Leadership and ethics in american foreign policy professor joseph nye syllabus fall

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IGA 610 m


Course Assistant: Faculty Assistant

Ionut Lacusta – (ionut_lacusta@hks15.harvard.edu ) Jeanne Marasca

Phone number: 617 230-6035 (617) 495-4537
Overview: The first four sessions of the module will survey theories of good and bad leadership and the ethical frameworks for making such judgments. Specific emphasis is on the particular context of world politics and foreign policy as a setting for ethics and leadership. The next six sessions will then analyze a series of case studies regarding selected American presidents in the 20th century and the foreign policy decisions they made. There are no pre-requisites.
Time: Monday and Wednesday 2:30-4:00
Office Hours: Tuesday 2:00 PM -4:00 PM (phone or e mail Jeanne Marasca to schedule appointment.
E mail address: joseph_nye@hks.harvard.edu
Reading: Students are required to complete an average of 100-120 pages of readings a week; study questions will be provided to help guide your reading. Additionally, the following books are available for purchase at the Harvard COOP:

  • J. S. Nye, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era (2013)

  • Fred Greenstein, The Presidential Difference, 2nd ed., Princeton, 2004

Links to all readings are posted on the IGA610m course page.
Specific Requirements and Grading: Each student will be required to write a final exam. More details will be provided in class. Course grades will also be determined by class participation, including a group exercise. Students are expected to have done the reading before class, and there will be occasional cold calling.

Course Outline:
Monday, September 8 – Transformational and Transactional Leadership (79 pages)

  • James M. Burns, Transforming Leadership, pp. 22-29.

  • Keeley, “The Trouble with Transformational Leadership,” in J. Ciulla, ed.
    Ethics, the Heart of Leadership, pp. 149-172.

  • J. S. Nye, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, pp 5-14, 23-62

Wednesday, September 10 -- Leadership and Ethics (37 pages)

  • Gerald Gaus, “Dirty Hands,” in Frey and Wellman, eds., A Companion to Applied Ethics, pp. 167-179

  • Joseph Badaracco, “The Disciplines of Building Characters” Harvard Business Review, March-April, 1998 (10 pages)

  • J.S. Nye, Presidential Leadership… pp.75-91

Monday, September 15 -- Ethics and International Relations (80 pages)

  • J. S. Nye. Presidential Leadership… pp.91-132

  • Owen Harries, “Power and Morals” Prospect April 2005, pp 26-31

  • Michael Doyle, “A Few Words on Mill, Walzer, and Non-Intervention,” Ethics and International Affairs, Vol 26, 2009, pp 349-369

  • Robert Jackson, “The Situational Ethics of Statecraft,” in Cathal J. Nolan, ed., Ethics and Statecraft, pp. 17-31

Wednesday, September 17 -- Robert McNamara: Cuba and Vietnam (Video plus 42 pages)

  • View movie: “The Fog of War” – Location/Time TBA

  • James Blight and Janet Lang, The Fog of War: Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara pp. 15-57.

Monday, September 22 -- John F. Kennedy (30 pages)


  • Fred Greenstein, The Presidential Difference, pp 59-74

  • James Pfiffner and John Goshko, “Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis,” in David Abshire, ed. Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency,

pp. 182-187.

  • Arthur Schlesinger, “What the Thousand Days Wrought,” The New Republic, Nov 21, 1983, pp 20-30.

  • Michael Roberto, Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer, pp 29-33.

  • James Blight, Janet Lang, David Welch, Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived: Virtual JFK, pp 5-21, 132-141.

Wednesday, September 24 -- Lyndon B. Johnson (40 pages)

  • Fred Greenstein, The Presidential Difference, pp 75-91

  • Robert Caro, The Path to Power, xvi-xxi

  • Robert Caro, Passage of Power, pp 601-604

  • Robert Dallek, “Three New Revelations About LBJ”, The Atlantic, April 1998.

  • Stephen Graubard, Command of Office, pp 351-362.

Monday, September 29 -- Richard M. Nixon (28 pages + Gergen)

  • Fred Greenstein, The Presidential Difference, pp. 91-110.

  • David Gergen, Eyewitness to Power, pp. 36-49, 55-64, 77-92.

  • Peter Rodman, Nixon’s Opening to China, in David Abshire, ed., pp. 195-7

  • Nigel Bowles, Nixon’s Business, pp 189-95.

Wednesday, October 1 -- James Earl Carter ( 47 pages +Herzberg )

  • Fred Greenstein, The Presidential Difference, pp. 127-144.

  • Erwin Hargrove, “The Politics of Public Goods,” in Fred Greenstein, ed. Leadership in the Modern Presidency, pp. 228-259

  • Hendrick Herzberg,” Jimmy Carter,” in Robert A Wilson, ed., Character above All: 10 presidents from FDR to George Bush, pp. 172-201

Monday, October 6 -- William J. Clinton (33 + Harris pages)

  • Fred Greenstein, The Presidential Difference, pp. 173-88

  • Robert Hunter, John Goshko, and James Kitfield in David Abshire, ed. Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency, pp. 173-77, 226-31, 235-42.

  • John Harris, The Survivor, pp. 120-141, 191-201, 400-424.

Wednesday October 8 -- George W. Bush (68 pages)

  • Fred Greenstein, The Presidential Difference, pp 191-210

  • Stephen Dyson, “George W. Bush, the Surge, and Presidential Leadership,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 124, No. 4, pp.575-85

  • George W. Bush, Decision Points, pp 355-7, 367-78

  • Melvyn Leffler, “The Foreign Policies of the George W. Bush Administration: Memoirs, History, Legacy,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 37, Issue 3 (June 2013) pp 1-27

Wednesday, October 15 -- Final

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