Plir 4500. American-Russian Relations. Spring 2015, Tuesdays, 6-8: 30 pm, New Cabell Hall 287



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PLIR 4500. American-Russian Relations.

Spring 2015, Tuesdays, 6-8:30 pm, New Cabell Hall 287

Mr. Lynch

Office hours: Tuesdays, 3:45-5:15; Thursdays, 12:30-2, 397 Gibson (South Lawn)


This course examines various aspects of American-Russian relations from both

historical and contemporary angles. It is in seminar format, requiring regular and informed participation in class discussions. All students are expected to be conversant with each week’s set of readings for the scheduled class. Formal written assignments will be as follows:




  1. One formal research proposal (20%), to be discussed in class, due February 17;

  2. One take-home analytical essay (20%), due March 3;

  3. A research paper (40%), due May 7;

  4. Class participation (20%).

I shall be happy to read one draft of your paper before final submission. You will receive a critique of the paper but no grade. This is optional. Deadline for submission of the draft paper is April 21.


Books Ordered for Purchase:
David Foglesong, America’s Mission and the Evil Empire: the Crusade for a Free Russia Since 1881

Norman Saul, Friends or Foes? The United States & Soviet Russia, 1921-1941

Melvyn Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: the United States, the Soviet Union and the Cold War

Jonathan Haslam, Russia’s Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall

James Wilson, The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev’s Adaptability, Reagan’s Engagement, and the End of the Cold War

Strobe Talbott, The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy

Ronald Asmus, The Little War that Shook the World: Georgia, Russia, and the Future of the West

Angela Stent, The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-first Century


All other readings are available through the course Collab site.
Schedule of Classes:
January 13. Introduction to the Class.
January 20. Historical Legacies in American-Russian Relations, 1775-1914.

Read: David Foglesong, America’s Mission, 7-33; John Lewis Gaddis, Russia, the Soviet Union & the United States, chapters 1-2, pp. 1-56, Collab (hereafter “C”); John Stoessinger, Nations at Dawn, ch. 8-9 (C); N.N. Bolkhovitinov, Rejection of Alliance with England (C).


January 27. WWI and the Russian Revolution: Power and Ideologies.

Read: Folglesong, 34-59; Gaddis, ch.3, 57-86 (C); Robert Browder, Origins of Soviet-American Diplomacy, 3-19 (C); Thomas Bailey, America Faces Russia, 228-250 (C); Jon Jacobson, Ideological & Political Foundations (C).


February 3. The Interwar Period, 1920-41: Dialogue of the Deaf.

Read: Foglesong, 60-81; Browder, 19-48 (C); Gaddis, ch. 5-6, 87-146 (C); Bailey, 251-61 (C); Norman Saul, Friends or Foes?, 13-22, 44-78, 121-25, 174-81, 209-48.


February 10. WWII & the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1950.

Read: Saul, 357-389; Fogelsong, 83-128; Melvyn Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind, 37-83; Jonathan Haslam, Russia’s Cold War, 1-111; David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb (C).


February 17. The Cold War System, 1950-1972.

Read: Foglesong, 129-54; Leffler, 84-233; Haslam, 112-213; Vladislav Zubok, The Nuclear Education of Nikita Khrushchev (C).



Formal research proposal due in class.
February 24. Détente, 1972-79.

Read: Foglesong, 155-173; Leffler, 234-337; Haslam, 214-327.



Take-home assignment to be distributed.
March 3. Reagan and Gorbachev: Testing the “Victory” Thesis.

Read: James Wilson, Triumph of Improvisation, 1-142; Haslam, 328-63; Foglesong, 174-95; Jack F. Matlock, Jr., A Common Agenda (C).



Take-home assignment due in class.
March 10. No Class. Spring Break.
March 17. Ending the Cold War, 1987-1991.

Read: Leffler, 338-468; Haslam, 364-400; Wilson, 143-204; Mark Haas, U.S. & End of the Cold War (C); Angela Stent, Limits of Partnership, 1-12; James Goldgeier & Michael McFaul, Power and Purpose (C).

March 24. The Liberal Experiment: 1992-99.

Read: Foglesong, 196-229; Strobe Talbott, The Russia Hand, 37-216; Stent, 13-48; Joseph Stiglitz, Who Lost Russia? (C).

March 31. Realism Resurgent? 1999-2004.

Read: Stent, 49-158; Talbott, 298-369; Thomas Ambrosio, Russo-American Dispute over Iraq (C).


April 7. Toward the Russo-Georgian War, August, 2008.

Read: Ronald Asmus, Little War that Shook the World, 53-188; Stent, 159-210; Thomas Ambrosio, Insulating Russia from a Color Revolution (C); Andrei Tsygankov, Russophobia, (C); Dmitri Trenin, Russia Leaves the West (C).


April 14. The Obama “Reset,” 2009-2013.

Read: Stent, 211-74; Andrew Kuchins, Obama Administration & Reset (C); Daniel Treisman and Andrei Shleifer, Why Russia Says No (C).


April 21. The Crisis Over Ukraine and Russian-American Relations, 2013-2015.

Read: Robert Legvold, “Managing the New Cold War,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2014, at: www.foreignaffairs.com/issues/2014/93/4; Alexander Lukin, “What the Kremlin is Thinking,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2014, at: www.foreignaffais.com/issues/2014/94/4; and Andrew Wilson, “The High Stakes of the Ukraine Crisis;” Samuel Sharap and Jeremy Shapiro, “How to Avoid a New Cold War,” both in Current History, October 2014 issue.



Deadline to submit draft paper for “free” reading before final submission. (Optional.)
April 28. To be determined.
Research paper due on May 7 by 5 pm at my office (397 Gibson/South Lawn).


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