Department of Political Science POLS 4460 (CRN 52770)
The Iraq War and U.S. National Security Policy
Dr. John S. Duffield
Office: 1026-GCB, 404-413-6164
Office hours: TR 9:30-10:30 and by appointment
Course Goals and Learning Objectives One of the most important functions of the US government is to provide for the security of its citizens. The pursuit of security in turn involves the US government in a wide range of international and domestic activities. How has the US government in fact sought to protect and promote US national security? What national security challenges has it faced, and how has it tried to address them?
This course addresses these questions through the lens of the Iraq war. The war represents a major landmark and possible turning point in US national security policy. It helps to illuminate the national security policies that different administrations have developed and pursued since World War II and to bring into focus the issues and choices that will face future administrations.
The overall goal of the course is to develop each student’s ability to examine critically problems of US national security and to communicate this analysis effectively to others. Essential skills in this process include
i) identifying and describing the principal characteristics of US national security policy;
ii) understanding the sources and determinants of US national security policy;
iii) evaluating the effectiveness and appropriateness of US national security policy; and
iv) offering prescriptions for the content and formulation of US national security policy.
To this end, students will engage in writing assignments, presentations, and discussions that involve
i) identifying and prioritizing the principal security challenges facing the United States; and
ii) identifying and evaluating the most promising policy options.
In terms of substantive course content, students will gain
i) an overview of US national security policy since World War II;
iii) familiarity with the principal contemporary national security issues with which the US government will have to grapple; and
iv) a basic knowledge of the national security policy making process.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING POLS 4460 is aimed primarily at third- and fourth-year political science majors with some prior background in international relations. The upper-level orientation of the course is reflected in the challenging nature of some of the readings. Although the course has no prerequisite, it is highly recommended that students have taken POLS 3400 or the equivalent.
POLS 4460 will meet twice a week for 165 minutes each time. Each class meeting will be divided into two parts, and we will take a 15 minute break in the middle; please feel free to bring your lunch. Class will involve a combination of lecture, discussion, and presentations. We will begin each class meeting with a discussion of relevant recent news items.
Final grades will be based on the following components:
o Attendance (10%): Regular attendance is expected of all students; I reserve the right to withdraw students who miss class frequently. In order to take attendance, I will circulate a roll sheet during class on a regular basis. Absences must be cleared in advance with the instructor. In the case of an emergency that does not permit advance notification, a written note must be provided after the fact. Each unexcused absence (up to 2 per day) will cost one percent of the grade.
o Participation (10%): Meaningful in-class participation will require careful reading of assigned materials. To facilitate your comprehension of the readings and participation, I have provided one or more discussion questions for each week. Each student should be prepared, when called on, to state a position on the question(s) and defend his or her position drawing upon material contained in the readings. In addition, each students should submit in class each day a sheet on which s/he has written down either an additional question they would like to purse in class discussion or a paragraph describing something important they found in the readings. Since we will begin each class meeting with a discussion of relevant recent news items, I also expect students to come with ideas to share.
o Memorandum #1 (20%): Each student will prepare a memorandum describing the three (3) most important national security issues facing the United States. The memo should make clear what the issues are, why they are important, and why they are more important than other possible issues. It should be 4-8 pages in length, double-spaced, and is due in class on Tuesday, June 23. o Memorandum #2 (20%): Each student will help prepare a group memorandum on a particular national security issue. Although there is no prescribed format, possible elements may include a description of the issue or problem, a brief history or summary of past US policies (if any) and their results, the principal policy options available to the US at this time, a recommended policy for addressing the issue along with appropriate explanations and justifications, and possible risks and dangers of the proposed policy. The memo should be 16-24 pages in length (depending in part on the number of students in the group), double-spaced, and should include a one-page executive summary and a description of the contributions of the group members. It is due on Tuesday, July 14. Please bring enough copies for every member of the class. o Group Briefing (10%): During the last four class meetings, each group will give a 30-45 minute briefing based on its memorandum. Each student’s grade will depend on the overall quality of the group’s presentation.
o Memorandum #3 (30%): Each student will prepare a final “Memorandum to the President” in which you will lay out the broad outlines of the national security strategy that the current administration should follow. You may draw on the team memoranda as well as any other materials you find useful. You might wish, but do not necessarily need, to include the following elements: overview of the situation, US interests, threats to those interests, proposed actions, priorities, etc. The memo should be 8-12 pages in length (the president does not have a lot of time to read these things!), double-spaced and is due in my mailbox by 5pm on Friday, July 24.
