GOVT 745 International Security

An introduction to the field of international security

Course Overview

This course has three related purposes. First, it introduces students to the major theoretical and analytical frameworks used by scholars and analysts of national and international security. Second, it provides a review of the modern debates on a range of timely issues in international security. Finally, it aims to help students improve their analytical tradecraft.

After this course you will be able to

IDENTIFY

The substantive debates in the field of international security

ASSESS

The leading theories and frameworks used to investigate international security affairs

ANalyze

The leading teories and policies relating to the use of military force

BUILD

Better analytical frameworks of your own for studying international security

Course Information

  1. Course Materials

All of the books are at the GMU bookstore as well as online stores. All other materials will be available on Blackboard.

 

Required Books

  • Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: An Enduring Debate, 3rd ed. ISBN 978-0393920109
  • Micah Zenko, Between Threats and War, ISBN:978-0804771917
  • Robert Art and Kelly Greenhill, eds., The Use of Force, 8th ISBN 978-1442233058
  • Joshua Goldstein, Winning the War on War. ISBN 978-0452298590

 

  1. Course Format and Process

This is a seminar, not a lecture. The course will go as well as the conversation. Come with an open mind and be prepared to learn through close interrogation of the material and the co-construction of knowledge through debate with each other.

 

  1. Course Requirements

Note: I do not expect students to have an extensive background in security studies but I do expect everyone to read the material before class and to share their thoughts and insights with the class. I especially encourage those students who have professional experience with these subjects to share their knowledge.

 

  1. Enthusiastic seminar participation (20%)

Seminars depend on people showing up ready to rumble. Do the readings, caffeinate as necessary, and do your part to keep things interesting.

 

  1. Team briefings and memos (45% = 3 x 15%).

All students will be assigned to a three-person team. Teams are free to determine the workload in any manner they choose. All will receive a single team grade for each

 

  1. Weekly briefing. Each team will prepare a five-page review memo of the week’s readings and lead discussion once during the term. Weekly assignments will be handed out the first day of class. Instructions available via the course Blackboard site.

 

  1. Coercion and deterrence briefing (20%) Each team will prepare a memo analyzing a case of attempted deterrence or coercion and present their findings to the class on Feb 26. Instructions available via the course Blackboard site.
  2. Emerging threat briefing. Each team will prepare a memo providing a forecast of an emerging threat and present their findings to the class on Apr 1. Instructions available via the course Blackboard site.

 

  1. Policy Memo (35%)

Students will write a fairly meaty policy memo for the UN Security Council on a current issue of international security of their choice. Due Sunday May 10 by midnight, uploaded to Blackboard. Instructions available via the course Blackboard site.

Course Schedule

2

Jan 29

Causes of War

 

Analyst’s Toolkit: Dimensions, categories, and matrices

 

Why do states go to war?

 

–       Levy, “The Causes of War and the Conditions for Peace,”

–       Van Evera, “Offense, Defense, and the Causes of War,”

–       Van Evera, “Hypotheses on Nationalism and War,”

 

3

Feb 5

Disorder and Anarchy

Analyst’s Toolkit: Identifying and creating variables

 

 

What is the liberal international order? What does it mean for U.S. grand strategy?

 

–       Porter, “A World Imagined,”

–       Selections TBA from What Was the Liberal Order?

–       Posen, “Step Back,”

–       Brooks and Wohlforth, “Lean Forward,”’

 

Week

Topic

Readings & Questions

4

Feb 12

Strategy & Security

 

Analyst’s Toolkit: Writing memos

What is the role of strategy in international security?

 

–       Art and Greenhill, The Use of Force, Chs. 1-4, 7-11, and 18

–       Thrall, “Five Steps to Writing Killer Memos,”

 

Threats and Challenges to International Security

5

Feb 19

 Threat Assessment

 

Assessing how states and leaders perceive threats

 

Analyst’s Toolkit: Operationalizing variables

How do states and leaders perceive threats?

 

–       Snyder, “Imperial Temptations,”

–       Booth and Wheeler, “Rethinking the Security Dilemma,”

–       Stein, “Threat Perception in International Relations,”

6

Feb 26

Case Studies in Deterrence and Coercion

 

Memo #1 Due Today:

 

When do deterrence and coercion work and fail?

 

Teams will present their case study analyses today

7

Mar 4

Nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation

 

Analyst’s Toolkit: Creating analytical frameworks

 

How do nuclear weapons influence international affairs and conflict?

 

–       Sagan and Waltz, Nuclear Weapons, An Enduring Debate (all)

Mar 11

Spring break

No readings or lectures this week

 

Week

Topic

Readings & Questions

8

Mar 18

Civil wars, failed states, and humanitarian disasters

 

Analyst’s Toolkit: Forecasting the future

Do failed states represent a threat or a duty for the international community? Who decides and on what basis?

 

–       Evans and Sahnoun, “The Responsibility to Protect”

–       Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”

–       David, “Why the Third World Still Matters,”

–       Van Evera, “Why Europe Matters, Why the Third Doesn’t,”

–       Pape, “When Duty Calls,”

 

9

Mar 25

Renewed Great Power Competition

Analyst’s Toolkit:

Writing op-eds

 

Is the world witnessing renewed great power competition? What are the implications?

 

–       Brands, “The Chinese Century?”

–       Shifrinson, “Should the United States Fear China’s Rise?”

–       Daalder, “Responding to Russia’s Resurgence,”

–       Graham, “Let Russia Be Russia,”

 

10

Apr 1

Emerging Threats

 

Memo #2 Due Today

What should we fear next? How likely are emerging threats to actually emerge?

 

Students will present their emerging threat analyses today.

 

Preventing War, Promoting Stability??

11

Apr 8

International Institutions

 

Analyst’s Toolkit:

Generating policy recommendations

Does the United Nations help promote a more peaceful world?

 

–       Goldstein, Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide (all)

 

Week

Topic

Readings & Questions

12

Apr 15

U.S. Military Intervention

 

Analyst’s Toolkit:

TBD

Do American (or other) military interventions enhance regional stability and international security?

 

–       Zenko, Between Threats and War (all)

 

13

Apr 22

Democracy Promotion and Nation Building

 

Analyst’s Toolkit:

TBD

Does democracy promotion work? Does nation-building work?

 

–       Downes and Monten, “Forced to be Free?”

–       Dobbins, et al., America’s Role in Nation Building (Read Executive Summary, Introduction, Lessons Learned; one case chapter to be assigned in class)

–       Afghanistan Papers, selections TBD

 

Parting Thoughts about the Politics of National Security in the United States

14

Apr 29

Domestic Politics and International Security

 

Analyst’s Toolkit:

How to interpret public opinion polls

How do people think about war and foreign policy?

 

–       Kertzer et al, “Moral Support: How Moral Values Shape Foreign Policy Attitudes,”

–       Jentleson, “Still Pretty Prudent: Post-Cold War American public opinion on the use of military force,”

–       Thrall et al, “Clash of Generations?”

 

May 6 Final policy memo due via Blackboard by midnight

Questions about the course?