POLS 382: American Foreign Policy-Making


Fall 2008

MWF 1-1:50pm



Instructor: Kevin Marsh

E-mail: kmarsh@niu.edu

Office Hours: MWF 11am-12pm or by appointment

Office Location: DU 476 (the POLS TA lounge)



Course Description


This course explores the sources of American foreign policy.  We will consider the five sources of American foreign policy: international, societal, governmental, individual, and role and how they impact American foreign policy.  This course will seek to answer the question of who makes American foreign policy, and what are the most important influences and sources of American foreign policy.  This is a course that focuses on the processes of American foreign policy making and the various actors, influences, issues, and features present in American foreign policy making.  The goal of this course is to acquaint the student with knowledge of how American foreign policy is made.


This course will incorporate current events and will address the 2008 US presidential election and ramifications for the future of American foreign policy making.  Students will read various case studies that incorporate current and historical events in an effort to further illustrate the sources of American foreign policy.


It is strongly recommended that students have taken POLS 285 and POLS 100 prior to taking this course.



Course Requirements:



  1. Attendance Policy: Students are required to attend every class.  Therefore it is imperative that students attend each class in order to succeed in the course.  I will take attendance at every class session, so don't skip class!   Attendance is up to you.  If you don't show up, don't expect to pass this course.  Missing classes will result in loss of points in your participation grades.


  1. Class Participation: Class participation is 5% of your final grade.  I encourage and enjoy thoughtful participation by students in my courses.  The course format will be structured as a combination of lecture and questions for discussion.  I understand that not everyone may feel comfortable speaking in a classroom setting, but I assure you that POLS 382 will be an atmosphere where students' opinions and analyses of American foreign policy issues are valued and respected.  I encourage discussion, and I will ensure that participation is respectful and professional decorum will be maintained.  If you have a question, please ask!  Trust me, if you have a question, there are likely other students with the same questions.


            This course will be a lot more interesting and valuable for both students and instructor if            there is thoughtful and repeated participation and discussion by the students.


An important element of class participation is being prepared for class.  This means completing the readings before class.  There are readings due for every class session.  The reading load for this course is designed to be challenging, but the readings have been selected in order to provide the student with a comprehensive knowledge of American foreign policy making.



  1. Required Textbook: American Foreign Policy: Patters and Progress, 7th Edition.  Wittkopf, Jones, and Kegley.  Thomson and Wadworth, 2008.


Additional readings will be available on Blackboard.


  1. Grading: The following scale will be used for this course: A 100-90, B 89-80, C 79-70, D 69-60, F 59 and below.


  1. Course Assignments:

Class Participation: 5%

Midterm Exam: 25%

Research Paper: 30%

Reading Quizzes: 15%

Final Exam 25%


The Mid-Term Exam will cover the first half of the course, and the final exam will cover mainly the second half of the course, with some comprehensive elements.  Both the mid-term and final exams will be a mixture of key term definitions and significances, and essay questions.


The reading quizzes are five quizzes that will cover various textbook and non-textbook readings that are covered throughout the course.  These quizzes will be unannounced and are meant to encourage students to complete the all of the assigned course readings.


The research paper is a 10-12 page paper that will be on a topic of the student's choosing.  The research paper must examine an event or case study of American foreign policy and examine and analyze it from one of the five sources of American foreign policy making.  Students will be expected to create a central argument and support it with evidence from outside sources.  Acceptable outside sources include reputable media outlets, your textbook, the case study readings, academic journals and articles, and books.  WIKIPEDIA is not an acceptable source, nor are non-academic websites.


The paper should include a clearly stated central argument, identification and definition of the source that the student is using, and supporting evidence to illustrate how the chosen source of US foreign policymaking explains the events in the case study.


For example, how do role sources of American foreign policymaking account for the 1980 hostage rescue attempt in Iran?  How do governmental sources explain the 1991 Persian Gulf War?  How do role sources explain the decision to cancel one weapons system over another?


In an attempt to encourage early work on the paper students are required to turn in a one-page abstract of their paper complete with topic, research question, and a list of five sources on October 24th.


Further details of the paper will be covered in the first week of the course.


