California State University,
Los Angeles • Department of Political Science
5151 State University Drive • Los Angeles, CA 90032
POLS 425 U.S. Foreign Policy
Timothy C. Lim
Instructional Web Site: http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/tclim
Course overview and OBJECTIVES
In this course we will
examine contemporary U.S. foreign policy from a theoretical and analytical
perspective. In other words, this course is expressly designed to help
develop your capacity both to explain the foreign policy-making process in the United States, and to
better understand the
underlying patterns, logic, and implications of American foreign policy in
the world at large. To accomplish these broad goals, we will view the making
and implementation of U.S. foreign policy through a diversity of analytical
frameworks, from the traditional to the post modern. Some of these frameworks
will seem familiar and intuitive, while others may seem just the opposite.
Whatever your initial feelings, however, it is important to adopt an open,
yet critical perspective as we examine, discuss, and evaluate the various
part of this course is structured around an examination of the major foreign
policy worldviews. These include: (1) Realism, (2) Liberalism, and (3) Marxism.*
Each one these views—or theories—about the world of international
politics purports to tell us “how things work” in the world. Scholars,
policy-makers—including current members of the Bush
administration—all have identifiable worldviews that guide, shape, and
determine their understanding of world affairs. Even more, all of you have your own view of how things
work. Unfortunately, as we will learn, your personal worldview may be based
on an extremely shaky, ultimately unsupportable foundation. But, this is to
be expected. By the end of the quarter, though, you should all have a better
basis for a rigorous and critical “self-evaluation” of how you interpret the
political and economic dynamics of US foreign policy and world politics.
needs to be emphasized that worldviews matter; that is, the interpretation or
understanding of the world that policy-makers and ordinary citizens adopt
necessarily shape the world in which we live—people’s very lives and
livelihoods are, everyday, impacted by what we consider necessary,
productive, and important, on the one hand, or unnecessary,
counterproductive, and trivial on the other hand. The ongoing situation in
Iraq—which is a dual product of the Bush administration’s particular
worldview and the American public’s willingness to accept it—is just
one example of a foreign policy decision profoundly affecting the lives of
tens of millions (even hundreds of millions) of people in the U.S. and
The second part of
this course follows our main textbook closely. Here, we will learn how to
examine U.S. foreign policy using different “levels of analysis,” from the
individual, to the state, to the “system.” As we will see, the three levels
of analysis and the three major worldviews are intimately connected. After
completing this part of our course, you will have the necessary foundation
and skills to evaluate the dynamics of American foreign policy in an
analytically and theoretically sophisticated manner.
quarter, we will also discuss alternative worldviews, especially those based
on the concepts of social construction and reflectivism. While not easy to
understand, these concepts offer valuable insights into the process and very
notion of “foreign” policy.
In the last part of our course we will evaluate two contemporary issues or questions in U.S. foreign policy: How should the United States deal with a rising power? And, does the United States need to cooperate?
Course Requirements and Grading
Your grade in this
class will be based on three major categories: quizzes, mini-essay
assignments, and a final examination. The details and requirements for each
category are as follows:
Weekly Quizzes. At the beginning of each class, there will
normally be a short quiz usually composed of between 3 to 6 fill-in-the blank,
multiple choice, true-false, and/or short answer questions. The quizzes will
be based on the assigned readings and/or previous lecture or lectures (be
advised that any material covered in the lecture is fair game for the quiz, as is any material covered
in previous readings). Each quiz will be worth 10 points, and on a cumulative
basis, 30 percent of your overall grade. There will be no ABSOLUTELY make-up quizzes, even if you have a justifiable reason for
missing class. I will, however, drop your lowest score when calculating the
overall quiz score at the end of the quarter. To encourage timely attendance,
you will receive 3~6 points
simply for writing your name on the quiz (that is, even if are not prepared,
you can receive some credit by coming to class on time). All quizzes will be OPEN NOTE but CLOSED BOOK. Be advised that “open note” means your
notes. You may not use pages copied or printed out from the readings.
