Seminar in International Relations – U.S. National Security Policy


Spring 2009

Northern Illinois University

Christopher Jones


Office: ZU 415                                                           

Phone: 753-7040                                                        

E-mail: cmjones@niu.edu


Class Time:      Tuesday 3:30-6:10 p.m. in DU 466

Office Hours:  Wednesday 1:00-4:00 p.m. or by appointment



This graduate seminar examines the challenges and issues confronting contemporary U.S. national security policymakers and the many factors that influence the policies that emerge. Its central aim is to develop M.A. and Ph.D. students’ abilities to analyze policy in a thoughtful and critical manner and to communicate this analysis to others. This capacity requires a strong understanding of theoretical and practical concepts, substantive policy issues, and extensive literature from the academic and policy communities.


Through reading and directed discussion and analysis, the first goal of the course is to probe a wide range of real and potential threats to U.S. national security. Terrorism, of course, will be a key focus. We will discuss this form of political violence as a general issue as well as explore some modern variants, such as cyber terrorism and the potential use of “dirty bombs” (radiological dispersion devices). Other topics include nuclear proliferation, new transnational security threats, a rising China in East Asia, a resurgent Russia, European security, the war in Afghanistan, military intervention, dependency on foreign sources of oil, and the war in Iraq.


The course’s second purpose is to discuss policy options to reduce the most pressing national security challenges and to develop strategies to prevent or counter the principal threats to the survival and vital interests of the United States. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss and analyze arms control, national missile defense, options for addressing terrorism, whether to contain or engage China, the best strategy for responding to a resurgent Russia, NATO’s collective defense and security roles, deciding when and how to intervene militarily, options for ensuring America’s energy security, and the most effective means for dealing with and moving beyond the current state of affairs in Iraq. In addition to considering the federal government’s existing policy options, students will be strongly encouraged to formulate and consider new approaches. Hopefully, this exercise will allow us to have some fun putting ourselves in the shoes of national security policy-makers without sharing their ulcers.


Given the time constraints associated with a semester, the course’s treatment of national security policy must be selective. There are clearly additional subjects that could be included. The choice of topics is designed to demonstrate the diverse nature of contemporary security policy, which emerges from the intersection of geopolitics and globalization as well as from patterns of continuity and change within the post-9/11 security environment. In particular, the course draws a clear distinction between foreign policy and security policy, placing emphasis on the central threats to the safety and survival of the United States. Military history, strategic culture, weapons systems, intelligence, and the mechanics of the national security decision-making process, while by no means irrelevant to our investigation, will not be a central focus. Instead this seminar is concerned with substantive policy issues and responses.


In light of our semester-long examination of contemporary security issues, threats and responses, the third goal of the course will consider the overall direction and nature of U.S. grand strategy as we approach the second decade of the twenty-first century and the beginning of a new presidential administration. Presently, the United States is at a critically important juncture in its history, politics, and relationship with the rest of the world. Thus it is essential the course conclude with a serious consideration of America’s global standing, George W. Bush’s national security strategy, Barak Obama’s emerging strategic direction, and a range of competing grand strategies available to U.S. policy makers in 2009 and beyond.


The fourth and final objective of the course is for each student to produce a major, high quality piece of research and writing related to the focus of the course and his or her future educational, professional, or personal goals.



Since this is a graduate course intended for political science doctoral students and serious M.A. students, it will be conducted as an interactive seminar. I will interrupt our meetings from time to time to introduce material, provide background information or to share my thoughts, but the majority of our time will be devoted to a group discussion and analysis of the established literature related to contemporary U.S. national security policy. Therefore, everyone’s full participation is essential and expected. All required readings for a particular week are to be completed by each student before arriving in class; and each member of the class should be prepared to summarize, react to, and draw from the readings in depth (see “seminar participation” and “weekly seminar meetings” below).  



There are three components of the final course grade. The first is a written final examination that will resemble the format of a comprehensive examination given by the department’s international relations faculty. That is, it will encompass multiple sections and essay questions. It will be administered during the university’s final examination period on Thursday, May 7 and be worth 25 percent of the course grade. The class meeting on Tuesday, April 28 will be partially devoted to drawing conclusions about the material and preparing for this test. The examination must be completed to earn a passing grade and credit for the course. However, students auditing the courses are exempt.


