Posc 274 American Foreign Policy

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POSC 274 American Foreign Policy
Zachary Shirkey Class Room:

1718A HW Class Time:

212-772-5503 Office Hours:


Course Description
This course gives a broad overview of the sources, traditional tenets and aims of American foreign policy. It examines how the Presidency, Congress, Bureaucracy, Media, Public Opinion, and the Courts all shape American foreign policy both now and in the past. Finally, the course examines current trends and contemporary issues.
Course Requirements
Students will be expected to complete all readings and attend lectures. Students are also encouraged to ask questions and participate in class discussions. Students should complete the readings for each lecture before that lecture. There will be five graded assignments: three short papers; a midterm; and a final. Late assignments will be docked at least a full letter grade (e.g., from a B to a C) and assignments that are more than a day late may be subject to additional penalties. No late assignments will be accepted after the final. No extra credit will be given. College requirements mandate that Credit / No Credit forms must be signed before the final is handed out and that students have completed all graded assignments to receive credit. The overall grade will be broken down as follow:
Three Short Papers 54% (18% each)

Midterm: 20%

Final: 26%
Learning Goals
Students will be expected to read 100+ pages a week, though much of the reading will be historical or policy oriented rather than scholarly articles. Students should learn the various factors which influence US foreign policy such as ideas, domestic institutions, and international constraints. Students will also learn about major debates and events in US foreign policy and are expected to be able—in writing—to take sides in those debates and explain which inputs into US foreign policy are most influential.
Hunter College Policy on Academic Integrity
Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.
ADA Policy
In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical, and/or Learning) consult the Office of AccessABILITY, located in Room E1214B, to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistance, please call: (212) 772- 4857 or (212) 650-3230.
Course Materials:
There are three required books for the course, plus articles available on Blackboard.
Hamilton, Lee H. 2003. A Creative Tension: The Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress. Woodrow Wilson Center Press.
Hook, Steven W. and John Spanier. 2016. American Foreign Policy Since World War II. Twentiethth Edition. CQPress.

McDougall, Walter A. 1997. Promised Land, Crusader State. Houghton Mifflin.

These books are referred to as Ham, H&S, and M respectively. They are available at the Hunter College Bookstore and are on reserve. Blackboard readings indicated by a B.
Course Schedule
I. Introduction
Th Aug 28:

Realism, Liberalism, Idealism, and Levels of Analysis

  • H&S: Chapter 1, 2–21.

  • B: Jervis, Robert. 1999. “Realism, Neoliberalism, and Cooperation: Understanding the Debate”, International Security 24(1): 42–63.

Th Sep 4:

American Exceptionalism?

  • B: Spiro, Peter. 2000. “The New Sovereigntists: American Exceptionalism and its False Profits”, Foreign Affairs 79(6): 9–15.

  • B: Nye, Joseph. 2004. “Soft Power and American Foreign Policy”, Political Science Quarterly 119(2): 255–70.

  • B: New York Magazine. 2012. “What Makes Us Exceptional: A Debate Barak Obama and the GOP, as Culled from Public Remarks”, 22 July.

II. History and Foundations of American Foreign Policy
M Sep 8:

Independence to 1898 (I)

  • M: “Introduction”, “Liberty or Exceptionalism” and “Unilateralism or Isolationism”, 1–56.

Th Sep 11:

Independence to 1898 (II)

  • M: “The American System, or the Monroe Doctrine” and “Expansionism, or Manifest Destiny”, 57–100.

M Sep 15:

Imperialism and Idealism: The Spanish-American War to Wilson

  • M: “Progressive Imperialism” and “Wilsonianism, or Liberal Internationalism”, 101–46.

Th Sep 18: Paper 1 Handed Out

Isolationism, the Good Neighbor Policy, and the Fight Against Fascism

  • M: First half of “Containment”, 147–58.

  • B: Roosevelt, Franklin D. 1941. “On Maintaining Freedom of the Seas”, Radio Broadcast, 11 September.

M Sep 22:

The Cold War: Origins and the Reorganization of US Foreign Policy

  • H&S: Chapter 2 and most of Chapter 3, 21–66.

  • M: Second half of “Containment”, 158–71.

  • B: Kennan, George (“X”). 1987(1947). “The Sources of Soviet Conduct”, Foreign Affairs 65(4): 852–68.

M Sep 29: Paper One Due

The Cold War: Rollback, Massive Retaliation, and the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • H&S: Rest of Chapter 3 and “The Cuban Missile Crisis” in Chapter 4, 66–71 and 83–88.

  • B: Allison, Graham. 2012. “The Cuban Missile Crisis at 50”, Foreign Affairs 91(4): 11–16.

  • B: Debate: 2012. “The Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited”, Foreign Affairs 91(6): 163–66.

    • Nathan, James. “Diplomacy, Not Derring-Do”.

