Spring 2004




Tuesdays  and Thursdays 9:30~10:45 A.M.




Office: Zulauf 420                                               Classroom:  DU 252

                           Phone: 753-7057                                                  Office Hours: T~TH 10:50 A.M~12:00    

                                                                       E-mail: ampcrocker@comcast.net                        P.M. 







This course will study and discuss a number of theories and approaches to help interpret American foreign policy.  While the central emphasis is on American Foreign policy,  a range of theoretical approaches or models,  including international relations theory, foreign policy decision-making, and world political economy will be incorporated to this course to help students acquire a broader understanding of  the United States’ extensive role within the international environment.


This course has three key objectives.  First, to provide the necessary theoretical tools for  students to understand general trends in American foreign policy.  This information will be presented through lecture.  There is also material covered by Karen Mingst’s (2001) required textbook. However, students should take thorough notes of the information presented in class to complement what is covered in the textbook.

Second,  in order to provide students with a practical way of applying their theoretical knowledge, there will be in class discussion of case studies.  The cases include  either Pew or KSG studies, or topic debates from John T. Rourke’s required textbook.   To facilitate and coordinate these discussions, the instructor will provide students with a set of  questions.  It will then be the responsibility of the students to consolidate their ideas and present them to class in an open forum.   In addition, case discussions will at times include group simulations. 

Finally, every Tuesday morning at the beginning of class, we will discuss newspaper articles, preferably from the  New York Times. Students will be encouraged to bring an article or two to class,  briefly summarize the articles’ facts, and simply react to the articles,  or interpret the newspaper clips through one of the theories, models,  or approaches we have discussed in class.

Overall, I hope students will leave the course with the ability to identify the theoretical perspectives and concepts that underlie various arguments made about American foreign policy and to use these theoretical models critically when attempting to understand world events.





  The two required textbooks and the Pew/KSG case studies are available for purchase at the university bookstore. 


1.     Karen Mingst. 2001. Essentials of International Relations (2nd edition) New York: W.W. Norton. 



2.     John T. Rourke. 2002. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in American Foreign Policy. (2nd edition). Guilford, CT: McGraw-Hill Duskin.



3.     Pew Cases  #  170, and 521, and KSG # 279.


         4.  Daily edition of the New York Times.  Available free of cost at www.nytimes.com .  You must register and select a password to access the website.  There is also a reduced rate subscription for students who prefer to receive a daily copy of the newspaper. The newspaper is also available at the library.






There are two required written assignments for this class. The first is written examinations.  There will be a midterm and a final exam.  The midterm will be given on Thursday, February 26.  The final exam will be administered on Thursday, May 6.


Second, there will be two written assignments. Written assignments are MANDATORY.  The lack of completion of one of the assignments will receive a 0 % grade.  The written assignments will include the completion of two short papers and a journal.  The two journals are due at the beginning of class on March 18 and April 20.  The journals will count as 10 percent each of the course grade.  Second, there is the completion of a short paper due on April 29, worth 15 percent of the total grade.  For more information on the written assignments, see pages nine and ten of the syllabus. 


Third, class participation will contribute to 15 percent of the grade.  Participation means regular attendance, no more than four absences, AND offering thoughtful opinions and comments on the assigned discussions. 



In general relevant in-class participation will be evaluated according to the following scale:


A= regular and thoughtful participation

B= occasional and thoughtful participation

C= regular attendance

D=less than regular attendance

F=little or no attendance


There may also be a number of quizzes on case discussion days that will count as part of the final participation grade.  To reward those students keeping up with the material, the final grade for quizzes will be based on class average.  Students with a B+ to A average will have their participation final grade raised one half letter.  Individuals with a B to C- will not have their participation final grade changed.  Class members with an average quiz grade of D+ to F will have their participation grade lowered half a letter. 







MIDTERM EXAM= 25 PERCENT           Journal 1 = 10 PERCENT


FINAL EXAM =25 PERCENT                   Journal2  = 10 PERCENT


PARTICIPATION =15 PERCENT             Paper  =15 PERCENT



ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:  Plagiarism is the most serious form of academic cheating.   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.”   If  students wish to do some library research to support their analytical essays for the class , they must remember to observe proper rules of citation.








