American Foreign Policy

  • 0/5 Stars
Course Length:
15 weeks


Course Description:

  • The purpose of this course is to give students an introduction to American foreign policy, its historical context, and present day debates. To help frame these issues for students, the class makes extensive use of a case study approach to look at past and present foreign policy challenges facing the United States. Additionally, the course offers students an opportunity to improve their writing, argumentative and presentational skills and to prepare themselves for a career in government, law or business.
  • The course is divided into three parts. The first part presents an introduction to traditional international relations theories to help explain American foreign policy choices. The second part presents an historical overview of American foreign policy, placing American policy in the context of its history. The third part of the course focuses on current foreign policy choices facing the United States. For most of the semester, there will be weekly student debates, thoroughly researched and carefully executed, on a variety of current foreign policy issues.
  • Relationship to The King’s College Mission: Any foreign policy presupposes a view of human nature and thus of the perfectibility of human relations at the international level. A Biblical worldview thus has specific implications for our nation’s foreign policy. At any given time, foreign affairs is a prominent concern not only in government and within a given political party, but also in the media and academia as well as in business circles. Thus, any position of influence in one of these fields is likely to require an understanding of foreign affairs.


Course Objectives:

Students will be able to articulate the principles of American foreign policy, outline the debates surrounding the subject and offer convincing arguments for one policy over another.

  • Course Format: lectures supplemented with student topical debates
  • Course Sequence: POL 454 covers a field that is essential to the study of politics.
  • Prerequisite: POL 213 American Political Thought and Practice



  1. Hook and Spanier, American Foreign Policy Since World War II, 16th edition. (Allyn and Bacon)
  2. Documents for American Foreign Policy Approaches (student portal)
  3. Melian Debate from The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (student portal)
  4. Morganthau, Hans. “Six Principles of Political Realism” from Politics Among Nations.
  5. Ikenberry, G. John. “America’s Liberal Grand Strategy: Democracy and National Security in the Post-War Era” in American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays. (2005)
  6. Kennan’s “Long Telegram” 1946 (student portal)


Course Requirements:

  • 20% weekly quizzes (no make-ups, one drop)
  • 20% debate on topics of current interest
  • 20% 1500-1800 word research paper based on your debate topic due the following week
  • 10% weekly short summary of the debated issue (issue; 3 pts pro; 3 pts con; your assessment)
  • 30% final exam


Grading Scale

A 93 – 100% (95)
A- 90 – 92% (91)
B+ 87 – 89% (88)
B 83 – 86% (85)
B- 80 – 82% (81)
C+ 77 – 79% (78)
C 73 – 76% (75)
C- 70 – 72% (71)
D+ 67 – 69% (68)
D 63 – 66% (65)
D- 60 – 62% (61)
F 00.0 – 59% (50 or 0)

“Courses at The King’s College are graded with the view that an A indicates excellent work. The grade of B indicates achievement that is above average. The grade of C indicates a satisfactory meeting of requirements. The grade of D reveals accomplishment that is inferior in quality and/or quantity and is generally unsatisfactory from the standpoint of course requirements. F is a failing grade. It indicates very unsatisfactory work…” – from The Student Handbook



