17.428 | Fall 2004 | Graduate

American Foreign Policy: Theory and Method


In addition to the Recommended Texts listed below, also see the required readings by class session, and an extensive bibliography of related works in the study materials section.

Benjamin, Daniel, and Steven Simon. The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam’s War Against America. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Random House, 2003. ISBN: 9780812969849.

Doenecke, Justus D., and John E. Wilz. From Isolation to War, 1931-1941. 3rd ed. Wheeling, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 2003. ISBN: 9780882959924.

Van Evera, Stephen. Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780801484575.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780195030976.

Herring, George. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. 4th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2001. ISBN: 9780072536188.

Ikenberry, G. John, ed. American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays. 5th ed. New York, NY: Longman, 2004. ISBN: 9780321159731. (Abbreviated in table as AFP.)

Kinzer, Stephen, and Stephen Schlesinger. Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. Exp. ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780674075900.

Paterson, Thomas G., J. Garry Clifford, and Kenneth J. Hagan. American Foreign Relations: A History Since 1895. 5th ed. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin, 1999. ISBN: 9780395938867, 9780395938874.

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th ed. Revised by John Grossman and Alice Bennett. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780226816272.

Readings by Class Session

Readings denoted below with an “H” are handed out during the class session listed.

Part 1: Theories of U.S. Foreign Policy
1 Hypotheses, Laws, Theories and Case Studies

Van Evera, Stephen. “Hypotheses, Laws and Theories: A User’s Guide.” In Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. pp. 7-48.       
This summarizes the way that I recommend students should frame and test theories.

Van Evera, Stephen. “What is a Political Science Dissertation?” In Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. pp. 89-96.       
We define the range of acceptable topics too narrowly. All political science Ph.D. dissertations needn’t invent or test a theory. There are other important—and sometimes easier—things to do.

2 Theories of American Foreign Policy

Note: a glance at the section introductions in Ikenberry, AFP. 4th ed. New York, NY: Longman Press, pp. 59-60, 137-138, 203-204, 297-298, 395-395, 465-466, 573-574. ISBN: 9780321084729, will ease the following reading.

Systemic Explanations: “The Environment Governs Conduct."     

Jervis, Robert. “Offense, Defense, and The Security Dilemma.” In International Politics, by Robert J. Art and Robert Jervis. 3rd ed. NY: HarperCollins, 1992, pp. 146-169.       
Jervis argues that international conflict arises largely from the “security dilemma”—the tendency of states to threaten others’ security by their efforts to secure themselves. Can explanations for American conduct be inferred from this famous piece? If so, how much American conduct can Jervis’ theory explain?

Waltz, Kenneth. “Anarchic Orders and Balances of Power.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. pp. 60-83.       
Drawn from his classic Theory of International Politics. Can we infer an explanation for U.S. conduct?

Leffler, Melvyn P. “The American Conception of National Security and the Beginning of the Cold War, 1945-1948.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. pp. 84-111.       
National security concerns drove the U.S. into the Cold War.

Walt, Stephen. “Explaining Alliance Formation.” Chapter 2 in The Origins of Alliances. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990, pp. 17-49.       
More on how states respond to their environment, with some domestic hypotheses thrown in. Relevant to U.S. conduct?

Economic Explanations

Cohen, Benjamin. The Question of Imperialism. NY: Basic Books, 1973, pp. 36-72, 121-131.       
An excellent critical explication of Marxist explanations of imperialism, including Marxist explanations for U.S. intervention in the Third World.

National Values and Domestic Institutions as Causes

Huntington, Samuel. “American Ideals versus American Institutions.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. pp. 214-247 (pp. 204-237 in 4th ed).       
Read carefully only pp. 219-237, skim the rest. U.S. democratic ideals as explanation.

Isaacson, Walter, and Evan Thomas. The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1986, pp. 171-173, 731-733.       
Does the American foreign policy elite share America’s wider democratic values? Or is it a subculture with unique values of its own? U.S. elite anti-democratic values as explanation.

Hersh, Seymour. The Price of Power. NY: Summit, 1983, pp. 108-111.       
Another culture snippet, on elite racial values.

Lowi, Theodore. “Making Democracy Safe for the World: On Fighting the Next War.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. 1st ed. ISBN: 9780673398154. (sadly omitted from later editions), read only pp. 268-273 (the pages on “policy overselling.")       
The policy sales process as explanation.

Review again here:       
Walt, Stephen. “Explaining Alliance Formation.” Chapter 2 in The Origins of Alliances. pp. 33-40. (Assigned above).       
Common ideology as an explanation for alliance behavior. Is common ideology a glue or a solvent of alliance ties?

