Prime Minister. You are old now. You are-- you were a politician. Now you are a statesman.

Riggins: Maybe from the opposing party.

Ahmad: Or it could be from opposing party, because--

Riggins: Just to kind of equilibrate the--

Ahmad: Yeah, just kind of-- it's an honorary thing, yeah, to give you a job where there is not much to do, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah. (laughs) Yeah, sort of like Vice-President here.

Ahmad: Yeah, here, the Vice-President here. But our current Vice-President is not a- an honorary job. He is--

Riggins: He works hard.

Ahmad: He works real excited. He- he dominates it, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: There might be some, I would think, back and forth between the President and Vice-President.

Ahmad: Oh yeah. The- the President asks his advice and listens to it, yeah.

Riggins: What about over the years? Did you find that the students changed in their political beliefs? When you first came, were they more liberal?

Ahmad: Y- Yeah, the student body-- yeah, the s- study body, well this is a southern, small town. They were always conservative. But over the years, they became more conservative. I- I had-- my students used to argue about the- the role of big government, yeah. This is just because of the area, yeah. This- this is not just south, but it's- it's in a small corner of south. The geographical location of Wilmington is- is really typical south, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, and now it's perhaps less so, and more influenced by the north, I think.

Ahmad: Yeah, nowadays. Yeah, the student body is becoming more cosmopolitan, yeah. There are lots of people from north. I've experienced-- the largest amount of students I had, they were from New Jersey, for some reason.

Riggins: Interesting, or just a lot of people who live up there. They have to go to college somewhere.

Ahmad: Somewhere, and it's less expensive to come south here, yeah, than- than there. Only--they have good school, I mean they've got Rutgers and Princeton and all that.

Riggins: Can you talk some about the politics of the university? When you first came, I can imagine it was somewhat of a top down approach. And then I think as time came, did the university develop more shared governance?

Ahmad: Yes, there were shared governance when we-- when we started the Senate. At one time, we just had the whole faculty meetings we used for that, but then I- I was a senator for my department for several years.

Riggins: How did you like that?

Ahmad: There- there was some input from it. It-- yeah, it was an exercise in participatory democracy, so to speak, but as to the decisions were made, oh no. I mean you can-- you can give somebody advice, but do the top people listen to that advice and follow, or they just pretend? Yeah.

Riggins: It's hard to know, even now. (laughs)

Ahmad: Yeah. In the ultimate analysis, everywhere, decision making is in the hands of few people. Yeah, whenever there is an organization, there is __________. It is not perfect to have so many people make decisions. That's like in the parliament or in an office, decisions are made by the committees that do not have as many members as-- you know, in British Parliament, there's 658 members. That's just too much-- too many people to make decisions, so in lieu of the committees--

Riggins: They manage it.

Ahmad: Yeah, smaller groups can arrive at a decision making. Same thing in the United Nations, you know, United Nations, 194 members in the General Assembly. Well the General Assembly does not make decisions. De- decisions are made mostly in Security Council, which is only 15 members. Yeah, the smaller parties are--

Riggins: Well that same structure replicates in the university. There are many committees.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, I was on several of those committees in my department.

Riggins: In your department?

Ahmad: In my department, I was on the Scholarship Committee. We had various scholarships. Some people had ________ scholarship for political science majors. I think we have about f- four or five major-- I mean scholarships. Some- sometimes we give it to minorities, some for women and some based on academic achievement. So I was the chairman of that committee for, God knows, 10, 15 years. Well you have the small departments, everybody has to be a Chairman of something. Yeah, but when I left, my department had become, I think, nine people. And s- since then, I think we have had a couple more additions, yeah, so I think the department has about 11 people now. As I said, I have not been in the department for about two or three years, yeah. But parking is a problem to come here, finding a parking place.

Riggins: Yes, I appreciate your coming here today.

Ahmad: Yeah, I park here. I hope that I don't get- get ticketed there. I don't have a parking sticker, but I have a handicap.

Riggins: Well if you do, I'll give you my card. You can just call me. We'll take care of it. I will make sure that's not a problem.

Ahmad: Oh that's fine, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: So yeah, it was interesting here from just the growth and the development was staggering, I'm sure.

Ahmad: Oh the growth- growth was phenomenal. I mean the growth was phenomenal. I mean just not- not numerically, but quality-wise, also. Yeah, both the quantity and the quality has tremendously improved here, yeah.

Riggins: You were still here when they developed the MPA programs.