In evaluating student performance, I will employ the grading system described in the GSU Catalog:
A = Excellent (4.0)
B = Good (3.0)
C = Average (2.0)
D = Poor (but passing) (1.0)
F = Failure (0.0)
I will award grades on a plus (+) and minus ( ) scale in order to distinguish among performances of differing quality within these broad categories.
READINGS I have ordered the following texts, which are available for purchase at local bookstores:
John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (Oxford University Pres, 2005)
Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (Wiley, 2005)
John Duffield and Peter Dombrowski, eds., Balance Sheet: The Iraq War and U.S. National Security (Stanford University Press, 2009)
Any other assigned readings will be available on-line as indicated:
(J) via electronic journal locator (on library home page)
(W) on the class website under “Readings” (http://www2.gsu.edu/~poljsd/4460/4460readings.htm)
(E) on ERes (reserves.gsu.edu):
I recommend highly that students keep abreast of current issues in U.S. national security by reading on a regular basis a major newspaper or news magazine, many of which are available on the internet. Valuable internet sources include:
New York Times http://nytimes.com
Washington Post http://washingtonpost.com
BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk
OTHER COURSE POLICIES This course syllabus provides only a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.
Email: I communicate regularly with students by email. Please email me at email@example.com. I will use your “student.gsu.edu” email address. Please check your GSU email account on a regular basis or arrange for email to be forwarded to the account that you normally use.
Academic Honesty: The Georgia State University Policy on Academic Honesty applies to all assignments in this course. Students are responsible for being familiar with the policy, which is available at
Forms of academic dishonesty include cheating on exams, unauthorized collaboration, multiple submissions, and plagiarism. Plagiarism includes any copying, paraphrasing, or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgment, including the submission of another student’s work as one’s own. Students found to have engaged in plagiarism will receive a grade of “F” for the course.
Withdrawals: The last day to withdraw from the course with the possibility of receiving a “W” is Tuesday, July 1, the semester midpoint. After that date, instructors must give a “WF” to all students who are on their rolls but no longer taking the class. Students who are involuntarily withdrawn may petition the department chair for reinstatement. “W”s and “WF”s can have serious adverse consequences. Hardship withdrawals may be granted after the midpoint when nonacademic emergency situations prevent a student from completing his/her course work. Hardship withdrawals are subject to restrictions, which are spelled out in the GSU Catalog.
Incompletes: An Incomplete (I) may be given to a student who for nonacademic reasons beyond his or her control is unable to meet the full requirements of the course. In order to qualify for an I, a student must (a) have completed most of the major assignments of the course (generally all but one) and (b) be earning a passing grade in the course (aside from the assignments not completed) in the judgement of the instructor. Further information on Incompletes is available in the GSU Catalog.
Students with Disabilities: If you have any disability which may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, please let me know during the first week of class. Once you do, we will take steps to make arrangements (e.g., accommodations) through appropriate university offices. For more information, contact the Office of Disability Services (230 Student Center, 404 413 1560).
SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS AND CLASSES I. Introduction 1. Introduction
Definitions and concepts
How USNSP is made
Framework for analyzing USNSP
What is security? What is national security? What is the appropriate scope of USNSP? What are the principal threats to US national security?
Gaddis (get started, if possible), preface and 3-23
For further reading:
US Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy (2nd ed, 2006)
Chs. on “National Security Powers” and “National Security and the Interagency Process”
Appendix I: US Army War College Guidelines for Strategy Formulation (W)
II. Background: USNSP Prior to the Iraq War 2a. The Origins and Initial Implementation of Containment
What was “containment”? Why was it adopted? What were its goals? How were they to be achieved? What were the limitations of the initial strategy of containment and how were they addressed? How was USNSP made during this period? Who were the key individuals and what were the key organizations?
