United States Foreign Policy

Purpose of Course  showclose

What is the best way to respond to global nuclear proliferation? Under what circumstances should American soldiers be sent to war? How should U.S. policymakers navigate a global economy? Will a global energy crisis precipitate a third world war? How does history inform contemporary U.S. foreign policymakers, and what issues will challenge future leaders? Such questions can seem beyond the scope of an individual, but they are questions that foreign policy decision makers in the United States must confront. Further, the issues that such questions raise must also be considered by members of the government bureaucracy and any citizen that wishes to be an informed participant in American democracy. The prominent role of the United States and a global leader makes examining and understanding the actions that the U.S. takes toward the rest of the world and how these decisions are made important for both American and citizens of other nations alike. This course will provide history, theory, and perspectives on current foreign policy issues to provide you with a foundation for understanding the study of foreign policy and perspectives to analyze a variety of pressing foreign policy issues.

In general, the foreign policy of the United States includes policy decisions regarding international issues and relationships with foreign countries. The phrase “politics stops at the water’s edge” alludes to the way in which foreign policy issues are treated differently from domestic issues in the study and conduct of American politics. While there are many ways in which foreign policy is a unique policy area in the context of politics and governance in the United States and warranting separate study, it is nonetheless important to apply theories of both domestic politics and international relations to understand and analyze U.S. foreign policy. Towards these ends, this class will begin by outlining the constitutional foundations of foreign policymaking in the United States as well as the structure of and interplay between the formal and informal institutions that craft and implement U.S. foreign policy, including the president, Congress, the bureaucracy, the media, and public opinion. Next, you will examine theories of international relations that may inform and explain U.S. foreign policy as well as specific theories of foreign policymaking to better understand the decisions of policymakers as well as the outcomes of these decisions.

In order to fully understand contemporary issues in foreign policy, it is important to study how the United States’ relationship with the world has changed over time and how world events and U.S. foreign policy have mutually influenced one another. Units 1-3 of this course provide this overview. Towards these ends, you will gain an understanding of the history of U.S. foreign policy and how American priorities and goals, as well as the means of achieving them, influence foreign policy. In Unit 4, you will then address several issues relevant to current U.S. policymakers in a manner that is informed by the previous units on the foreign policymaking process, the theories used to understand these processes, and historical perspective. In this regard, you will not only consider the most pressing foreign policy issues of the day but also understand how these issues have and will continue to change. For example, the importance of traditional foreign policy issues such as military security, war, and alliances; issues such as food and energy security; environmental issues such as climate change; and human rights have increasingly become part of the agenda of foreign policymakers. In Unit 5, you will step back and consider U.S. foreign policy from a broad perspective by considering issues of grand strategy and projects for the future.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to POLSC311: United States Foreign Policy. Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 
 
Course Designer: Sean Miskell
 
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different, free online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the later units. You will also need to complete the Final Exam.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through all of the resources in each unit.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you approximately 126.75 hours to complete. Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you 27.25 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1 and 1.2 (a total of 4.5 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.3.1 (a total of 4.5 hours) on Tuesday night; subunit 1.3.2 (a total of 6 hours) on Wednesday and Thursday nights; etc.

Tips/Suggestions: This course is organized such that each unit provides information on different aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Unit 1 focuses on how foreign policy is made in the U.S.; Unit 2 addresses theories of foreign policymaking and international relations that help us understand the decisions of leaders and the behavior of states in the international system in a broad perspective; Unit 3 provides an overview of U.S. foreign policy from the time of George Washington to the Obama administration; Unit 4 addresses contemporary issues relevant to foreign policymakers (as well as citizens) of the U.S.; Unit 5 looks to the future role of the U.S. in the world. Be sure to consider how each unit informs the others as well as the purpose of each unit. For example, Unit 1 emphasizes discrete facts, such as the institutions and rules that are relevant to foreign policymaking, while Unit 2 provides general theoretical perspectives that can help you understand a wide range of phenomena and should be kept in mind as you proceed through the following units. The subunits of Unit 4 are in many ways discrete issues, but they are surely connected by their relationship with one another as well as the historical information found in Unit 3. In sum, as you proceed through each unit, be sure to consider how they connect with and inform one another.

Make sure to take comprehensive notes as you work through the resources in each unit. These notes will serve as a useful review as you study and prepare for the Final Exam.

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • identify the processes and institutions relevant to foreign policymaking in the United States;
  • compare and contrast competing theories of international relations that relate to U.S. foreign policy as well as specific theories foreign policymaking, and explain how these theories help us understand U.S. foreign policy;
  • trace the historical development of U.S. foreign policy, including key historical events that have shaped and were shaped by U.S. foreign policy, and apply this historical context to contemporary issues in U.S. foreign policy;
  • list and describe substantive and geographical issues relevant to contemporary foreign policymakers in the United States, and provide informed policy proposals for addressing these issues;
  • synthesize information about U.S. foreign policy goals, values, contemporary issues, and trends to articulate a grand strategy for U.S. foreign policymakers to follow;
  • critically evaluate and analyze U.S. foreign policy goals, values, and contemporary issues using the conceptual and theoretical tools of the field. Explain how foreign policy goals and priorities have and will continue to change, and identify issues that will be important to future policymakers; and
  • apply theoretical principles from international relations and foreign policy analysis to explain and understand why the U.S. created and implemented specific foreign policy decisions.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language; and

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Preliminary Information

  • American Government and Politics in the Information Age

    You will be prompted to read sections of this book throughout the course. You may choose to download the text in full now and skip to the appropriate section as prompted by the resource boxes below, or you can simply download the specific sections of the text assigned as you progress through each resource box below.