Ahmad: Yeah, that was developed in the-- I think in the 1998 or 1997. Yeah, they had it started, a few students. I don't know whether I saw any graduate-- anyone graduating, but they had started an MPA program. Dr. Tom Barthe, yeah, he came and he-- they especially hired him for that purpose, yeah, yeah, yeah. He came here from, I think, Memphis. He- he started it. And I'm- I'm pretty sure that there are 30 students in it, maybe.

Riggins: Probably, yeah.

Ahmad: Yeah, in their Masters Program, yeah. And that- that makes it easier for our graduates to get jobs--

Riggins: Oh yeah.

Ahmad: --yeah in public acquisition, City Manager, Assistant City Manager, these kinds of jobs, yeah, political science majors, and then in the end, working for the local governments, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, so it makes them more qualified.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah and more- more in tune with the world. That's what they learn here, the state and local government. The city planner here was one of our former students. I think he had moved somewhere else. His name was Mike Hargett[ph?]. Mike Hargett, he was ___________.

Riggins: He was one of your students?

Ahmad: Yeah, he was ________ student _________, yeah, yeah. There- there were several of those who became-- who started working for the city. Bobby Schutt[ph?] was another one. Bobby Schutt, he worked in the-- in the city. He had a Masters degree from Chapel Hill, yeah, but he graduated in political science. But most of my good students who had a good grade point average, they became lawyers. They went to law school.

Riggins: Interesting. And so you probably got used to advising people on that, to some degree.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we were-- I advised pre-law students, also. But Dr. Dixon was the official advisor, pre- pre-law advisor.

Riggins: You must have had advisees for a long time before the general college came about?

Ahmad: Y- yeah, we had-- as a matter of fact, every faculty member for-- in the early few d- days, there were 15, 20 advisors. Yeah, that in the beginning _______. But after two years in general politics, then came to our department, yeah, yeah, major, yeah.

Riggins: Right, so you just had them for a shorter time.

Ahmad: For a short time, yes, but we had-- that was a good part. I mean ad-- being an advisor is a very important job, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: And you liked it.

Ahmad: Oh yes, I liked to advise my students and- and keep them on the right track; otherwise, they'll find out later on that they are not taking all the right required courses, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah and it changes every year and they have to make sure that they are on track.

Ahmad: Yeah, oh yes, yeah, on track and graduate, got out of here in four years, hopefully.

Riggins: Yeah, four years, that's the goal.

Ahmad: Yeah, but s- some of them did not. Yeah, some of them did not. We had to push them out. Get out of here.

Riggins: Time to leave the nest.

Ahmad: Yeah, go and get-- make a living.

Riggins: Well that's another issue too, is a lot of students want to stay in Wilmington, and there's just not jobs for everybody.

Ahmad: Yeah, there are not- not enough professional jobs or good quality jobs, yes. Oh yes, I've had my student, sometimes, after graduating; I've seen them in town, "What you doing?" "I'm still working in- in a restaurant." "Well why are you not moving out of here?" "My- my girlfriend is still a senior and next year, we'll move," (laughs) those kinds of things.

Riggins: Right. Well you know, hopefully, they will.

Ahmad: Oh yes. Sometimes I see my students on TV. This-- one of them is in- in Dare County. He's the- the Director of the Emergency Services, _____________ or something. He comes on TV, yeah.

Riggins: Wow, that's great!

Ahmad: Yeah, I- I recognize them.

Riggins: Well you must see them, too if you get the local access channel that has like county meetings and things like that.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, county meetings, yes.

Riggins: You can find your students, like the city planner that left and things like that.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: I know when you were here throughout the '70's, the university became more focused on research, as well as teaching.

Ahmad: N- not in the '70's as much, but in '80's. In '70's it was-- it's still basically a teaching institution, yeah. And in my department, my Chairman was especially very strict and he said, "We want to be good teachers here."

Riggins: That's amazing! Now a Chair couldn't get away with saying that, I don't think.

Ahmad: No. Yeah, our department was not-- did not push people to do research and publish or write books. Be a teacher. Be available to the students there when they need you, and be advisor, yeah.

Riggins: Did it change while you were here?

Ahmad: Oh yeah, things change-- started changing, obvious-- obviously, after me being here what, 8-10 years. Things started changing, more emphasis on research.

Riggins: Did Dr. Dixon remain Chair for a long time?

Ahmad: Dr. Dixon was Chair for a very long time.

Riggins: Like 20 years?

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah. I don't remember the exact date, but he was the Chairman for a very long time, yeah. He was a very nice person and very nice administrator, very fair, so there was not- not too much complaint against him. But the students did not like his teaching. He was strict. He was strict, yeah, so the student-- the students were not very happy with him. Yeah, but then he was succeeded by Dr. Sheridan.