2b. Variations on Containment: The New Look and Flexible Response
What were the New Look and flexible response? In what ways and how much did they differ from what went before? Why did US adopt the New Look and then flexible response? What obstacles had to be overcome? How successful where these variations on containment? What new problems did they create?
3a. Departure from Containment? Detente
Why did the US pursue a strategy of detente? What were the goals of detente? How did the US seek to achieve them? Why did detente break down? How did the US respond? Was detente nevertheless worth a try?
Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address 1980 (Jan. 23, 1980) (W)
3b. US Policy and the End of the Cold War
How and why did the cold war end? Why did it end peacefully? Did US policy hasten or slow the end of the cold war? Or would it have ended anyway?
Thomas Risse-Kappen, “Did ‘Peace Through Strength’ End the Cold War? Lessons from INF,” International Security 16/1 (1991), 162-188 (J)
4a. USNSP after the Cold War: Bush I and Clinton
What national security threats and challenges did the United States face after the cold war? How did US policy change to address them? What aspects of US policy stayed the same? How relevant was containment to US policy after the cold war?
George W. Bush, National Security Strategy of the United States, August 1991 (W)
William J. Clinton, A National Security Strategy for a Global Age (Dec. 2000), Preface and Part I (Fundamentals of the Strategy), pp. 1-12 (W)
4b. USNSP after the Cold War: The Initial Policy of Bush II
How did the Bush administration’s initial national security policy differ from those of Clinton (and Bush I)? Did it represent a promising corrective or not? To what degree was USNSP shaped by the views of Bush and his advisors or external circumstances?
Why did the US invade Iraq? Did the US have no choice but to invade Iraq, or did it have alternatives? If war was necessary, did the US go about starting it in the best way? If war was not necessary, why did the US go forward? What happened to the expected constraints on rash presidential action?
Daalder and Lindsay, 127-142
Vice President Speaks at VFW 103rd National Convention (Aug. 26, 2002) (W)
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “An Unnecessary War,” Foreign Policy, 134 (Jan./Feb. 2003), 50-59 (J/W)
Thomas Powers, “The Vanishing Case for War,” New York Review of Books 50/3 (Dec. 4, 2003), 12-17 (W)
Thomas Powers, “What Tenet Knew,” New York Review of Books 54/12 (July 19, 2007), 70-74 (W)
Chaim Kaufmann, “Threat Inflation and the Failure of the Marketplace of Ideas: The Selling of the Iraq War,” International Security 29/1 (Summer 2004), 5 48 (J)
For further reading:
Kenneth Pollack, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (2002)
John Duffield, “Oil and the Iraq War: How the United States Could Have Expected to Benefit, and Might Still,” Middle East Review of International Affairs 9/2 (June 2005): 109-41
James Rubin, “Stumbling Into War,” Foreign Affairs 82/5 (Sept./Oct. 2003)
7a. Iraq after the Invasion
What went wrong after the invasion of Iraq? Who was to blame? Could the occupation and stabilization of Iraq have been done right? Or was great difficulty, even failure, inevitable? What lessons have been learned?
Daalder and Lindsay, America Unbound, 143-202
James Fallows, “Blind Into Baghdad,” The Atlantic Monthly 293/1 (Jan./Feb. 2004), 52-74 (W)
James Dobbins, “Who Lost Iraq?” Foreign Affairs 86/5 (Sept./Oct. 2007) (J/W)
For further reading:
David Rieff, “Blueprint for a Mess,” New York Times (Nov. 2, 2003)
Mark Danner, “IRAQ: The War of the Imagination,” New York Review of Books (Dec. 21, 2006), 81-96
Larry Diamond, Squandered Victory (New York: Henry Hold, 2005)
Thomas Ricks, Fiasco (New York: Penguin, 2006)
Charles Ferguson, No End In Sight (new York: PublicAffairs, 2008)
7b. The Surge and the Future of US Policy in Iraq
What was/is the surge? What was it supposed to achieve and how? What has it in fact achieved so far? What should the US do next in Iraq?