The second requirement is preparation of an original research paper related to contemporary U.S. national security policy since September 11, 2001, which is due in the Political Science main office on Monday, April 27 at 3:30 p.m. The paper must also be submitted to Safe Assign on the course’s Blackboard site by this day and time. To earn a passing grade and credit in the course, this project must be completed. However, students auditing the course are exempt. Acceptable approaches include the following: the use of key factors (independent variables) or an existing theory to explain a significant U.S. national security decision, policy, or action (dependent variable); a descriptive case study and accompanying case notes based on an accepted case study model; a policy paper that advocates a creative proposal to a pressing national security challenge; a comparative analysis; the development and application of new theory related to national security; an analysis of a significant contemporary change or continuity related to U.S. national security policy; development of a new U.S. grand strategy; an analysis that supplements, corrects, sharpens or extends an existing national security theory, thesis, model or policy; or some other approach approved by the instructor.


Regardless of the selected approach, the analysis must meet certain basic requirements. First, it should be carefully written and edited with regard to prose, grammar, spelling, diction, format, and word-processing. Second, it should be properly documented and draw upon a diversity of well integrated materials including whenever appropriate both primary and secondary sources. Third, it should be 20 to 25 full pages in length with standard size type (12 pt.), double-spacing, one-inch margins, and page numbers. Title pages, abstracts, appendices, tables, figures, endnotes, and bibliographies do not account toward the minimum page requirement. Fourth, the final paper should contain the following components: (1) title page, (2) abstract, (3) introduction (e.g., problem identification, research question, and significance), (4) background section and/or literature review, (5) research design, overview of analytic approach or method, (6) analysis or test, (7) findings and/or conclusion, (8) any necessary ancillary material (e.g., appendix, tables, and figures), and (9) a bibliography or works cited page. The paper should also have identifiable subsections and subheadings. Fifth, the text, format, and citation of sources should conform to style guidelines in The Chicago Manual of Style or journals, such as the International Studies Quarterly and the American Political Science Review. Sixth, write with authority, use an analytical, third person voice and avoid the use of me, my, I, we, our, you, and your within the final draft. Lastly, it is expected that all papers will be of a written and analytical quality such that with modest revisions, they could be accepted as a M.A starred paper, incorporated into a future doctoral dissertation, or presented at a relevant professional meeting of scholars. Thus everyone should be prepared to defend their choice of research questions and methods, and devote the necessary time and hard work to create a high quality paper.


The research paper assignment, which is worth 50 percent of the final course grade, includes a submission of a research design statement and a brief oral presentation. The one-page, word-processed research design statement is due in class on  Tuesday, February 10, at minimum, should provide the proposed study’s research question, analytical approach, temporal boundaries, and a tentative bibliography of at least five quality sources. Paper presentations will be delivered in class on Tuesday, April 14 and Tuesday, April 21. The order of presentation will be determined by lottery. On the day of the presentation, copies of a word-processed outline or overview (e.g., talking points) must be distributed to all members of the seminar. Details about the length and content of the paper presentations will be discussed later in the semester, but the exercise has a twofold purpose. On the one hand, it is designed to give students practical experience in presenting and defending their work in public. On the other hand, it should improve the quality of the papers by allowing the class to comment constructively on each study before the final submission. The expectation is that both the research design statement and in-class presentation will be well prepared. Failure to complete these requirements as intended by the due dates will significantly reduce the final paper grade.


This independent research project tailored to each student’s interests. After the first day of class, the paper assignment will not be discussed extensively in class. Students will receive feedback on their research design statement and are strongly encouraged to consult with the instructor as often as they wish to ensure they have the direction and support that they need to be successful in writing a high quality paper.


The third graded requirement is class participation. Components of this grade include: (1) regular attendance (no more than one absence), (2) regular and thoughtful participation in seminar discussions; and (3) completion of any additional assignments, such as a brief oral report to the class on an additional reading or special preparatory work for a particular seminar meeting. Failure to fulfill any one of these expectations will significantly reduce the participation grade that is worth 25 percent of the final course grade. 


In general, relevant in-class participation will be evaluated according to the following scale with plus and minus grades being possible. The instructor will note the quantity and quality of class members’ participation on a weekly basis so a fair grade can be assigned at the end of the semester.


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


Each student is also strongly encouraged (but not required) to draft a fairly succinct written summary of one week’s readings and discussion. The final item would be distributed to all members of the seminar so it could be used to prepare for the final examination. Students in past years have found these summaries to be extremely beneficial. If there is consensus among the students in the seminar, one student should volunteer to serve as the coordinator of this collegial group study initiative. This activity is performed and supervised entirely by the students. It is not a requirement of the course.



