Course Description and Syllabus

Spring 1999

Political Studies 130 OFFICE HOURS
Tuesday and Thursday 9:40-10:50 Mon: 10:00-11:00
Professor Dana Ward Tues: 11:00-12:00
Office: A207 Wed: 10:00-11:00
Telephone: 73177 Thur: 11:00-12:00

      This course is designed to examine U.S. foreign policy toward the Third World using a number of analytic models and theories of decision making including the rational actor approach, bureaucratic politics approach, autonomous state theories, domestic politics theories, imperialist state models, cognitive modeling, social-psychological models, and group and individual dynamic models. These approaches are applied to a series of Third World case studies in different administrations, different regions of the world, and in different historical eras, although the overwhelming emphasis is on post-World War II cases. The cases are drawn from crisis situations as well as routine decision making. Through these case studies the student not only will become familiar with the critical events in U.S. foreign policy that have influenced the way in which decision making has developed in the U.S. foreign policy establishment, but also the student will develop analytic frameworks that can be applied to other nations' foreign policy making. Towards the end of the semester we will also pay attention to the aftermath of U.S. policy decisions in the target countries.


     Grades will be assigned on the basis of the following criteria:

      1) On January 26 you will each submit a statement of your goals for the course. This statement should be as specific and detailed as possible. Plan your method for meeting the responsibilities of this course, set weekly goals and time schedules, or whatever will help you to think about why you are taking this particular course and how it fits your over-all learning goals. Then, on the last day of class you will turn in a self-evaluation in which you will analyze how well you met your goals, how your goals changed, and what unforeseen goals emerged. You will then assign yourself an over-all grade based on your performance in this course. Your self-evaluation will constitute ten percent of the final grade.

      2) On April 29 peer evaluations are due. Each student will turn in via email an evaluation of each of the other students in the class. At the beginning of each evaluation type the name of the student being evaluated, followed by a letter grade (e.g., A, A-, AB, B+, B, B-, BC, etc.). Clearly separate each evaluation as the evaluations will be distributed to the individual being evaluated. The evaluators will remain anonymous. The grade given should reflect your evaluation of the student's contribution to your OWN education. That is, how thought provoking, helpful, and informative has the student in question been in your own attempts to understand our subject. Below the student's name and the letter grade assigned type as thorough and thoughtful an analysis as possible of the basis for your evaluation, emphasizing strengths, weaknesses and suggestions for improvements. Included in the evaluation is your judgment of the student's performance in the student presentations scheduled for the last weeks of class. The evaluation will represent ten percent of the final grade.

      3) A twelve page (maximum) research paper dealing with any U.S. foreign policy decision dealing with the Third World. In the paper you must apply at least two different analytic models to the problem you discuss. You must consult with me early and often on your choice of topics for the research paper and keep me up to date on your progress. You should be working on the paper from now until it is due on March 11. This paper will constitute thirty percent of your grade.

      4) A twelve page (maximum) research paper comparing U.S. policy toward two countries, neither of which can be the same as the country discussed in the first paper. The focus of the paper should be a particular aspect of U.S. policy such as trade policy, military intervention, economic sanctions, development aid, and so forth. The paper is due May 6 and will constitute thirty percent of your final grade.

      5) During the last few weeks of class, the Tuesday sessions will be devoted to student presentations. Each student will present a critique of U.S. policy in a region of the Third World. The presentations should not be a recapitualtion of individual papers on particular countries, but should contribute to the classmembers' understanding of the region as a whole. In short, this should not be a series of presentations based on individual countries, but a regional analysis of U.S. policy.

      6)In lieu of a final exam, you will each write a critical review integrating the material from assigned readings into an overall assessment of of U.S. foreign policy. The critical review will constitute twenty percent of your final grade and is due during the scheduled final exam May 12.


Self evaluation: 10 percent
Peer evaluation 10 percent
First research paper: 30 percent
Second research paper: 30 percent
Critical review: 20 percent


Allison, G. Essence of Decision
Domhoff, G.W. The Power Elite and the State
Janis, I. Groupthink
LaFeber, W. Inevitable Revolution
Scott, J. Deciding to Intervene: Regan and American Foreign Policy

      All the above are also available in the library if you want to avoid the cost of purchasing personal copies.

