American Foreign Policy

Sam Houston State University



Instructor: Dr. Rhonda Callaway         Office: AB1, Office 319E

Office Hours: MWF 10:00 – 11:00am and by appointment   Phone: 936-294-4108



Course Description

After the end of World War II, the United States found itself as one of the major superpowers in the world. In the span of a few years, the United States changed from a country content in their isolation and big brother role in the western hemisphere to a leader in the establishment of a new world order. Now, after 9/11, the United States faces new challenges as it the “war on terrorism” has become the dominant issue in American foreign policy. American foreign policy has been an important component not only on the world stage, but domestically as well. As American foreign policy covers a wide range of subjects, both historical and theoretical, this course will be divided into two main sections. The first half of the course will address the origins, both legal and extralegal, of American foreign policy. In addition, we will examine the role of different “actors” within the United States . The second half of the course will cover recent history (mainly since WWII) and address the many “crisis” that the United States has faced in the foreign policy endeavors. In addition, we will examine several cases of foreign policies issues currently facing the United States in the post Cold War and post 9/11 era.




Specific course objectives include:

•  Students will gain factual knowledge and information regarding the concepts in American foreign policy

•  Students will learn fundamental principles and theories of American foreign policy, particularly how and why the United States engages in foreign affairs.

•  Increase student analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills.



•  Ambrose, Stephen E., and Douglas G. Brinkley. Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy

Since 1938 .

•  Jentleson, Bruce W. American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21 st Century

•  Readings from the internet and blackboard as indicated.

Course Requirements


•  Exams 60% - there will be a midterm and a final exam. Both are worth 30% each, for a total of 60%. Note: only in exceptional, compelling, and documented cases can a student arrange to take an exam at some other time that that scheduled. My alarm didn't go off, car trouble, and relationship problems are your responsibility. Students must notify the instructor prior to the exam in order to schedule any type of make-up exam. If the student fails to notify the instructor and then misses an exam, the student will receive a zero for that exam.

•  Paper 20% - students will write a paper on a current foreign policy topic. The 8-page assignment asks you to evaluate a current American policy: is the policy appropriate, or would another policy have produced better results? This should be written as a memo to the president. This paper is due on November 20. More details on the paper assignments will follow.

•  Quizzes 20% - Pop quizzes will cover geography, the course readings and lectures. Five pop quizzes will be counted toward your grade, out of a possible six quizzes given throughout the semester. There will be no make-up quizzes unless class is missed due to university-sponsored events. The make-up will consist of a one-page essay regarding the assigned reading.

•  Attendance. You should attend class…there is a direct correlation between class attendance and class participation!

•  Respect. Participants in this class should feel free to exchange ideas and arguments pertinent to the discussion at hand. If you have a difficult time tolerating disagreement with your views, perhaps this is not the class for you. HOWEVER, it is a MUST that you be respectful of other's opinions. While disagreement of ideas and views is tolerated, if not encouraged, the lack of respect and courtesy of others will not be tolerated.


Additional Information


Academic Dishonesty : Students are expected to maintain honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom. See Student Syllabus Guidelines . Please be aware that plagiarized work will result in an “F” in the course. See the following web address for more information on academic dishonesty. . I have a plagiarism contract that must be signed in order to receive a grade in the course.


In general, plagiarism is defined as using another person's words and/or ideas as if they were your own. Your papers must be original work. If you use the exact words from another source in your academic papers, you must set off such quotes in quotation marks. After the closing quotation, you must provide an accurate citation which includes the author, date of publication, and page number. If you paraphrase, you still need to provide a citation. The citation within the text should look like the following:


The events of the Easter Uprising led to many Irish men and women immigrating to the United States . It was these ex-patriots that served as the link between the United States and Ireland . Adams goes so far as to argue that the survival of the IRA was in part due to “The enormous Irish-American population has always felt a strong sentimental attachment to ‘the old country' and this has been translated into a steady stream of cash and guns to the IRA” (Adams 1986, 134)


The complete citation must be provided in a bibliography.


Adams, James. 1986. The Financing of Terror: How the groups that are terrorizing the world get the money to do it. New York : Simon and Schuster.


Classroom Rules of Conduct: Students are expected to assist in maintaining a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. Students are to treat faculty and students with respect. Students are to turn off all cell phones while in the classroom. Under no circumstances are cell phones or any electronic devices to be used or seen during times of examination. Students may tape record lectures provided they do not disturb other students in the process.


Student Absences on Religious Holy Days : Students are allowed to miss class and other required activities, including examinations, for the observance of a religious holy day, including travel for that purpose. Students remain responsible for all work. See Student Syllabus Guidelines .


Students with Disabilities Policy : It is the policy of Sam Houston State University that individuals otherwise qualified shall not be excluded, solely by reason of their disability, from participation in any academic program of the university. Further, they shall not be denied the benefits of these programs nor shall they be subjected to discrimination. Students with disabilities that might affect their academic performance should visit with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities located in the Counseling Center . See Student Syllabus Guidelines .


