Fall 2010

Northern Illinois University

Andrew Foss

Email: afoss1@niu.edu


Class Meetings: T, TH 2:00-3:15

Classroom: Graham Hall 424

Office Hours: T, TH 12:45-3:15





The goal of this course is to provide a solid introduction to the actors, interests, and politics that shape the formulation, implementation, and oversight of American foreign policy. We will begin with a broad overview of the domestic and global contexts of foreign policy making. Then several class meetings will focus on specific players within the U.S. foreign policy process: the president, the vice president presidential advisers, the National Security Council (NSC) and NSC Staff, State Department, Defense Department, intelligence community, interest groups, news media, and the public.





The one required textbook is available for purchase at the university bookstore. I have made a conscious effort to keep the material as affordable and update-to-date as possible. Therefore, the book is a recently published, paperback edition.  There should also be used copies available for purchase.


To be successful in this course, I strongly encourage students to have a personal copy:


Eugene R. Wittkopf and Christopher M. Jones with Charles W. Kegley, Jr. 2008. American Foreign Policy: Pattern and Process, 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.


We will also be using Eugene R. Wittkopf and James M. McCormick. 2008. The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy: Insights and Evidence, 5th Ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.  However, due to the price of this book I have made it optional.  Thus, if you choose not to purchase this book, it can be found at the Library Reserve desk. 





The first requirement is written examinations. Each test will be composed of a variety of written response short answer questions. Prior to each exam, the instructor will outline the specific exam format, discuss grading standards, and distribute a study guide. 


            The second course requirement is participation. Components of this grade include (a) regular and thoughtful participation in class lectures and discussions, (b) regular attendance, and (c) regular and thoughtful engagement in case study discussions/exercises or any group work. Failure to fulfill any one these expectations satisfactorily or any additional assignment will significantly reduce the participation grade.

            In general, relevant in-class participation (a. and c. above) will be evaluated according to the following scale:


A = regular and thoughtful participation                   

B = occasional and thoughtful participation              

C = regular attendance, but little or no participation

D = less than regular attendance

F = little or no attendance



                Quizzes are the third course requirement. The expectation is that every member of the class will have at least a C- quiz average (70 percent) by the end of the semester. There will be a half letter deduction in the final course grade for quiz averages in the 60-69 percent range and a full letter deduction for quiz averages in the 0-59 percent range. No make up quizzes will be administered as the lowest quiz grade will be dropped. Thus a student can miss one quiz without penalty.


            The fourth course requirement is a seven to ten page research paper that examines the role and relative influence of an actor within the contemporary U.S. foreign policy process. To complete this assignment, which is due on November 18 at 2 PM and is worth 25 percent of the final course grade, students should follow the detailed directions provided within this syllabus (see below) and on the first day of class.


            The midterm examination, final examination, and quizzes will be scored on a 0 to 100 percent scale and assigned a corresponding letter grade. For the research papers and participation, letter grades will be awarded. In computing the final course grade, these two components will count as follows: A = 100-90, B = 89-80, C= 79-70, D= 69-60, and F = 0 to 50.



Midterm Examination = 30 percent

Final Examination         = 30 percent

Participation                  = 15 percent

Research Paper             = 25 percent




1.     Makeup Exams: Makeup exams will only be given in extraordinary circumstances.  If such circumstances arise, please contact the instructor as soon as possible and before the scheduled exam. To keep the process fair for everyone in the course, students may be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation. A missed examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will result in a zero and a course grade of “F” as opposed to an incomplete.


2.     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.

                A student who believes that reasonable accommodations with respect to course work or other academic requirements may be appropriate in consideration of a disability must (1) provide the required verification of the disability to the Center for Access-Ability Resources, (2) meet with the Center for Access-Ability Resources to determine appropriate accommodations, and (3) inform the faculty in charge of the academic activity of the need for accommodation. Students are encouraged to inform the faculty of their requests for accommodations as early as possible in the semester, but must make the requests in a timely enough manner for accommodations to be appropriately considered and reviewed by the university. If contacted by the faculty member, the staff of the Center for Access-Ability Resources will provide advice about accommodations that may be indicated in the particular case. Students who make requests for reasonable accommodations are expected to follow the policies and procedures of the Center for Access-Ability Resources in this process, including but not limited to the Student Handbook.

       A wide range of services can be obtained by students with disabilities, including housing, transportation, adaptation of printed materials, and advocacy with faculty and staff. Students with disabilities who need such services or want more information should contact the Center for Access-Ability Resources at 815-753-1303


3.     Late Assignments: An assignment submitted after the due date will be penalized by a deduction of ten points or one letter grade per day. Since students will have had several weeks to complete their work, this standard will be waived only in extraordinary circumstances. 


4.     Submitting Written Work: Assignments should be handed-in to me personally or given to a department secretary to be time-stamped.  


5.     Extra Credit: Extra credit assignments will not be given on an individual basis to raise final course grades.  Like makeup exams, such projects raise serious questions of equity. If a project is made available, every member of the class would be given the opportunity to complete it.