Midterm exam: February 26.

First Journal Due: March 18

Second Journal Due: April 20.

Short Paper Due: April 29

Final Exam: May 6 







January 13


Course introduction


January 15

Lecture: Understanding Foreign Policy through Competing                              

Frames of Reference.

Distribution of the Melian Dialogue



January 20


Class discussion: Current Events.  bring  NYT article!!                   

Discussion: The Melian Dialogue.


January 22


Lecture:  American Foreign Policy as Realism. Mingst, pp.67-69 , pp.103-104, and 238-239.



January 27


            NYT discussion 

          American Foreign Policy as Realism  (continued). Mingst. Pp.69-71, pp.86-94, and pp. 152-153, 160-162.


January 29


Discussion:  *  John T. Rourke (2001).  Taking Sides : Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in American Foreign Policy. 2nd edition.  Should the United States Seek Global hegemony?  Pp.16~35





 February 3  


Current Events:  bring  NYT article!!                              

             American Foreign Policy as Liberalism. Mingst, pp.63-66, 10, 154-156.                  


             Class assignment: read the Declaration of Independence on-line at:



             February 5


 John T. Rourke Issue # 18: Should the United States ratify the International Criminal Court Treaty? Pp. 332-347




            WEEK 5

 February 10


Current events: bring a NYT article!!

American Foreign Policy as Liberalism  (continued). Mingst 84-86 and pp.241-248.


February 12


 Case # 170, Part A. Eric A. Hy.  Values Versus Interests: The U.S. Response to the Tiananmen Square Massacre


WEEK 6  
February 17


Current events: bring NYT article!!                      

Lecture:  the Global South’s view of American Foreign Policy. Mingst, pp.71-75,p.104, and pp.94-96 .


February 19


 Issue #7: Should the United States Move to Substantially Ease Current Sanctions Against Cuba? Pp.116-133.




WEEK 7 .
 February 24     


Midterm Examination Review


February 26


Midterm Examination


** The midterm exam is given at this time so that students will have a graded assignment prior to the University’s withdrawal deadline: March 5.


March 2


Current Events: bring NYT article!!


Theory in Action: Analyzing terrorism from contending theoretical perspectives    “Annual Editions: Violence and Terrorism”.  Pp.  114-116, 202-214- ON RESERVE-.


March 4


Alternative Modern Perspectives: Constructivism and Feminism in International Relations.   Pp. 76-77,  10-11, 213-214, 272-273.

Spring Brake: Have a fun and safe week!!! 





March 16


Current events: bring a NYT article!!


Taking Sides: Issue 19…Should the United States Ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)?  Pp. 348-355.


March 18   


** The first journal due at the beginning of class!

Lecture:  American Foreign Policy as Rational  Choice. Mingst pp.119-122.



WEEK 11 
March 23 

           Current events:  bring NYT article.

Rourke’s . Taking Sides … Issue 15:  Is Building a Ballistic Missile defense System a Wise Idea?  Pp.266-283.


               March 25


Lecture: American Foreign Policy as Organizational

Behavior. Mingst pp.122-124



            WEEK 12


          March 30

Current events: bring a NYT article   

           Lecture:  American Foreign Policy as Governmental 



April 1


 KSG Case # 279: “Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs.”



 April 6          


Current events: bring NYT article.

American Foreign Policy as Crisis Decision-Making.

( video: groupthinking)


April 8

VIDEO:  related to decision-making policy. TBA


( These are not “blow-off” classes.  Some of the exam questions may be based on audiovisual material)



April 13


NYT: bring article !!!

American Foreign Policy as Free Trade     

Liberalism. Mingst 186-187, 190-192, and 203-209.


April 15


Taking  Sides :  Issue #12 .Is Economic Globalization a Positive Trend for the United States? Pp. 208-218.



April 20           


            * 2nd Journal due today at the beginning of class!

            American Foreign Policy as Strategic Competition.  Mingst,pp.184-186 and 195-202                                                                                         


April 22


  Discussion: Case # 521.  Eva Bertram and Bill Spencer.  Democratic Dilemmas in the U.S. War on Drugs in Latin America.


April 27


American Foreign Policy as imperialism and neo-imperialism.

