U.S. National Security Policy


Spring 2011

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 1:30-4:30 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, missile defense, a rising China in East Asia, a resurgent Russia, NATO and European security, the war in Afghanistan (with some attention to Pakistan), dependency on foreign sources of oil, and new transnational security threats.


The course’s second purpose is to discuss policy options to reduce the most pressing U.S. national security challenges and to develop strategies to prevent or counter the principal threats to the survival and vital interests of the United States. We will also consider the theoretical and strategic bases of policy alternatives identified in the course readings and discussions. In this regard, it is important for students to have a solid understanding of international relations theory. Furthermore, students will be encouraged to formulate and consider approaches beyond the U.S. government’s policies. 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, Barak Obama’s emerging strategic direction, and a range of competing grand strategies available to U.S. policy makers in 2011 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 scholarly 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 10 and be worth 25 percent of the course grade. The class meeting on Tuesday, May 3 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, May 2 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 15, 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 19 and Tuesday, April 23. 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 class meeting, 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.      What are available policy options and strategies to respond to this real or potential threat?
6.      What grand strategy would best advance U.S. national security interests in this policy area? 

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

April 19 & 26:            Research paper presentations

May 3:                         Research papers are due in the POLS main office at 3:30 p.m.

May 4:                         Course conclusion and review for final examination

May 10:                      Final examination



Week 1: January 18 - No Class

No assigned readings.


Week 2: January 25 - Course Introduction and Grand Strategy

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

http://www.cnas.org/files/documents/publications/FlournoyBrimley_Finding%20Our%20Way_June08.pdf (Be familiar with the various strategic options detailed in this publication on pp. 23-148)


National Security Strategy, May 2010 (Read the entire document.) http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf


Harvey M. Sapolsky, Eugene Gholz, and Caitlin Talmadge.  “America’s Security Strategy.” U.S. Defense Politics: The Origins of Security Policy. New York: Routledge. Chapter 2.


U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, February 2010

http://www.defense.gov/qdr/images/QDR_as_of_12Feb10_1000.pdf (You only need to read the Executive Summary).



Week 3: February 1 - Terrorism

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


Daniel Byman. 2007. “U.S. 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.


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


Marc Sageman. 2008. “The Next Generation of Terror.” Foreign Policy 165  (March/April): 37-42.


Jessica Stern. 2010. “Mind over Martyr: How to Deradicalize Islamist Extremists.” Foreign Affairs 89 (1): 95-108.



Week 4: February 8 - Nuclear Proliferation

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty http://www.armscontrol.org/documents/npt


Francis Gavin. 2009. “Same As It Ever Was: Nuclear Alarmism, Proliferation, and the Cold War.” International Security 34 (3): 7-37.


Josef Joffe and James W. Davis. “Less Than Zero: Bursting the New Disarmament Bubble.” Foreign Affairs 90 (1): 7-13.

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


Keir A. Lieber and Daryl Press. 2009. “The Nukes We Need: Preserving America’s Deterrent.” Foreign Affairs 88 (6): 39-51.


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


Gregory  L. Schulte. 2010. “Stopping Proliferation Before It Starts.” Foreign Affairs 89 (4): 85-95.



Week 5: February 15 - What to Do about Iran? A Case Study in Proliferation

Eric S. Edelman, Andrew F. Krepinevich, and Evan Braden Montgomery. 2011. “The Dangers of a Nuclear Iran.” Foreign Affairs 90 (1): 66-81.


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


James M. Lindsay and Ray Takeyh. 2010. “After Iran Gets the Bomb: Containment and Its Complications.” Foreign Affairs 89 (2): 33-48.


Mohsen M. Milani. 2009. “Tehran’s Take: Understanding Iran’s U.S. Policy.” Foreign Affairs 88 (4): 46-62.


Shiping Tang. 2009. “The Security Dilemma: A Conceptual Analysis,” Security Studies 18 (3): 587-623.


Iran Country Profile:





http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/iran/index.html (see recent updates related to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs)



Week 6 (Part I):  February 22 - Missile Defense

Barry Blechman and Jonas Vaicikonis.  2010. “Unblocking the Road to Zero: U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Missile Defenses.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 66 (6): 25-35.


George N. Lewis and Theodore A. Postol. 2010. “How U.S. Strategic Antimissile Defense Could Be made to Work.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 66 (6): 8-24.


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. Available at http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/bm-threat.htm


Steven A. Hildreth. 2007. “Ballistic Missile Defense: Historical Overview.” CRS Report for Congress, 9 July. http://www.cdi.org/PDFs/RS22120.pdf


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


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



Week 6 (Part II): February 23 – The Future of American Power

Attend Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Lecture on campus.

