Loading...

POLSC311: United States Foreign Policy

Unit 1: Mechanics of Foreign Policy Formation in the United States   *In this unit, you will learn about the formal and informal institutions that influence the foreign policymaking process in the United States. Following a general overview of U.S. foreign policymaking, you will learn about the constitutional roots of foreign policymaking in the United States. While this discussion will overlap with more general courses on American politics, it is important to understand how the design of American government specifically influences foreign policy and the process by which foreign policy is crafted and implemented.

After you understand how the design of American government influences foreign policy, you will then delve more deeply into information about the specific actors responsible for crafting and implementing foreign policy for the United States, and how their roles differ. These actors include constitutionally designated branches of government, such as the president and Congress, but also the institutions that have developed around them over time that make up the foreign policymaking bureaucracy, such as the National Security Council and elements of the military industrial complex. Finally, actors outside the government also play an important role in influencing the decisions of foreign policymakers. This unit will conclude by addressing additional domestic sources of foreign policy such as the media, public opinion, and interest groups. *

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 27.25 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 2.25 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 2.25 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 13 hours

          ☐    Subunit 1.3.1: 4.5 hours

          ☐    Subunit 1.3.2: 6 hours

          ☐    Subunit 1.3.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.4: 9.75 hours

          ☐    Subunit 1.4.1: 3 hours

          ☐    Subunit 1.4.2: 6.75 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- list and describe the branches of the U.S. government that have a role in crafting and implementing foreign policy in the United States, as well as the institutions and actors outside the government that influence the decisions of foreign policymakers; - compare and contrast how these different branches of government have power to influence U.S. foreign policy; and - explain how the structure of the foreign policymaking apparatus of the United States can influence the outcomes of foreign policy decision-making in the United States. 

1.1 Overview of Foreign Policymaking in the United States   - Lecture: YouTube: Columbia University: Professor Stephen Sestanovich’s “American Foreign Policy in Historical Perspective” Link: YouTube: Columbia University: Professor Stephen Sestanovich’s “American Foreign Policy in Historical Perspective” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this lecture.  

 In this lecture, Professor Sestanovich provides a useful overview
of the conduct and study of U.S. foreign policy, including a
discussion of why it is important to study the conduct of the United
States in the world as well as the historical context needed to
understand and assess contemporary U.S. foreign policy.  

 Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above. 
  • Reading: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s Lecture Notes for American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future: “Lecture 1: Introduction” Link: MIT OpenCourseWare: Professor Stephen Van Evera’s Lecture Notes for American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future: “Lecture 1: Introduction” (PDF)

    Instructions: Click on the PDF link for session 1, labeled “American Foreign Policy: Introduction.”

    This reading is brief and largely in outline form, and you may of course disregard the information that is specific to Professor Van Evera’s class, such as the sections on class requirements, methods of evaluation, etc. Read the information on the study of political science, historical information about U.S. foreign policy, and the distribution of power in the international system. This reading will serve as a helpful written complement to Professor Sestanovich’s lecture above.

    Reading these notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 The Constitution and U.S. Foreign Policy   1.2.1 The Presidency   - Reading: American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 17, Section 1: The Executive Branch Makes Foreign and Military Policies” Link: American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 17, Section 1: The Executive Branch Makes Foreign and Military Policies” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read Section 17.1 and attempt the exercises at the
end of the reading. This chapter will give you a more thorough
understanding of the structure of the executive branch and the
processes by which it carries out the foreign policy agenda of the
United States.  

 Reading this section and attempting these exercises should take
approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under
a [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.
  • Reading: U.S. Department of State: Diplomacy in Action: Richard F. Grimmet’s “Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress” Link: U.S. Department of State: Diplomacy in Action: Richard F. Grimmet’s “Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this report. This reading provides a concrete overview of how the structure of U.S. foreign policymaking institutions influences the way U.S. foreign policy is formulated and carried out. These processes are strongly influenced by who is able to participate in them. In the United States, the Constitution affords the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, significant foreign policy-making powers as well as control over a vast foreign policy-making bureaucracy in the executive branch. The chief executive has much more autonomy and authority to shape and carry out foreign as opposed to domestic policy. However, Congress also has important powers, especially in its budgetary and investigative authority. This reading also covers the topic outlined in subunit 1.2.2.

    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.2 Congress   - Reading: American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 17, Section 2: Influence from Congress and Outside Government” Link: American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 17, Section 2: Influence from Congress and Outside Government” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read this section and attempt the exercises at the
end of the reading. This section gives a more detailed account of
the role of Congress in making foreign policy as well as groups
outside the government, such as think tanks, interest groups, and
public opinion. This topic is also covered by the U.S. State
Department reading in subunit 1.2.1.  

 Reading this section and attempting these exercises should take
approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under
a [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

1.3 The Foreign Policymaking Bureaucracy   1.3.1 The National Security Council   - Reading: Congressional Research Service: Richard A. Best, Jr.’s “The National Security Council: An Organizational Assessment” Link: Congressional Research Service: Richard A. Best, Jr.’s “The National Security Council: An Organizational Assessment” (PDF)

 Instructions: The link above will take you to a listing
congressional research reports on general national security topics.
The reports are organized chronologically. Scroll down to December
28, 2011 or use the search feature in your browser (find “the
national security council”). Click on the link to download the PDF
and read the report. This report provides an overview of the NSC,
including why and how the NSC was established and how it has evolved
through each presidential administration, from Truman to Obama.
Carefully read the last major section, “Overview of Current NSC
Functions.”  