    Reading: American Government and Politics in the Information Age (PDF)

    Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

Unit Outline show close


Expand All Resources Collapse All Resources
  • Unit 1: Mechanics of Foreign Policy Formation in the United States  

    In this unit, you will learn about the formal and informal institutions that influence the foreign policymaking process in the United States. Following a general overview of U.S. foreign policymaking, you will learn about the constitutional roots of foreign policymaking in the United States. While this discussion will overlap with more general courses on American politics, it is important to understand how the design of American government specifically influences foreign policy and the process by which foreign policy is crafted and implemented.

    After you understand how the design of American government influences foreign policy, you will then delve more deeply into information about the specific actors responsible for crafting and implementing foreign policy for the United States, and how their roles differ. These actors include constitutionally designated branches of government, such as the president and Congress, but also the institutions that have developed around them over time that make up the foreign policymaking bureaucracy, such as the National Security Council and elements of the military industrial complex. Finally, actors outside the government also play an important role in influencing the decisions of foreign policymakers. This unit will conclude by addressing additional domestic sources of foreign policy such as the media, public opinion, and interest groups. 

    Time Advisory   show close
    Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 1.1 Overview of Foreign Policymaking in the United States  
  • 1.2 The Constitution and U.S. Foreign Policy  
  • 1.2.1 The Presidency  
  • 1.2.2 Congress  
  • 1.3 The Foreign Policymaking Bureaucracy  
  • 1.3.1 The National Security Council  
    • Reading: Congressional Research Service: Richard A. Best, Jr.’s “The National Security Council: An Organizational Assessment”

      Link: Congressional Research Service: Richard A. Best, Jr.’s “The National Security Council: An Organizational Assessment” (PDF)

      Instructions: The link above will take you to a listing congressional research reports on general national security topics. The reports are organized chronologically. Scroll down to December 28, 2011 or use the search feature in your browser (find “the national security council”). Click on the link to download the PDF and read the report. This report provides an overview of the NSC, including why and how the NSC was established and how it has evolved through each presidential administration, from Truman to Obama. Carefully read the last major section, “Overview of Current NSC Functions.”

      Reading this report should take approximately 3 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Lecture: iTunes U: Wellesley College's Albright Institute for Global Affairs: “The National Security Council: Decisions on National Security”

      Link: iTunes U: Wellesley College’s Albright Institute for Global Affairs: “The National Security Council: Decisions on National Security” (iTunes)

      Instructions: As you have seen in previous readings, the foreign policy-making apparatus of the executive branch is large and complex. This lecture is intended to give you a more comprehensive look at one important element of this, the National Security Council, which advises the President on foreign policy decisions. Clicking on the link above will take you to a website with all of the lectures provided by the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College. Listen to the lecture “The National Security Council: Decisions on National Security.”

      Listening to this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.3.2 Contemporary Example of the Role of the National Security Bureaucracy and Its Role in U.S. Foreign Policy: The 9/11 Commission Report  
    • Reading: The 9/11 Commission Report: “Chapters 3, 6, and 13”

      Link: The 9/11 Commission Report: “Chapters 3, 6, and 13” (PDF or HTML)

      Instructions: The link above will take you to an index page of the entire 9/11 Commission Report. You may click on the PDF link to download the full report, or you may click on the links for each individual chapter. Read Chapters 3, 6, and 13.

      In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011, policymakers in the United States sought to understand how these attacks could have been carried out without the knowledge the nation’s vast intelligence and law enforcement apparatus. The 9/11 Commission studied the attack and considered how the government might be restructured to better share intelligence and to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future. Thus, the report provides an important contemporary example of the relationship between the structure of the U.S. foreign policymaking bureaucracy and the ability of the U.S. to achieve its foreign policy goals and protect its citizens. As you read, do not be overly concerned with details. The primary goal is get a sense of how foreign policymaking and foreign policy responses, especially to non-traditional threats, are part of a larger process and not just controlled by the President and Congress.

      Reading these chapters should take approximately 6 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.3.3 The “Military-Industrial Complex”  
    • Web Media: YouTube: “President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address”

      Link: YouTube: “President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address” (YouTube)

      Instructions: Watch President Eisenhower’s farewell address.

      In this address, President Eisenhower warned the nation about the dangers of what he termed the “military-industrial complex,” which was the web of interlocking relationships between Congress, the military establishment, and defense contractors that he contended exerted a strong influence on U.S. military policy and pushed for consistent increases in military spending. The sentiment was noteworthy, given Eisenhower’s background as a General in the U.S. Army and as Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War.

      Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Lecture: YouTube: University of California, Berkeley: Conversations with History: Andrew Bacevich’s “The Military and U.S. Foreign Policy”

      Link: YouTube: University of California, Berkeley: Conversations with History: Andrew Bacevich’s “The Military and U.S. Foreign Policy” (YouTube)

      Also available in:
      iTunes

      Instructions: Watch this lecture which is intended to complement President Eisenhower’s farewell address by providing a more detailed discussion of the role of the U.S. military establishment in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Professor Bacevich is a scholar of U.S. military history and foreign policy and a veteran of the Vietnam War.

      Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: The Atlantic: Andrew J. Bacevich’s “The Tyranny of Defense Inc.”

      Link: The Atlantic: Andrew J. Bacevich’s “The Tyranny of Defense Inc.” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this article which covers the material in Bacevich’s lecture in a more condensed manner.