Bureaucratic Behavior and Pathology as Explanation

Allison, Graham. “Conceptual Models of the Cuban Missile Crisis.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. pp. 402-446. (pp. 396-441 in 4th ed).       
Distilled from the single most widely cited book in political science. Does it provide clear explanations?

Thompson, James C., Jr. “How Could Vietnam Happen? An Autopsy.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. 4th ed. pp. 454-463 (sadly omitted from later editions).       
A famous analysis that points to pathologies in how the government thinks. Experts are purged, analysts are silenced by fear of punishment for speaking politically incorrect truths, etc.

Halperin, Morton, Priscilla Clapp, and Arnold Kanter. Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings, 1972, pp. 26-62.       
A good synopsis of organization theory relevant to foreign policy. Can it explain U.S. military policy? If so, how?

Misperception as Explanation

Jervis, Robert. “Hypotheses on Misperception.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. pp. 462-484. (pp. 466-488 in 4th ed).       
Psychology as the cause of national misperception.

Jervis, Robert. Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1976, pp. 58-84.       
Jervis’ famous piece outlines “deterrence” and the “spiral model.” Can explanations for U.S. conduct be inferred from these models?

Judis, John. “The Japanese Megaphone: Foreign Influences on Foreign Policymaking.” In The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy: Insights and Evidence. Edited by Eugene R. Wittkopf. 2nd ed. NY: St. Martin’s, 1994, pp. 95-105.       
A “propagandizing foreign lobby” explanation is implied here. Does this folk theory deserve attention?

Barber, Lionel. “The Selling of an African Conflict.” Financial Times, March 16, 1990. And       
Kramer, Reed. “Lobby Gets Results for Savimbi.” Africa News, November, 1989, 1-3.       
Accounts of another foreign lobby’s operations. Can foreign governments really wield influence through such machinations?

Lind, Michael. “The Israel Lobby.” Prospect, April 1, 2002. And       
Garfinkle, Adam. “Israel Lobby Part II.” Prospect, September 2002.       
Lind: “The Israel Lobby strongly influences U.S. policy in the Mideast!”       
Garfinkle: “No it doesn’t! Unconditional U.S. backing for Israel serves U.S. strategic interests and is done for that reason!”

Birnbaum, Jeffrey. “The Influence Merchants.” Fortune, December 7, 1998, pp. 134-152. (But read only pp. 134-135 and the chart on 137.)       
A “delphi method” survey reveals that Washington insiders rank the Israel lobby the second most powerful lobby in Washington—behind only the AARP and ahead of the NRA, the AMA, the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the VFW, and others.

Pearson, David. “The Media and Government Deception.” Propaganda Review (Spring 1989): 6-11.       
A “domesticated press” explanation for U.S. misperception is implied here. Does this folk theory deserve attention?

Jordan, Eason. “The News We Kept To Ourselves.” New York Times, April 11, 2003.       
The press can be cowed into practicing self-censorship. This allows tyrants to intimidate the press into painting themselves in rose-colored hues.

Kristoff, Nicholas. “Save Our Spooks.” New York Times, May 30, 2003.       
Governments misperceive the world if their intelligence agencies misreport foreign realities. This can happen if government leaders press their intelligence agencies to tell the leaders what they want to hear regardless of the facts.

Beschloss, Michael R. “Foreign Policy’s Big Moment.” New York Times, April 11, 1999, pp. 4, 17.       
Claimed here: during political campaigns U.S. politicians pander to U.S. voters by framing dangerous foreign policy positions that they cannot abandon once in office. The country is thereby led into folly. A corollary: a prime threat to America is … an American public that responds well to irresponsible pandering.

Janis, Irving. “Escalation of the Vietnam War: How Could it Happen?” In AFP, by Ikenberry. 4th ed. pp. 544-572 (sadly omitted from later editions.)       
“Groupthink” as the cause of national misperception. Janis points to pathologies much like those identified by Thompson (“How Could Vietnam Happen”, above), but Janis’ theory is wholly different (Janis points to psychological causes, Thompson to bureaucratic causes). Could these two theories of national misperception be tested against each other?

Public Opinion Dynamics as Explanation

Roskin, Michael. “From Pearl Harbor to Vietnam: Shifting Conceptual Paradigms and Foreign Policy.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. pp. 312-333 (pp. 298-319 in 4th ed).       
A paradigm pendulum dynamic as explanation.

