Explores competing interests and sources of information in the making of American foreign policy. Examines the origins of the national security state after World War II; decision making during the Cold War and Viet Nam War; the crisis of 9/11; and current strategies for analyzing information and handling foreign policy crises.
American foreign policy is influenced by many different kinds of forces. Many are domestic interests. Others come from various foreign pressures and crises. Yet others are shaped by the ideologies of top policy makers and important political figures in Congress, or sometimes by influential commentators and analysts. Information received and analyzed by many different agencies, including the State Department, other branches of government, intelligence agencies, think tanks, and many others plays a role as well. This course will look at how, since the end of World War II, the United States has created institutions and ways of using information to shape its foreign policies. We will study the origins of the Cold War and American responses to its new global role in the 1940s, the unfolding of the Cold War, and its end. We will examine the origins and consequences of the Vietnam and other wars that took place during the Cold War, and see what lessons were drawn from both successes and failures during this period. Then we will move to the 1990s and 2000s to look at America’s response to new global challenges, especially the rise of terrorist threats and the events that led up to and followed 9/11/2001. In conclusion, we will try to evaluate the current problems with the ways in which American leaders use or misuse, analyze or fail to analyze, information.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
Each student will write a research paper about a major foreign policy issue that has faced the United States at some time between 1945 and 2011.