Riggins: Mm hmm... Earl Sheridan, yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, Earl Sheridan and he was Chairman. As a matter of fact, when I retired, he-- no, we- we hired, this first year, Dr. Dluhy.

Riggins: Oh yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, Milan Dluhy.

Riggins: Yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, he-- but he was the only one here, and then he left for somewhere. I don't know. He went. And I heard that he has come back again. And as I said, I have not been to the department for three years, four years, yeah. But I know that Dr. Bross[ph?] is the Chairman.

Riggins: Now, Dr. Bross is the Chairman?

Ahmad: Is the Chairman, and I think Dr. Love[ph?] is the Vice-Chairman.

Riggins: Associate, maybe.

Ahmad: Or Associate Chairman or something, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, that could be.

Ahmad: Yeah, but Dr. Sheridan is doing all right. He's on the City Council. You know the city Mayor, he was my former student __________.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yes, Saffo.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yeah, he's a pretty good ______________________ of my student.

Riggins: Bill Saffo, was he a major?

Ahmad: Yes, ma'am. He was ________. He took several courses under me. And I met his parents, also, the _________.

Riggins: Yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, I- I met them at a-- at a function. The bank had a function and there he was. We were sitting on the same table. And he had a small accent, and when he gave me his name, Saffo, I give my name, Ahmed. As an _________ Saffo, in my class, he's on the City Council now. He's- he's my son! And he said he's coming here to this party, and when he came, I motioned to him and he- he hugged me.

Riggins: Oh yeah.

Ahmad: Yeah, the student, but he was my--

Riggins: Was he a good student?

Ahmad: No, sir.

Riggins: No, no!

Ahmad: No, no, he was- he was a fair student.

Riggins: Yeah right, right.

Ahmad: Yeah, he was a fair student.

Riggins: He was social, perhaps.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, much more social. He- he did not go to law school. He did not-- could not make it to law school. But he was conscientious in the sense he came to the class and he had-- he-- that he became a real- realtor. Yeah, his parents had property. Yeah, they developed things and he became a realtor. And then from there, he went into City Council and then when the Mayor left, they made him the Mayor.

Riggins: Yeah, oh yeah.

Ahmad: He is the Mayor. He is the Mayor.

Riggins: I think it took a while to hire female faculty in your department. There was a lady, Kathleen--

Ahmad: Yeah, Kathleen Bulmash. Kathleen Bulmash, but she came after-- the- the first woman, was an African American woman who stayed here only one year, yeah, then gradually left. She did not do a good teaching job, so she left after one year, only. I think Dr. Dixon did not recommend for her- her reappointment, yeah. She- she had not finished her Ph.D. also, so yeah. That was 30 years ago, 35 years.

Ahmad: Yes, I know. You're doing very well to remember the names. I was reading a book. This lady had written an essay and it turns out she had taught at UNCW in political science.

Ahmad: Yes.

Riggins: And she was very liberal.

Ahmad: Yeah, she was very, yeah. Kathleen Bulmash was her name, yeah.

Riggins: Okay, yes, yes. Now she might be almost retired, but she's moved on to California.

Ahmad: To California, yeah, yeah, California, yeah. Yeah, she- she-- we were social friends. They came to visit our house a couple of times, yeah. Yeah, yeah, I mean she's very nice, a very smart woman.

Riggins: Yes, uh huh.

Ahmad: Yeah, a very smart woman.

Riggins: But perhaps ahead of her time, maybe, a little bit.

Ahmad: Yeah, ahead of it-- that. She- she belonged to-- in California, not in Wilmington. (laughs)

Riggins: That's what she wrote in this essay.

Ahmad: Is it? I- I don't know, really.

Riggins: Yeah, but she stayed for like a few years.

Ahmad: For three- three years, I think.

Riggins: Three years.

Ahmad: Three or four years, yeah. She had a baby here when she was-- yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah. That's actually what I was reading was a book about working mothers in academia.

Ahmad: I see. I see, yeah, yeah. She had a baby and she used to bring the baby, sometimes, yeah, yeah.

Ahmad: Mm hmm. That must have been a challenge for her.

Ahmad: Yeah, yes.

Riggins: What was the next woman? Were you able to find anymore?

Ahmad: My replacement was a woman--

Riggins: Oh Dr.--

Ahmad: --married to a Chinese person.

Riggins: Oh right.