           Mingst pp.187-189, 192-195, and 209-212.                                      


April 29


         ** Paper due at the beginning  of class!        


Review for Final Examination


           WEEK 17












Each of the TWO current event journals will include 10 neatly clipped newspaper entries from the New York Times or other newspaper approved by the instructor.  The journals should indicate the title, author, date and source for each article. Accompanying the article should be a well-written, well-developed paragraph ( of at least six to eight sentences) that react to or analyzes the selected news story.  For instance a journal entry can tie a selected article to a course reading, draw a connection to a theory or concept discussed in class, relate the article’s significance to present or future foreign policy, or convey how a policy maker should address a given foreign policy issue.  Whatever approach is selected, the paragraph must exhibit independent thinking and be well constructed or thought out. The goal of the journal is to share one’s thoughts or information learned from class rather than to repeat what the article says.  All journal entries should be word-processed and related to American Foreign policy. The exact way in which the journal is assembled and presented for submission is for each student to decide.  However, the ten written entries for each journal should be representative of the entire term up to the journals’ due date instead of simply a few weeks. Each assignment is worth ten percent of the final grade.  







 THE GOAL OF THE PAPER:  The purpose of this assignment is to write an analytical paper where you will use a major theory or concept discussed in class to explain a contemporary issue related to American foreign policy.

A good paper requires the following elements:


1.     It should be creative, well written, and carefully constructed.

2.     It should be based upon the following theoretical frameworks:  a) realism, liberalism, radicalism, constructivism, or feminism;  b) decision-making theories: rational actor, organizational process, or governmental politics models;  c) economic frames of reference: neomercantilism, free trade liberalism, or imperialism-neoimperialism. 

3.     Students should select an event or issue to analyze based on news articles from the New York Times or another paper or record the instructor has approved.  The paper should include at least three related newspaper articles on the selected topic.  So, you should follow a given topic/event carefully throughout the semester.  You could also include other bibliographical sources such as on-line news, books, or academic journals.  

4.     Papers should be at least four word processed pages.  The pages should be double spaced, approximately 12 font, and contain one- inch margins. 

5.     The paper should have a bibliography.  Endnotes, in-text notes, or footnotes are also required.  Use a citation method such as APA or MLA.  A quote must always appear in quotation marks. 



GRADE: The paper is worth 15 percent of the final course grade. The grade will be based upon the following components: 1)  A thesis statement that introduces the reader to the paper. 2) A body where evidence is presented to support the thesis.  3) A conclusion that summarizes the argument and evidence presented in the paper. 4) Quality :  a) the paper  should be analytically sound.  It should explain the logic behind a statement and offer evidence to demonstrate why the statement is in fact true;  b) as mentioned above,  the paper should also be well-written and carefully constructed.






(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 request for makeup exams with documentation.  A missed final examination without prior notification and a documented excuse will result in zero and a grade of “F” as opposed to an incomplete.

(2)  Students with Disabilities:  The instructor recognizes that some students require special testing environments because of documented physical and learning disabilities.  If such arrangements are necessary, the instructor should be informed early in the semester.  Please do not wait until exam time.

(3)  Late Papers: A writing assignment submitted after 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 write their papers, this standard will be waived only in extreme circumstances.

(4)  Submitting Papers: Assignments should be handed in to me personally, or given to a department secretary to be time-stamped.  Assignments placed under my office door or sent with a friend tend to disappear at times.  If a student selects one of these modes of delivery, he or she does so at their own risk.

(5)  Extra Credit:  Extra credit assignments will not be given on an individual basis to raise final course grades.  Like make-up exams, such projects raise serious questions of equity.  In the unlikely event such a project is made available, every member of the class will be given the opportunity to complete it.

(6)  Handouts:  Handouts, including study guides, are a privilege for those students who attend class on a regular basis.  No student is entitled to supplemental materials simply because they are registered for the course.

(7)  Incomplete Requests:  Such petitions will be granted rarely and 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)  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, which can be submitted by students or faculty,  must be supplied  in triplicate to a Department’s 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 year can be considered for the award. 

(9)  Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities:  Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to make it reasonable accommodations for person with documented disabilities.  Those students with disabilities that may have some impact in the coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth flour of the Health Services Building. 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.

(10)        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, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities.  To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu