Fall 2009 Prof. Grow Amb. Levin posc 347: america and its wars



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Fall 2009 Prof. Grow

Amb. Levin

POSC 347: AMERICA AND ITS WARS

“History is a bath of blood,” observed William James, as he pondered the frequency of war. Clemenceau, the great French politician, was so mystified by the frequency of armed conflict that he famously observed, “I do not know whether war is an interlude during peace or peace is an interlude during war.”

Over the past 2500 years, observers such as Thucydides and Sunzi have pondered both the meaning and frequency of war and speculated as to its causes. Is it the “natural state of man?” asked Aristotle. Or, said Mencius, perhaps war occurs when “kings and princes know not the natural order of things”.

The history of the United States seems to offer some clues to this oldest of political science questions. For the first hundred years of American history, America stayed clear of the “entanglements of Europe and the dynastic conflicts that rocked that continent.” And yet the United States seemed constantly at war, engaging in military battles up and down the western hemisphere and using some of the most egregious military means to push back the claims of indigenous peoples in North America.

What accounts for this almost continuous state of armed conflict? The national character of the American people? Deeply embedded drives (as Freud would argue) which makes physical conflict the “natural state of mankind”? The struggle for economic survival and then, when that economic well-being comes about, the need to defend economic interests by physical means? The “structural and anarchic characteristics of the nation-state system” (as Thucydides and Waltz argue) that make self-protection the only real guarantor of physical survival? The folly of individual political figures who act out of the most short-sighted and ill-informed of intellectual frameworks?

This course will come to grips with these theoretical concepts by looking at America’s wars. Classes will combine theoretical discussion with case studies drawn from America’s history of war in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will see if we can agree on some perspectives that help explain the all-too-frquent onset of military activity. Even more importantly, we will ask if there is a way out of the paradox outlined above and try to see whether in any (or every) circumstance peace might win out over war as an instrument of national policy.



Readings
The readings present historical information and analytic perspectives. Students are responsible for all of the assigned readings, even those not discussed in class. Readings should be completed before coming to class on the date indicated in the syllabus.
Texts. The following books will be used as texts for this course:
Robert Rotberg and Theodore Rabb, The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars
George Herring, From Colony to Superpower
Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900
Memoirs, Novels, First Person Accounts. There are also several novels/memoirs on the list:
World War I:

Eric Marie Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front



World War II:

Leon Uris, Battle Cry



OR

Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead



Middle East:

Nathaniel Fick, One Bullet Away



OR

Evan Wright, Generation Kill


Films
A series of “popular” films in DVD format will be placed on Reserve in the library. Students will be responsible for watching and evaluating several of the films on the reserve list.


Paper

This course can be used as the basis for a Comps project. So in your midterm and final paper projects, you will first master the theoretical literature in the field and then figure out how to apply that literature to real-world case studies.


The final term paper should be about 20 pages long. In the mid-term, you will be asked to outline the theoretical literature and then apply this literature to an American conflict. In the final paper, you will build on the midterm by extending your theoretical insights into the future and then critiquing your analytic prediction.

Grading
Grades for the course will be based on a mid-term paper, a final paper, a poster presentation, short exercises, and class attendance and participation. The weight of each is as follows:
Mid-term 25%
Final Paper 40%
Poster/Presentation 10%
Daily Journal Assignments and Participation 25%

Fall 2009 Prof. Grow

Amb. Levin

POSC 347: AMERICA AND ITS WARS

PART I: Theories of War and American History

Tues Sept 15 INTRODUCTION

Readings:

Donald Kagan, On The Origins of War, pp. 1-11 (“Introduction”) handout

Thur Sept 17 SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR AND THE BEGINNINGS OF EMPIRE (1)

Readings:

Robert Gilpin, “The Theory of Hegemonic War” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 15-37

Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, pp. 1-17 (“Introduction”) pp. 1-17 (handout)

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Introduction and Ch. 1 (“Foreign Policy and the Birth of the Republic”

Stanley Karnow, In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines, Ch. 1-3 (handout)

Recommended but not required:

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 2 (“The United States as a World Power, 1898-1908”)

Tues Sept 22 SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR AND THE BEGINNINGS OF EMPIRE (2)

Readings:

Ken Waltz, “The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 39-52

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch 7 and 8 (“Foreign Relations in the Gilded Age, 1893-1901” and “The War of 1989”

Stanley Karnow, In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines, Ch. 4-6 (handout)