6.     Classroom Etiquette: Students are to arrive at class on time. Two tardy arrivals are equivalent to one class absence.  Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the professor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency. For instance, it is not acceptable for students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters. Cell phones, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off  or set to vibrate during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). It is not acceptable to use an iPod, read a newspaper, surf the web on a personal computer, or engage other behavior that distracts one from the class proceedings once the session has begun. No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.


7.     Incomplete Requests: Such petitions will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. The instructor reserves the right to ask for documentation to verify the problem preventing completion of the course by the normal deadlines. If the student does not present documentation from a university office or official, the matter will be left to the instructor’s discretion.


8.     Academic Dishonesty: 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.  Please note that the instructor retains copies of papers written in previous years. In short, students are advised to do their own work and learn the rules for proper quoting, paraphrasing, and footnoting. If you need assistance in this regard, go to: http://polisci.niu.edu/polisci/audience/plagiarism.shtml.


9.     Class Participation:  I recognize class discussion comes more easily for some people than for others. By temperament or habit, some individuals are “talkers” while others are “listeners.” Learning to be both is an important subsidiary goal of this course.  Comments that are not relevant to the ongoing discussion and off the point will not be rewarded. Remarks that are disruptive to the discussion, insensitive to others, or attempt to dominate the discussion will not be tolerated. I strongly prefer students to participate on a voluntary basis. If you are particularly apprehensive about talking in class, or feel closed out of the discussion for another reason, please speak with me. There are some things I can suggest that may be helpful. Remember: communication skills and self-confidence are extremely important assets in the professional world. Thus it is better to develop these things in the collegial environment of this class rather than under more difficult circumstances later in life.


10.  Religious Observances: The University asks instructors to make students aware of the following policy. “Northern Illinois University as a public institution of higher education in the State of Illinois does not observe religious holidays.  It is the university’s policy, however, to reasonably accommodate the religious observances of individual students in regards to admissions, class attendance, scheduling examinations and work requirements.  Such policies shall be made known to faculty and students.  Religious observance includes all aspects of religious observance and practice as well as belief. Absence from classes or examinations for religious observance does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence.  To request accommodation, students who expect to miss classes, examinations or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance shall provide instructors with reasonable notice of the date or dates they will be absent.” The instructor is respectful and fully supportive of students who wish to participate in religious observances. Excused absences will be provided, but students must understand and follow the above policy with respect to reasonable notice and making up work.


11.  Unannounced Quizzes: The instructor reserves the right to conduct pop quizzes, if it becomes grossly apparent through class discussions that students are not completing the assigned readings on a regular basis.  If such quizzes are administered, they will be averaged and used to raise or lower a student’s final course grade by a half a letter grade. Whether a particular student’s grade is adjusted positively or negatively will be dependent on a class average.






Week 1

August 24

Course Introduction

- Introductions: Instructor and Students

- Overview of subject matter

- Discussion of requirements, expectations, and policies


August 26

The Global Context of U.S. Foreign Policy Making in the Post-9/11 Era and the International System  

Wittkopf & Jones, Chapter 6 (pp. 145-163 and 179-194 only)


Week 2

August 31

Rationality and Bureaucratic Decision-making

Wittkopf & Jones pp. 455-463


September 2

Policy Consequences of Bureaucratic Politics

Wittkopf & Jones pp. 464-473


 Week 3

September 7

The President: Foreign Policy Roles, Opportunities, Constraints and how Personality Matters

Wittkopf & McCormick, Chapter 9 (Nelson)

Wittkopf & Jones, Chapter 14


September 9

Presidents as Crisis Managers

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 512-514

Case: The American Hostage Rescue Mission in Wittkopf & McCormick, Chapter 19 (Smith)


Week 4

September 14

The President and War Powers: The Peak of Executive Foreign Policy Influence? 

War Powers Act (Course Documents)

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 423-430


September 16

 A Case in Presidential Foreign Policy Making

Ryan C. Hendrickson, “The Clinton Administration’s Strikes on Usama Bin Laden: Limits to Power” In Contemporary Cases in U.S. Foreign Policy: From Terrorism to Trade, Ralph G. Carter, ed., (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2002), pp. 196-216. (E-Reserve)


Week 5

September 21

The Vice President and Foreign Policy Making: Does the Second in Command Matter?

Paul Kengor, “The Vice President, Secretary of State, and Foreign Policy,” Political Science Quarterly 115, 2 (2000):175-199. (E-Reserve) 


September 23

Presidential Foreign Policy Advisors

No assigned readings


Week 6

September 28

National Security Council and NSC Staff

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 340-356

Wittkopf & McCormick, Chapter 11 (Daalder and Destler)


September 30

The State Department

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 367-378


Week 7

October 5

The National Security Advisor vs. the Secretary of State

Read: “Why State Can’t Lead” by Duncan Clarke (Course Documents)


October 7

The Defense Department

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 378-388

Wittkopf & McCormick, Chapter 14 (Boot)


Week 8

October 12

The Joint Chiefs of Staff

 Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 383-388 (Review)