Visitors in the Classroom : Only registered students may attend class. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis by the professor. In all cases, visitors must not present a disruption to the class by their attendance. Students wishing to audit a class must apply to do so through the Registrar's Office.


TENTATIVE SCHEDULE: This syllabus should be seen as a rough guide of the coming semester. I reserve the right to make changes to this syllabus throughout the semester. Readings should be completed prior to class.



Week 1     Introduction and Theories

August 21   Organization and Scope of the Course; Why Study American Foreign Policy?

August 23   Introduction to AFP and Theories (Jentleson Ch 1)

August 25   Theories – Explaining the 4Ps (Jentelson 1.1, 1.2; Melian Dialogue and Wilson 's 14 points – online)


Week 2

August 28   Theories – Explaining the 4Ps (Jentelson 1.3, 1.4)

August 30   Fog of War

September 1   Fog of War


Week 3     ACTORS

September 4   University Holiday – Labor Day

September 6   Executive/Congressional Relations (Jentleson Ch 2 pp. 30-48; 2.1)

September 8   Interest Groups and the Media (Jentleson Ch 2 pp. 49-64)


Week 4

September 11   Public Opinion (Jentleson Ch 2 pp. 64-70, 2.2)



September 13   Origins of Foreign Policy - Isolationism

•  Federalist #64, #69, #75 available online at:

•  George Washington's Farewell Address available online at:

•  James Monroe, “The Monroe Doctrine” available online at:

D. Jentelson Ch 3 (74-80; 3.1)

September 15   Origins of Foreign Policy (Jentleson Ch. 3 (80-106); 3.2)







September 18   Origins of the Cold War (Jentleson Ch 4 pp. 109-121; 4.3 Ambrose Ch 4, 5)

September 20   Eisenhower Years (Jentleson Ch 4 pp. 121-142; Ambrose 6-8)

September 22   Kennedy and LBJ (Ambrose 9-11)


Week 6

September 25   Nixon and Vietnam (Jentleson Ch 5 pp. 146-169; Ambrose Ch 11-12)

September 27   Carter (Jentleson Ch 5 pp. 169-176; Ambrose Ch 13, 14)

September 29   Reagan and Bush I (Jentleson Ch 5 pp. 176-187; 5.3; Ambrose 15-16)


Week 7

October 2   The End of the Cold War (Jentleson Ch 5 pp. 187-195; 5.4; Ambrose 17)

October 4   Transition from the Cold War (Ambrose Ch 18)

October 6   MIDTERM EXAM


Week 8     POST COLD WAR

October 9   Strategies in the Post Cold War Era (Jentleson Ch 6 pp 288-315; 6.1, 6.2)

October 11   Actors in the Post Cold War Era (Jentleson Ch 6 pp 316-346)

October 13   Actors in the Post Cold War Era – The Media and the CNN Effect (6.3)



October 16   Video

October 18   Video

October 20    The power strategy or the realist approach – Where are the threats

Geo-politics: (Jentleson Ch 7 pp.350-374; 7.1)


Week 10

October 23   Geo-politics - continued

October 25   Defense and Security Strategy (Jentleson Ch 7 pp 374-398)

October 27   The War on Terrorism (Jentleson Ch 7 pp. 398-422; 7.2; 7.3)


Week 11

October 30    The War on Terrorism – Continued

November 1   The peace strategy or the liberal approach (Jentleson Ch 8 pp 427-451; 8.1)
November 3   Non-proliferation and the US as a peacebroker (Jentleson Ch 8 pp. 451-489)


Week 12     

November 6   Humanitarian Intervention and Peacekeeping (8.2)

November 8   Peacekeeping Case Studies

November 10   The money strategy or the prosperity approach: (Jentleson Ch 9 pp 493 -511; 9.1)


Week 13

November 13   Globalization – continued (Jentleson Ch 9 pp 511-516)

November 15   Sustainable Development (Jentleson Ch 9 pp. 516-529; 9.2)

November 17   Prosperity and the Environment (Jentelson Ch 9 pp. 529-544; 9.3)






Week 14

November 20   TBA – Paper Due

November 22   Thanksgiving

November 24   Thanksgiving


Week 15

November 27    The principled approach: Is Democracy the Answer?

    Fukuyama vs. Huntington (10.1 and 10.2)

November 29   Democracy and Human Rights – Current Status (Jentleson Ch 10 pp. 547 - 562

December 1   Democratic Peace Theory (Jentleson Ch 10 pp. 562-568; Immanual Kant – online)


Week 16

December 4   Post-Cold War Trade-offs with Principles (Jentleson Ch 10 pp 568-602)

    How to Protect Human Rights

December 6   Post-Cold War Trade-offs – continued

    Do Sanctions Work



Final Exam   Wednesday, December 13 (8:00am – 10:00am)