Theories of the Consequences of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Domino Theory, The Credibility Theory, Theories and Factual Assumptions about Nationalism

Part 2: American Grand Strategies
3 Contending Grand Strategies Past and Present

Cold War Era Strategy

Gaddis, John Lewis. “George F. Kennan and the Strategy of Containment.” Chapter 2 in Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. NY: Oxford U. Press, 1982, pp. 25-53.       
An explication of the ideas of the prime intellectual architect of America’s Cold War containment policy.

Van Evera, Stephen. “American Intervention in the Third World: Less Would Be Better.” Security Studies 1, no. 1 (Autumn 1991): 1-24.       
Your instructor’s largely Kennanite criticism of past (Cold War Era) American strategy toward the Third World.

Post-Cold War Era Strategy

Posen, Barry R., and Andrew L. Ross. “Competing U.S. Grand Strategies.” In Strategy and Force Planning. Edited by Strategy and Force Planning Faculty. Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1995, pp. 115-134.       
A survey of four contending post-Cold War grand strategies. Which strategy is best? (Is this list complete?)

Tyler, Patrick E. “U.S. Strategy Calls For Insuring No Rivals Develop.” New York Times, March 8, 1992. And       
Tyler, Patrick E. “Excerpts from Pentagon’s Plan: ‘Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival.” New York Times, March 8, 1992.       
The senior Bush administration favored a strategy of U.S. supremacy or hegemony. Those who shaped this policy returned to power in the junior Bush administration (Paul Wolfowitz) and continue to think along the same lines.

Friedman, Thomas L. “U.S. Vision of Foreign Policy Reversed.” New York Times, Sept. 22, 1993.       
The Clinton administration said it favored a strategy of “enlargement of the world’s free community f market democracies.

Art, Robert J. “A Defensible Defense: America’s Grand Strategy After the Cold War.” International Security 15, no. 4 (Spring 1991): 5-53.       
A criticism of past U.S. assertiveness and a recommendation of future restraint.

Gholz, Eugene, Daryl G. Press, and Harvey M. Sapolsky. “Come Home America: The Strategy of Restraint in the Face of Temptation.” International Security 21, no. 4 (Spring 1997): 5-48.

Sanger, David E. “Bush to Formalize A Defense Policy of Hitting First.” New York Times, June 17, 2002.       
The Bush Administration has embraced a general doctrine of preventive war against rogue states that aspire to develop weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is only the first rogue state that the administration would attack. Good idea?

Lieber, Keir A., and Robert J. Lieber. “The Bush National Security Strategy.” U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda, An Electronic Journal of the U.S. Department of State 7, no. 4 (December 2002).       
A friendly summary and assessment of the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS), the document that frames the main elements of the strategy selected by the Bush II Administration, including its general doctrine of preventive war (see Sanger, “Bush to Formalize.” directly above).

For more discussion of the 2002 U.S. strategy statement see the “Defense Strategy Review Page” of the Project on Defense Alternatives.

(H) Ikenberry, G. John. “America’s Imperial Ambition.” In AFP, by Ikenberry. pp. 564-575.       
Reprinted from Foreign Affairs 81, no. 5 (September/October 2002).       
The Bush Administration has embarked on a fateful imperial rampage. It will end badly. Others will eventually coalesce to check the U.S.

(H) “American Imperialism, Embraced.” The New York Times Magazine, December 9, 2001. (2 pages)       
Ricks, Thomas E. “Empire or Not? A Quiet Debate over U.S. Role.” Washington Post, August 21, 2001. (3 pages)       
More color on rising arguments for a U.S. empire in the U.S. conservative movement. Do Tom Donnelly, William Kristol and Andrew Bacevich have a good idea?

Lind, Michael. Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics. NY: Basic Books, 2003, pp. 128-153.       
What’s causing the rise of imperialist thinking in Washington? Lind argues that the Bush coalition includes dangerous elements, including millennialist Christians who want to take U.S. Mideast policy in dangerous directions.

Lieber, Robert. “The Neoconservative Conspiracy Theory: Pure Myth.” Chronicle of Higher Education. May 2, 2003.       
Lieber disputes claims that a neoconservative clique dominates Bush foreign policy.


The War on Terror

Other National Security Policy Issues

“The Uranium Underground.” Time, December 17, 2001, pp. 40-45.       
Vast amounts of nuclear materials are swishing around the former Soviet Union unguarded—enough to build tens of thousands of atomic bombs. Washington doesn’t seem to care much. (This article is 2.7 years old but sadly little has changed). Is this stupid or what? Duck and cover!

Benjamin, Daniel, and Steven Simon. The Age of Sacred Terror. 2nd ed. NY: Random House, 2003, pp. 38-55, 61-68, 91-94, 419-489.

