American Foreign Policy
International Relations 270
Vincent Ferraro and Joseph Ellis
Spring 2009

Purpose of the Course

This course places a very heavy emphasis on the role of values in the making of American foreign policy. The processes by which decisions are made and the institutions which are involved in decision-making will, however, also be addressed. The justification for the emphasis on values rests in the unique circumstances in which foreign policy is now being conducted. The year 1989 marked a watershed year in human history and it is fair to say that the emerging diplomatic environment is not at all clear to many observers and analysts. The events of 11 September 2001 further complicated the diplomatic environment. In particular, the United States is finding it very difficult to articulate policies, let alone carry them out, in a world order which is inchoate and extraordinarily complex.

Indeed, in 2010 the rate of change in the foreign policy of the United States seems to have accelerated dramatically. Whether these changes were required because of changes in the external security environment or whether these changes were made because of new policy objectives is a matter of heated debate. The course will attempt only to frame these competing perspectives, not to resolve them.

The emphasis on values is a way to determine the very broad outlines of which might be U.S. preferences in the emerging world order and to assess the likely fit of those preferences to an international political system which is characterized by profound differences and hostilities. As a country with great power, the United States often determines, sometimes inadvertently, the outcome of some of those hostilities. Indeed, as a country with great power the United States often precipitates those hostilities. A close examination of those core values will allow us to predict better the policy choices and options of the United States in the future.

Procedural Matters

There will be a mid-term and a final required for the course. Each will count for 50% of the final grade. The mid-term will be handed out on 1 March and will be due on 10 March in class. The final will be a take-home exam with a choice of questions. The final will be distributed on 21 April and due no later than 13 May (for seniors, the due date is 11 May) at noon.

The book ordered for purchase is at the Odyssey Bookstore. The book is:

Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas G. Brinkley, Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938, 8th edition, revised (New York: Penguin Books, 1997)

All other readings are on the Internet and can be accessed at:

The underlined readings are on the internet. Some of them are copyright-protected and are therefore password protected. Whenever you are asked for a password, simply type in afps97 and click on "submit" (simply hitting the enter button does not work)

Course Outline and Readings

28 January Introduction

3 February Three Perspectives on American Foreign Policy


"The Melian Dialogue," in The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
Fyodor Dostoyesky, The Brothers Karamazov, Chapter 5, "The Grand Inquisitor"


Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, Sections I and II


Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, March 4, 1801

8 February Native American Policy as Foreign Policy

Richard I. Melvoin, New England Outpost: War and Society in Colonial Deerfield (New York: W.W. Norton: 1989) Chapter Eight, "The Wheel Turns Again: Deerfield and Queen Anne's War," pp. 209-48.
Cherokee Nation v. the State of Georgia, 1831

10 February The Idea of American Exceptionalism--The American Enlightenment

Samuel P. Huntington, "American Ideals versus American Institutions," in American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays, edited by G. John Ikenberry (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1989).
C. Vann Woodward, "Free Security"
John Winthrop, "City on a Hill"
The Declaration of Independence

15 February Manifest Destiny: American Perceptions of Its Place in the World

George Washington's Farewell Address

John L. O'Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, 1839
Polk's War Message, 1846
The Significance of the Frontier in American History, 1893

US Territorial Acquisitions, 1783-1947

17 February The War with Spain: American Colonialism and the Open Door

British Foreign Secretary George Canning's Overture for a Joint Declaration with the United States on the Spanish Colonies in America, 1823
John Quincy Adams's Account of the Cabinet Meeting of November 7, 1823
Thomas Jefferson on the Monroe Doctrine, 1823
The Monroe Doctrine
Theodore Roosevelt: Obstacles to Immediate Expansion
William McKinley, "War Message," 1898
Walter L. Williams, "United States Indian Policy and the Debate over Philippine Annexation: Implications for the Origins of American Imperialism," The Journal of American History, Vol. 66, No. 4 (March 1980), pp. 810-831
The Platt Amendment, 1903
The Open Door Note, Submitted by U.S. Secretary of State, John Hay, September 6, 1899

22 February World War I: Wilson, Self-Determination, and the League

Woodrow Wilson, "The World Must Be Made Safe for Democracy," War Message to Congress, April 2, 1917
President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, 8 January, 1918
Michael W. Doyle, "Liberalism and World Politics," American Political Science Review, Vol. 80, no 4 (December 1986), pp. 1151-1169.
Hugh Rockoff, "U.S. Economy in World War I," E.H.Net, Economic History Association, 5 February 2010
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, "The League of Nations," (audio playback available) The link will take to the Library of Congress's Search page. Click on "sound recording" and type in the words: "henry cabot lodge." The search engine will pull up the speech--look for "League of Nations."

