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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Daniel Chirot
JSIS B 536
Seattle Campus

Analysis, Information, and the Politics Shaping American Foreign Policy

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.

Class description

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.

Students will write a research paper and present their work to the seminar. Classes will consist of some lectures, quite a bit of discussion, and the student presentations. The final grade will be based on the research papers (60%), the class presentations (20%), and participation in discussion (20%).

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by M Jane Meyerding
Date: 04/16/2012