US Foreign Policy

General Information
Number of Hours: 
Tuesday 15:45 - 17:15
Preliminary requirements: 

Some basic knowledge of U.S. political system and contemporary U.S. foreign policy agenda useful, but not required.

Course Description: 





Aims of the course: 

W1. Student is able to focuses on the major themes, patterns, and questions of U.S. foreign policy, and their continuing relevance in the contemporary period.

W2. Student has the skills to evaluate and describe the role of the United States in international politics. Student is able to distinguish and differentiate the political interests of the state in different regions and the interest of the third parties towards the U.S.

W3. Student posses the ability to identify and critically analyze the historical, cultural, institutional, economic and political influences and constraints shaping both the U.S. foreign policy process and the policy outcomes generated by that process, focusing equally on how policy decisions are made as well as the results of those decisions.

W4. Student is able to Particular attention will be paid to the evolution of America’s grand strategy and major foreign policy initiatives since the ascendance of the U.S. to great power status, with the objective of providing a basis for understanding and critically evaluating the overriding foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. in the international system

U1. Student gains a basic understanding of the foreign policy making process in the United States, and the factors that shape it;

U2. Student has the skills to better comprehend the evolving role of the United States in global affairs

U3. to dissect the major foreign policy challenges, interests, and objectives of the United States in the 21st century.

K1. Student is qualified to formulate and verify his/her own opinion about the internal and international processes occurring in the U.S. foreign policy. Student is able to discuss on the given topic and independently arrange the discussions about the given topic.

K2. Working individually and in a group student can prepare analytical models, presentations, papers and reports on a given topic.

K3. Student understands the importance of the knowledge from the field of international relations for the analysis of social, economic and political issues of the U.S. foreign policy. 

Teaching methods: 

In order to achieve the objectives noted above, this course will utilize a mixture of textual analysis, facilitated discussion, multimedia presentations, films, case studies, active learning exercises, and other supplementary materials. Students are expected to attend and participate in seminar regularly, to come to class familiar with the assigned material, and to be fully engaged at all times.

Evaluation & Completion: 

Active participation. As a rule, seminars provide a vital and lively forum for inquiry; this should be especially true given the nature of our subject matter. The effectiveness of a seminar is largely determined by the efforts of students rather than those of the instructor; in fact, too much ‘instruction’ makes for an ineffective seminar. I fully expect you to raise your own questions, highlight areas of confusion or contradiction, identify strengths and weaknesses in the scholarship we consult (and in the ways in which that scholarship is presented), and seek clarification from myself and one another on key points. Your major responsibilities to make this vital and lively forum a reality are two: 1.) you must do the assigned reading in advance of our meetings, in order to have a basis for critically evaluating the week’s topic; and 2.) you must engage in active and informed discussion of the assigned readings, so that we can appraise and dissect the major ideas and important implications as a collective. Engaged and informed participation is not defined by incessant speaking, and on some occasions it can easily take the form of active listening. Quality, not quantity, is the standard.

Additionally, each week (beginning with week #2) you are required to come to seminar equipped with one well-formulated, logical, and analytical question or insight (observation, conclusion, lesson learned, etc.) gleaned from the upcoming week’s readings for seminar. I will regularly and randomly select one or two to serve as catalysts for discussion in our sessions. Questions/insights should be constructed in a manner both specific enough to relate to and demonstrate comprehension of the readings assigned for that particular week, but general enough that it synthesizes the readings, is discussion-forcing, and contestable. Remember that we are striving to conduct each session along Socratic lines, whereby we break down the core of the conventional wisdom, and in the process question its underlying assumptions, tease out potential logical contradictions, and closely examine all sides of a particular argument.

Case Study Analysis. You are responsible for writing one case brief about any one of the cases assigned this semester, to be assigned in accordance with your rank-ordered preference of the five cases. Your brief should be no more than 7 pages in length, and is due at the beginning of the class session in which the selected case will be discussed (late papers will not be accepted). Case briefs should provide synthetic analytical reactions to the events and concepts depicted in the case studies, which have been selected to provide empirical illustrations of crucial themes, developments, and dilemmas at the heart of contemporary US foreign policy. The main goal of the case brief is to allow you to integrate the theoretical and conceptual ideas discussed in the course into a structured and focused interpretation of a major event, development, decision, dilemma, etc. featured in one of these cases. In other words, this is an exercise in applying theory to reality. In preparing your case brief, you may consider some of the following questions to help you get started:
What do you see as the main theme or themes of the case (and why)?