Pages 38-55, 62-68, 91-94 describe the Islamist currents of thinking that spawned Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda’s violence stems from a stream of Islamist thought going back to ibn Taymiyya, a bellicose Islamic thinker from the 13th century; to Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), the harsh and rigid shaper of modern Saudi Arabian Islam; to Rashid Rida (1866-1935) and Hassan al-Banna (?-1949); and above all to Sayyid Qutb (?-1966), the shaper of modern Islamism. Taymiyya, al-Wahhab and Qutb are covered here. Covered also (pp. 91-94) is the frightening rise of apocalyptic thinking in the Islamic world. What causes the murderous thinking described here?

Pages 419-446 is a terrifying survey of the rise of nihilistic madness in a number of the world’s great religions. Isn’t the millennialist thinking described here likely at some point to lead believers in these views to use weapons of mass destruction on cities? What should the U.S. do about this threat??

Pages 447-489 surveys and evaluates Bush administration counter-terror strategies.

Not assigned but also valuable are pp. 219-393, a survey of Clinton administration counter-terror strategies and policies. They are recommended.

Chyba, Christopher F. “Toward Biological Security.” Foreign Affairs 81, no. 3 (May/June 2002): 122-137.       
The danger posed by biological weapons in terrorist hands may be even scarier than the danger of nuclear weapons.

Flynn, Stephen. “The Neglected Home Front.” Foreign Affairs 83, no. 5 (September/October 2004): 20-33.       
The U.S. is alarmingly vulnerable to terrorist attack. The door is wide open. We are sitting ducks.

Chait, Jonathan. “The 9/10 President.” New Republic, March 10, 2003, pp. 18-23.       
The Bush Administration is neglecting homeland security.

Blumenthal, Ralph. “Getting the Intelligence Services a Vulnerable Nation Needs.” New York Times, September 8, 2002.       
Intelligence and counter terror experts are here interviewed on U.S. counter-terror intelligence needs. Their answers indicate that:       

  1. the U.S. still needs to centralize command of U.S. intelligence functions (Turner) and to centralized assessment of intelligence data (Treverton, Oakley);       
  2. the U.S. still needs to separate domestic counter terror functions from law enforcement functions—in other words, to create an American MI-5 (Smith, Schulhofer);       
  3. the U.S. has not adequately moved to train local law enforcement in counter terror functions or to develop local counter terror units (Kallstrom);       
  4. U.S. borders remain wide open. These weaknesses remain in 2004. What accounts for such appalling lassitude by the U.S. government? Earth to Washington: it’s time for action!

Allison, Graham. “How to Stop Nuclear Terror.” Foreign Affairs 83, no. 1 (January/February 2004): 64-74.       
A plan for action to prevent a disaster that we better prevent! (We will return to this subject in the last class period.)

“Nuclear Breakout.” New York Times, July 27, 2003. And       
“Curb the Spread of Nuclear Arms.” New York Times, July 29, 2003. (letters)       
A snippet arguing that to halt nuclear proliferation the world must strengthen the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Today that treaty doesn’t even ban the enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of plutonium, the two basic methods of making nuclear bombs. Let’s do something about it! And letters in reaction.

The advance of science has a fearsome by product: we are discovering ever more powerful means of destruction. These destructive powers are being democratized: the mayhem that only major states can do today may lie within the capacity of millions of individuals in the future unless we somehow change course. Deterrence works against states but will fail against crazed non-state organizations or individuals. How can the spread of destructive powers be controlled?

We will return to this subject in the last class period in December.

For more on controlling the longterm bioweapons danger see: The Controlling Dangerous Pathogens Project.

5 Other Policy Issues and Debates

Policy Debates

On Ethics and Human Rights:

Gelb, Leslie H., and Justine A. Rosenthal. “The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy.” Foreign Affairs 82, no. 3 (May/June 2003): 2-7.       
Ethical concerns once played little role in U.S. foreign policy; now they have an important place at the table.

On Supporting National Self-Determination:

Lind, Michael. “In Defense of Liberal Nationalism.” Foreign Affairs 73, no. 3 (May/June 1994): 87-99.       
Should the U.S. view national self-determination as a human right and lend it support? How much international chaos would follow if it did?

On Saving Failed States:

Rotberg, Robert I. “Failed States in a World of Terror.” Foreign Affairs 81, no. 4 (July/August 2002): 127-141.       
Failed states are havens for terrorists. Can western powers resuscitate them? Should they try? Rotberg says yes, calling for a new Marshall Plan for Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Kaplan, Robert D. “Continental Drift: Africa’s Dysfunctional Politics.” New Republic (December 28, 1992): 15-20.       
A skeptical view on saving failed states and societies.