President’s Address to the Nation (Jan. 7, 2007) (W)
General David Petraeus, “Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq,” 8-9 April 2008 (W)
Testimony of Ambassador Ryan C Crocker Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, April 8, 2008 (W)
Stephen Biddle, “Patient Stabilized?” The National Interest, no. 94 (March/April 2008), 35-41 (J/W)
Steve Simon, The Price of the Surge, Foreign Affairs 87/3 (May/June 2008), 57-76 (J/W)
For further reading:
Peter W. Galbraith, “The Surge,” New York Review of Books (March 15, 2007), 4-8
Lawrence Korb, et al., “How to Redeploy: Implementing a Responsible Drawdown of U.S. Forces From Iraq,” Center for American Progress (Sept. 2007)
Lawrence Korb, et al., “How Does This End? Strategic Failures Overshadow Tactical Gains in Iraq,” Center for American Progress (April 2, 2008)
IV: The Impact of the Iraq War on U.S. National Security
In what other ways was the Iraq war intended to promote US national security? What impact has it actually had in these other areas? In what ways and to what degree has it reduced or increased various threats to the United States and its ability to address those threats?
8a. The War on Terror
Steven Simon chapter in Duffield and Dombrowski
Philip Gordon, Winning the Right War, Survival 49/4 (Winter 2007-08): 17-46 (W/J)
8b. Nuclear Nonproliferation
Joseph Cirincione chapter in Duffield and Dombrowski
Robert S. Litwak, Living with Ambiguity: Nuclear Deals with Iraq and North Korea, Survival 50/1 (2008): 91-118 (W/J)
9a. U.S. National Security Interests in the Middle East
F. Gregory Gause chapter in Duffield and Dombrowski
Katerina Delacorta, US Democracy Promotion in the Arab Middle East since 11 September 2001, International Affairs 81 (2005): 963-79 (W/J)
9b. The U.S. Military
Michael O’Hanlon chapter in Duffield and Dombrowski
Lawrence J. Korb, The State of America's Ground Forces, Testimony Before the House Committee on Armed Services, April 16, 2008 (W)
10a. The International Standing of the United States and U.S. Public Opinion
Thomas Weiss chapter in Duffield and Dombrowski
Clay Ramsay chapter in Duffield and Dombrowski
10b. Overall Impact of the Iraq War: Are We Safer Now?
Duffield and Dombrowski, Conclusion
V: The Way Ahead: US National Security Policy after the Iraq War (sessions 11-14)
This section of the course will consist of eight (8) group presentations on different aspects of US national security. We will devote one-half of a class session (75 minutes) to each presentation. Each group will have up to 45 minutes to make its presentation, but should leave at least 30 minutes for questions and discussion. The presentations will be based on the memorandum prepared by each group, which will be due in class on Tuesday, July 14.
Final topics and group assignments will be determined at the 7th class session (July 1). Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
1) US military/armed forces
nuclear strategy and forces
2) the war on terror: Afghanistan, Iraq, elsewhere
3) non-proliferation: dealing with Iran, North Korea, and other potential proliferators
4) relations with allies: NATO and European security, Japan
5) relations with China: Taiwan, trade, arms control
6) relations with Russia: energy, arms control
7) Middle East: Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.
8) energy security:
9) homeland security
10) dealing with civil wars and failed states
11) environmental security: climate change, disease, etc.
Possibly useful readings of a general nature:
Melvyn Leffler and Jeffrey Legro, To Lead the World: American Strategy after the Bush Doctrine (June 2008)
Susan Rice, U.S. National Security Policy Post-9/11: Perils and Prospects, Brookings Review 28/1 (Winter 2004), 133-42
Timothy Lynch, After Bush: The Case for Continuity in American Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 2008)
Robert Lieber, The American Era: Power and Strategy for the 21st Century (Cambridge, 2007)
Derek Chollet, Tod Lindberg, and David Shorr, eds., Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide (Routledge, 2007)
Gary Hart, Under the Eagle’s Wing: A National Security Strategy of the United States in 2009 (2008)