24 February World War II: United States and Collective Security

Ambrose and Brinkley, Chapters 1-3
Tassava, Christopher. "The American Economy during World War II". EH.Net Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples. February 10, 2008.
The Growth of Non-Liberal Regimes in the Interwar Period

The Atlantic Charter, August 14, 1941
Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State, Memorial Day Address at the Arlington National Amphitheater, May 30, 1942
Map of the Pacific Theater
Paul Fussell, "Thank God For Atom The Bomb" in Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (New York: Summit Books, 1988). First published as "Hiroshima: A Soldier's View," New Republic (August 1981)

MIDTERM EXAM (due in class on 8 March)

1 March The Cold War: 1945-1950

Ambrose and Brinkley, Chapters 4-7
John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 1-25.
NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, (April 14, 1950)
Hegemonic Stability Theory

3 March The Beginnings of American Middle Eastern Policy

Multinational Oil Corporations and U.S. Foreign Policy - REPORT together with individual views, to the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, by the Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations; (Washington, January 2, 1975, US Government Printing Office)
Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East. 1776 to the Present (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007), pp. 80-83; 88-90.
Attitude of American Government Toward Palestine: Letter From President Roosevelt to King Ibn Saud, April 5, 1945
United States Proposal for Temporary United Nations Trusteeship for Palestine: Statement by President Truman, March 25, 1948
Richard Holbrooke, "Washington's Battle Over Israel's Birth," Washington Post, 7 May 2008

8 March The Cold War: The Cuban Missile Crisis

Ambrose and Brinkley, Chapters 9 and 10
Executive Committee Meeting, The Oval Office, 18 October 1962, 11:00 a.m.

10 March The Cold War: Vietnam

Ambrose and Brinkley, Chapters 11 and 12
Franklin Roosevelt Memorandum to Cordell Hull, January 24, 1944 from Major Problems in American Foreign Policy, Volume II: Since 1914, 4th edition, edited by Thomas G. Paterson and Dennis Merrill (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1995), p. 189.

22 March The End of the Cold War

Ambrose and Brinkley, Chapters 14-16
John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (New York: Penguin, 2005), "Epilogue: The View Back," pp. 259-66.
Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History?" The National Interest, Summer 1989

24 March The New World Order? Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention

Jon Western, "The Sources of Humanitarian Intervention," International Security, Vol 25, no. 4 (Spring 2002)
Samantha Power, "Bystanders to Genocide," The Atlantic Monthly, September 2001

29 March The Bush Doctrine: The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

George W. Bush, Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, 20 September 2001

US, The National Security Strategy of the United States, September 2002
Military Costs of Major U.S. Wars

31 March The Future of American Foreign Policy: A Post America World?

Fareed Zakaria, "The Rise of the Rest," Newsweek, May 12, 2008
Joseph Nye, "American power after the financial crisis," Foresight, 2010
David E. Sanger, "Huge Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power," New York Times, 1 February 2010

Stephen Walt, "The End of the American Era," The National Interest, November/December 2011
The Economic Dilemma
Global US Military Presence
US Military Bases, Domestic and International
The top 10 military spenders, 2008

5-7 April Changes in US Policy: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Public Broadcasting System, "Global Connections: The Middle East," Just Read the Section "What Have been the Role and Effects of US Foreign Policies on the Middle East?" There are many very good links on this page, but much of the page was built in 2002. So just focus on the competing historical issues outlined on the page.
President Truman's Decision to Recognize Israel
Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar, "Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer," Middle East Research and Information Project (Palestinian Side)
Gerald M. Steinberg, "Israel at Sixty: Asymmetry, Vulnerability, and the Search for Security," Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, No. 564, 1 June 2008 (Israeli Side)

12-14 April Changes in US Policy: Iran

Map of the Persian Empire
The Red Line Agreement of 1928
New York Times, "Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran," 2000
Memorandum from Deputy Secretary of State Charles W. Robinson to Henry Kissinger, "Meeting on Nuclear Negotiations with Iran," 14 April 1976, with memorandum attached from Myron B. Kratzer and Alfred L. Atherton to the Secretary, "Next Step in Our Nuclear Negotiations with Iran," 25 March 1976, Secret/Exdis
Peter Grier, "The roots of Iran's nuclear program," Christian Science Monitor, 30 November 2009
BBC, Slideshow: Iranian revolution 1979
Address by His Excellency Mahmoud Ahamdi-Nejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, before the 61st Session of the General Assembly, New York, 19 September 2006
Al Arabiya News Channel, "Ahmadinejad’s speech at UN racism summit," (excerpts), 26 April 2009
Remarks by President Obama on the Meeting of the P5 + 1 Regarding Iran, Diplomatic Reception Room, The White House, Washington, DC, 1 October 2009
Steven Simon, "An Israeli Strike on Iran," Council on Foreign Relations, November 2009
Hillary Mann Leverett, Flynt Leverett, "Iran Is No Existential Threat," Foreign Policy, 4 December 2009
Alan Kuperman, "There’s Only One Way to Stop Iran," New York Times, 23 December 2009

19-21 April Changes in US Policy: Afghanistan

Steve Galster, "Afghanistan: The Making of US Policy, 1973-1990," The National Security Archive, October 9, 2001
Remarks by President Obama in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York, 1 December 2009

26-28 April Changes in US Policy: An Obama Doctrine?

Remarks by President Obama at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, Oslo City Hall, Oslo, Norway, 10 December 2009

3 May Conclusions

Final Exam