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Department of History and Social Sciences

Choate Rosemary Hall

Wallingford, Connecticut

History 419
Winter 1999-2000 term

Hypertext Syllabus

Goals of the Course
Course Policies and Grading
Texts and Course Materials
Program and Workload
Schedule of Meetings and Assignments
Mr. Ned Gallagher
Memorial House #114, 697-2340
Worthington Johnson Athletic Center, 697-2417


"It may seem melodramatic to say that the United States and Russia represent Good and Evil.
But if we think of it that way, it helps to clarify our perspective on the world struggle."
- Richard M. Nixon

Goals of History 419

     History 419 explores the course of United States foreign policy in this century and the intellectual and historical foundations upon which it has been shaped. In the process, the systematic study of international relations as a branch of the discipline of political science will be introduced.

     The goals of this course are: (1) to develop and refine the vital skills employed in the study of history and political science; (2) to acquire broadly-based survey knowledge of U.S. foreign policy in the twentieth century and the major themes reflected therein; (3) to foster a basic understanding of the principles underlying international relations; and (4) to encourage a sharp critical perspective in dealing with contemporary geopolitics.

Course Policies and Grading

     A summary of course policies and grading standards can be found online by clicking here.

Reading Materials

   These texts for the course--available at the school bookstore--should be purchased by all students immediately:

  • Thomas G. Paterson and Dennis Merrill, eds., Major Problems in American Foreign Relations [Volume II: Since 1914]. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 2000. Fifth edition.
  • Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas G. Brinkley, Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938. New York: Penguin, 1997. Eighth revised edition. [referred to hereinafter as "Ambrose"]
  • X (George F. Kennan), "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," Foreign Affairs reprint. (originally appeared in the July, 1947 issue)
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Norton, 1969. [referred to hereinafter as "RFK"]
  • John G. Stoessinger, Why Nations Go to War. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998. Seventh edition. [referred to hereinafter as "Stoessinger"]

Program and Workload

     This course will be orthodox in its presentation: in general, you'll read something before each class meeting, and in class we'll discuss what you've read--what I call "Socratic discussion." You'll be expected to write short yet demanding papers, take period tests and a departmental final examination, and participate regularly in class.

     The few papers you write must follow the "empirical essay" format and use the APEC method of argument. If the syllabus doesn't say something to the contrary, then the paper is to be two pages long. That means one sheet written on both sides if you handwrite, or two fronts if you type or word process. If you use notes or bibliography, they may go on a separate sheet. In fact, you may always write as many pages as you want, but the first two will be read and graded.

     Every effort has been made to keep the length of daily assignments manageable. Many worthwhile assignments were abbreviated or scrapped from the syllabus altogether. It's important, therefore, that you commit yourself now to keeping up with what is included among the assignments below; you'll be expected to complete the assigned homework before each class.

     What follows is what we'll try to cover during the term. It may be adjusted from time to time for any number of reasons. The homework for the next class is always the next assignment unless you are told differently. You'll find each entry on the schedule below contains some instructive questions and ideas you should consider in preparing for class; get into the habit reading the syllabus carefully each night as you begin your homework.

Schedule of Meetings and Assignments

1. Introduction. No assignment.

2. Two Critical Frameworks. Read the introduction to this syllabus, above, and also read the essays in the first chapter of the Paterson anthology, pp. 3–29. Read through the essays somewhat quickly, concentrating on understanding each writer's thesis rather than mastering the details of his/her argument. These writers attempt to root U.S. foreign policy within the context of broad themes in international relations. Which thesis do you find most compelling? In class we’ll discuss the appropriate relationship between morality and diplomacy; to what extent do you think considerations of morality should factor into the policy-making process? As prologue to the material we'll be studying this term, we will also review my list of the ten most important topics in U.S. foreign policy between 1776 and 1914: Washington's Farewell Address, freedom of the seas, Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Frederick Jackson Turner, Alfred Thayer Mahan, "Remember the Maine!," the Open Door Note, the Big Stick, Dollar Diplomacy.