  1. Course Policies:


            Make-up Exams: A make-up exam will only be given in extraordinary circumstances.      You must inform me as soon as possible before the scheduled exam.  Requests without            prior notification and documented evidence will not be accepted and will result in a zero        grade for the exam.


Classroom Etiquette: This is very important to me.  You are adults and will be expected             to act accordingly in my classroom.  Any usage of cellular phones (talking, texting,       playing games, etc.) is not allowed and will result in first a verbal warning, and then the        instructor reserves the right to remove disruptive students from the classroom for repeated            offenses.  Usage of any other electronic devices with the exception of laptops to take            notes is not allowed either.  You are not going to succeed in this course if you are texting        during my class.  Simply turn your phone to vibrate and IPods off in my class and there will be no problems at all in this regard.


            Another important element of classroom etiquette is respect for your fellow students and           the instructor.  Respect for students means that all opinions, questions, and discussions by          your fellow students are respected.  Politics is an art of discourse and is dependent upon           people feeling comfortable to express their opinions on issues.  Respect for the instructor      means don't come late to class, don't leave early (unless you notify me ahead of time),   don't sleep in my class, and don't disrupt class by excessive talking with your neighbors.

            Basically, act like an adult, and you will be treated like one in my class. 


            Students who continually violate the standards of classroom etiquette will have their      classroom participation grades penalized accordingly.


Extra Credit: Under no circumstances will extra credit be granted on an individual basis.    However, the instructor reserves the right to incorporate extra credit questions on the case study quizzes or exams.


            Academic Dishonesty/Plagiarism:  You really, really, really don't want to do this in this course.  Academic dishonesty and plagiarism include cheating on tests, failing to cite in        the final essay, or copying and plagiarizing for their papers.  Regarding plagiarism, the NIU Undergraduate Catalog states: “students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if   they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and             acknowledging them. Students guilty of or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism        on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and   may be suspended or dismissed from the university.” The above statement encompasses the      purchase or use of papers that were written by others.  In short, students are advised to do        their own work and learn the rules for proper quoting, paraphrasing, and footnoting.


            Essentially, if you cheat or plagiarize, you will receive a zero for that assignment or exam           and will be referred to the University for additional sanctioning.  Don't do it, it's simply not worth it!


Late Assignments: Late assignments will be penalized by one letter grade per day, or ten points per day.  This standard will be waived only in extraordinary circumstances.


Submission of Written Work: Assignments should be handed in personally to me at the beginning of class on the day that they are due.  Students who e-mail their assignments must receive prior permission and e-mail the assignment by 1pm on the due date.


            Incompletes: Incompletes will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances.


Auditing: Students who request an audit must attend all classes and participate in class to satisfy the requirements of an audit.


            Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities: Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation          Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with          documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their        coursework for which they may require accommodations should notify the University's       Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR). CAAR will assist students in making     appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and             instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the            semester.


            Undergraduate Writing Awards: The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an        annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level        political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science             majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department’s            spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which            can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department             secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages – one with the student’s        name and one without the student’s name. Only papers written in the previous calendar can      be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are        eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated.

            Department of Political Science Web Site: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to     consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date,        central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing    course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, tracking department events, and       accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities.




Part I.  Course Introduction: History and Patterns of American Foreign Policy


August 25th: Course Introduction


August 27th: Introduction to the Sources of American Foreign Policy

Read: Textbook pgs 1-27


August 29th: Patterns of American Foreign Policy: 1776-1989

Read Textbook pgs 29-56


September 3rd: Patterns of American Foreign Policy: 1989-2008

Read Textbook pgs 56-73


September 5th: Instruments of Global Influence: Military Might and Interventionism

Read Textbook pgs 75-104


September 8th: Instruments of Global Influence: Covert Activities, Foreign Aid, Sanctions and Public Diplomacy

Read Textbook pgs 107-139


Part II.  External Sources of American Foreign Policy


September 10th: The International Political System in Transition

Read Textbook pgs 145-158


September 12th: The International Political System in Transition

Read Textbook pgs 175-195


September 15th: America's Management of the International Trade System

Read Textbook pgs 215-235


Part III.  Societal Sources of American Foreign Policy


September 17th: Political Culture and Public Opinion in Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 239-251