Read: Joseph S. Nye, Jr. 2010. “The Future of American Power.” Foreign Affairs 89 (6): 2-12. (If I can make Nye’s full, forthcoming book available, The Future of Power, I will.)



Week 7: March 1 - 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.


Robert D. Kaplan. 2010. “The Geography of Chinese Power.” Foreign Affairs 89 (3): 22-41.


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 8 - Resurgent Russia

Charles Kupchan. 2010. “NATO Final’s Frontier.” Foreign Affairs  89 (3): 100-112.


Robert Legvold. 2009. “The Russia File: How to Move Toward a Strategic Partnership.” Foreign Affairs 88 (4): 78-93.


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


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


Andrei Shieifer and Daniel Treisman. 2011. “Why Moscow Says No: A Question of Russian Interests, Not Psychology.” Foreign Affairs 90 (1): 122-138.


Dmitri Trenin. 2009. “Russia Reborn: Reimagining Moscow’s Foreign Policy.” Foreign Affairs 88 (6): 64-78.


Deborah Welch Larson and Alexi Shevchenko. 2010. “Status Seeks: Chinese and Russian Responses to U.S. Primacy.” International Security 34 (4): 63-95.



Week 9: March 15 - Spring Break



Week 10 – March 22: NATO, the EU, and European and Global Security

The North Atlantic Treaty, http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/treaty.htm


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


Zbigniew Brzezinski. 2009. “An Agenda for NATO: Toward a Global Security Web.” Foreign Affairs. 88 (5): 2-20.


William Drozdiak. 2010. “The Brussels Wall.” Foreign Affairs  89 (3): 7-12.


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.


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


Mary Elise Sarotte. 2010. “Perpetuating U.S. Preeminence: The 1990 debate to ‘Bribe the Soviets Out’ and Move NATO In.” International Security 35 (1): 110-137.



Week 11: March 29 - Afghanistan (and Pakistan)   

Stephen Biddle, Fotini Christia, and J. Alexander Thier. 2010. “Defining Success in Afghanistan.” Foreign Affairs 89(4): 48-60.


Robert D. Blackwill. 2011. “Plan B in Afghanistan.” Foreign Affairs 90 (1): 42-50.


Michael O’Hanlon. 2010. “Staying Power: The U.S. Mission in Afghanistan Beyond 2011.” Foreign Affairs 89 (5): 63-79.


Seth G. Jones. 2008. “The Rise of Afghanistan’s Insurgency.” International Security 32 (4): 7-40.


Paul D. Miller. 2011. “Finish the Job: How the War in Afghanistan Can Be Won.” Foreign Affairs 90 (1): 51-65.


Paul Staniland. 2011. “Caught in the Muddle: America’s Pakistan Strategy.” Washington Quarterly 34 (1): 133-148.


U.S. Government Accountability Office. “Afghanistan’s Security Environment.” 2010.




Week 12: April 5 - Energy Security

Energy Security Leadership Council. 2008. A National Strategy for Energy Security: Recommendations to the Nation on Reducing U.S. Oil Dependence. http://www.secureenergy.org/policy/national-strategy-energy-security


Eugene Gholz and Daryl G. Press.  2010. “Protecting ‘The Prize’: Oil and the U.S. National Interest.” Security Studies 19 (3): 453-485.


Christof Ruhl. 2010. “Global Energy After the Crisis: Prospects and Priorities.” Foreign Affairs 89 (2): 63-75.


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


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


David G. Victor and Linda Yueh. 2010. “The New Energy Order.” Foreign Affairs 89 (1): 61-73.



Week 13: April 12 - New Transnational Security Threats

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


Max Boot. 2009. “Pirates, Then and Now.” Foreign Affairs 88 (4): 94-107.


Wesley K. Clark and Peter L. Levin. 2009. “Securing the Information Highway.” Foreign Affairs 88 (6): 2-10.


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


Gregory D. Koblentz. 2010. “Biosecurity Reconsidered: Calibrating Biological Threats and Responses.” International Security 34 (4): 96-132.


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


William J. Lynn, III. 2010. “Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon’s Cyberstrategy.” Foreign Affairs 89 (5): 97-108.



Week 14: April 19 - Paper Presentations



Week 15: April 26 - Paper Presentations



Week 16: May 3 – Conclusion & Grand Strategy: Where Do We Go from Here?

Revisit all the readings listed under Week 2.


“Review” readings and class notes from Weeks 2-13.


For a summary of future threats and challenges, you may wish to review:

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




Week 16: May 10 - Final Examination