Useful Internet Links

CIA and the Vietnam Policy Makers: Three Episodes 1962-68
C-Span on Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuba Project
Foreign Affairs Online
Foreign Relations of the United States (State Department site with documentary history)
Human and Constitutional Rights Resource Page at Columbia University
Portals on the World (LOC links)
Project on Defense Alternatives
Researching Treaties and International Agreements
U.S. Diplomatic History Resources
World Fact Book (CIA)


      All readings must be completed by the date on the syllabus. It should take you less than three hours of reading for each class session. All assignments not included in the required texts are on reserve at Honnold and Mead libraries.

Jan 19: Orientation

Jan 21: Sylvan and Chan, Foreign Policy Decision Making,
     "An Overview", pp.1-13.
Ikenberry, and Lake, "Introduction: Approaches to Explaining
     American Foreign Economic Policy", International Organization, 42,
     pp. 1-14.
Janis, I, Groupthink, pp. 1-13.

Jan 26: Domhoff, G.W., The Power Elite and the State, pp.1-28.
Allison, G., The Essence of Decision, pp. 1-38.

Jan 28: Sylvan, and Chan, Foreign Policy Decision Making, pp. 25-45, 53-77.

Feb 2: Janis, I, Groupthink, pp. 14-47, 132-158.

Feb 4: Allison, G., The Essence of Decision, pp. 39-117.

Feb 9: Allison, G., The Essence of Decision, pp. 117-200.

Feb 11: Allison, G., The Essence of Decision, pp. 200-277.

Feb 16: Domhoff, G.W., The Power Elite and the State, pp. 107-151.

Feb 18: Domhoff, G.W., The Power Elite and the State, pp. 153-186, 205-224.

Feb 23: Janis, I, Groupthink, pp. 48-96.

Feb 25: Janis, I, Groupthink, pp. 97-130, 159-172.

Mar 2: Janis, I, Groupthink, pp. 174-197, 242-276.

Mar 4: 't Hart, P., Groupthink In Government, pp. 181-192, 195-206, 209-269.

Mar 9: LaFeber, W., Inevitable Revolution, pp. 5-85.

Mar 11: LaFeber, W., Inevitable Revolution, pp. 87-145.

Mar 23: LaFeber, W., Inevitable Revolution, pp. 147-196.

Mar 25: LaFeber, W., Inevitable Revolution, pp.197-270.

Mar 30: LaFeber, W., Inevitable Revolution, pp. 271-323.

Apr 1: LaFeber, W., Inevitable Revolution, pp. 325-368

Apr 6: Scott, J., Deciding to Intervene, pp. 1-39

Apr 8: Scott, J., Deciding to Intervene, pp. 40-81

Apr 13: Scott, J., Deciding to Intervene, pp. 82-111

Apr 15: Scott, J., Deciding to Intervene, pp. 112-151

Apr 20: Scott, J., Deciding to Intervene, pp. 152-192.

Apr 22: Scott, J., Deciding to Intervene, pp. 193-253.

Apr 27: Holiday, D., "Guatemala's Long Road to Peace", Current History,
   February 1997, pp. 68-74.
Otzoy, A., "The Struggle for Maya Unity", NACLA,
     Vol. XXIX, No. 5., pp. 33-35.
Jonas, S., "The Peace Accords: An End and a Beginning", NACLA,
      Vol. XXX, No. 6, pp. 6-10.

Apr 29: Smith, S.K., "Renovation and Orthodoxy", Latin American Perspectives,
     Volume 24, No. 2, pp. 102-116.
Babb, F.E., "After the Revolution: Neoliberal Policy and Gender in Nicaragua",
     Latin American Perspectives, Volume 23, No. 1, pp. 27-48.

May 4: Fernández Poncela, A.M., "The Disruptions of Adjustment: Women
     in Nicaragua", Latin American Perspectives, Volume 23, No. 1,
     pp. 49-66.
Canin, E., "Work, a Roof, and Bread for the Poor",
     Latin American Perspectives, Volume 24, No.2, pp. 80-101.
McCoy, J.L. and McConnell, S., "Nicaragua: Beyond the Revolution",
     Current Hisotry, February 1997, pp. 75-80.

May 6: Binford, L., "Grassroots Development in Conflict Zones of
     Northeastern El Salvador", Latin American Perspectives, Volume 24,
     No. 2, pp. 56-79.
Montgomery, T.S., "Constructing Democracy in El Salvador",
     Current History, February 1997, pp. 61-67.
Ruhl, J.M., "Doubting Democracy in Honduras", Current History,
     February 1997, pp. 81-86.