3. Over There: the U.S. & Europe, 1900–1917. Read documents in Paterson, pp. 35–41, plus the Link essay, pp. 50–55. Those of you in need of a little brushing up on the roots of the European war may want to skim the first chapter in the Stoessinger book. Consider the development of U.S. policy between 1914 and 1917 in the context of the previous assignment. Where do you see policy based on principle? On national interest? On economic motivations? On something else? Do you agree with Link's portrayal of Wilson as a pragmatist?

4. Versailles and Its Aftermath. Read documents in Paterson, pp. 41–49 plus the Knock essay, pp. 63-73. In class, we’ll focus on the efforts of the Great Powers to avoid another world war. Why did those efforts fail? To what extent did the Versailles negotiations reflect the values of Wilson's Fourteen Points? What was the U.S. response to the League of Nations in the wake of the Conference? Be sure you can answer the questions based on the specific historical data this reading presents.

The Allies at Versailles:
Britain's Lloyd George, Italy's Orlando, France's Clemenceau, and America's Wilson

5. Storm Clouds. Read Ambrose, pp. 1–14. What motivated American policy-makers to abandon isolationism? How do you judge Roosevelt’s performance as president in this time of crisis? How might he have proceeded differently? Keep track of the who, what, where, and when of the major elements of U.S. policy (e.g., cash-and-carry, destroyer deal, lend-lease, embargo, etc.) in your notebooks. Period test at #10 below.

6. Interpretation: President as Policy-Maker. Read the essays in Paterson, pp. 133–163. Again, get through this material quickly, with attention to each writer's thesis. Was Franklin Roosevelt an isolationist or an internationalist before December 7, 1941? What are the parallels, if any, between FDR's handling of the Pacific and European theaters, 1937-1941? Be prepared to back up your analysis with specific historical data.

7. "The Big One" I: The European Theater. Read Ambrose, pp. 15–34. What was the basic Allied strategy? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the various combatants? What were the turning points of the conflict? Ask me in class about the relationship between military might and political wisdom.

8. "The Big One" II: The Pacific Theater. Read Ambrose, pp. 34–51. What was the basic American strategy? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the combatants? What were the turning points of the conflict? Ask me in class about the relationship between economic power and military might.

9. "The Big One" III: Interpretation. Skim the documents in Paterson, pp.168-179 (the introductory comments on pp. 178-179 provides some context for them). Then read the two essays, pp. 180-198, and be prepared to either defend or refute the following: "Franklin Roosevelt's wartime diplomacy was, in the end, a failure."

10. Period Test #1. This test, covering everything we’ve studied so far, will be administered on the last full class before holiday break. Don’t blow it off in your eagerness to get out of here; this is a good opportunity to put some points in the bank for later in the term. See my online guide to preparing for history tests.

11. Interpretation: Atomic Diplomacy? Read the Barton J. Bernstein essay in Paterson, pp. 227-241. This is a variation on the revisionist interpretation of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings proposed by historian Gar Alperovitz.

12. Roots of a Cold War. Read Ambrose, pp. 52–74. What developments in the wake of the world war contributed to the atmosphere of distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union? How did Harry Truman's attitudes about the postwar world differ from those of his predecessor?

13. "Two Halves of the Same Walnut." Read Ambrose, pp. 75–94. How did the specific crisis in Greece result in the broad policy framework we call the Truman Doctrine? To what extent does the Marshall Plan illustrate political wisdom? What is significant about the National Security Act?

George F. Kennan

14. Soviet Expansionism as a Policy Framework. Read X (George F. Kennan), "Sources of Soviet Conduct." This article originally appeared in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs and was instrumental in shaping the views of a generation of Cold Warriors. Do you agree with Kennan's interpretation of the historical forces shaping Russian motivations? How do the lessons of World War II shape Kennan's policy proposals?

15. Strategies of Containment. Read Ambrose, pp. 95–113. How do you rate the U.S. handling of the crisis in Germany? To what extent does in reflect Kennan's ideas in action?

16. Interpretation: Cold War Historiography. Read Gaddis essay, pp. 241-254 in Paterson. This historiographical essay provides an overview of the scholarship concerning the period immediately following the war.