October 14

The Intelligence Community and Reform

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 388-406 (top)


Week 9

October 19

Midterm Exam


October 21

Department of Homeland Security

Review Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 396-398

Wittkopf & McCormick, Chapter 16 (Lehrer)


Week 10

October 26

Interagency Processes and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy

Case: Christopher M. Jones, “Trading with Saddam: Bureaucratic Roles and Competing Conceptions of National Security,” In The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy: Insights and Evidence, 3rd ed., Eugene R. Wittkopf and James M. McCormick (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), pp. 267-285. (E-Reserve) 


October 28

Interest Groups and Nongovernmental Organizations

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 283-305 (top)


Week 11

November 2

The News Media

Wittkopf & Jones, 305-317 


November 4

The CNN Effect

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


Week 12

November 9

Public Opinion

Wittkopf & Jones, pp. 250-280


 November 11

The International System in 2010

Read: Richard N. Haass. 2008. “The Age of Nonpolarity.” Foreign Affairs 87 (3):44-56. (Course Documents)           

Read: Fareed Zakaria. 2008. “The Future of American Power.” Foreign Affairs 87 (3):18-43

(Course Documents)


Week 13

November 16

The Obama Administration and Foreign Policy Making

Read: “Renewing Leadership” by Barack Obama


November 18

 Current Event


Research Papers are due today


Week 14

November 23

Current Event



November 25

No Class, Thanksgiving


Week 15

November 30

Open Date

We will use this date to catch up with material (if we are behind), view a foreign policy DVD, listen to a guest speaker, or cover a special topic of interest to the class. Readings may be assigned or distributed.


December 2

Finish Course Conclusion (if necessary) and Review for Final Examination

No reading assignment


Week 16

December 7

Final Exam





Assignment: Evaluate an Actor’s Relative Influence within the U.S. Foreign Policy Process



 Select an appropriate topic: Choose a specific individual, group, organization, or country that has some impact on the contemporary U.S. foreign policy process. The selection cannot be a specific U.S. president, such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or Barak Obama. It also cannot be a general subject covered in class, such as the State Department, Congress, or the new media. However, a smaller, more specific topic related to these actors or other class subjects could certainly be explored. Moreover, a paper topic does not have to be limited to the subjects addressed in class. There is a broad range of possibilities. The selected topic must simply be an actor that plays some legitimate role in the contemporary U.S. foreign policy process. “Legitimate” is defined as a legally or politically recognized domestic or international actor that is regularly involved in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. (Please no terrorist organizations, drug cartels, or other actors of this type.) “Contemporary” is defined as the post-cold war era, or 1993 to the present. The paper can encompass this entire time period or a simply a portion of it.



Format and presentation: The final paper should be properly presented and assembled. Be sure it conforms to the following guidelines:

(a)    Word-processed and double-spaced on white, unlined, 8.5'' x 11'' paper with 12 pt. font

(b)   One-inch margins on all sides

(c)    Page numbers

(d)   Text begins at the very top of page one

(e)   Meet the page minimum of seven pages and absolutely do not exceed 10 pages


Research and Documentation: The final paper should be carefully and properly documented.

(a)    Do not engage in intentional or unintentional plagiarism (see “academic dishonesty” under “course policies and loose ends” above).

(b)   Use a reasonable number of complete footnotes, parenthetical references, or endnotes to indicate sources, supporting evidence, interpretations, contrary analyses or views, as well as to give credit for quotations or paraphrases

(c)    At a minimum, use at least five different sources, as reflected in the endnotes or footnotes, not merely the bibliography. (More sources are preferable.) Course textbooks may be used, but these materials do not count toward the number of required sources unless it is a chapter that was not assigned during the semester.

(d)   Avoid dependency or overuse of particular sources. Diversify sources and citations throughout the entire paper.

(e)    Use a widely accepted form of citation, such as MLA, APA, APSR, or the Chicago Manual of Style. The specific form is your choice, but use it correctly.

(f)    Use quality source material (e.g., books, scholarly journal articles, interviews, memoirs of decision-makers, speeches, government documents, etc.). Every paper should have some of these types of sources. The university library has a good government documents section and helpful staff on the second floor. Try to visit before 4:30 p.m. for the best assistance. The library also has access to a number of good databases (e.g., JSTOR, EBSCO, LexisNexis, etc.) that will allow you to search for journal articles thoroughly and efficiently. Do not be afraid to ask a librarian for assistance.

(g)   Citations from newspapers and newsmagazines are acceptable, but they will not be counted toward the required number of sources. (Speak to the instructor if this is truly the only type of material that you can find on your subject.) Newspapers of record, such as the New York TimesWashington PostLos Angeles TimesWall Street Journal, or other good quality newspapers, such as the Christian Science Monitor, should be employed. Some high quality foreign newspapers also may be acceptable.

(h)   Good quality sources of information from the World Wide Web are acceptable and will count toward the source minimum, but this information is it not an excuse for doing library research and including books, journal articles, or government documents. Use Internet material in moderation and be sure it is well cited so that anyone could locate the same information.