PART II: America and the Great Wars, 1901-1945

Thur Sept 24 WORLD WAR I—THE GREAT WAR (1)

Readings:

Jack Levy, “Domestic Politics and War” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 79-99

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch. 9 (“Bursting With Good Intentions, 1901-1913”)

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 4 (“The United States in the Great War, 1914-1920”)

Tues Sept 29 WORLD WAR I—THE GREAT WAR (2)

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch. 10 (“The New Age: Wilson, the Great War and the Quest for a New World Order”)

John Keegan, The First World War, Ch 10 (“America and Armageddon”) handout

Williamson, “The Origins of World War I” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 226-248

Wed Sept 30 FILM: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

7:10 pm

BOULIOU AUDITORIUM



Thur Oct 1 WORLD WAR I—THE GREAT WAR (3)

Readings:

Maier, “War games, 1914-1919” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 249-279

Tues Oct 6 THE INTER-WAR PERIOD

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch. 11 (“Involvement Without Commitment, 1921-1931”)

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 5 (“The Era of Conservative Internationalism, 1920-1929”)

Hughes, “The Origins of World War II in Europe” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 282-321

Thur Oct 8 WORLD WAR II (1)

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch. 12 (“The Great Transformation: Depression, Isolationism and the War, 1931-1941”)

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 6 (“The Diplomacy of Depression, 1930-1939”)

Sagan, “The Origins of the Pacific War” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 323-352

Tues Oct 13 WORLD WAR II (2)

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch. 13 (“World War II and the Rise of American Globalism”)

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 7 (“The Politics of Coalition Warfare, 1939-1945”)

MidTerm Paper Assigned

Wed Oct 14 FILM: SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

7:10 pm

BOULIOU AUDITORIUM



Thur Oct 15 WORLD WAR II (3)

Readings:

Monday Midterm Break

PART III: America’s “Little Wars”

Tues Oct 20 THE KOREAN WAR (1)

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch. 14 (“Truman, the Cold War and the Revolution in US Foreign Policy, 1945-53”)

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 8 (“The Early Cold War, 1945-51”)

MidTerm Paper due at beginning of class

Thur Oct 22 THE KOREAN WAR (2)

Readings:

Robert Jervis, “War and Misperception” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 101-126

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 9 (“Eisenhower’s new

Look, 1953-1960”)

Tues Oct 27 VIETNAM AND SE ASIA (1)

Readings:

Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Ch. 1 (“The Myth of War”) handout

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch. 15 (“Coexistance and Crisis, 1953-1961”)

Barbara Tuchman, The Folly of War, pp. 233-283 (handout)

Thur Oct 29 VIETNAM AND SE ASIA (2)

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower 16 (“Gulliver’s Troubles: Kennedy, Johnson and the Limits of Power, 1961-68”)

Barbara Tuchman, The Folly of War, pp. 283-378 (handout)

George Questar, “Crises and the Unexpected” in The Origins and Prevention of Major Wars, pp. 127-145

Tues Nov 3 IRAQ AND THE MIDDLE EAST (1)

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch 17 and 18 (“Nixon, Kissinger and the End of the Postwar Era, 1969-74” and “Foreign Policy in an Age of Dissonance, 1974-81”

Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Ch. 3 (“The Destruction of Culture”) (handout)

Thur Nov 5 IRAQ AND THE MIDDLE EAST (2)

Readings: Handouts

Herring, From Colony to Superpower 19 (“A Unique and Extraordinary Moment: Reagan, Bush and the End of the Cold War, 1981-91”)

Robert Schulzinger, U.S. Diplomacy Since 1900 Ch 13 (“The End of the Cold War, 1981-1992”)



PART IV: Looking Into the Future

Tues Nov 10 DEBATE: THE GREATER THREAT: CHINA OR ISLAMIC TERRORISM? (1)

Readings: Handouts

Thur Nov 12 DEBATE: THE GREATER THREAT: CHINA OR ISLAMIC TERRORISM? (2)

Readings: Handouts

Tues Nov 17 CONCLUSION: WAR AS A LOGICAL AMERICAN POLICY?

Readings:

Herring, From Colony to Superpower Ch 20 (“The Strength of a Giant: America as Hyperpower, 1992-2007”)

Wed Nov 18 Classes End

Fri Nov. 20 (a) Final Paper Due

(b) Poster Presentations

Mon Nov 23 Last day of Exams







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