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This seminar examines how countries and multilateral organizations make decisions about foreign and international policy. The hypothesis to be explored in the course is whether individuals, bureaucracies, and interest groups shape foreign policy decisions. That hypothesis will be tested against other more structural explanations of how countries and organizations behave in the international system. After a brief review of the academic literature in the first part of the course, the seminar will focus on several cases studies of foreign policy decision-making by the United States (Bush, Obama, Trump), China, Russia, Iran, and the United Nations. Specifically, we seek to explain:

  • The U.S. (or Bush administration) decision to invade Iraq;
  • The U.S. (or Obama administration) decision to expand the war in Afghanistan;
  • The U.S. (or Trump administration) decision to engage directly with Kim Jong-un on de-nuclearization negotiations;
  • The Chinese decision to launch One Belt, One Road;
  • The Russian decision to invade Ukraine;
  • The Iranian decision to sign the JCPOA;
  • The United Nations Security Council decision to intervene in Libya, but not Syria.  

PS 242-FP-Decisionmaking-2019.pdf

IPS 242 / POLISCI 217A / GLOBAL 220: American Foreign Policy: Interests, Values, and Process

This seminar examines the tension in American foreign policy between pursuing U.S. security and economic interests and promoting democratic values. The first half of the course traces the theoretical and ideological debates about values versus interests, with a particular focus on realism versus liberalism. The course considers the evolution of these debates over time, starting with the French Revolution, but with special attention given to the Cold War and American foreign policy after September 11th. The course also examines how these contending theories and ideologies are mediated through the U.S. bureaucracy that shapes the making of foreign policy. The second half of the course explores how these approaches to American foreign policy shaped debates within the Obama administration. 

PS217A syllabus 2017.pdf

POLISCI 71: Current Issues in European Security

With Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Europe is facing the greatest challenge to its stability and security since the Cold War. Russia’s actions have triggered a new era of uncertainty – and possibly sustained competition – between Russia and the United States and its European allies. Russia’s motives may be somewhat opaque, but the effects of its actions have been unmistakable, particularly in generating anxiety among its Eastern European neighbors and condemnation internationally. This course features leading U.S. and European policymakers in a speaker series exploring threats and challenges in European security. Students enrolled in the course develop a framework for understanding these concerns and possible policy responses. 

PS 71 2017 Syllabus.pdf

POLISCI 213 / REES 213: U.S.-Russia Relations After the Cold War

A quarter century ago, the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended. At the time, Russian leaders aspired to build democratic and market institutions at home. They also wanted to join the West. American presidents Democrat and Republican encouraged these domestic and international changes. Today, U.S.-Russia relations are once again confrontational, reminiscent of relations during the Cold War. This course seeks to analyze shifts in U.S.-Russia relations, with special attention given to the U.S.-Russia relationship during Obama’s presidency.

REES 213 Syllabus 2017.pdf

IPS 231A / REES 213A / POLISCI 213A: Russia and the West

Today, American-Russian relations and Russia's relations with West more generally, are tense and confrontational. One has to look deep into the Cold War to find a similar era of confrontation and competition. Yet, relations between Russia and the West were not always this way. The end of the Cold War, for instance, ushered in a period of cooperation. Back then, many believed that Russia was going to develop democratic and market institutions and integrate into Western international institutions. This seminar will examine various explanations for these variations in Russia's relations with the West, starting in the 19th century, and briefly examining the Cold War period, but a real focus on the last thirty years. In evaluating competing explanations, the course will focus on balance of power theories, culture, historical legacies, institutional design, and individual actors in both the United States (and sometimes Europe) and Russia.