Please note that participation is largely voluntary. However, everyone’s involvement is essential and expected. As discussed above, regular and thoughtful participation will be rewarded. The instructor may call on students if he finds that it is the only way that they will participate. Seminar participants are expected to stay on topic, to refrain from dominating or hiding during discussions and to demonstrate respect and tolerance for others at all times.


In an effort to focus the assigned readings and make the seminar discussions more fruitful, we will employ a specific set of questions throughout the semester. This framework will also help the class draw conclusions at the end of the semester. Please make an effort to formulate tentative answers before arriving at class each week. Whether we address all these questions or additional questions will depend on the week’s topic.


1.      How does each assigned journal article or report contribute to the understanding of the issue under discussion? Does the article have noteworthy strengths and weaknesses? 
2.      What current trends and key developments are important for understanding this real or potential threat?
3.      What motivates and accounts for the real or potential threat?
4.      How is U.S. national security at stake? What are the leading U.S. national interests in this policy area?
5.      Does the United States have the capacity to address this real or potential threat?
6.      What are available policy options and strategies to respond to this real or potential threat?
7.      What policy option or strategy would best advance U.S. national security interests? Why? 

Makeup Exams: A makeup final examination 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 examinations 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.


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 Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor 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 disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Late Assignments: A research paper or 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 write their papers and prepare other assignments, this standard will be waived only in extreme circumstances supported by documentation.


Submitting Completed Work: Assignments and papers should be handed-in to me personally or given to a department secretary to be time-stamped. If a student selects other modes of delivery, he or she does so at their own risk. Students are also requested to retain their completed work on paper and their computer should the instructor request additional copies. Check with the instructor before sending any completed work via e-mail.


Academic Dishonesty: In preparing their work and meeting the requirements of this course, members of this seminar are expected to adhere to all the rules, regulations, and standards set forth by the Department of Political Science, Graduate School, Northern Illinois University, and the scholarly community. This statement encompasses intentional and unintentional plagiarism, cheating on examinations, using, purchasing or stealing others' work, misusing library materials, and so forth. Failure to honor these rules, regulations, and standards could result in a failing course grade and/or disciplinary action. Students will be required to submit their paper assignments to the Safe Assign system on the course’s Blackboard site.


Incomplete Requests: Incompletes are major burden to both the student and the instructor. 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.


Additional Assignments: The instructor reserves the right to assign additional reports, presentations, or short papers if the quality of the class discussion is less than satisfactory or he believes such assignments will enhance students’ understanding of the material.



To avoid the expense of purchasing several books, all the assigned readings consist of journal articles, reports, and other documents that have been placed on two-hour library reserve. The reserve room is located on the first floor of the library. A hard copy of each reading is on file there, In addition, all of the readings are available on electronic reserve, which allows access to the readings without visiting the reserve room. The readings may be accessed through the course’s Blackboard site. Students enrolled under a different course number will be provided a link that they can use to obtain the readings.




Important Dates:

February 10:                Research design statements are due at the beginning of class.

April 14 & 21:            Research paper presentations

April 27:                      Research papers are due in the POLS main office (Zulauf 415) at 3:30 p.m.

April 28:                      Course conclusion and review for final examination

May 7:                         Final examination


Week 1: January 13 – Introduction to Course & National Security Policy

No assigned readings. Professor will provide a foundational lecture on security studies and U.S. national security policy.


Week 2: January 20 - Terrorism

Max Abrahms.  2008. “What Terrorists Really Want.International Security 32 (4):78-105.


Daniel Byman. 2007. “US Counter-terrorism Options: A Taxonomy.” Survival 49 (3):121-150. 25


Thomas Homer-Dixon. 2002. “The Rise of Complex Terrorism.” Foreign Policy 128 (January/February): 52-62.


Henry Munson. 2004. “Lifting the Veil: Understanding the Roots of Islamic Militancy.” Harvard International Review 25(4).


Robert A. Pape. 2003. “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.” American Political Science Review 97 (3):1-19.


David Tucker. 1998. “Responding to Terrorism.” Washington Quarterly 21(1):103-117.


Week 3: January 27 - Nuclear Proliferation

Ivo Daalder and Jan Lodal. 2008. “The Logic of Zero.” Foreign Affairs 87 (6):80-95.


Nader Elhefnawy. 2008. “The Next Wave of Nuclear Proliferation.” Parameters 38 (3):36-47.


Christopher Hemmer. 2007. “Responding to Nuclear Iran.” Parameters 37(3): 42-53.


Peter R. Lavoy. 2006. “Nuclear Proliferation over the Next Decade: Causes, Warning Signs, and Policy Responses.” Nonproliferation Review 13 (3):433-454.


Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty


Scott D. Sagan. 1996-97. “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? Three Models in Search of a Bomb.” International Security 21 (3):54-86.


Summary of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty


Week 4: February 3 - National Missile Defense, Dirty Bombs, & Nuclear Terrorism


Part I of Class:

Jason D. Ellis. 2003. “The Best Defense: Counterproliferation and U.S. National Security.” The Washington Quarterly 26 (2):115-133.


Executive Summary of the Report of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (a.k.a. “Rumsfeld Report), July 15, 2008.


Steven A. Hildreth. 2007. “Ballistic Missile Defense: Historical Overview.” CRS Report for Congress, 9 July.


Jeff Sessions. 2008. “Ballistic Missile Defense: A National Priority.” Strategic Studies Quarterly (Summer):22-30.


Part II of Class:

Graham Allison. 2004. “How to Stop Nuclear Terrorism.” Foreign Affairs 83 (1):64-74.


Matthew Bunn. 2008. Securing the Bomb 2008 (Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC: Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard University, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative), Chapter 1.   


Matthew Bunn. 2008. Securing the Bomb 2008 (Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC: Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard University, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative), Executive Summary. 


Peter D. Zimmerman with Cheryl Loeb. 2004. “Dirty Bombs: The Threat Revisited.” Defense Horizons 38 (January):1-11.


Week 5: February 10 - New Transnational Security Threats

Fiona B. Adamson. 2006. “Crossing Borders: International Migration and National Security.” International Security 31 (1):165-199.          


Shlomi Dinar. 2002. “Water, Security, Conflict, and Cooperation.” SAIS Review 22 (2):229-253. 


Laurie Garrett. 2005. “The Lessons of HIV/AIDS.” Foreign Affairs 84 (4):51-64.


Marc A. Levy. 1995. “Is the Environment a National Security Issue?” International Security 20 (2):35-62.                       


J. Stephen Morrison and Johanna Nesseth Tuttle. 2008. A Call for a U.S. Strategic Approach to the Global Food Crisis (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies Press).


Michael Vatis. 2002. “Cyber Attacks Protecting America’s Security against Digital Threats.” ESDP Discussion Paper ESDP-2002-04, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June 2002.


Week 6: February 17 – No Class (Instructor at Professional Meeting)

Begin reading for class on China. There is more reading assigned than in previous weeks. Work on paper assignment.


Week 7: February 24 – Rising China

Thomas J. Christensen. 2006. “Fostering Stability or Creating a Monster? The Rise of China and U.S. Policy toward East Asia.” International Security Vol. 31(1):81-126.


Aaron L. Friedberg. 2005. “The Future of U.S.-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” International Security 30 (2):7-45.         


Alastair Iain Johnston. 2003. “Is China a Status Quo Power?” International Security 27 (4):5-56.


 David M. Lampton. 2007. “The Faces of Chinese Power,” Foreign Affairs 86 (1):115-127.          


David Shambaugh. 1996. “Containment or Engagement of China? Calculating Beijing’s Responses.” International Security 21 (2):180-209.


Jonathan Spence. 2005. “The Once and Future China,” Foreign Policy (January/February):44-50.


Week 8: March 3 - Resurgent Russia

Alexi Arbatov. 2008. “Russia and the United States – Time to End the Strategic Deadlock.” Carnegie Moscow Center and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Briefing 10 (3):1-12.      


Vladimir Putin. 2007. Speech at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy. February 10.


Eugene B. Rumer and Celeste A. Wallender. 2003. “Russia: Power in Weakness?” The Washington Quarterly 27 (1):57-73.


Dimitri K. Simes. 2007. “Losing Russia: The Costs of Renewed Confrontation,” Foreign Affairs 86 (6):36-52.


Stephen Sestanovich. 2008. “What Has Moscow Done? Rebuilding U.S.–Russian Relations.” Foreign Affairs 87 (6):13-28.


Dmitri Trenin. 2008. “Thinking Strategically about Russia.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Brief (December):1-7.


Yuliya Tymoshenko. 2007. “Containing Russia.” Foreign Affairs 86 (3):69-82.



Week 9: March 10 - Spring Break



Week 10: March 17 - NATO, European Security & the War in Afghanistan

The North Atlantic Treaty


Ronald D. Asmus. 2008. “New Purposes, New Plumbing: Rebuilding the Atlantic Alliance.” The American Interest (November/December):1-8.


Ivo Daalder and James Goldgeier. 2006. “Global NATO.” Foreign Affairs 85 (5):105-113.