    • Allison, Graham. “Allison Replies”.

  • See also the original Allison article (assigned November 3)

Th Oct 2:

The Cold War: Vietnam, the Periphery and Detente

  • H&S: Rest of Chapter 4 and all of Chapter 5, 72–83 and 88–125.

  • M: “Global Meliorism”, 172–98.

M. Oct 6: Midterm Review Handed Out

The Cold War: Re-Escalation and Termination

  • H&S: Chapters 6 and 7, 126–71.

Th Oct 9:

After the Cold War and Before 9/11

  • H&S: Chapters 8, 9, and part of 10, 172–233.

  • B: Walt, Stephen. 2000. “Two Cheers for Clinton’s Foreign Policy”, Foreign Affairs 79(2): 63–79.

  • B: Haass, Richard. 2000. “The Squandered Presidency: Demanding More from the Commander in Chief”, Foreign Affairs 79(3): 136–40.

Th Oct 16: In Class Midterm
III. Sources of American Foreign Policy
M Oct 20:

The Presidency (I)

  • B: Wildavsky, Aaron. 1998(1964). “The Two Presidencies”, Society 35(2): 23–31.

  • B: Byman, Daniel and Pollack, Kenneth. 2001. “Let Us Now Praise Great Men: Bringing the Statesman Back In”, International Security 25(4): 107–46.

Th Oct 23:

The Presidency (II)

  • B: George, Alexander L. 1972. “The Case for Multiple Advocacy in Making Foreign Policy”, American Political Science Review 66(3): 751–85.

  • B: Destler, I. M.. 1972. “Comment: Multiple Advocacy: Some Limits and Costs”, American Political Science Review 66(3): 786–90.

  • B: Burke, John. 2005. “The Contemporary Presidency: Condoleezza Rice as NSC Advisor: A Case Study of the Honest Broker Role”, Presidential Studies Quarterly 35(3): 554–75.

M Oct 27:

Congress and Special Interests (I)

  • Ham: Chapters 1 and 2, 1–40.

  • B: Webb, James. 2013. “Congressional Abdication,” National Interest 124: 8–15.

Th Oct 30:

Congress and Special Interests (II)

  • Ham: Chapters 3 through 5, 41–94.

  • B: Peter Baker. 2015. “Congress’s Role in Iran Nuclear Deal Shows Limits of Obama’s Power”, New York Times, April 15.

M Nov 3:

Bureaucracy and the Judiciary

  • B: Allison, Graham. 1969. “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis”, American Political Science Review 63(3): 689–18.

  • B: Krasner, Stephen. 1972. “Are Bureaucracies Important?”, Foreign Policy 7: 159–79.

  • B: Slaughter, Anne-Marie. 1997. “The Real New World Order”, Foreign Affairs 76(5): 183–97.

  • B: Feldman, Noah. 2008. “When Judges Make Foreign Policy”, New York Times, 25 September.

Th Nov 6: Paper Two Handed Out

Public Opinion and the Media

  • B: Rathbun, Brian. 2013. “Steeped in International Affairs? The Foreign Policy Views of the Tea Party”, Foreign Policy Analysis 9(1): 21–38.

  • B: Jentleson, Bruce. 2014. “The Prudent, Not Isolationist, Public”, The Hill, 3 June.

  • B: Drezner, Dan. 2008. “The Realist Tradition in American Public Opinion”, Perspectives on Politics 6(1): 51–70.

IV. Issues in American Foreign Policy
M Nov 10:

Allies and International Institutions

  • B: Bandow, Doug. 2014. “Europeans Watch Ukraine and Fear Russia: They Should Take Over NATO and Europe’s Defense”, Forbes, 10 March.

  • B: Kaye, David, 2013. “Stealth Multilateralism”, Foreign Affairs 92(5): 113–24.

  • B: Friedman, Benjamin H. 2014. “The Credibility Debate in US Foreign Policy”, The National Interest, August 11.

Th Nov 13: Paper Two Due


  • B: Pollack, Kenneth. 2004. “Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong”, The Atlantic Monthly 293(1): 78–92.

  • B: Lynn, William F. 2010. “Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon’s Cyberstrategy”, Foreign Affairs 89(5): 97–108.

  • B: Greenwald, Glenn. 2013. “NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily”, The Guardian, 5 June.

  • B: Mazzetti, Mark. 2014. “CIA Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels”, New York Times, October 14.

M Nov 17:

The Revolution in Military Affairs and Countering Asymmetric Warfare

  • B: Boot, Max. 2005. “The Struggle to Transform the Military”, Foreign Affairs 84(2): 103–18.

  • B: Singer, P. W. 2009. “Robots at War: The New Battlefield”, The Wilson Quarterly 33(1): 30–48.