Crocker, Chester. “The Lessons of Somalia.” Foreign Affairs 74, no. 3 (May/June 1995): 2-8.       
The 1992-1994 U.S. intervention saved several hundred thousand Somali lives. Is that a failure?

On “Preventive Diplomacy” (Action to Forestall Wars and Human Rights Horrors):

Kaufmann, Chaim. “See No Evil.” Foreign Affairs 81, no. 4 (July/August 2002): 142-149.       
The U.S. could have stopped genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and elsewhere but chose not to. Good choice? Should the U.S. intervene to prevent such horrors?

Cooper, Glenda. “U.S. Memos on Rwanda Cited.” Boston Globe, August 23, 2001.       
More color on U.S. inaction in Rwanda.

Barber, Ben. “Feeding Refugees, or War?” Foreign Affairs 76, no. 4 (July/August 1997): 8-14.

Kristoff, Nicholas. “Reign of Terror.” New York Times, September 12, 2004.       
Another genocide is now unfolding in the Darfur region of Sudan. Again the world is not acting to stop it. Should it?

Does this Subject Need More Study?

On Intervention to Promote Democracy:

Diamond, Larry. “What Went Wrong in Iraq.” Foreign Affairs 83, no. 5 (September/October 2004): 34-56.       
A case study in how not to intervene to promote democracy, by an advocate of the war and a learned student of democratization.

Zeller, Tom. “Building Democracy is Not a Science.” New York Times, April 27, 2003.       
The United States’ mixed record at exporting democracy by intervention is summarized here.

Nasar, Sylvia. “It’s Never Fair to Just Blame the Weather.” New York Times, January 17, 1993.       
Third world democracy is good: it serves publics far better than authoritarian regimes. For example, democracies are far better at saving their citizens from starvation during famine. Dramatic evidence! (But compare with Noble, below.)

Noble, Kenneth. “Democracy Brings Turmoil in Congo.” New York Times, January 31, 1994.       
Third world democracy is bad: democratization causes communal conflict and civil war, e.g. as in this instance. Dramatic evidence! (But compare with Nasar, above.)

On U.S. Defense Policy:

Jordan, Amos A., William J. Taylor, and Lawrence J. Korb. “The Evolution of American National Security Policy,” and “Nuclear Strategy.” Chapters 4 and 11 in American National Security: Policy and Process. 4th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, pp. 63-86, 233-246.       
Past policies are described.

Korb, Lawrence J. “U.S. Defense Spending After the Cold War: Fact and Fiction.” In Holding the Line: U.S. Defense Alternatives for the 21st Century. Edited by Cindy Williams. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.       
Korb thinks the defense budget is too big. The U.S. could execute its grand strategy with fewer forces. But is Korb’s conclusion correct if we assume that the U.S. has embraced a policy of conquering rogue states that seek weapons of mass destruction? Or a wider notion of pursuing American empire?

On Protecting the Global Commons—e.g., The Global Environment and Global Public Health:

Revkin, Andrew C. “Scientists Say a Quest for Clean Energy Must Begin Now.” New York Times, November 1, 2002.       
A new study warns that we must start looking for clean energy sources now or we may destroy the planet. Later may be too late. No kidding. This will require broad international cooperation. Sadly we’re not very good at international cooperation. Oh dear.

Bradsher, Keith. “Bird Flu is Back, Raising Fear of Spread Among Humans.” New York Times, August 30, 2004.       
The 1918 flu killed 675,000 Americans—more than the two World Wars combined. Bummer. Could it happen again? Maybe! The current avian flu in Asia is mighty scary. What’s the answer? Worldwide preventive action. Again, everyone must cooperate. Hence this is a foreign policy problem.

Segue to Cases: The Case Study Method. How Should Case Studies Be Performed?

George, Alexander L., and Timothy J. McKeown. “Case Studies and Theories of Organizational Decision Making.” In Advances in Information Processing in Organizations. Vol. 2. Greenwich, Ct.: JAI Press, 1985, pp. 21-58.       
A classic statement on the execution of case studies.

Lijphart, Arend. “Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method.” In APSR. Vol. 65, 1971, pp. 682-693.       
Another important how-to-do-it on the case study method.

Van Evera, Stephen. “What Are Case Studies? How Should They Be Performed?” In Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. pp. 49-88.

Bennett, Andrew. “Lost in Translation: Big (n) Misinterpretations of Case Study Research.”       
(Paper presented to the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Toronto, March 1997). An excellent survey of oft-repeated nasty myths about the case method.