17. Paper #1. Prepare a paper of 2–3 pages in length arguing a clear thesis in response to the following: "Historical events between 1945 and 1949 were misinterpreted by the United States, which formulated a policy of containment toward the U.S.S.R. that was unnecessarily aggressive." There are two documents related to writing papers that I've placed online for your perusal: one about argumentation in history papers and one about avoiding common writing errors. Papers are due at the beginning of class. In class, McCarthyism videotape.

18. Intervention in Asia I: Korea. Read Stoessinger, pp. 53–77.

19. The "New Look:" Eisenhower & Dulles. Read Ambrose, pp. 127–150. Guatemala documents.

20. Interpretation: Who’s In Charge? Evens read Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., "Eisenhower the Hawk," pp. 469–480; odds read Fred I. Greenstein, "Eisenhower Revised: The Activist President," pp. 456–469; all read Robert J. McMahon, "Eisenhower’s Failure in the Third World," pp. 480–496.

21. Brinksmanship. Read Ambrose, pp. 151–170. Also read documents TBA.

22. Camelot. Read Ambrose, pp. 171–189. essay

23. Case Study: Showdown in the Caribbean I. Read RFK, pp. 23–72. Also read documents TBA.

24. Case Study: Showdown in the Caribbean II. Read RFK, pp. 73–128.

25. Paper #2. 2–3 pages. Due at the beginning of class.

26. The 1960s. Read Ambrose, pp. 190–206.

27. Intervention in Asia II: Vietnam. Read Stoessinger, pp. 80–108. Stoessinger treats the war as a gradual escalation over the course of five presidential administrations; be sure you understand how the U.S. policy in Vietnam evolved between the 1945 and 1975.

28. Nixon and Southeast Asia. Read Ambrose, pp. 224–253.

29. Interpretation: the U.S. in Indochina. Read George C. Herring, "Why the United States Failed in Vietnam," pp. 607–616, and Gabriel Kolko, "To Master the Third World," pp. 599–607.

30. Interpretation: King Richard and Prince Henry. All read documents: "Henry Kissinger on Rapprochement with China," pp. 623–626, and "Kissinger on Détente," pp. 629–634. Also read John G. Stoessinger, "A Safer World," pp. 642–655.

31. Interpretation: Critical Views of Kissinger. All read documents: "United States Covert Action in Chile," and "The Journalist Anthony Lewis on Kissinger," pp. 635–642. Also read Stanley Hoffman, "Flawed Design and Diplomatic Disaster," pp. 655–673.

32. Period Test #2. Covering everything studied in the course to date, with a particular emphasis on material covered since the last period test.

33. War in the Holy Land. Skim Stoessinger, pp. 136–178.

34. The Middle East and Africa: An Overview. Read Ambrose, pp. 254–280. Relations with the Third World are often thought of as unglamorous, yet this will be considered an increasingly important part of the world within your lifetimes. In what ways have the Rhodesian and South African situations dominated the regional political agenda? What issues other than apartheid now confront the nations of the continent?

35. The Carter Years. Read Ambrose, pp. 281–302 and documents: "Jimmy Carter’s Critique of the Nixon-Ford-Kissinger Foreign Policy," pp. 676–677 and "Ronald Reagan’s Critique of Carter’s Foreign Policy," pp. 681–682. In your notebooks, list the specific successes and failures of the Carter Administration in managing the nation’s foreign policy. Carter’s emphasis on human rights has been referred to as a double-edged sword for American policy-makers; why?

36. Mr. Reagan Goes to Washington. Read Ambrose, pp. 303–327.

37. The Reagan Legacy. Read Ambrose, pp. 327–351, and document: "Reagan on the Rebuilding of American Military Power," pp. 683–684.

38. The Persian Gulf: A Crucible of Terror. Read Stoessinger, pp. 181–206.

39. A New World Order? Read Ambrose, pp. 352–380.

40. The Gulf War and Beyond. Read Ambrose, pp. 381–397.

41. Interpretation: Prospects for the Future. Read John Lewis Gaddis, "The Long Peace: Stability in the International System," pp. 684–690, and Paul Kennedy, "Economic Decline and Imperial Overstretch," pp. 708–720.

Last revised: 19 January 2000
Syllabus copyright © 1998-2000 Ned Gallagher. All rights reserved.
Some multimedia materials and Internet resources compiled by Thomas Foster, CRH History Department.

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