Ahmad: But my replacement was a woman. She is American, but her husband her is- is Chinese or Singaporean or Indonesian.

Riggins: Okay, I know who you mean.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: I can't think of her name either.

Ahmad: Tang or Vang--

Riggins: Dr. Tan, yeah, Paige Tan?

Ahmad: That must be right. That must be it.

Riggins: So she does South As--

Ahmad: Competitive go-- competitive government, yeah, competitive government, yeah. I used to teach European. She's mostly in Southeast Indonesia, and- and international, also. And then another we hired from- from Canada, a Canadian--

Riggins: Dr. Kleinberg.

Ahmad: Yeah, Kleinberg also, yeah.

Riggins: Right.

Ahmad: Yeah, we- we were lucky that we had another department. Dr. Dawson, Raymond Dawson, he used to be the- the provost in Chapel Hill, yeah. And- and for some years, he came here as the professor of political science, after retiring from there.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yeah, Raymond Dawson. Yeah, he was the--

Riggins: Was he a good colleague?

Ahmad: A very nice colleague, very nice, very nice, down-to-earth person, yeah. But he had some asthma problems or something. He could not stay here long enough. The- the humidity here bothered him, so he left, yeah. But he was a very nice colleague, Raymond Dawson.

Riggins: Raymond Dawson.

Ahmad: He was a big guy, you know--

Riggins: In administration.

Ahmad: --in administration in Chapel Hill. As a matter of fact, I heard that he hired Dr. Leutze as the history professor there. (laughs)

Riggins: That could be. That's funny.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: And then he came to teach here.

Ahmad: Then- then he came to teach here and Dr. Leutze hired him, but he was hired at a special salary, not- not the salary that we were making.

Riggins: Oh really.

Ahmad: Oh no. He was--

Riggins: Because he was so--

Ahmad: Yeah, he was such a big guy up there.

Riggins: Right, right. So the parliament is still small, I think.

Ahmad: Yeah, I think it's still only 11 people. I remember, yeah. Its still-- it's still small.

Riggins: But it's growing. I mean it's bigger than--

Ahmad: Yeah, but it is not the quantity. It is the quality.

Riggins: Yes, that's right.

Ahmad: Yeah, the quality, the quality matters there.

Riggins: Right. So yeah, it sounds like they were very good people to work with. Your area of scholarship, did they ever have you teach South Asian--

Ahmad: I taught- taught, a couple of times, India, about India, yeah, because the- the people expected me to teach-- know something about India. Yeah, so I taught. In competitive things, I taught about India, yes. I gave a course in India, a non-alignment and international relations, foreign policy of India and those- those types of things I give, and approximately with about 10-12 students in those day, yes.

Riggins: You mentioned you went to college in the town where you grew up. Was it a big city that you grew up in?

Ahmad: No, it's not a big city from India's parts. I mean it- it had about half a million people, but in India, half a million is not a big city.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yeah, so it's-- but it was a small university. It's really a parochial school there in the sense that it- it started as a-- as a school for Muslims in India. Yeah, it is called the Aligarh Muslim University, yeah, because a- a vast majority of Indian population is Hindus, yeah, but there were 10 percent Muslims, also.

Riggins: A significant minority.

Ahmad: Yes it- it was in absolute terms. There are about 160 million Muslims in India.

Riggins: In India.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: That's a major part of the world.

Ahmad: Major, yeah, but most of the population is close to a billion, yeah, so 750 are Hindus, yeah. And there are Christians, also, in India, yeah, Christians and other minorities of a religion called Sikh[ph?]. Those people wear ________ and- and _________ and beards. You will see them in armed forces, yeah.

Riggins: Well you must have been here when Mother Theresa came.

Ahmad: Yeah, I was here.

Riggins: That was big.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: But it was interesting. She came the same trip that she got the Nobel Prize, but she stopped in Wilmington--

Ahmad: Yeah, she stopped in Wilmington, yeah.

Riggins: -- and then went to the United Nations.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: Did you have her speak to classes?

Ahmad: No, no. She came for a brief-- yeah, very brief. I-- you know she hangs out-- I saw here with Dr. Shinn[ph?], yeah.

Riggins: Yes. We have interviewed him. He was a character, right?

Ahmad: Y- yeah, he was. He was. He was a character. He was a good-- a good person.

Riggins: Yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, he- he was a scholar. I had shared an office next to him, early days when I came here.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yeah, I got to know him, yeah, Dr. Shinn. Is he ___________?

Riggins: Yes.

Ahmad: __________.

