Department of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Social Sciences
Choate Rosemary Hall
Rev. Dr. Ned Gallagher
Hypertext Course Syllabus
Fall 2017 term
"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.
- President Richard M. Nixon
Goals of History 413
History 413 explores United States foreign policy 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 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 assessing contemporary geopolitics.
In addition there will be considerable instruction in the skills needed by historians, political scientists, and indeed all citizens: how to read, how to analyze, and how to express one's self. Specifically, we hope to develop the general intellectual skills of:
The course is designed with these aims in mind to be a coöperative learning experience in appreciating and understanding the rich tapestry of American diplomatic history. Needless to say, no such understanding can be taught by someone else; it can only be learned for oneself. Beyond these skills, this course aspires to cultivate in each student an appreciation of the role of an informed and active citizenry in society.
Evaluation and Assessments
Your grade for the term will be determined as follows:
A summary of course policies and grading standards can be found online by clicking here.
Scholastic integrity is expected and required. It is an essentual part of academic life at Choate and beyond. All work submitted for this class must be your own. Copying or representing the work of anyone else as your own is plagiarism and cheating. This includes the unacknowledged word-for-word use and/or paraphrasing of another person’s work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person's ideas. This is unacceptable in this class and prohibited by the school. All cases of suspected plagiarism, in accordance with school rules, will be reported to the Deans Office.
Texts and Course Materials
You will need the following text, which is available in the school store:
Thomas Paterson, et al., American Foreign Relations: Volume 2: Since 1895. Wadsworth, 2014. ISBN-13: 978-1285433332. [hereinafter referred to as “Paterson”]
You will need to read supplementary materials for the course, as well—most of them available online. Some days there will be a specific article assigned from such sources as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or The Washington Post.
Decorum and Civility
Mutual respect and cooperation, during the time we spend together each week and the time you work on group assignments, are the basis for successful conduct of this course. The class is a learning community that depends on respect, cooperation, and communication among all of us. This includes coming to class on time, prepared for each day’s work: reading and assignments complete, focusing on primary classroom activity, and participating. It also includes polite and respectful expression of agreement or disagreement—with support for your point of view and arguments—with other students and with the teacher. It does not include arriving late or leaving early, or behavior or talking that distracts other students.
Technology and Electronic Etiquette
Please silence or turn off all mobile phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. If you have your laptop or tablet with you in class, I prefer you use it only occasionally to look up something related to our conversation rather than constantly surfing the Web or—even worse—checking your e-mail or Facebook or chatting with friends. Thus I expect laptops will remain closed most of the time.
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 readwhat I call "Socratic discussion."You'll be expected to write a couple of short papers, take a pair of tests, and participate regularly in class. Reading quizzes will be frequent.
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.
Schedule of Meetings and Assignments
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.
1. "Stand And Unfold Yourself.
No assignment. We'll get to know each other in this session and discuss an overview of the course.
2. Rise to Globalism.
Read Paterson, pp. 117. While our formal study of U.S. foreign policy begins in the 1890s, in class we will take a close look at an excerpt from President George Washington's Farewell Address, delivered a hundred years before. What assumptions about America's role in the world in Washington's day changed a century later? What was the impact of the frontier in shaping how the U.S. approached the rest of the world? What role did commerce play? To what degree did competition with other powers drive American policy? How did the nations of the world view naval power in this era?
3. War With Spain.
Read Paterson, pp. 1731. Continuing our review of the most important topics in U.S. foreign policy between 1776 and the 1890s, we will review freedom of the seas and the Monroe Doctrine in class today. Based on your reading in Paterson, be sure you can explain the root causes of the Spanish-American War. Do you think the U.S. was justified in this conflict? Or was it an example of naked imperialist ambition? How did domestic politics shape the decision for war? What was the Open Door Note? How did it benefit America? On what authority was it based? How was it enforced?
4. Big Stick.
Read Paterson, pp. 35–51. We will start class with a review of Manifest Destiny and Civil War diplomacy before turning our attention to the U.S. role in the creation of a canal in Colombia/Panama as well as developments in Cuba. What is your take on Theodore Roosevelt as an architect of foreign policy? How does he differ from his predecessors? How does he compare to modern presidents? Be sure you understand the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. What have been the long-term ramifications of America's actions in this era on its Latin American neighbors?
5. Dollar Diplomacy.
Read Paterson, pp. 52–68. We will have a quick look at the U.S. "opening"Japan in 1853 before resuming our focus on early 20th-century relations with Latin America, with a particular emphasis on Mexico.