Fair Warning! I will periodically give quizzes or pass
around a free quiz/attendance sheet after our break. These will also be included in the
weekly quiz total.
Special Note on Attendance and Participation. I expect you to come to class consistently and on time. I also expect you to be prepared for all class sessions. Indeed, for the large majority of students, consistent and timely attendance—combined with a willingness to stay actively engaged in class lectures/discussions—is essential to doing well. You will not, however, be graded directly on attendance. Instead, attendance will be assessed indirectly through the in-class quizzes. It is largely for this reason that I do not allow make-ups—that is, because I use the quizzes as a way to encourage attendance, preparation, and active listening, missing a class means you have failed to fulfill the primary objectives of the quiz. It is for this reason, too, that I do not record quiz scores for students who leave class shortly after taking a quiz. To reiterate: Regardless of your score, you will receive 0.0 points on the quiz for that day if you do not attend the bulk of the class and if you do not inform me beforehand that you need to leave early**—e.g., if you leave class immediately or shortly after taking the quiz, your score will be tossed out.
**Leaving early without penalty will only be
excused one or two times, depending on the circumstances.
Assignments. I will assign
two 10-point “mini-essays” during the quarter. These essays will be very
short: no more than two pages, single-spaced, and will require you to respond
to a basic question dealing with the course material. On a cumulative basis,
the mini-essays will be worth 20 percent of your course grade.
Exam. The final examination
will be comprised of two parts,
one in-class and the other take home. The format for the in-class final will
be the same as the daily quizzes; in fact, most of the questions will come
directly from the quizzes. The in-class final exam will be cumulative (that
is, material from the first day of class to the last day of class will be
included). Students will be allowed to bring in ONE PAGE of notes,
single-sided on regular letter paper (i.e., no legal sized paper). The
second, take-home part of the final exam will consist of a book review. Specifically, you will be required to review
the book, House of Bush, House of Saud (see required books above), as a student of American foreign
policy. Additional details
will be announced in class.
GRADING. Grading will be strictly determined by a weighted average of the scores you receive on your quizzes, midterm, and final examination.
Your overall score must be 87 percent or higher to receive an A- or A;77-86 percent to receive a B-, B, or B+; 67-76 percent to receive a C-, C or C+; and 57-66 percent to receive a D-, D or D+. Any score below 56 percent will result in failing grade (“F”).
The following books are REQUIRED for this course (both also available on 2-hour reserve in the library):
Š Laura Neack, The New Foreign Policy: U.S. and Comparative Foreign Policy in the 21st Century. Rowman and Littlefield, 2003. [Referred to as NFP below]
Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud. Scribner, 2004. [NOTE: This book
will not be
directly covered in-class; in addition, I have not ordered it in the
bookstore as it is much cheaper to purchase online. See my CourseSite for ordering information.]
In addition, we will have numerous required readings available on a CD-Course Pack:
Š U.S. Foreign Policy Readings • CD-Course Pack (will be distributed in class) • Students are asked to make a strictly voluntary contribution of $1.00 to defray the cost of materials (CD, label, jewel box, printing)
Š John Baylis and Steve Smith (eds.), The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2001. [Referred to as GWP below] • NOTE: This book has several editions; the suggested readings below are specifically for the 2nd edition, but each edition has similar chapters.
Other Reading Requirements
All students must read at least one major newspaper on a consistent basis. The Los Angeles Times is perfectly acceptable, but I also recommend that you read the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and/or any major foreign newspaper (see the resource page on my CourseSite). All major American and most major foreign newspapers are available for free on the Internet. If you are unsure how to access these papers, check my web site, which contains links to dozens of news sources (both mainstream and alternative). I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU READ MORE THAN ONE SOURCE AND MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF NEWS DURING THE QUARTER. Assignments and your final project will require you to draw on current issues.
NOTE FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE: Although not strictly required, graduate students should do all the recommended readings listed below. Any and all of readings may be incorporated into the MA comprehensive examination.
* Be advised that there is some overlap between this course and another course I regularly teach, POLS 427 International Relations.