Riggins: Yes, and as far as I have heard, in the western part of the state, not the mountains, but Alamance County, I think, yeah.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, he is. He also has some- some respiratory problems. Yeah, he has some respiratory problems, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, he certainly had a following--

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: -- and cared about the students.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah. He- he always has his- his tie in his pocket. That was his character.

Riggins: I have heard about that.

Ahmad: (laughs) But he- he was a scholar. I liked him. I liked him. I got to know him in very early days when the school was small, yeah.

Riggins: Yeah, you got to know him.

Ahmad: Yeah, I think he came about the same time when I did, a year earlier or a year later.

Riggins: Yes.

Ahmad: I- I remember him in my early days.

Riggins: Mm hmm.

Ahmad: Then new buildings came into existence and the departments separated. I mean our department ran around with the mass, and then we became a department in the same building as psychology and sociology, yeah.

Riggins: Were you in Bear Hall for a while or in Cameron?

Ahmad: Yeah, we were in Bear Hall.

Riggins: Not Cameron. You wouldn't have been in Cameron-- Bear Hall.

Ahmad: Yeah, I was at Bear- Bear Hall. We were there upstairs, and then we were the first one in behavioral science building, yeah. Then were sociology, upstairs in psychology and philosophy, and then we went downstairs, yeah.

Riggins: Did you get to know some of the sociology people?

Ahmad: Yeah, I got to know a couple of sociology professors, also, yeah.

Riggins: That's another department that was kind--

Ahmad: Yeah, the- the old Chairman, I think he's passed away. His name was Iskelf[ph?]

Riggins: Yes, Dr. Iskelf.

Ahmad: Dr. Iskelf, I got to know him. And Gene Sevilla [ph?], is he still here?

Riggins: Yeah, is just retiring. He did his retirement and then his phased retirement.

Ahmad: I see, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: He just finished teaching last fall.

Ahmad: Yeah, he was here. I was here. I got to know him, also.

Riggins: He is a very nice person.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah. Me and him together, we bought some property in Hampstead.

Riggins: Oh really.

Ahmad: That's where he is now.

Riggins: Yes, uh huh.

Ahmad: Yeah, Hampstead, yeah, the same road. I am the same road, yeah, yeah. And the other professor in that department, I think his name was Dixon, also.

Riggins: Yes, yes.

Ahmad: Richard Dixon, yeah.

Riggins: Richard Dixon, he's--

Ahmad: He's retired?

Riggins: --he's doing phased retirement also.

Ahmad: Is he?

Riggins: Yes. These- these two came a couple of years after I did, yeah, so they are putting their 30 years now. Yeah, he also, but we-- all three of us went and bought this land in Hampstead.

Riggins: Really?

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Three professors?

Ahmad: Together!

Riggins: Three professors.

Ahmad: N- next to each other.

Riggins: And is it going to be--

Ahmad: I sold mine.

Riggins: Oh you did?

Ahmad: I- I sold mine, made money. (laughs) Yeah, I sold mine.

Riggins: Is it residential?

Ahmad: Oh yeah, it's residential, is-- yeah, is residential. It's called Forest Sound. The name of the development is called Forest Sound. It's about a mile long from Highway 17 up to the Intracoastal Waterway, yeah. It was an investment.

Riggins: So you got out.

Ahmad: I got out, made money.

Riggins: Yeah, but they still have theirs?

Ahmad: Gene Svila built his house there.

Riggins: Oh okay.

Ahmad: Yeah. Yeah, he lives there. But I don't- don't know what- what Rick Dixon did. He might have sold.

Riggins: But you still live in Wilmington, right?

Ahmad: I live in Bayshore Estates here.

Riggins: Oh yeah, Jerry Parnell, he's Special Collections Librarian, lives there. That's right near the Lutheran church, right?

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, beside Lutheran, yeah, yeah. That's- that's-- the entrance is Lutheran Church, and doctors' office is there. Yeah and then yeah, I- I live there. The area is a creek. There's a creek that goes from there all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway, yeah. I've been there 32 years.

Riggins: Wow! Like you bought at the right time! (laughs)

Ahmad: I bought at the right time.

Riggins: You're just watching the prices go up.

Ahmad: Yes, ma'am, ________, especially if you are waterfront or you are-- I could not buy it now.

Riggins: Is there waterfront at Bayshore Estates?

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Really, to the Intracoastal?

Ahmad: Yeah, the creek-- yeah, the creek from them was-- is- is the end of Paige's Creek.

Riggins: Okay.

