POLS 382: American Foreign Policy-Making


Spring 2009

MWF 11-11:50pm

Du Sable 246


Instructor: Kevin Marsh

E-mail: kmarsh@niu.edu

Office Hours: MWF 9-10am, 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 new Obama administration 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 Wadsworth, 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%

Quiz Average: 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 five quizzes will cover the readings and material from lectures.  These quizzes will be multiple choice format, and I will drop the lowest quiz grade at the end of the semester.  The quizzes will be averaged together at the end of the semester to compute the student's quiz average.


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?





  1. Course Policies:


            Make-up Exams: A make-up exam or quiz 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 or quiz.


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


January 12th: Course Introduction


January 14th: Introduction to the Sources of American Foreign Policy

Read: Textbook pgs 1-27


January 16th: Patterns of American Foreign Policy: 1776-1989

Read Textbook pgs 29-56


January 21st: Patterns of American Foreign Policy: 1989-2009

Read Textbook pgs 56-73


Part II.  External Sources of American Foreign Policy


January 23rd: The International Political System in Transition

Read Textbook pgs 145-158


January 26th: The International Political System in Transition

Read Textbook pgs 175-195


January 28th: America's Management of the International Trade System

Read Textbook pgs 215-235



Part III.  Societal Sources of American Foreign Policy


January 30th: Political Culture and Public Opinion in Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 239-251


February 2nd: Political Culture and Public Opinion in Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 251-280


February 4th: Interest Groups and American Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 283-290, 298-305


February 6th: Interest Groups and American Foreign Policy: The Military-Industrial Complex

Read Textbook pgs 291-298


February 9th: The Mass Media and American Foreign Policy

Read Textbook pgs 304-317


February 11th: 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 IV.  Governmental Sources of American Foreign Policy


February 13th: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policy Making: Presidential Powers

Read Textbook pgs 325-332




February 18th: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policymaking: The Cabinet

Read Textbook pgs 333-340


February 20th: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policymaking: The National Security Council, Structure, Organization, and Purpose

Read: Go to www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/ and read through the features on the site



February 23rd: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policymaking: Case Studies of the National Security Council

Read Textbook pgs 340-356


February 25th: President Preeminence in Foreign Policymaking: The Barack Obama Administration and American Foreign Policymaking

Read: “Renewing American Leadership” by Barack Obama

Read: “Charting a New World Role Obama, National Security Team Promise Diplomacy, Moral Example” by Joseph Williams. Can be found at http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/12/02/charting_a_new_world_role/


February 27th: Midterm Review


March 2nd: Midterm Exam


March 4th: Leadership Style and Executive Arrangements

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


March 6th: Presidential Preeminence in Foreign Policy Making: Department of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism in a Post 9/11 World

Read Textbook pgs 361-363

Read: Go to www.dhs.gov and look through the features on the website


March 16th: The State Department: Role and Resources

Read Textbook pgs 368-377



March 18th: The State Department: Influence and Perspectives

Read: “Rogue State Department” by Newt Gingrich

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



March 20th: The Department of Defense: The Office of Secretary of Defense

Read Textbook: pgs 378-383


March 23rd: The Department of Defense: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Armed Forces

Read Textbook: pgs 383-388

Go to www.defense.mil and examine the features of the website


March 25th: The Department of Defense: The Challenge of Military Transformation

Read: “A Balanced Strategy by Robert Gates”.  Available on www.foreignaffairs.org.


March 27th: The Intelligence Community: History and Composition

Read Textbook pgs 388-405


March 30th: The Intelligence Community: Reform and the Director of National Intelligence

Read: “Intelligence Reform Progress Report” by DNI Negroponte

Go to www.dni.gov and examine the features of the website


April 1st: Economics and U.S. Foreign Policy Making: The White House, Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Labor

Read Textbook pgs 356-360, 406-409


April 3rd: Congress and Foreign Policymaking: Powers

Read Textbook pgs 413-436



April 6th: Congress, Foreign Policy, and the Executive Branch

Read Textbook pgs 436-450


April 8th: Congress and Foreign Policymaking: The War Powers Act

Read: The War Powers Act




Part V. Role Sources of American Foreign Policy


April 10th: Rationality and Bureaucracy in Foreign Policymaking

Read Textbook pgs 455-473


April 13th: Organizational Decision Making

Read Textbook pgs 473-485


April 15th: 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


April 17th: Individuals and Foreign Policy Performance

Read Textbook pgs 491-505


April 20th: The Impact of Individuals' Personality and Cognitive Characteristics

Read Textbook pgs 505-517



Part VII. The Future of American Foreign Policymaking


April 22nd: Comparing Obama and Bush

Read: 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States of America

Re-Read: “Renewing American Leadership” by Barack Obama



April 24th: Challenges to American Primacy I: Optimistic View

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


April 26th: Challenges to American Primacy II: Negative View

Read: “Unipolar Illusions' by David Calleo


April 29th: Final Exam Review


May 6th: Final Exam 10-11:50am, DU 246