Political Science 242
Patrick Callahan, 990 W. Fullerton, #2110
American Foreign Policy
TTh 10:30-11:30 and by appointment
Home phone: (630) 264-0773
This course is an introduction to the foreign policy of the United States.
Its special will be the
early indications about the nature of American foreign policy under the Obama presidency.
Through class discussion and a research paper, we will consider collectively and individually
the basic outlook of the president and his national security team and the early foreign policy
undertakings of the administration.
Through readings, lectures, and discussions, we will
examine the context within which the administration has to work.
Important dimensions of
context will be the institutional structure of the government, the basic characteristics of the
American political system, and the inertial weight of history, political culture and international
environment (aka “reality”)
The course will have three main sections.
The first section examines the governmental
institutions and process by which policy decisions get made, with special emphasis on the
foreign policy bureaucracy.
Our primary text for this section is A
nthony Lake’s case study of
the making of U.S. policy toward Nicaragua during its revolution during the Carter
The second section examines the broader political system over a broader
chunk of history.
The basic theme is the constraints created by the democratic nature of the
public opinion, interest groups, the Congress
especially when there is no
consensus about foreign policy fundamentals.
Our main text will be Richard Melanson’s
history of post-Vietnam foreign policy.
Our third theme is the broadest: How American
political culture has informed its sense of national interest and thus its basic foreign policy
strategy since the founding of the country.
Our text will be Michael Lind’s recent book.
Somoza Falling: A Case Study of Washington at Work
Massachusetts Press, 1992)
Richard A. Melanson,
American Foreign Policy since the Vietnam War: The Search for
Consensus from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush.
(M. E. Sharpe, 2005)
The American Way of Strategy
(Oxford University Press, 2006)
You should keep up with current events as pertains to international affairs.
You will use
that information when you write your research paper.
Also, we will frequently discuss
important current events.
Being familiar with them will enable you to join in, or at least
follow, the conversation.
They will need to The best source for doing so is
The New York
, which is available electronically as well as in print.
Other acceptable sources are:
Christian Science Monitor
, and the
Wall Street Journal