  • In what ways do these themes validate (or discredit) the ideas raised in class or in assigned readings?

  • Does the case represent a "good fit" of theory to practice? Why or why not?

  • If the case you are writing on seems to contradict some conventional wisdom, why is that so?

  • Is this case simply unique, or does the conventional wisdom need revision in some way?

You may have other ideas or ways of approaching your case briefs; don't hesitate to discuss your ideas with me. Also, do not feel that you absolutely must limit your analysis to include only the material discussed near the case on the course outline. If you see insights from other portions of the course, feel free to apply them as well. These are not research papers, so extensive consultation of materials outside of those assigned in the course is not required. At the same time, you will need to pull in some outside sources as well as those we have read in the course in order to develop an effective and complete analysis. Your case brief MUST be well-written, soundly argued, and analytical or it will not be effective. My expectations as well as guidance for this assignment will be summarized in class.

Final Examination (Essay Exam OR Policy Memorandum). You will have a choice for the format of your final examination. The instructor must be notified of your desired exam format well in advance of the final exam period.

Option A: Essay Exam. Traditional essay examination; student will answer several questions pertaining to key course themes as drawn from assigned course materials and seminar discussions. Examination will be designed to assess student’s ability to comprehend, identify, synthesize, and interpret major ideas and concepts. More guidance on Option A will be distributed in class.

Option B: Policy Memo. Student will assume perspective of senior U.S. foreign policy official, and will craft a policy memo (3 pages maximum) outlining the single most important foreign policy issue facing the United States at this time, as well as presenting possible courses of action with respect to that issue. Your memo must persuade the reader that the issue you have identified is, in fact, the pivotal issue for US foreign policy today. It is also imperative that you identify at least three alternative courses of action regarding that issue, briefly summarizing each, and ultimately issuing a recommendation from among them (backed by a persuasive rationale that demonstrates your expert command of the issue and alternatives, of course). Effective memoranda must demonstrate comprehensive expertise in the field by integrating a command of the historical, conceptual, and empirical scope of US foreign policy (e.g., what you’ve learned in this course) as it applies to the issue and recommendations you are advancing. More guidance on Option B will be distributed in class.

Basic Literature: 
  • Hunt, Michael H. 2009. Ideology in U.S. Foreign Policy (2nd ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press.
    ISBN: 9780300139259.

  • Indyk, Martin, Lieberthal, Kenneth G. and Michael E. O’Hanlon. 2012. Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. ISBN: 9780815721826. [ILO]

  • McCormick, James M. (ed.). 2012. The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy: Insights and Evidence (6th ed). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN: 9781442209619.

  • Various authors. Pew/GUISD case study packet (see below).

Electronic reserve readings (course management software)

Additional Literature: 
  • Baxter, Kylie. 2008. U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East: The Roots of Anti-Americanism. London: Routledge.

  • Campbell, David. 1998. Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Fukuyama, Francis. 2006. America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. Poznań : Dom Wydawniczy Rebis.

  • Garrison, Jim. 2005. America as Empire. Warszawa : Wydawnictwo von Borowiecky.

  • Hook, Steven W. 2014. U.S. Foreign Policy: The Paradox of World Power (4th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage. ISBN: 9781452241500.

  • Kolko, Gabriel. 1988. Confronting the Third World: United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1980. New York : Pantheon Books

  • Kreps, Sarah E. 2011. Coalitions of Convenience: United States Military Interventions after the Cold War. New York: Oxford. ISBN: 9780199753802.

  • McCormick, James M. 2010. American Foreign Policy and Process (5th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth. ISBN: 9780495189817.

  • Mearsheimer, John J. and Steven Walt. 2011. The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Warszawa : Fijor Publishing.

  • Parmer, Inderjeet and Michael Cox (eds.). 2010. Soft Power and U.S. Foreign Policy: Theoretical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives. London: Routledge.

  • Pludowski, Thomas (ed.). 2005. American Politics, Media, and Elections: Contemporary International Perspectives on U.S. Presidency, Foreign Policy, and Political Communication. Adam Marszałek ; [Warszawa] : Collegium Civitas Press.

  • Scheuer, Michael. 2005. Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. Warszawa : "Akces".

  • Spanier, John W. 1998. American Foreign Policy since World War II. Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek.

  • Viotti, Paul R. 2005. American Foreign Policy and National Security: A Documentary Record. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. ISBN: 9780130400277.