Broad, William J. “Crater Supports Idea on Extinction.” New York Times, August 14, 1992.       
Here’s a “case” that scientists are trying to explain. Are political/historical cases similar? Can political analysis proceed in the same way?

“The C.I.A.’s El Salvador.” New York Times, December 17, 1993.       
Social science starts with “facts.” But what “facts” can we believe? Moral of this story: you can’t believe everything you read in the archives (or anywhere else).

Leven, David. “In Texas, the Death Penalty Still Fails to Deter.” New York Times, Sept. 19, 1993.       
Good social science starts with sound methods of scientific inference. Leven makes two blunders on this count: can you spot them?

Shapiro, Ian. “A Model That Pretends to Explain Everything.” New York Times, February 26, 2000. And       
Fiorina, Morris P. “When Stakes are High, Rationality Kicks In.” New York Times, February 26, 2000.       
Should students of U.S. foreign policy use rational choice methods more often? Two short pieces on the great debate over rational choice.

Walt, Stephen M. “Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies.” International Security 23, no. 4 (Spring 1999): 5-48.       
A famous and controversial audit of the contribution of work using rational choice methods to international studies. Are audits like this useful?

Also of interest are criticisms of this piece published in the Fall 1999 issue of International Security.

Please find online a syllabus on qualitative methods from the Arizona State University Qualitative Methods Institute (January 2002) and other syllabi on the case method from qualitative methods taught around the country. Check them out to see how the qualitative methods are taught around the country.

In the past the “methods” field in political science was often assumed to consist solely of large-n (statistical) methods. While statistics was a required course at most schools, case study methodology often wasn’t even taught. This is changing, as these syllabi illustrate.

For more on Qualitative Methods.

The Arizona State University Qualitative Methods Institute runs a valuable winter student seminar (all expenses paid). Inquire about it. Maybe you can go.

Part 3: Case Histories: American Wars, Crises and Interventions
6 The Filipino-Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II

Paterson, Thomas G., J. Garry Clifford, and Kenneth J. Hagan. American Foreign Relations: A History Since 1895. 5th ed. 2000, pp. 11-27 (middle) (or pp. 1-34 of 4th ed.)       
Please focus on pp. 11-27 (middle) (or pp. 13-31 in 4th ed), skim the rest quickly. A textbook account of U.S. policy in the Spanish-American and U.S.-Filipino wars.

Healy, David. U.S. Expansionism: The Imperialist Urge in the 1890s. Madison: U. of Wisconsin Press, 1970. Chapter 3, first part of chapter 6 (pp. 48-67, 110-113).       
Healy says that the U.S. had a large imperialist movement in the 1890s, but that its eyes were not on the Philippines.

Paterson, Thomas G., J. Garry Clifford, and Kenneth J. Hagan. American Foreign Relations: A History Since 1895. 5th ed. 2000, pp. 67-92, 103-107. (pp. 79-111, 123-127 in the 4th ed. 1995).       
A standard textbook account of U.S. entry into, and conduct of, World War I.

Doenecke and Wilz. From Isolation to War, 1931-1941. 3rd ed. pp. 1-38, 82-169.       
If you have the 1991 edition (2nd ed.) read pages 1-39, 76-158. The standard study of the onset of World War II.

Russett, Bruce M. No Clear and Present Danger: A Skeptical View of the U.S. Entry Into World War II. NY: Harper and Row, 1972, pp. 11-43.       
A post-hoc argument against U.S. entry.

Utley, Jonathan G. Going to War With Japan 1937-1941. Knoxville: U. of Tennessee Press, 1985, pp. 151-156. And       
Heinrichs, Waldo. The Threshold of War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Entry into World War II. NY: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 141-142, 177, 246-247 (note 68).       
Was the crucial American decision to cut off oil exports to Japan taken by a bureaucracy out of control? Utley and Heinrichs disagree. How can this mystery be unravelled? Study these pages carefully as they will come up again in the next regular class, led by Marc Trachtenberg.

7 Historical Methods  
8 The Outbreak of the Pacific War, 1941  
9 The Cold War, Korea, and the 1950s

The Cold War and Korea

Gaddis. Strategies of Containment. pp. vii-24, 54-197. Review also pp. 25-53 (assigned several weeks ago).       
The standard analytic account of American security policy under Truman and Eisenhower.

Gaddis, John Lewis. “The Emerging Post-Revisionist Synthesis on the Origins of the Cold War.” Diplomatic History 7, no. 3 (Summer 1983): 171-190.       
An overview of the vast Cold War origins debate.