      Reading this article should take approximately 45 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.4 Domestic Sources of U.S. Foreign Policy  
  • 1.4.1 Mass Media, Public Opinion, and Popular Culture  
  • 1.4.2 Interest Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy  
    • Reading: Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government: Faculty Research Working Paper Series: John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s “The Israel Lobby”

      Link: Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government: Faculty Research Working Paper Series: John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s “The Israel Lobby” (PDF)

      Instructions: Read this article.  

      This article provides a discussion about the role of interest groups and how they influence U.S. foreign policy through a detailed account of the Israel lobby. The authors also wrote a book about the influence of the pro-Israel Lobby on U.S. foreign policy and the detrimental effects of this influence on the decisions of U.S. policymakers. The article was met with a great deal of controversy, but has prompted a discussion among scholars and policymakers about the Israel lobby specifically and the role of interest groups in U.S. foreign policy generally. Keep in mind that while the authors are discussing a specific interest group focused on a particular foreign policy relationship, the principles they discuss can be applied across a variety of other relationships. Can you think of other outside interest groups – whether representing a foreign or domestic entity – that exercise the same or similar influence?

      Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 5 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Lecture: iTunes U: University of Chicago’s Center for International Studies: The World Beyond the Headlines: “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”

      Link: iTunes U: University of Chicago’s Center for International Studies: The World Beyond the Headlines: “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (iTunes)

      Instructions: To access the podcast choose the lecture titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” on the iTunes page.

      This lecture features a panel discussion about the Mearsheimer and Walt article above. This discussion outlines the responses and counterarguments to the article. To access the podcast, select the link above, and then choose the lecture titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” on the iTunes page.

      Listening to this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Unit 2: Theories of International Relations and U.S. Foreign Policy  

    Social science seeks to develop theories to help explain events in history. Theories help provide lenses and frames of reference for understanding events in the political and social world. Theories direct our attention to specific aspects of politics and governance, highlight issues that are important, and simplify reality. Employing theory to political and social life allows us to diagnose problems, predict the future, and propose solutions.

    While foreign policy is more concrete and less theoretical than international relations, employing theories of international politics can help us to understand the conditions that influence foreign policy decision makers. For example, realism provides a way to understand the international system as anarchic, as well as concepts such as the security dilemma and balancing reveal how policymakers might view the world. In turn, you will consider how real world events might inform these more general theories.

    In addition to using theories to understand the context in which foreign policy is made, you will learn about theories of the foreign policy process itself. These theories more specifically consider how the institutional context in which foreign policy is made can influence specific decisions and who is empowered to make these decisions in the first place. Theories of the foreign policy process help shed light on what kind of information is available to foreign policymakers, what goals these policymakers consider important, and why.

    Time Advisory   show close
    Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 2.1 Theories of International Relations Relevant to U.S. Foreign Policy  
  • 2.1.1 Theory and the Study of U.S. Foreign Policy: An Introduction  
    • Lecture: YouTube: Academic Earth: Columbia University: Professor Lisa Anderson’s “Contending Theories and Policy Choices”

      Link: YouTube: Academic Earth: Columbia University: Professor Lisa Anderson’s “Contending Theories and Policy Choices” (YouTube)

      Instructions: This lecture discusses how theories of international relations and foreign policy serve to both explain and inform the actions of U.S. foreign policymakers. This lecture provides a useful overview of theories that apply to foreign policymaking in the United States.

      Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 45 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: Foreign Policy: Jack Snyder’s “One World, Rival Theories”

      Link: Foreign Policy: Jack Snyder’s “One World, Rival Theories” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this article.  

      This article provides an overview of the three major theoretical approaches in international relations (IR) and foreign policy: realism, liberalism, and idealism (constructivism). The author also discusses the connections between these theories and the views of specific foreign policymakers and groups. This serves as a general, but still informative, treatment of the major theories.

      Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.2 Realism  
  • 2.1.2.1 Realism as Timeless Explanation of World Politics  
    • Reading: Hellenic Resources Network: Alexander Kemos’ “The Influence of Thucydides in the Modern World”

      Link: Hellenic Resources Network: Alexander Kemos’ “The Influence of Thucydides in the Modern World” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this article which provides a discussion of the significance of the Melian Dialogue in modern international relations. Refer back to the Melian Dialogue as you read this article.

      Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: University of California, Berkeley’s version of Thucydides’ “The Melian Dialogue”

      Link: University of California, Berkeley’s version of Thucydides’ “The Melian Dialogue” (TXT)

      Instructions: Read this text.  

      Realism is the dominant theory of international politics and one of the most important theories to understand when studying U.S. foreign policy, given its emphasis on power politics. Some scholars that favor realist theories point to its timeless quality and ability to explain international relations in any time period. The Melian Dialogue, a small portion of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian Wars, provides an illustration of realist principles and views of power politics. Whether or not you have heard of the Melian Dialogue before this class, you are likely familiar with its adage that summarizes realist thinking on international politics: “the strong do what they will while the weak suffer as they must.”

      Reading this material should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.2.2 Overview of Realism  
    • Lecture: YouTube: Columbia University: Professor Richard Betts’ “Realism”

      Link: YouTube: Columbia University: Professor Richard Betts’ “Realism” (YouTube)

      Instructions: Watch this entire lecture. Having established the timeless nature and essential elements of realism through the Melian Dialogue, this lecture provides a more detailed and contemporary account of realist theory. Realism views the international system as anarchic (that is, there is no ultimate arbiter to settle disputes among states); it sees states as rational, unitary actors, and considers the distribution of power among states to be the most important component of international politics.

      Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.2.3 Realism and the Security Dilemma  
    • Reading: Tufts University OpenCourseWare: Professor Jeffrey W. Taliaferro’s “Strategy, the Security Dilemma, and the Offense-Defense Balance”

      Link: Tufts University OpenCourseWare: Professor Jeffrey W. Taliaferro’s “Strategy, the Security Dilemma, and the Offense-Defense Balance” (HTML or PDF)

      Instructions: One of the most important concepts in realist thinking is the idea of the “security dilemma,” which holds that states cannot ever really know the intentions of other states and are thus likely to perceive actions taken for defensive reasons as belligerent. This concept can help us understand how foreign policymakers perceive the actions of other states and can explain phenomena such as arms races. Clicking on the link above will take you to a page where you will see thumbnail pictures of Professor Taliaferro’s lecture slides. You can click on the first slide and continue the presentation by clicking next, or you can download a PDF version of the slides by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

      Reading these slides should take approximately 45 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.3 Liberalism  
  • 2.1.3.1 Overview of Liberalism in International Relations  
    • Lecture: Middlebury College: Professor James Morrison’s “Lecture on the Democratic Peace Thesis”

      Link: Middlebury College: Professor James Morrison’s “Lecture on the Democratic Peace Thesis” (MP3 or PPT)

      Instructions: This lecture provides a contemporary scholarly account of the democratic peace thesis. Scroll down to “Class 8: The Democratic Peace: Institutions and Norms as Determinants of Conflict.” You can listen to the lecture by clicking on the link that says “Audio.” You may find it helpful to download the lecture slides by clicking on the “Slides” link to the right of the audio link and following along as you listen.

      Listening to this lecture should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: University of California, Berkeley: Michael W. Doyle’s “Liberalism and World Politics”

      Link: University of California, Berkeley: Michael W. Doyle’s “Liberalism and World Politics” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this article. It is critical to understand the difference between the contemporary usage of “liberal” in American politics with the traditional or classical use of the term, which is what Doyle and others refer to when they discuss liberalism. This article provides a more nuanced discussion of liberalism than the earlier article by Snyder. In particular, it highlights the distinctions within the liberal tradition, which are significant. As you read, consider the parallel between liberal internationalism and the democratic peace thesis. Keep these points in mind as you read the article.

      Reading this article should take approximately 3 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.3.2 Liberalism and International Institutions  
  • 2.1.3.3 Liberal Foreign Policy  
  • 2.1.4 Constructivism and U.S. Foreign Policy Analysis  
  • 2.2 Other Theories and Approaches to Foreign Policymaking  
  • 2.2.1 Bureaucratic Theories  
    • Reading: National Chengchi Univesity: Graham Allison’s “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis”

      Link: National Chengchi Univesity: Graham Allison’s “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis” (PDF)

      Instructions: Scroll down to the “Readings of October 24” heading and click on the link titled “Conceptual Models of the Cuban Missile Crisis” to view the PDF of Allison’s article. 

      Realism and liberalism tend to focus on larger processes, the “bigger picture.” However, many foreign policy analysts believe that an understanding of how foreign policies are actually made requires us to take a much closer look, literally going inside organizations to see how bureaucratic agencies and the people who run them interact to produce policy outcomes. Allison’s account of the Cuban Missile crisis is the most famous example of a study of the way in which bureaucratic structures, routines, and dynamics influence the way foreign policymakers respond to crises. As you read this article, consider how the outcome might have changed if the decision-making structure was different. As you do so, consider the earlier reading about the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations.

      Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: Kentucky Political Science Association: Bruce Hicks’ “Bureaucratic Politics and the 9/11 Attacks: The Case of FBI Agent John O’Neill”

      Link: Kentucky Political Science Association: Bruce Hicks’ “Bureaucratic Politics and the 9/11 Attacks: The Case of FBI Agent John O’Neill” (PDF)

      Instructions: Select the fifth link, titled “FBIand911KPSA.pdf,” to access the reading.

      This article provides an example of how the bureaucratic politics approach can be applied to the 9/11 attacks. The author focuses primarily on one agency, the FBI, and tells the story from the perspective of a single FBI agent. This article also provides a useful follow up to the 9/11 Commission Report.

      Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.2.2 Cognitive Approaches and Foreign Policy Decision Making  
  • 2.2.3 Soft Power  
  • Unit 3: Major Periods in U.S. Foreign Policy  

    Karl Marx contended that “men make their own history, but they don’t make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past.” This quote directs our attention to the way in which history both informs and influences contemporary issues in U.S. foreign policy. In this unit, you will learn about the evolution of U.S. foreign policy from the early, post-revolution administration of George Washington to the issues that currently face President Obama. Employing a historical perspective shows us that while leaders and decision makers are constrained by the decisions of their predecessors, this simultaneously reinforces the idea that contemporary decisions have lasting effects. Generally, tracing the history of U.S. foreign policy shows how decision makers have influence on and are influenced by the events in the world in which they live. 
     
    You will begin with the isolationist message President George Washington articulated in his farewell address and move throughout U.S. history to see the United States emerge as a global superpower following the World War II. This unit will continue on to address how the United States navigated the Cold War and how the strategic choices made during this period provided the foundation and context for how contemporary decision makers understand, define, and address present challenges. Finally, you will consider how the United States has continued to shape the world through its foreign policy as the lone superpower, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the historically-unique issues that have emerged in a unipolar world. 
     