Ahmad: Yeah, the Paige's Creek, it comes all the way up to-- up to the end of-- when you enter the Bayshore, about half a mile, there is no water. But then- then there is the end of this creek, and then f- from this creek, you can go all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway.

Riggins: Right, Paige's Creek.

Ahmad: Yeah, Paige's Creek. It- it is about a mile, I think, to reach the Intracoastal Waterway.

Riggins: That's good.

Ahmad: Dr. Brooke-- Bill Brooke used to live there, also.

Riggins: Yes, Bill Brooke.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Bill Brooke lived there. Does he still live there? I have no idea.

Riggins: Yes, he is. He is, yeah.

Ahmad: Yeah. Yeah, he's old-- a little older than I am.

Riggins: Oh yeah. (laughs)

Ahmad: Yeah, he was-- he was here when I came here.

Riggins: Did you attend any athletic events, like soccer?

Ahmad: Oh yes and I used to-- no, I usually went see the basketball.

Riggins: Really.

Ahmad: Yeah, basketball, in the early days. Yeah, we'd go to see the basketball, got the season tickets at a special price and we used to go there.

Riggins: It's been seven years since you retired. Well you taught part-time.

Ahmad: Yeah, probably, but I- I'm really retired for three year now, three-and-a-half years.

Riggins: Oh three-and-a-half.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Oh so you taught until 2003.

Ahmad: Yeah, 2002 or 3, 2002 or 3, yeah.

Riggins: What have you been doing?

Ahmad: I have been-- I have been traveling. I went to Spain, and then last year, I went to my pilgrimage, to Mecca. I am a Muslim, yeah.

Riggins: Yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, I went to my pilgrimage to--

Riggins: How was that? Had you done that before?

Ahmad: No, no, never. We are supposed to do it once in lifetime.

Riggins: Yes. Only once?

Ahmad: Oh you can do it more than once, but it's- it's so many people there. Nowadays, there are two million people who come there at one time for two weeks.

Riggins: That's a long time, yeah.

Ahmad: Yeah, it- it's just too many people there. Those- those country-- although Saudi Arabia has done a lot, because they have the money now, but it's hard to manage that many people at one time, for just two weeks. This- this happens for two weeks only, yeah, so I did that. Then my mother is still living. She lives in New Jersey. I go there every six months. And then I just play ball or take it easy now. I'm- I'm very happy and satisfied in my life.

Riggins: Yeah, you're retired, no teaching, no desire to teach.

Ahmad: No, I don't have-- tell you what, I made some good investments. I don't have to worry about work now, yeah.

Riggins: That's wonderful. Now you enjoy just being in Wilmington with your wife.

Ahmad: Yeah. And- and whenever we want to go, we- we go somewhere.

Riggins: Oh and you travel together sometimes.

Ahmad: Oh yes, and then __________ took me around to Spain, _________. We go together about every two years, yeah.

Riggins: Oh she likes to travel.

Ahmad: Yeah, but we never had any children, by the way, so we are just two people.

Riggins: Right, right.

Ahmad: Close the house and go.

Riggins: Yeah, it's easy. The last question I'd like to ask about your closing thoughts for this interview; what has UNCW meant to you, and what stands out about this institution and the time you spent here?

Ahmad: Well the university, it meant a lot to me in the sense it was not just a- a job, but it was a very rewarding career here. I mean I- I had a very good relationship with my students. It gave me something that I'm proud of in the sense that I've taught and made some changes in the life of lots of students. And they remember me fondly and I remember them fondly. And the local community has been good. I have never had any problem. People here respect UNCW professors, yeah. When I go here or somewhere, I find my former students. This- this meant a nice career, and very rewarding and fulfilling career I had here. Yeah, I have very fond memories of my 32 years here, and I'm glad to speak to you and tell you how it happened. And _________, we had-- in our department, we had very quality region. We did not have, how do you say, cliques. We really had very few people. If you have 30-40 members of departments then, you know, they're groups or, you know--

Riggins: It's more anonymous.

Ahmad: Yeah, so this- this-- we had a small department, was like-- is like a family. We never had too many disagreements. We will never disagree to e-- to each other. We- we had a very nice working environment, yeah, pleasant.

Riggins: It's not quite that pleasant note, but I just realized, since you were still here after 2000, were you teaching in the fall of 2001? Did you teach during 9/11?

Ahmad: 9/11? No, 9/11, I was not. I think I was 2- 2000-- this- this happened in 2003.

Riggins: Now I'm forgetting.

Ahmad: Yeah, 9/11, 2003.

Riggins: 2003, okay, I'm forgetting. I'm sorry.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: I'm losing track of time, myself, but you are teaching here then?