Gaddis, John Lewis. “The Tragedy of Cold War History.” Diplomatic History 17, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 1-17.       
Cold War hawks were right. The U.S. could not have avoided the Cold War. Stalin was dangerously crazed.

Leffler, Melvyn P. “Inside Enemy Archives.” Foreign Affairs 75, no. 4 (July/August 1996): 120-135.       
Cold War hawks were wrong on some important points. Stalin hoped to cooperate with the United States after World War II. The Cold War was essentially inadvertent. The Soviets didn’t cook up the Korean or Angolan wars.

Matray, James I. “Civil is a Dumb Name for a War.” Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Newsletter 26, no. 4 (December 1995): 1-15.       
A historian frames the unresolved debates over the Korean war. What research would push these debates toward resolution? How should a case study that addressed them be framed?

Combs, Jerald A. American Diplomatic History: Two Centuries of Changing Interpretations. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983, pp. 197-198, 258-281.

The present changes our understanding of the past. Should history work this way?

Students interested in the writing of history and in the creation of political ideas should explore further in this excellent book, now sadly out of print. (More of it is assigned below.)

Adventures in The Archives

Weiner, Tim. “Keeping the Secrets that Everyone Knows.” New York Times, October 30, 1994.       
The JFK library is hiding the record from us.

As preparation for the Adventure please also consult Prof. Marc Trachtenberg’s website on history methods. There look at two memos he wrote on interpreting declassified documents and on how to do Cold War history. They are listed on his home page as “A discussion of declassification analysis,” and “A practical guide to doing Cold War history.”


The Indochina War, 1945-1975

The Iraq War of 1991

Herring. America’s Longest War. Chapters 4 and 7. 4th ed. pp. 131-169, 271-320.       
The standard account, from a middle-of-the-road perspective, of the key decisions to escalate and de-escalate the war.

Sanders, Sol W. and William Henderson. “The Consequences of ‘Vietnam.” Orbis 21, no. 1 (Spring 1977): 61-76.       
The authors re-evaluate the propositions at issue in the debate over the war, concluding that postwar events show that the hawks were right, and the doves wrong.

Clifford, Clark, and Richard Holbrooke. Counsel to the President. NY: Random House, 1991, pp. 612-614.       
A short counterpoint to Sanders and Henderson.

Review again Janis. “Groupthink,” and Thompson. “How Could Vietnam, Happen?” assigned above.

Combs, Jerald A. American Diplomatic History: Two Centuries of Changing Interpretations. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983, pp. 299-300, 367-383.       
More on the impact of the present on the past. Indochina transformed the academic study of American diplomatic history; pre-Vietnam episodes were now reinterpreted more critically. (Should history work this way?)

Blachman, Morris J. “The Stupidity of Intelligence.” In Readings in American Foreign Policy: A Bureaucratic Perspective. Edited by Morton H. Halperin and Arnold Kantor. Boston: Little, Brown, 1973, pp. 328-334.

The “intelligence to please” problem has long been with us. We saw “intelligence to please” in U.S. estimates of Iraqi WMD in 2003. And we saw it earlier in Vietnam, says Blachman. How can it be cured? Should it be studied?

Pollack, Kenneth. The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq. NY: Random House, 2002, pp. 11-54.       
How did the U.S. confrontation with Saddam Hussein develop? Pollack offers excellent background.

11 Other U.S. Third World Interventions

Gil, Federico. “The Interventionist Era, 1904-1933.” Chapter 4 in Latin American-United States Relations. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971, pp. 86-116.       
A standard factual synopsis of the main events in the Caribbean.

Barnet, Richard J. “The Subversion of Undesirable Governments.” Chapter 10 in Intervention and Revolution: America’s Confrontation with Insurgent Movements Around the World. NY: Meridian, 1972, pp. 264-297.

A short history of some of the better-known CIA covert operations. Are such operations effective? Under what circumstances? Against what kinds of regimes?

Kinzer and Schlesinger. Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. pp. xi-xv, 65-117.       
More details on events leading up to the 1954 coup in Guatemala. Please skim pp. 65-77, read most carefully pp. 79-97, a rare inside look at a major foreign-policy-directed propaganda operation.

Bill, James A. “Petroleum Politics and the American Intervention of 1953.” Chapter 2 in The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations. New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1988, pp. 51-97.       
But read carefully only pp. 78-86, 92-94 (skim the rest). A more detailed account of the coup summarized by Barnet (#2 above.)