    As you move from each historical event and period, you should continuously come back to the theories and concepts from the previous unit to both understand how these theories can explain these historical events as well as how these events influence the formulation of theory. By tracing the broad history of U.S. foreign policy, you will develop an understanding of not only specific historical events and eras, but the values, goals, and concerns that shaped and emerged from them. 

    Time Advisory   show close
    Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 3.1 Brief Historical Overview and Key Concepts  
  • 3.2 The Early History of U.S. Foreign Policy: Major Events, Policies, and Issues  
  • 3.2.1 U.S. Foreign Policy Prior to World War I  
    • Reading: Yale University: Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Avalon Project: “George Washington’s Farewell Address 1796”

      Link: Yale University: Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Avalon Project: “George Washington’s Farewell Address 1796” (HTML)

      Instructions: While the United States has been a dominant world power for decades, it began as a much more humble player in the international system. George Washington’s farewell address, in which he warns the nascent country to avoid “foreign entanglements,” provides a useful way to understand how ideas about the best way for the United States to conduct its foreign policy have evolved considerably since its founding.

      Note: This speech can also be accessed from inside the previous reading (“Section 17.3: The Major Foreign and National Security Policies”) by clicking on the embedded link in the text, “Farewell Address.”

      Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: iTunes U: Stanford University’s Hoover Institution: “The American Experience as a Rising Power”

      Link: iTunes U: Stanford University’s Hoover Institution: “The American Experience as a Rising Power” (iTunes)

      Instructions: Click on “View in iTunes” for the lecture titled “The American Experience as a Rising Power.”

      This lecture provides a general overview of the history of the United States as a rising power prior to the First World War. This overview will complement and provide context and discussion of the past few historical readings on Washington’s Farewell Address, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Roosevelt Corollary.

      Listening to this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.2 The Monroe Doctrine  
    • Reading: USHistory.org: Independence Hall Association’s version of “The Monroe Doctrine”

      Link: USHistory.org: Independence Hall Association’s version of “The Monroe Doctrine” (HTML)

      Instructions: Just over a quarter century after George Washington’s farewell address, President Monroe asserted U.S. dominance over the entire Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine usefully illustrates how the position of the United States in the international system continuously expanded and evolved.

      Reading this material should take approximately 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.3 Theodore Roosevelt and Expanding the Monroe Doctrine  
  • 3.3 U.S. Foreign Policy and World War I  
  • 3.3.1 Causes of World War I  
    • Reading: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s Causes and Prevention of War: “The Origins of the First World War”

      Link: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s Causes and Prevention of War: “The Origins of the First World War” (PDF)

      Instructions: Scroll down to sessions 12-14, and click on the PDF link for “The Origins of the First World War.” Study the entire set of lecture notes.

      U.S. involvement in the First World War was important with regard to the changing way in which U.S. foreign policymakers approaches the international system. In addition, an account of the politics and events leading up to the Great War in Europe provide a useful application of the concepts from international relations theory. As you read about the origins of World War I, consider concepts such as polarity and balancing.

      Reading these notes should take approximately 45 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.3.2 Wilson’s Liberal Approach  
  • 3.4 U.S. Foreign Policy and the Interwar Period  
  • 3.4.1 Isolationism at Home  
    • Reading: Library of Congress: Senator Henry Cabot Lodge’s “The League of Nations”

      Link: Library of Congress: Senator Henry Cabot Lodge’s “The League of Nations” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this article.  

      You can also listen to the original recording of the speech by selecting one of the listening options before the text portion. Following the protracted trauma of World War I, there was a strong sentiment among policymakers and the public in the United States towards isolationism and an unwillingness to become involved in what Washington might have called “foreign entanglements.” This speech by Henry Cabot Lodge, advocating against the League of Nations, serves as a useful example of this sentiment.

      Reading this material should take approximately 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Historian: “The League of Nations, 1920”

      Link: U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Historian: “The League of Nations, 1920” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this article which provides a glimpse into some of the issues surrounding Wilson’s efforts to create the League of Nations and his conflict with Senate Majority Leader Henry Cabot Lodge over the utility/futility of the League.

      Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.4.2 The Growth of Nonliberal Regimes Abroad  
  • 3.5 U.S. Foreign Policy and World War II  
  • 3.5.1 Origins of World War II  
    • Reading: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s Causes and Prevention of War: “The Origins of the Second World War”

      Link: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s Causes and Prevention of War: “The Origins of the Second World War” (PDF)

      Instructions: Scroll down to sessions 16-19 and click on the PDF link for “The Origins of the Second World War.” Study this set of lecture notes in its entirety.

      Like World War I, World War II was an important event in the history and evolution of U.S. foreign policy and in the development of theories of international politics. Consider how concepts from such theories, especially realism, explain the origins of the Second World War. You should also carefully consider questions posed by other theoretical perspectives, such as the following: how did economic forces and processes create the conditions for world war? What role did non-material factors play: ideology, racism, victimization, isolationism, nationalism, and so on? Consider, for example, Professor Van Evera’s phrase that “Germans practiced creative history.” How important was this construction of history in convincing ordinary Germans of their innocence and the need for war? On this last question, consider the constructivist perspective.

      Reading these notes should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.5.2 The United States’ Role in World War II  
    • Reading: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future: “The U.S. and WWII”

      Link: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future: “The U.S. and WWII” (PDF)

      Instructions: Scroll down to sessions 9-11, and click on the PDF link for “The United States and World War II.” Study this entire set of lecture notes.