  • Introduction/Anarchic Politics (Nye 1)
    • Systems & Causation (Nye 2)
  • Balance of Power/WWI (Nye 3) Quiz 1
    • Collective Security/WWII (Nye 4)
  • American Approaches to Foreign Policy
    • (H&S 1; Readings in American FP Approaches) Quiz 2
  • Nuclear Foreign Policy (Nye 5, pp.135-146; H&S 3; “Saddam’s Delusions”) Quiz 3
    • debate #1, “Was the war in Iraq justified?” (H&S 5) Debate Summary 1
  • Cold War: Causes (Nye 5, pp.112-131; H&S 2; “Iraq is Not Vietnam,” “Is Iraq Vietnam?”) Quiz 4
    • debate #2, “Is Iraq another Vietnam?” Debate Summary 2
  • Vietnam (H&S 5; Mahoney + National Security Strategy 02) Quiz 5
    • debate #3, “Should promoting democracy abroad be a top U.S. priority?” Debate Summary 3
  • Détente (H&S 6;) Quiz 6
    • debate #4, “Is it right to put suspected terrorists under great physical distress?” Debate Summary 4
  • World-Order Politics (H&S 7) Quiz 7
    • debate #5, “Is building a ballistic missile defense system a wise idea?” Debate Summary 5
  • Cold War: Final Confrontation (H&S 8) Quiz 8
    • debate #6 Debate Summary 6
  • Cold War: Ultimate Collapse (H&S 9; Kissinger + Dealing With Iran) Quiz 9
    • debate #7, “Should we negotiate with Iran & Syria?” Debate Summary 7'
  • Unipolar Uncertainty
    • (H&S 10-12 – skip pp. 251-67, 289-92, 295-306; Ugly Entente + Détente or Decpetion) Quiz 10
    • debate #8, “Is China more friend than foe?” Debate Summary8
  • War on Terror (H&S 13; Roots of Muslim Rage; Clash of Civilizations? ) Quiz 11
    • debate #9 Debate Summary 9
  • Islamicism (readings TBA)
    • debate #10, “Is the ‘Roadmap to Peace’ in the middle east the right map?” Debate Summary 10


Further Reading

  1. Albrecht-Carrie, Rene. Europe Since 1815. (1962)
  2. Allison, Graham. Nuclear Terrorism, The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. (2004)
  3. Ambrose, Stephen and Douglas Brinkley. Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938 (1997, 8th rev. edition). Follows the same format as Hook and Spanier, but simply the history without the analysis.
  4. Baldwin, David A. ed. Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate (1993).
  5. Berman, Paul. Terror and Liberalism. (2003)
  6. Breunig, Charles. The Age of Revolution and Reaction, 1789-1850. (1977)
  7. Buchanan, Patrick. A Republic, Not an Empire. (1999) Buchanan argues for an isolationist foreign policy after a review of the history of American foreign policy. He also publishes the journal, The American Conservative which takes the same position.
  8. Buchanan, Patrick. Where the Right Went Wrong. (2004) Buchanan takes on the neoconservatives in this post-9/11 challenge of the Bush administration from the right.
  9. Curry, Dean. A World Without Tyranny, Christian Faith and International Politics. (1990)
  10. Doyle, Michael. “Kant. Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs” in Philosophy and Public Affairs 12. (1983)
  11. Doyle, Michael. “Liberalism and World Politics” in American Political Science Review 80:4. (1986)
  12. Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Just War Against Terror. (2003)
  13. Frum, David and Richard Perle. An End To Evil, How To Win the War on Terror. (2003)
  14. Habeck, Mary. Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror. (2006)
  15. Hanson, Victor Davis. “The Bush Doctrine’s Next Test,” Commentary (May 2005)
  16. Herman, Arthur. “Getting Serious About Iran,” Commentary (November 2006)
  17. Herz, John H. Political Realism and Political Idealism. (1951)
  18. Hoge Jr, James and Gideon Rose, ed. How Did This Happen?, Terrorism and the New War. (2001). An anthology assembled by the editors of Foreign Affairs. It includes essays by Fouad Ajami, Walter Laqueur, Joseph Nye and Fareed Zakaria among others.
  19. Huntington, Samuel. “American Ideals versus American Institutions” in G. #John Ikenberry, American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays, 5th edition. (2005)
  20. Huntington, Samuel. The Clash of Civilizations. (1996)
  21. Huntington, Samuel. “Will More Countries Become Democratic?”
  22. Kagan, Robert and William Kristol. “Surrender as Realism,” Weekly Standard, December 4, 2006
  23. Kaplan, Lawrence and William Kristol. The War Over Iraq: Saddam’s Tyranny and America’s Mission. (2003)
  24. Kennan, George. “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” in Foreign Affairs 25:4. (July 1947)
  25. Kissinger, Henry. “The Next Steps With Iran,” Washington Post, July 31, 2006.
  26. Krauthammer, Charles. “Democratic Realism: American Foreign Policy in a Unipolar World,” AEI Speech, Feb. 10, 2004
  27. Krauthammer, Charles. “The Neoconservative Convergence,” Commentary July-August 2005.
  28. Krauthammer, Charles. “The Unipolar Moment,” Foreign Affairs 70:1 (1990/91)
  29. Ledeen, Michael. The War Against the Terror Masters. (2002)
  30. Lewis, Bernard. “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” in The Atlantic Monthly (September 1990).
  31. Lewis, Bernard. What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East. (2002) Anything by this great scholar is profitable.
  32. Luttwak, Edward. “Three Reasons Not to Bomb Iran…Yet,” Commentary (May 2006)
  33. Mahoney, Daniel J. “Conservatism, Democracy, and Foreign Policy,” The Intercollegiate Review (Fall 2006)
  34. Mearsheimer, John. “Realism in Iraq,”
  35. Merry, Robert. Sands of Empire: Missionary Zeal, American Foreign Policy, and the Hazards of Global Ambition. (2005)
  36. National Interest: Special Issue, The Terror. (Thanksgiving 2001)National Security Strategy of the United States 2006.
  37. Nye, Joseph S. Jr. “Neorealism and Neoliberalism” in World Politics 40. (1988)
  38. Nye, Joseph S. Jr. Understanding International Conflicts fifth ed. (2005)
  39. Pipes, Daniel. “Distinguishing Between Islam and Islamism,” []. (June 30, 1998)
  40. Pipes, Daniel. “Islam and Islamism: Faith and Ideology,” The National Interest (Spring 2000).
  41. Pipes, Daniel. “Twilight Struggles: The Cold War and the Terror War,” National Review (April 5, 2004).
  42. Podhoretz, Norman. “World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have To Win,” Commentary, September 2004.
  43. Rich, Norman. The Age of Nationalism and Reform, 1850-1890. (1977)
  44. Rosen, Gary. The Right War? The Conservative Debate on Iraq. (2005) This war divides not only the left from the right but the right within itself. This is a valuable reader with contribution from everyone from William Kristol to Pat Buchanan.
  45. Schelling, Thomas. The Strategy of Conflict. (1960). This is a classic of game theory. Schelling just won the Nobel prize for economics for his work in this area. Here he applies to concept to the dynamics of a nuclear stand-off. Arms and Influence is his other great work on the subject.
  46. Schweizer, Peter. Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism. (2002)
  47. Scruton, Roger. “The Political Problem of Islam,” in Intercollegiate Review. (Fall 2002)
  48. Tarcov, Nathan. “Principle and Prudence: The Use of Force from the Founders’ Perspective,” in American Defense Policy and Liberal Democracy, ed. Fred E. Baumann and Kenneth M. Jensen (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989)
  49. Tuchman, Barbara. The Guns of August. (1962)
  50. Tucker, Robert. “The Future of a Contradiction,” The National Interest. (Spring 1996)
  51. Viotti, Paul. American Foreign Policy: Documents and Papers. (2003)
  52. Waltz, Kenneth. Man, the State and War. (1959; second ed. 2001)
  53. Walzer, Michael. Arguing About War. (2004)
  54. Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars. (1977)
  55. Woods, Kevin, et. al. “Saddam’s Delusions,” Foreign Affairs. (May/June 2006)
  56. Zakaria, Fareed. “The Politics of Rage: Why Do The Hate Us?,” in Newsweek, October 15, 2001.