September 19th: Political Culture and Public Opinion in Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 251-280


September 22nd: Interest Groups and American Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 283-290, 298-305


September 24th: Interest Groups and American Foreign Policy: The Military-Industrial Complex

Read Textbook pgs 291-298


September 26th: The Mass Media and American Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 304-317


September 29th: The Mass Media and American Foreign Policy: The “CNN Effect”

Read: “The CNN Effect: Can the News Media Drive Foreign Policy” by Piers Robinson

Read: “Focus on the CNN Effect Misses the Point: The Real Media Impact on Conflict Management is Invisible and Indirect” by Peter Viggo Jakobsen


Part V.  Governmental Sources of American Foreign Policy


October 1st: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policy Making: Presidential Powers

Read Textbook pgs 325-332


October 3rd: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policy Making: The Cabinet

Read Textbook pgs 333-340


October 6th: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policy Making: The National Security Council

Read Textbook pgs 340-356


October 8th: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policy Making: Leadership Style

Read: “Presidents, Advisers and Foreign Policy: The Effect of Leadership Style on Executive Arrangements” by Margaret Hermann and Thomas Preston

Read: “The National Security Strategy of the United States


October 10th: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policy Making: Department of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism in a Post 9/11 World

Read Textbook pgs 361-363

Read: “Strengthening the Shield: US Homeland Security Intelligence” by Michael Studeman


October 13th: Mid-term Review Session

Midterm Review Handouts will be distributed


October 15th: Midterm Exam


October 17th: The State Department

Read Textbook pgs 368-377


October 20th: The State Department

Read: “Rogue State Department” by Newt Gingrich

Read: “Domestic Obstacles to International Affairs: The State Department Under Fire at Home” by Steven Hook


October 22nd: The Department of Defense

Read Textbook: pgs 378-385



October 24th: The Department of Defense

Read: “Transforming the Military” by Donald Rumsfeld

Paper abstracts are due


October 27th: The Intelligence Community

Read Textbook pgs 388-405


October 29th: The Intelligence Community

Read: “The CIA and its Discontents” by Patrick Riley


October 31st: Economics and U.S. Foreign Policy Making: The White House, Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Labor

Read Textbook pgs 356-360, 406-409


November 3rd: The 2008 Presidential Election and American Foreign Policy

Class Assignment: Go to www.johnmccain.com and www.barackobama.com and read their views on American foreign policy.  Make special note of their views on Iraq and the War on Terror


November 5th: Congress and Foreign Policymaking

Read Textbook pgs 413-436

Read: “Congress, Foreign Policy, and the New Institutionalism” by James Lindsay


November 7th: No Class – ISA Midwest Conference in St. Louis


November 10th: Congress and Foreign Policymaking

Read Textbook pgs 436-450

Read: War Powers Act


Part V. Role Sources of American Foreign Policy


November 12th: Rationality and Bureaucracy in Foreign Policymaking

Read Textbook pgs 455-473


November 14th: Organizational Decision Making

Read Textbook pgs 473-485


November 17th: Case Study in Decision Making: Cuban Missile Crisis

Read: “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Graham Allison



Part VI. Individuals as Sources of American Foreign Policy


November 19th: Individuals and Foreign Policy Performance

Read Textbook pgs 491-505


November 21st: The Impact of Individuals' Personality and Cognitive Characteristics

Read Textbook pgs 505-517


Part VII.  The Future of American Foreign Policymaking


November 24th: The Bush Doctrine: Analysis and Prospects

Read Textbook pgs 521-531



December 1st: The Future of American Foreign Policymaking: Challenges to American Primacy

Read: “America's Grand Strategy in the Age of Terror” by John Ikenberry

Read: “Unipolar Illusions” by David Calleo


December 3rd: Course Conclusion: The Future of American Foreign Policy-Making

Read: “America's Global Role After Bush” by Bruce Jentleson


December 5th: Review for Final Examination

Hand out Final Review sheets


December 10th: Final Exam, 12-1:50pm, DU 461