      This reading provides a brief overview the role of the United States during World War II. The U.S. emerged from the war as a major world power and had great influence on the construction of the post-war world. As you review the outline, keep in mind that it covers an immensely complex topic and raises even more complex questions about the origins, causes, and effects of the war. As you read, think carefully about how the questions posed in the outline might be answered from the realist, liberal, and constructivist perspectives.

      Studying these notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.5.3 The End of the War and the Beginnings of the Post-War Economic Order  
  • 3.6 U.S. Foreign Policy in the Postwar Era  
  • 3.6.1 Overview  
    • Reading: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future: “U.S. National Security Policy, 1945-Present”

      Link: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future: “U.S. National Security Policy, 1945-Present” (PDF)

      Instructions: Click on the PDF link for sessions 15-16, labeled “U.S. National Security Policy, 1945-Present.” Read the entire set of lecture notes.

      This brief set of lecture notes provides a general overview of U.S. foreign policy issues since the Second World War that serves as a useful foundation for later readings and lectures that will delve more deeply into the topic. As you look through Professor Van Evera’s notes, you will see several references to “preventive” and “preemptive” war. There is an important distinction between these two terms. Preemptive war is a matter of striking shortly before an enemy is about to launch a strike of its own. A preventive attack, however, is not a response to an imminent threat, but is instead a means of precluding a hypothetical war sometime in the future. In international law, there is an important difference between preemption and prevention. Preemptive attacks are generally a permissible use of force, because they are seen as a form of self-defense. A preventive attack, on the other hand, is not usually seen as self-defense, but as an act of aggression.

      Reading this material should take approximately 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.6.2 U.S. Foreign Policy and the Cold War  
  • 3.6.3 The Cold War and the Threat of Nuclear Weapons  
  • 3.6.4 Containment  
  • 3.6.5 The Korean War  
  • 3.6.6 The Cuban Missile Crisis  
    • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Cuban Missile Crisis”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Cuban Missile Crisis” (PDF)

      Instructions: Read this text.  

      This is a background reading on the Cuban Missile Crisis, one of the most important events of the Cold War era. Earlier in this course, you read an article by Graham Allison on the crisis, which adopted a bureaucratic politics approach to explaining U.S. foreign policy decisions during the crisis. As you go through this reading, consider alternative explanations. For example, there is a realist “balance of power” argument that suggests the basis for the crisis was the alleged “missile gap” between the US and the USSR. What might a constructivist say about the differently constructed images/reality that each side of the conflict had regarding the other? Could the crisis have been prevented through cooperation, as liberal theory would suggest? There are many questions to consider as you go through this reading.

      Reading this material should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Lecture: iTunes U: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Daniel Sargent’s “The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962”

      Link: iTunes U: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Daniel Sargent’s “The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962” (iTunes)

      Instructions: Scroll down and click the play button beside “Lecture 11: The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.” As you did with the first resource in this section, think back to Allison’s article from subunit 2.2.2 as you listen to this lecture.

      Listening to this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.6.7 The War in Vietnam  
  • 3.6.8 The End of the Cold War  
  • 3.7 The End of the Cold War and U.S. Foreign Policy for a Post-Cold War World  
  • 3.7.1 Overview: New World Order?  
    • Reading: iTunes U: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Daniel Sargent’s “Building a Post-Cold War World”

      Link: iTunes U: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Daniel Sargent’s “Building a Post-Cold War World” (iTunes)

      Instructions: Scroll down and click play beside “Lecture 21: Building a Post-Cold War World.”

      The end of the Cold War was an unprecedented event for the international system, as the bipolar world order that characterized the Cold War yielded to a new global environment in which the United States became the world’s lone superpower. The United States sought to use this “unipolar” moment to shape the post-Cold War world. This lecture provides an overview of these efforts.

      Listening to the lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: William C. Wohlforth’s “The Stability of a Unipolar World”

      Link: Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: William C. Wohlforth’s “The Stability of a Unipolar World” (PDF)

      Instructions: The link above will take you to the search page on the Belfer Center’s site (with the search word “unipolarity” already entered). Click on the first link to access the reading and read the text. As the lecture above emphasizes, one of the most salient consequences of the end of the Cold War was the transformation of the international system from bipolarity to unipolarity. This reading provides an in-depth discussion of the concept of unipolarity.

      Studying this article should take approximately 2 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.7.2 The Gulf War  
    • Reading: C-SPAN Video Library: “10th Anniversary of the Gulf War”

      Link: C-SPAN Video Library: “10th Anniversary of the Gulf War” (Flash)

      Instructions: Watch this video where former White House officials talk about Operation Desert Storm on the 10th Anniversary of the operation. Among the topics they addressed were the significance of the international coalition against Iraq, the events of the war, and the on-going tensions in the region.

      Watching this video should take approximately 2 hours.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.7.3 The Clinton Administration, Intervention, and the Return of Identity  
    • Reading: Harvard University’s version of Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations?”

      Link: Harvard University’s version of Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations?” (HTML)

      Instructions: The end of the bipolar world order that characterized the end of the Cold War led many to inquire about what lines of division might spark armed conflict now that the battle between capitalism and communism had seemingly been decided. Here, Huntington makes the argument that in the future, conflict would be based on long standing divisions between what he calls “civilizations.” In light of the events that came after the publication of this essay (9/11, the war on terrorism, etc.), do you think Huntington’s argument is persuasive? Some have contended that this idea is a self-fulfilling prophecy (consider the constructivist argument). Does this sound plausible?

      Reading this essay should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: This is Harvard University’s version of this article. It may not be hosted or reproduced without the explicit permission of Samuel P. Huntington.