  • Journals
  • Commentary
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Foreign Policy
  • National Interest
  • National Review
  • New Republic
  • Policy Review


Academic Expectations

  • Attendance and Tardiness: Students are expected to attend class regularly, having completed the reading assignment that is to be covered that day and ready to participate in the discussion of it. You cannot do well in this class if you are not in attendance and familiar with the reading. Students who arrive late or leave early will be recorded as absent. A student who misses seven class periods for any reason will be academically withdrawn from the course with a grade of “AW” recorded on the transcript (calculated as an F in the GPA). Students who are academically withdrawn from a class will receive no refund of any fees to which they may otherwise be entitled. Absences due to personal emergencies may protect the grade students earn in a course but it does not extend the number of days they are allowed to be absent. Students should guard their days carefully. Note: In classes that meet once a week, the maximum number of days a student can be absent for any reason is three. In classes that meet twice a week, the maximum number of days absent is six.
  • Advice:
    • Guard your six allowable absences tenaciously. No one plans to get sick and few expect a relative to die. But you can ration your allowable absences so that such expected developments do not deprive you of your accomplishments and your investments this semester.
    • Plan to arrive at school at least 15 minutes before classes begin for you. This is a good life-habit to develop now. In this way, if you are delayed, for example, by a slow elevator you will not use up one of your six allowable absences.
  • Dress Code: “Professional or professional-casual attire is required for class attendance… A professional or professional-casual look necessarily eliminates from the list of acceptable clothing such items as jeans, T-shirts, shorts, unprofessional clothing, non-religious headwear, detracting1 accessories or haircuts.”2 Under “detracting accessories,” I include any form of face piercing, excessive “earringage” on women and any earring on a man.
  • Classroom Conduct: The classroom is a learning environment. Recognition of the student-teacher relationship as well as mutual respect without which there can be no discussion are essential for maintaining that environment.
  • Food – Food in the classroom ranges from a Snickers™ bar to a rotisserie chicken dinner. The former may be eaten discreetly without distracting the class; the latter is Boorish inconsideration. Use your judgment. Anyone exercising bad judgment will be asked to leave and will be marked absent. (See “Attendance and Tardiness.”)
  • Use of technology in the classroom:
    • Laptop computers – Because there are so many who cannot resist the temptation to IM, surf the web, check e-mail and/or play video games during class, the use of laptop computers by students will not be permitted in the classroom. In addition, cell phones must be turned off while class is in session.
    • Cell phones: Turn off or otherwise silence your cell phone before to the start of the class. This is basic etiquette in a wide range of social settings (church, theatre etc.). Anyone disrupting the class with a ringer will be asked to leave and will be marked absent. (See “Attendance and Tardiness.”)
    • PowerPoint – I will be using PowerPoint in order to outline the lectures, but you are responsible to fill in information from the lecture and discussion under those headings. For pedagogical reasons, I will not be posting PowerPoint files for you to access. The presentations are an in-class teaching aid.


Grades and Grading:

  • Submitting papers – I require both an electronic copy and a paper copy. If I do not receive both of these, I cannot give you a grade.
  • Late papers – I will deduct one grade fraction (B  B-) for each day that a paper is late. After one week, I will no longer accept the paper. It will receive an automatic F (0%).
  • Extra Credit – I do not give extra credit. You have many and various opportunities to demonstrate your understanding of the material. Take these opportunities seriously.
  • Rounding Up – You are not entitled to having your grade “rounded up.” For example, 79.8% is not 80% and is thus still a C+.
  • Irrelevant considerations – DO NOT talk to me about any scholarship you have that could be affected by your grade in this course. Of course, I would be sympathetic. But that is precisely the problem.


Other Policies:

  • Exams: The usual restrictions, including no headphones and no breaks, not even for the bathroom. Once the exam has started, no one is allowed to leave the room without submitting his or her exam.
  • Honor Code: Love for the truth and its attendant virtue, trustworthiness, are of the highest importance in an academic institution and especially in a Christian community. Accordingly, as the college policy states, “Each student should do all that is possible to avoid even the hint of any violation of academic honesty. If a student is in doubt, the best policy is to ask a faculty member for advice.” (Academic Catalogue p.58)
  • Plagiarism – When writing your papers, make sure that every sentence and phrase is yours. If not, make sure that it is in quotation marks and the source properly cited. You need to conscientious about this because I will be conscientious about checking. The first offence will receive a failing grade for the paper, the second offence a failing grade for the class and the third offence expulsion from the college. I reserve the right to expel a student from the course for a particularly egregious offence. Every instance of plagiarism will be reported to the Dean of Students.