Ahmad: I- I don't think I was teaching here in September 2003.

Riggins: Yeah, that's right. It wouldn't have been over.

Ahmad: Yeah, I- I think I was, too, on- on the campus, but -- I have met- met people and they ask me about, you know, all this in details.

Riggins: Sure.

Ahmad: And our invasion of Iraq, what a-- what a stupid mistake we made. We have brought ourselves in a jam--

Riggins: Yeah.

Ahmad: -- and no easy way out.

Riggins: I'm sure you could see that unfolding. I mean you could see it happen before...

Ahmad: Oh yeah, yeah. I- I see we- we are getting ready to invade and we're looking for excuses. That was very poor- poor decision making, yeah. It is a-- is a mistake. It was mistaken. But there was-- I mean there- there's no easy way out of this thing--

Riggins: Right.

Ahmad: --without-- I mean without losing face, losing honor. This is an unwinnable war. Yeah, we- we should have learned something from Vietnam, but people don't learn from history.

Riggins: Unfortunately.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: Unfortunately. Dr. Leutze, I know you must have known him.

Ahmad: I- I was on- on the stage with him for a couple of symposiums, if I remember, but I think he took a position-- that was 1991 war with Iraq--

Riggins: Right, yes.

Ahmad: --when- when Saddam Hussein attacked and- and waited and occupied Kuwait.

Riggins: Right.

Ahmad: Yeah and we--

Riggins: And you said you spoke on that.

Ahmad: I spoke on that and he was on the stage with me, yeah.

Riggins: Yes, yes.

Ahmad: Yeah, we took-- we took different positions.

Riggins: Ah, did you?

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: Okay. Well actually, do you mind if I take a little break here?

Ahmad: Oh yeah.

Riggins: Sure.

[tape change]

Riggins: You said that there were some forums and discussions relating to the first Iraq war or it was called Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990, 1991.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: You shared this parting [ph?] with Dr. Leutze, who also has a background in international relations.

Ahmad: History.

Riggins: What do you remember about these discussions?

Ahmad: He was against the idea of going there. I feel that we might get bogged down and make more enemies. And we have made more enemies in the Middle East.

Riggins: Back then it was different. Did you feel that Iraq had invaded a sovereign state?

Ahmad: Yeah. That was just a feeling at least. You would justify it, yeah. But this time, it was absolutely unjustifiable. I mean, this is what we chose.

Riggins: And even with the evidence that the Senate authorized it I suppose.

Ahmad: Yeah both Houses of the Congress authorized the use of force because political reasons. You cannot oppose war and find out that the war was very easy as it was in 1991. Then you are committing political suicide. A war that does not last very long is very popular and you win it quick as we did in 1991. And at very small cost. Most of the money was paid by the Kuwaitis and the Saudis. We did not spend our money there. But this time the money, [inaudible] oil; Iraqi oil will pay for it. But this time we are paying it.

Riggins: Last time there was a very short ground war.

Ahmad: Yeah, a very short ground war. Very few casualties.

Riggins: No desire to topple the government.

Ahmad: Yeah. No desire to occupy the thing, we just went there and kicked them out.

Riggins: To liberate Kuwait.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: What do you suppose would motivate Bush's son to do this? Is it something to do with his family?

Ahmad: There is just not one reason but it could something have in his mind that my dad did not finish the job so I'm going to make him proud. Everybody in the first Bush administration opposed this thing. They were not in favor of the younger Bush going there.

Riggins: They went and interviewed the people from the first Bush..

Ahmad: Yeah. Scowcroft and they were all against it. But our current president is a pretty stubborn fellow. A stubborn fellow.

Riggins: Opinionated.

Ahmad: Again, and such a position [ph?] that if right now if you pull out that means we lost.

Riggins: And there's no support for the military who've been there. If we pull them out, it's like what have they been fighting for?

Ahmad: Yeah. But that's also not very logical. In order to say that their sacrifices were not in vain we are going to make more sacrifices. It is a very illogical situation now. We are in a very unwinning kind of a situation. You can't afford to lose and you don't seem to win.

Riggins: We will have to wait for a change in administration.

Ahmad: Right now it appears that way. Right now it appears this way.

Riggins: Whatever party wins, there will be a change.

Ahmad: Oh yeah. But there's no sense. It's a civil war going on there and we are in the middle. We are in the middle. We are not doing anything.

Riggins: His hope was to put democracy in place.

Ahmad: You cannot put democracy in- democracy has to develop. A goal. There has to be a culture. That culture is not for democracy. They never had known democracy. Most democratic people are Europeans. It is part of the European culture.