6. The Path to World War I.
Read Paterson, pp. 74–95. Consider the development of U.S. policy between 1914 and 1917. Where do you see policy based on principle? On national interest? On economic motivations? On something else? Are there echoes of the War of 1812 just over a century later? Is it fair to describe Woodrow Wilson as a pragmatist? Do you regard his 1916 campaign promise to keep America out of war was disingenuous? 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?
Read Paterson, pp. 95–111. 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.
8. Period Test #1.
This test will cover everything we’ve studied so far. See my online guide to preparing for history tests.
9. Postwar Uncertainties.
Read Paterson, pp. 116–130. How committed was the United States to internationalism in the 1920s? What role did global trade play in shaping American foreign policy?
Read Paterson, pp. 131–146.
11. Instability in Asia.
Read Paterson, pp. 152–166.
12. The Path to World War II.
Read Paterson, pp. 167–183. 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. What motivated American policy-makers to abandon unilateralism? 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.
13. The Grand Alliance.
Read Paterson, pp. 188–209.
14. From War to Peace.
Read Paterson, pp. 209–231.
15. Roots of the Cold War.
Read Paterson, pp. 238–256. 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? 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?
16. Paper #1 Due.
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.
Read Paterson, pp. 257–274. 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? How do you rate the U.S. handling of the crisis in Germany? To what extent does in reflect Kennan's ideas in action?
18. Korea and The New Look.
Read Paterson, pp. 283309. How successful was this foreign policy of John Foster Dulles?
Read Paterson, pp. 337362. What were similarities and differences among the crises in Hungary, Suez, China, and Cuba? Note the tremendous impact of Sputnik. Is Paterson sympathetic to or critical of the Eisenhower Administration? What preconceptions did President Kennedy bring into office with him? What new avenues of foreign policy, if any, did the Kennedy Administration explore? How do you explain the harsh rhetoric of 1961, followed by the Test Ban Treaty and American University speech (we will listen to some of this in class) in 1963?
No additional reading assignment. What were the basic assumptions of the American government? Did they change from one administration to another? Where did these assumptions come from? Were they correct? Make certain you understand the Tonkin Gulf incident (i.e., what happened, what didn't happen, why it was important, etc.).
21. LBJ and Vietnam.
Read Paterson, pp. 362–378. What caused president Johnson to put a hold on further troop increases in March 1968? What was Richard Nixon’s "secret plan"to end the war in Vietnam? How successful was it?
22. Nixon and Kissinger.
Read Paterson, pp. 386398. How did Israel and the U.S. establish strong ties in the face of many career diplomats who were more concerned with maintaining close ties with oil producing Arab nations? Note the varying degrees of American involvement during the last forty years. How vital is the U.S.-Israeli relationship to the U.S.?
23. Paper Preparation.
Class will not meet in order to give you adequate time for research and composition. You are tasked to write a paper of 3–4 pages in length arguing a clear thesis in response to the following: "The Vietnam War revealed fundamental flaws in the management of American foreign policy.
24. Paper #2 Due.
Paper due at the beginning of class.
25. The Turbulent 1970s.
Read Paterson, pp. 399–421.
26. The Carter Era.
Read Paterson, pp. 421–438. How was President Carter’s foreign policy philosophy different from that of his predecessors? What effect did this have on the formulation of policy? What domestic political problems did this create for the president? Make certain you understand the Carter Doctrine. 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?
27. The Reagan Era.
Read Paterson, pp. 445–462. What are the most striking characteristics of Reagan foreign policy? What were its goals? What were the underlying assumptions of the Reagan Administration?
Read Paterson, pp. 468–481, 485–489, & 492–497. What was responsible for the end of the Cold War? Did a patient American policy of containment ultimately lead to one of the all-time great geopolitical victories, or does the end of the Cold War mean something else entirely? The policy of containment, never really challenged as an underlying assumption of U.S. foreign policy, lasted for 45 years and cost in the trillions of dollars. On balance, was it worth it? What were the issues that led the first Bush Administration to intervene in the Persian Gulf? Was the international coalition a dramatic policy departure for the U.S., or was it a new look for a by now traditional interventionist policy?
29. Period Test #2.
This test will be cumulative, with an emphasis on developments after World War II.
30. 9/11 and Iraq.
Read Paterson, pp. 505–520.
31. America and the World Today.
Read Paterson, pp. 520–536 & 548–552. What are the issues facing American policy makers as the world moves further into the 21st century?
This syllabus copyright © 19992017 Ned Gallagher. All rights reserved.
Last revised: October 12, 2017