Schraeder, Peter J. “Paramilitary Intervention.” Chapter 8 in Intervention Into the 1990s. Edited by Peter J. Schraeder. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992, pp. 131-151.       
Focus on pp. 137-149 (“The Reagan Doctrine and Paramilitary Intervention”), skim the rest. (The course notes may contain the version from the 1990 edition, in which case these pages are wrong. But the older edition works fine: find the “Reagan Doctrine and Paramilitary Intervention” section and read it.) What policies flowed from the Reagan Doctrine? The four wars waged under its rubric are described here.

Part 4: Conclusion

Current Crises

The Future of American Foreign Policy

Huntington, Samuel P. “The Coming Clash of Civilizations: Or, the West Against the Rest.” New York Times, June 6, 1993, pp. E19.       
Humankind will again be at its own throat, this time in a confrontation of great civilizations.

Bernstein, Richard, and Ross H. Munro. “The Coming Conflict with America.” Foreign Affairs 76, no. 2 (March/April 1997): 18-32.       
America’s China doves (e.g., Robert Ross) are wrong wrong wrong. The U.S. and China are on a collision course, and the U.S. should stay on it.

Freeman, Chas. W., Jr. “Preventing War in the Taiwan Strait.” Foreign Affairs 77, no. 4 (July/August 1998): 6-11.       
Taiwan could suck the U.S. into a Taiwan-PRC conflict unless the U.S. restrains Taiwan now.

Agha, Hussein, and Robert Malley. “The Last Negotiation.” Foreign Affairs 81, no. 3 (May/June 2002): 10-19.       
The U.S. could and should impose peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. “Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.” New York Times Book Review, May 30, 2004.       
Recent science paints a frightening picture of the human impact on the global climate. Are we creating a hell that, once in, we cannot escape? This seems a increasingly plausible, perhaps likely!

Browne, John. “Beyond Kyoto.” Foreign Affairs 83, no. 4 (July/August 2004): 20-32.       
Browne outlines a program for action to address the grave and growing danger of climate change.

Kristof, Nicholas D. “The Nuclear Shadow.” New York Times, August 14, 2004.       
We are losing control of nuclear weapons. No one in Washington seems to care. A collective snore is heard from the government. This is a recipe for immense calamity. Isn’t it obvious that unless we take prompt action terrorists will get hold of nuclear materials, make nuclear weapons, and nuke us until we glow?

Sanger, David. “The North Korean Uranium Challenge.” New York Times, 5/24/04.       
Saddam’s Iraq didn’t have nuclear weapons or a nuclear program. North Korea has both—and it has a nutty government that might sell the nukes it makes to the highest bidder. What to do? Smash ’em? Won’t work. Cut a deal? The Bush administration is opposed. Overthrow the North Korean government? That’s tough work. But we better do something!!

“Nuclear Breakout.” New York Times, July 27, 2003. And       
“Curb the Spread of Nuclear Arms.” New York Times, July 29, 2003 (letters).       
A snippet arguing that to halt nuclear proliferation the world must strengthen the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Today that treaty doesn’t even ban the enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of plutonium, the two basic methods of making nuclear bombs. Let’s do something about it! And letters in reaction.

Review again:       
Allison. “How to Stop Nuclear Terror.” Our Final Hour, by Rees. Assigned above.

What policy toward the spread of weapons of mass destruction should the U.S. pursue?

Review again:       
Lieber, Keir A., and Robert J. Lieber. “The Bush National Security Strategy.” U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda, An Electronic Journal of the U.S. Department of State 7, no. 4 (December 2002). Assigned above.

When does preventive war make sense?

Prestowitz, Clyde. “Why Don’t We Listen More.” Washington Post, July 7, 2002.       
Bush is losing the U.S. friends by acting with little regard for their interests and ideas. Instead the U.S. should consult its friends and take their interests into account before acting.

Newsom, David D. “Foreign Policy and Academia.” Foreign Policy, no. 101 (Winter 1995-96): 52-67.       
Read only pp. 62-66 (“Communication Problems”), lightly skim the rest. Academics are obfuscatory, amphibolous, obscurantist, and recondite. Also, they are hard to understand. Should they address their work to real people once in a while?

Raymond, Gregory A. “Foreign Policy Evaluation: Adding Civism to International Education.” International Studies Notes 17, no. 3 (Fall 1992): 17-21.       
Is the genre of research he recommends worthwhile?

Van Evera, Stephen. “Professional Ethics.” In Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. pp. 117-121.       
Does political science need professional ethics? If so, what should they be?

Review again:       
Van Evera, Stephen. “What is a Political Science Ph.D. Dissertation?” Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science. pp. 67-72. (discussed in first class).       
What should be the field agenda?

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2004