  • B: Debate: 2012. “Both Sides of the COIN: Defining War After Afghanistan”, Foreign Affairs 91(1): 178–85:

    • Sims, Christopher.“Theory Versus Practice”.

    • Lujan, Fernando. “Beyond Groundhog Day”.

    • West, Bing. “West Replies”.

Th Nov 20:

The Changing Defense Budget

  • B: Cook, James L. 2013. “2012 Defense Strategy Review & FY 2013 Defense Budget Request: Strategy & Fiscal Constraints”, Orbis 57(1): 41–58.

  • B: Krepinevich, Andrew. 2012. “Strategy in a Time of Austerity”, Foreign Affairs 91(6): 58–69.

  • B: Lapore, Jill. 2013. “The Force: How Much Military is Enough?”, The New Yorker, 28 January.

  • B: Gregg Easterbrook. 2015. “Our Navy is Big Enough”, New York Times, March 9.

M Nov 24:

The US, the Global Economy, and the Environment

  • B: Hefner, Robert A. 2014. “The United States of Gas”, Foreign Affairs 93(3): 9–14.

  • B: Nakamura, David and Steven Mufson. 2014.”China, US Agree to Limit Greenhouse Gases”, Washington Post, November 12.

  • B: Schwab, Susan. 2011. “After Doha”, Foreign Affairs 90(3): 104–17.

  • B: Joseph, Edward. 2013. “Make a Trade Deal with Europe”, Foreign Policy 198: 62.

  • B: The Economist 2014. “NAFTA at 20”, special report, 4 January.

  • B: Putnam, Tonya. 2014. “An $8.9 Billion Fine Shows that Foreign Banks Evade US laws at their Peril”, Washington Post, 30 June.

  • B: Weisman, Jonathan. 2015. “At Global Economic Gathering, Concerns That US is Ceding its Leadership Role”, New York Times, April 17.

  • B: Hung, Ho Fung. 2015. “China Steps Back”, New York Times, April 5.

M Dec 1: Paper Three Handed Out

The US and Developing States

  • B: Seay, Laura and Séverine Autesserre. 2014. “Why Do Peacebuilding Interventions Often Fail?”, Duck of Minerva, July 23.

  • B: Bhagwati, Jagdish. 2010. “Banned Aid: Why International Assistance Does Not Alleviate Poverty”, Foreign Affairs 89(1): 120–25.

  • B: Cadei, Emily. 2010. “Backers Say Time Is Ripe For Foreign Aid Overhaul”, CQ Weekly, July 19.

  • B: McArthur, John. 2013. “What the Millennium Development Goals Have Accomplished”, Foreign Affairs (March/April): 152–62.

  • B: Norris, John. 2011. “Five Myths about Foreign Aid”, Washington Post, 28 April.

V. Recent Trends in American Foreign Policy
Th Dec 4:

The Foreign Policy of George W. Bush

  • H&S: Rest of Chapter 10, all of 11 and part of 12, 233–90.

  • B: Rice, Condoleezza. 2000. “Promoting The National Interest”, Foreign Affairs 79(1): 45–62.

  • B: Jervis, Robert. 2003. “Explaining the Bush Doctrine”, Political Science Quarterly 118(3): 365–88.

M Dec 8: Paper Three Due

Foreign Policy of Barak Obama (I)

  • H&S: Rest of Chapter 12 and all of 13, 290–323.

  • B: Feaver, Peter. 2010. “Obama’s National Security Strategy: Real Change or just ‘Bush Lite’?”, Foreign Policy, 27 May.

  • B: Berger, Samuel. 2010. “Obama’s National Security Strategy: A Little George Bush, Lots of Bill Clinton,” Washington Post, 30 May.

  • B: Douthat, Ross. 2013. “The Obama Synthesis”, New York Times, 12 January.

Th Dec 11: Final Exam Review Sheet handed out

Foreign Policy of Barak Obama (II)

  • B: Ross, Robert. 2012. “The Problem with the Pivot”, Foreign Affairs 91(6): 70–82.

  • B: Baker, Peter. 2014. “Relief Over US Exit from Iraq Fades as Reality Overtakes Hope”, New York Times 22 June.

  • B: Plaw, Avery and Fricker, Matthew S. 2012. “Tracking the Predators: Evaluating the US Drone Campaign in Pakistan”, International Studies Perspectives 13(4): 344–65.

  • B: Shane, Scott. 2015. “Drone Strikes in Yemen Said to Set a Dangerous Precedent”, NYTimes, April 13.


M Dec 15:

Current Challenges and Review

  • H&S: Chapter 14, 324–46

  • B: Mead, Walter Russell. 2014. “The Return of Geopolitics”, Foreign Affairs 93(3): 69–79.

  • B: Ikenberry, John. 2014. “The Illusion of Geopolitics,” Foreign Affairs 93(3): 80–90.

Final Exam in Class during Exam Week

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