 Reading this report should take approximately 3 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: iTunes U: Wellesley College's Albright Institute for Global Affairs: “The National Security Council: Decisions on National Security” Link: iTunes U: Wellesley College’s Albright Institute for Global Affairs: “The National Security Council: Decisions on National Security” (iTunes)

    Instructions: As you have seen in previous readings, the foreign policy-making apparatus of the executive branch is large and complex. This lecture is intended to give you a more comprehensive look at one important element of this, the National Security Council, which advises the President on foreign policy decisions. Clicking on the link above will take you to a website with all of the lectures provided by the Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College. Listen to the lecture “The National Security Council: Decisions on National Security.”

    Listening to this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.2 Contemporary Example of the Role of the National Security Bureaucracy and Its Role in U.S. Foreign Policy: The 9/11 Commission Report   - Reading: The 9/11 Commission Report: “Chapters 3, 6, and 13” Link: The 9/11 Commission Report: “Chapters 3, 6, and 13” (PDF or HTML)

 Instructions: The link above will take you to an index page of the
entire *9/11 Commission Report*. You may click on the PDF link to
download the full report, or you may click on the links for each
individual chapter. Read Chapters 3, 6, and 13.  

 In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011,
policymakers in the United States sought to understand how these
attacks could have been carried out without the knowledge the
nation’s vast intelligence and law enforcement apparatus. The 9/11
Commission studied the attack and considered how the government
might be restructured to better share intelligence and to prevent
similar attacks from happening in the future. Thus, the report
provides an important contemporary example of the relationship
between the structure of the U.S. foreign policymaking bureaucracy
and the ability of the U.S. to achieve its foreign policy goals and
protect its citizens. As you read, do not be overly concerned with
details. The primary goal is get a sense of how foreign policymaking
and foreign policy responses, especially to non-traditional threats,
are part of a larger process and not just controlled by the
President and Congress.  

 Reading these chapters should take approximately 6 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.3 The “Military-Industrial Complex”   - Web Media: YouTube: “President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address” Link: YouTube: “President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch President Eisenhower’s farewell address.  

 In this address, President Eisenhower warned the nation about the
dangers of what he termed the “military-industrial complex,” which
was the web of interlocking relationships between Congress, the
military establishment, and defense contractors that he contended
exerted a strong influence on U.S. military policy and pushed for
consistent increases in military spending. The sentiment was
noteworthy, given Eisenhower’s background as a General in the U.S.
Army and as Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War.  

 Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: YouTube: University of California, Berkeley: Conversations with History: Andrew Bacevich’s “The Military and U.S. Foreign Policy” Link: YouTube: University of California, Berkeley: Conversations with History: Andrew Bacevich’s “The Military and U.S. Foreign Policy” (YouTube)

    Also available in:

    iTunes

    Instructions: Watch this lecture which is intended to complement President Eisenhower’s farewell address by providing a more detailed discussion of the role of the U.S. military establishment in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Professor Bacevich is a scholar of U.S. military history and foreign policy and a veteran of the Vietnam War.

    Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Atlantic: Andrew J. Bacevich’s “The Tyranny of Defense Inc.” Link: The Atlantic: Andrew J. Bacevich’s “The Tyranny of Defense Inc.” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article which covers the material in Bacevich’s lecture in a more condensed manner.

    Reading this article should take approximately 45 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.4 Domestic Sources of U.S. Foreign Policy   1.4.1 Mass Media, Public Opinion, and Popular Culture   - Reading: American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 17, Section 5: Foreign and National Security Policies in the Information Age” Link: American Government and Politics in the Information Age: “Chapter 17, Section 5: Foreign and National Security Policies in the Information Age” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read this section and attempt the exercises at the
end of the reading. This reading discusses the relationship between
foreign policymakers, the media, and the public. This section draws
on examples from the Obama administration, such as the intervention
in Libya and the scandal involving Wikileaks’ release of sensitive
classified information.  

 Reading this section and attempting these exercises should take
approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under
a [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/) without
attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.
  • Reading: University of Leeds’ Institute of Communications Studies: E.S. Herman’s “The Media's Role in U.S. Foreign Policy” Link: University of Leeds’ Institute of Communications Studies: E.S. Herman’s “The Media's Role in U.S. Foreign Policy” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article which provides an overview of the major roles that the media plays in foreign policy, the “watchdog” and the “adversary.” Although the article is dated, it provides a useful framework for thinking about the role of the media today. Has that role changed much over time? Think about how the argument in the article could be applied to recent foreign policy media coverage.

    Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.4.2 Interest Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy   - Reading: Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government: Faculty Research Working Paper Series: John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s “The Israel Lobby” Link: Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government: Faculty Research Working Paper Series: John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s “The Israel Lobby” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read this article.    

 This article provides a discussion about the role of interest
groups and how they influence U.S. foreign policy through a detailed
account of the Israel lobby. The authors also wrote a book about the
influence of the pro-Israel Lobby on U.S. foreign policy and the
detrimental effects of this influence on the decisions of U.S.
policymakers. The article was met with a great deal of controversy,
but has prompted a discussion among scholars and policymakers about
the Israel lobby specifically and the role of interest groups in
U.S. foreign policy generally. Keep in mind that while the authors
are discussing a specific interest group focused on a particular
foreign policy relationship, the principles they discuss can be
applied across a variety of other relationships. Can you think of
other outside interest groups – whether representing a foreign or
domestic entity – that exercise the same or similar influence?  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 5
hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: iTunes U: University of Chicago’s Center for International Studies: The World Beyond the Headlines: “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” Link: iTunes U: University of Chicago’s Center for International Studies: The World Beyond the Headlines: “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (iTunes)

    Instructions: To access the podcast choose the lecture titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” on the iTunes page.

    This lecture features a panel discussion about the Mearsheimer and Walt article above. This discussion outlines the responses and counterarguments to the article. To access the podcast, select the link above, and then choose the lecture titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” on the iTunes page.

    Listening to this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.