POLISCI 312 | INTLPOL 211 | REES 219 A New Cold War? Great Power Relations in the 21st Century
When the Cold War ended in 1991 after the Soviet Union disintegrated, it was a glorious moment to be a multilateralist and liberal democrat. It seemed like the whole world wanted to become a democracy and join the democratic community of states. Today, great power competition is back with many describing our present era as a “New Cold War” between the United States and China and Russia. How did the international system go from euphoria about democracy, globalization, the West, and the United States three decades ago, to uncertainty about democracy, doubt about the liberal international order, and fear about the rise of illiberal great powers? Moreover, is the Cold War label an illuminating or distorting analogy, and how stable or enduring is this current moment of global confrontation?
This course seeks to analyze contemporary great power relations. We will begin by reviewing the major theories explaining relations between great powers. The second part of the course traces the historical origins of the U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China relations, examining the interplay between three central drivers of international relations – power, regime types, and leaders – over time. In the third part of the course, we will assess the similarities and differences between the Cold War and U.S.-Russia relations and U.S.-China relations today along three dimensions over the international system: (1) power, (2) ideology, and (3) competing conceptions of global order. The fourth and final part of the course will discuss a set of concrete policy recommendations for how U.S. leaders can meet the challenge of great power competition in the 21st century.
The main text for this course will be a new book in draft by Professor McFaul tentatively called Democrats versus Autocrats: Lessons from the Cold War for Competing with China and Russia Today, as well as accompanying academic books and articles.
POL62 Defending Democracy at Home and Abroad
The United States, once a key champion of democracy around the world, has experienced unprecedented polarization during the past decade, with divisions running deep over Covid, voting rights and election results, and questions of identity and inclusion. These divisions have only been exacerbated by America’s own tech companies, whose business models encourage citizens to engage with divisive content rather than a healthy democratic process. Divided domestically and embracing new strains of illiberalism, the US has also retreated internationally, neglecting traditional alliances and its commitment to democracy abroad. That America has struggled to defend democracy abroad isn’t an accident. It’s directly related to the dents in its democracy at home.
Democracy is in decline worldwide. Old democracies are not performing as well as before. Growing competition between democratic and authoritarian countries is playing out on the global stage, with several countries undecided as to their alignment either way. Infrastructure investments, strategic alignments, and soft power are all part of the mix of geopolitical tools deployed in this competition. The same holds true for technology, which deeply impacts power relationships, values, and freedoms across the globe. Can the US sustain democracy abroad, let alone at home? It’s not a given.
Co-teaching with Rob Reich and Marietje Schaake.
POLISCI 242G / POLISCI 342G / INTLPOL 218: Political Mobilization and Democratic Breakthroughs
Mass politicization mobilization occurs in both democracies and autocracies. Sometimes political protests, demonstrations, and acts of non-violent civic resistance undermine autocracies, produce democratic breakthroughs, or generate democratic reforms. Other times, they do not. This course explores why, first examining the original causes of mobilization, and then understanding why some movements succeed and others fail.
The first sessions of the course will review theories of revolution, social movements, and democratization. The remainder of the course will dive into case studies, sometimes with guest lecturers and participants from these historical moments. Cases to be discussed will include South Africa, Zimbabwe, USSR, Poland, Serbia (2000), Ukraine (2004 & 2013), Tunisia, Egypt, China (1989), Hong Kong and recent mobilizations and crackdowns (Belarus, Burma, Sudan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and the United States).
POLISCI 212 / REES 219 / INTLPOL 211: A New Cold War? Great Power Relations in the 21st Century
When the Cold War ended in 1991 as the Soviet Union disintegrated, it was a glorious moment to be a multi-lateralist and liberal democrat; it seemed like the whole world wanted to join the democratic community of states. Today, great power competition is back – or so it seems – with many describing our present era as a “New Cold War” between the United States and autocratic China and Russia. How did international system go from euphoria about democracy, globalization, the West, and the United States three decades ago, to uncertainty about democracy, doubt about the liberal international order, and fear about the rise of illiberal great powers? Moreover, is the Cold War label an illuminating or distorting analogy, and how stable or enduring is this current moment of global confrontation?
This course seeks to analyze contemporary great power relations, first by tracing the historical origins of the U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China relationships and examining the interplay between three central drivers of international relations – power, regimes and leaders – over time. Next, we will assess the similarities and differences between the Cold War and U.S.-Russia relations and U.S.-China relations today along three dimensions over the international system: (1) Power, (2) Ideology, (3) Interdependence and Multilateralism.
Informed by diagnostics from the previous chapters, we will conclude with a grand strategy and set of concrete policy recommendations for how U.S. leaders can enhance national security, deepen prosperity, and advance liberal values by adopting a new set of domestic and foreign policies for the 21st century.
POLISCI 242 / POLISCI 342 / INTLPOL 232: Foreign Policy Decision-Making in Comparative Perspective
Why do states behave the way they do in the international system? This seminar seeks to answer this most basic question. The hypothesis to be explored in the course is whether individuals, bureaucracies, and interest groups shape foreign policy decisions, or whether more structural theories do a better job of explaining how countries 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 (or Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden administrations), China, Russia, Iran, and the United Nations. Specifically, we will seek to explain:
• The U.S. (or Bush administration) decision to invade Iraq;
• The U.S. (or Obama administration) & United Nations Security Council decision
to intervene in Libya, but not Syria;
• The Chinese decision to launch the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI);
• The Russian decision to invade Ukraine;
• The Iranian decision to sign the JCPOA;
• The U.S. (or Trump/Biden administrations) decision to pursue a more confrontational policy towards China.
POLISCI 242 / POLISCI 342 / INTLPOL 232: Foreign Policy Decision-Making in Comparative Perspective
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.
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.
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.
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, Democrats and Republicans, 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.
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.