Riggins: But in India..

Ahmad: Yeah, India but it developed because of the British.

Riggins: They had been there for so long.

Ahmad: Yeah, they nurtured this thinking. The idea of elections and.. Old India was not very democratic but gradually India has been independent for 60 years and it has become more and more democratic as time passes.

Riggins: And at peace.

Ahmad: Yeah and that peace means that. And Pakistan did not do it. At one time, Pakistan was just one country; India and Pakistan. In 1947, they separated. The partition. And Pakistan did not vote democratic.

Riggins: Some people thought that this could happen and define history.

Ahmad: No. That was a very naive view of this thing can happen.

Riggins: Just because they wanted it, they couldn't implement it.

Ahmad: Yeah.

Riggins: That might work like in stage government, if you want to implement the change, you can do it. But in the international setting..

Ahmad: In the Middle East, the only country that is democratic is Israel. They are mostly European people. Their culture. Lebanon had at one time some democratic institutions but most of these countries in the Middle East they are very autocratic, oligarchic. Monarchies. Just like Jordan. Saudi Arabia. Then the United Arab Emirates. The UAE, Shah Jar, Abu Dhabi. Yeah, monarchies.

Riggins: No freedoms for the people.

Ahmad: Very autocratic rule.

Riggins: But it's religion and community that hold people together.

Ahmad: Yeah. Religion, community; and since they have so much money that they have bought the loyalty of their citizens by giving them lots of free things. Yeah. That's why they got the support. In this country, they're really welfare states.

Riggins: Yeah, the Gulf Coast States.

Ahmad: Yeah, but they are worth plenty of money.

Riggins: So, Iraq could be wealthy? Do they have oil?

Ahmad: Iraq had lots of oil. Iraq was not a bad country. It was developed. They are educated, middle class and all these-- But the religious divisions are there; Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds. Three distinct ethnic groups there. And at one time they were living, intermarrying, all these things but under the Sunni domination. Saddam Hussein was Sunni. And after his downfall, the majority of the people there are Shiites. We favor the Shiite people. Of course, you have an election, the majority will win. The Sunnis are mad that they lost power and they're fighting. Those people believe in- there is nothing to lose. They believe in fighting. They don't want to be occupied and ruled- especially European, I mean Americans. They want to oppose it. It is not easy for us to extricate ourselves from there. We are between a rock and a hard place.

Riggins: This semester, Dr. Leutze taught a course. Since he stepped down from Chancellor, he taught a course on comparing the Iraq situation to Vietnam.

Ahmad: There are similarities and there are differences. Yeah. There are similarities and there are differences. But the outcome looks like about the same.

Riggins: Which is exactly what the administration didn't want.

Ahmad: Yeah, yeah. They didn't want that. The outcome looks like it will be about the same because our army does not have that much motivation. What are we fighting for? They don't know. Sometimes they're confused; siding with one group versus the other group. We are sacrificing nice, young people.

Riggins: The people are not behind it. We're not sacrificing. It's the military that's sacrificing.

Ahmad: Yeah. It's a shame but we lost over 3000 young people and 50,000 maimed and injured. And billions of dollars wasted.

Riggins: That's less than Vietnam already.

Ahmad: Oh yeah. In Vietnam at one time, we had half a million troops. There we have only 140,000. And Vietnam was fought with generals and all this; here it's open. At least things are not headed- it's a desert. It's still [inaudible].

Riggins: Did you ever discuss things with Dr. Leutze?

Ahmad: No I did not. I did not have a one-on-one with him.

Riggins: He was always very involved with different political things around the region.

Ahmad: He used to have a TV program on once. [inaudible]. I used to watch it. I watched several episodes of that.

Riggins: I thank you for your comments. I really do think it's valuable. This will be valuable to a student who wants to learn about the times.

Ahmad: [inaudible] the political science department and I said come and [inaudible].

Riggins: The life of a political science professor talking about the different conflicts.

Ahmad: Political science graduates, there is future for you.

Riggins: I don't know if you would encourage political science graduates to go on for a PhD.

Ahmad: They can for teaching. Teaching is fun. I have a great time.

Riggins: I don't know if the jobs are there.

Ahmad: There will be jobs but not as many. Yeah, there will be jobs.

Riggins: Yeah, if you're good and you have something to bring to the department. Thank you for your contribution. I'm glad you enjoyed your time here at UNCW.

Ahmad: I am glad I come here and time for me to go and have a cup of tea.

Riggins: Thank you.

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