Renee de Nevers. 2007. “NATO’s International Security Role in the Terrorist Era.” International Security 31(4):34-66.      


Ryan Hendrickson. 2007. “The Miscalculation of NATO’s Death.” Parameters 37 (1):98-114.


Christopher M. Jones. 2006. “NATO’s Transformation.” In Old Europe, New Security: Evolution for a Complex World, Janet Adamski, Mary Troy Johnston and Christina Schweiss, eds. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited.71-84.


William Maley. 2008. “Stabilizing Afghanistan: Threats and Challenges.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Brief (October):1-8       


John Owen. 2003. “Why American Hegemony is Here to Stay.” International Politics and Society 1:71-86.


Week 11: March 24 - Intervention

David Callahan. 2002. “The Enduring Challenge: Self Determination and Ethnic Conflict in the 21st Century.” Carnegie Challenge 2002, 1-18.


Alan J. Kuperman. 2000. “Rwanda in Retrospect.” Foreign Affairs 79 (1):94-118.


James Kurth. 2001. “Models of Humanitarian Intervention: Assessing the Past and Discerning the Future.” American Diplomacy (July). 


Justin Logan and Christopher Preble. 2006. “Failed States and Flawed Logic: The Case against a Standing Nation-Building Office.” Policy Analysis (January 11):1-29.


John F. Troxwell. 2006. “Military Power and the Use of Force.” In U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy, 2nd ed. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr. (U.S. Army War College):217-239.         


Michael Wesley. 2005. “Toward a Realist Ethics of Intervention.” Ethics and International Affairs 19 (2):55-72. 


Week 12: March 31 - Energy Security

Energy Leadership Council. 2008. A National Strategy for Energy Security: Recommendations to the Nation on Reducing U.S. Oil Dependence.


Robert Mabro. 2007. “The Oil Weapon: Can It Be Used Today?” Harvard International Review 29 (3).


Clifford Singer. 2008. “Oil and Security.” The Stanley Foundation Policy Analysis Brief (January):1-11.


Frank Verrastro and Sarah Ladislaw. 2007. “Providing Energy Security in an Interdependent World.” Washington Quarterly 30 (4):95-104.


Daniel Yergin. 2006. “Ensuring Energy Security.” Foreign Affairs 85 (2):69-82.


David Zweig and Bi Jianhai. 2005. “China’s Global Hunt for Energy.” Foreign Affairs 84(5): 25-38.


Week 13: April 7 – Iraq and the Middle East

Stephen Biddle, Michael E. O’Hanlon, and Kenneth M. Pollack. 2008. “How to Leave a Stable Iraq.” Foreign Affairs 87 (5):40-58.


Daniel Byman. 2003. “Constructing a Democratic Iraq. International Security 28 (1): 47-78.


Richard N. Haass and Martin Indyk. 2009. “Beyond Iraq.” Foreign Affairs 88 (1):41-58.


Carlos Pascual and Ken Pollack. 2007. “Salvaging the Possible: Policy Options in Iraq.” Policy Paper, No. 2 (September). Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.


Steven Simon. 2008. “The Price of the Surge: How the U.S. Strategy is Hastening Iraq’s Demise.” Foreign Affairs 87 (3):57-76.


Judith S. Yaphe. 2007. “Republic of Iraq.” In The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa, eds. David E. Long, Bernard Reich and Mark Gasiorowski (Boulder, CO: Westview Press), Chapter 5.


Weeks 14 & 15: April 14 & April 21 – Paper Presentations


Week 16: April 28 – Conclusion: U.S. Global Standing and Grand Strategy

Refer to the three options in the Kolb book (listed under special course readings below)


Michele A. Flournoy and Shawn Brimley. 2008. Finding Our Way: Debating American Grand Strategy (Washington, DC: Center for New American Security).


John Lewis Gaddis. 2002. “A Grand Strategy of Transformation.” Foreign Policy 133 (November/December):50-57. Also reference: National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002.


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


Joseph S. Nye, J. 2008. “Recovering American Leadership.” Survival 50 (1):55-68.


Barak Obama. 2008. “Renewing America’s Leadership.” Foreign Affairs 86 (4):2-16.


Immanuel Wallerstein. 2002. “The Eagle Has Crashed Landed.” Foreign Policy 131 (July/August):60-68.


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


Special Course Readings

Lawrence J. Kolb. 2003. A New National Security Strategy in an Age of Terrorists, Tyrants, and Weapons of Mass Destruction (New York: Council on Foreign Relations). Hard copy on print reserve in library.


National Intelligence Council. 2008. Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office).