    • Reading: The Monthly’s “SlowTV”: Peter Katzenstein’s “Why the Clash of Civilizations Is Wrong”

      Link: The Monthly’s “SlowTV”: Peter Katzenstein’s “Why the Clash of Civilizations Is Wrong” (Flash)

      Instructions: Watch both video segments by clicking Part 1 and then Part 2 at the top of the summary. In this lecture, Peter Katzenstein, a prominent political scientist, offers a critique of the Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations theory. Think carefully about the two arguments in terms of the theoretical perspectives that you have studied throughout the course thus far.

      Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: The Atlantic: Samantha Power’s “Bystanders to Genocide”

      Link: The Atlantic: Samantha Power’s “Bystanders to Genocide” (HTML)

      Instructions: In the context of concerns about human rights, the use of American power, and intervention described above, this article addresses the foreign policy decision-making regarding the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 – one of the most horrific perpetrations of mass violence in the last half of the 20th century. This article also seeks to explain why the United States chose not to intervene. What is Power’s explanation? Where does it fit theoretically? Was the failure by the U.S. – and the rest of the international community, including the United Nations – a simple reflection of realist principles, or were there other important factors at play? Consider, on this point, the role of various domestic actors and the construction of language to justify non-intervention. The very use of the word “genocide” was subject to immense debate within the U.S. Why?

      Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.8 Foreign Policy During the George W. Bush Administration  
  • 3.8.1 Overview of the Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy  
  • 3.8.2 The War in Afghanistan  
  • 3.8.3 The War in Iraq and Its Aftermath  
  • 3.8.4 Applying Theory to the Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy: A Realist Critique of Neo-Conservatism  
  • 3.8.5 Assessing the Bush Administration  
    • Lecture: iTunes U: Harvard University’s Institute of Politics: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum’s “9/11: 10 Years On”

      Link: iTunes U: Harvard University’s Institute of Politics: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum’s “9/11: 10 Years On” (iTunes)

      Instructions: Click the link to the lecture titled “9/11: 10 Years On,” and select “View in iTunes.” This video is a retrospective assessment of the Bush administration and is intended to serve as a capstone for the previous readings and lectures on the Bush administration and the foreign policy challenges the U.S. faced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

      Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.9 Foreign Policy in the Obama Administration  
  • 3.9.1 Overview of the Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy  
  • 3.9.2 A New Approach to the Muslim World  
  • 3.9.3 The War in Afghanistan and Just War Theory  
  • Unit 4: Contemporary Issues in U.S. Foreign Policy  

    While the previous unit provided an overview of foreign policy issues throughout American history that took you to the present, this unit will build on this historical context to delve into the issues on the agenda of contemporary decision-makers. In some cases, additional historical information is required to understand these issues in depth, but your focus will be on explicating the recent history and contemporary dynamics associated with these topics.

    As you move from issue to issue, it is important to consider the specific nuances inherent in each topic that make choosing the best course of action difficult for policymakers. At the same time, be sure to step back and reflect upon how these specific issues complement and influence one another, inform more broad theories of international relations, and fit into more comprehensive historical narratives.  

    Time Advisory   show close
    Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 4.1 The U.S. and Energy Security  
    • Web Media: C-SPAN’s “Energy and U.S. Foreign Policy”

      Link: C-SPAN’s “Energy and U.S. Foreign Policy” (Flash)

      Instructions: Watch this panel discussion on energy security, global oil demands, and the price of oil and natural gas sponsored by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. Policy experts and energy industry representatives on energy offer their perspectives on U.S. oil dependency.

      Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: National Energy Policy Institute: John Deutch’s “Oil and Gas Energy Security Issues”

      Link: National Energy Policy Institute: John Deutch’s “Oil and Gas Energy Security Issues” (PDF)

      Instructions: Click on the “Download Publication” link on the right-hand side of the page to view the article.

      This article provides a good overview of energy issues from a policy perspective; the author presents his own argument, in which he suggests that “the security problems created by oil and gas import dependence will not be eliminated by government action.” His advice to national leaders “is to prepare to manage difficult crises, and perhaps even conflict, in the years ahead. It is most likely that the United States and other countries will remain dependent on oil and gas imports for many decades and will need to balance the security disadvantages with the economic advantages of international trade.” As you consider the author’s overall argument, think about different theoretical approaches to the issue of energy security. Are energy issues best addressed through a realist approach, in which military and political power is used to “ensure” continued access to energy resources? Or, is an approach that focuses on the construction of international regimes, cooperation, and stronger trading relationship a better path (the liberal approach)? How is the energy issue framed, and how does this framing shape policy choices and approaches?

      Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.2 The U.S. and the Middle East  
  • 4.2.1 Overview of U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East  
  • 4.2.2 The U.S. and Iran  
    • Reading: Foreign Policy Research Institute: Shaul Bakhash’s “The U.S. and Iran in Historical Perspective”

      Link: Foreign Policy Research Institute: Shaul Bakhash’s “The U.S. and Iran in Historical Perspective” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this text.  

      This article is an overview of U.S.-Iran relations. Pay particular attention to the section “Mossadegh and Oil Nationalization Crisis.” This is a very important period of US-Iran relations, and provides critical context to the current relationship between the two countries.

      Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Lecture: University of California, Irvine OpenCourseWare: Erlich Reese’s “Obama, Nukes, and the Democratic Movement in Iran”

      Link: University of California, Irvine OpenCourseWare: Erlich Reese’s “Obama, Nukes, and the Democratic Movement in Iran” (Flash)

      Instructions: This lecture addresses an important contemporary issue for U.S. foreign policymakers: Iran’s efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon. Reese begins with a general overview, covering some of the topics discussed in the first reading, including the United States’ decision to overthrow Iran’s first democratically-elected government. Reese also provides a somewhat critical view of U.S. foreign policy, and raises the question: is a nuclear Iran really a threat to the U.S. and its allies, including Israel? Is Iran an existential threat? How does Reese answer this question, and what are the theoretical implications of his answer?

      Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.3 U.S. Relations with China and Russia  
  • 4.3.1 The U.S. and the Rise of China  
    • Lecture: YouTube: University of California Television’s Conversations with History: “China and the United States with James Fallows”

      Link: YouTube: University of California Television’s Conversations with History: “China and the United States with James Fallows” (YouTube)

      Also available in:
      iTunes

      Instructions: Watch this discussion which focuses primarily on developments within China over the past few decades.  

      This video also touches on foreign policy issues between the United States and China. These issues are of utmost importance to U.S. foreign policymakers, given that rivalry between the U.S. and China will shape the international system for the foreseeable future. As you watch this video, think carefully about the implications of China’s economic development, its growing prominence in the global economy as both a major source of and destination trade and investment, and its increasingly strong economic links with the United States in particular. Do these economic factors matter? Should U.S. foreign policy attempt to strengthen economic links with China and encourage Chinese industrial growth? Or, should the U.S. be wary of China’s growing economic might?

      Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Aaron Friedberg’s “The Future of US China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?”

      Link: Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Aaron Friedberg’s “The Future of US China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” (PDF)

      Instructions: Read this article.  

      This is a theoretically-oriented discussion on the state and future of U.S.-China relations. Friedberg examines “liberal optimists,” who focus on economic interdependence, international institutions, and democratization; “realist pessimists,” who stress a shifting balance of power and the expansionists aims of China; “realist optimists,” who see strict limits to Chinese power and ambitions; and “liberal pessimists,” who focus on the effects of authoritarianism in China and the crusading nature of U.S. foreign policy. He also provides a similar binary discussion of “constructivist optimists” and “constructivist pessimists.” How does the author resolve the differences among all these perspectives? Or, does he resolve them? This article gives you a wonderful opportunity to build your own “theoretical muscles.” The article may be a bit challenging, so give yourself time to reflect on the material.

      Reading this material should take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.3.2 The U.S. and the Rise of Russia  
  • 4.4 The U.S. and Europe  
    • Reading: Council on Foreign Relations: Christopher Alessi’s “Backgrounder: The Eurozone in Crisis”

      Link: Council on Foreign Relations: Christopher Alessi’s “Backgrounder: The Eurozone in Crisis” (HTML)

      Instructions: Read this webpage.  

      This reading on the Eurozone and the current economic crisis does not focus on U.S. foreign policy per se, but it raises important questions about what the United States’ role in the crisis should be, if any. As you read about the issue, consider how the issue would be interpreted from a realist, liberal, and constructivist perspective. What are the “dangers”? What are the solutions? How should the crisis be framed or understood? The article itself is brief, but you should spend time thinking about how to apply the various theoretical principles to evaluating the Eurozone crisis from the standpoint of US foreign policy.

      Reading this material should take approximately 45 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: American University’s American Consortium on European Union Studies: ACES Working Paper Series: Thomas Banchoff’s “Value Conflict and US-EU Relations: The Case of Unilateralism”

      Link: American University’s American Consortium on European Union Studies: ACES Working Paper Series: Thomas Banchoff’s “Value Conflict and US-EU Relations: The Case of Unilateralism” (PDF)

      Instructions: Click on the third link titled “Value Conflict and US-EU Relations: The Case of Unilateralism” to download the PDF.

      There are several topics we could focus on in a discussion of U.S.-European relations, and one underlying foreign policy issue is the conflict values between the United States and the European Union. This paper was written during the Bush administration, when the value conflict was particularly salient. How are U.S.-EU relations different or similar under the Obama administration, in which there is supposedly a better alignment of values? Do values really matter? If so, what are the theoretical implications of saying so? Think about these questions as you complete the reading.

      Reading this working paper should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Web Media: NPR’s “Europe’s Debt Crisis Casts a Cloud Over U.S. Economy”

      Link: NPR’s “Europe’s Debt Crisis Casts a Cloud Over U.S. Economy” (MP3 or HTML)

      Instructions: Click play to listen to the audio story, and then read the article below the audio.

      Listening to this clip and reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.5 The U.S. and Asia  
  • 4.5.1 North Korea  
  • 4.5.2 Pakistan  
  • 4.5.3 Afghanistan  
  • 4.5.4 India  
  • 4.6 Nuclear Proliferation  
  • Unit 5: U.S. Foreign Policy in Broad Perspective  

    In this final unit, you will take a step back and consider how the theoretical, historical, and topical information from previous units can inform more general questions about formulating a grand strategy for U.S. foreign policy that can inform decisions on specific issues. Articulating a grand strategy requires that you first consider the goals and values of U.S. foreign policy as well as the potential issues, challenges, and decisions such a strategy is meant to inform and influence. Doing so also requires that you think seriously about what the future might hold for U.S. foreign policymakers. The purpose of this unit is to help draw together the disparate elements of the previous units: the overall themes, goals, and values relevant to foreign policymakers in the United States.

    Time Advisory   show close
    Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 5.1 The United States: A Superpower in Decline?  
  • 5.2 Prospects for the Future  
  • 5.3 U.S. Grand Strategy  
  • Final Exam