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POLSC311: United States Foreign Policy

Unit 4: Contemporary Issues in U.S. Foreign Policy   *While the previous unit provided an overview of foreign policy issues throughout American history that took you to the present, this unit will build on this historical context to delve into the issues on the agenda of contemporary decision-makers. In some cases, additional historical information is required to understand these issues in depth, but your focus will be on explicating the recent history and contemporary dynamics associated with these topics.

As you move from issue to issue, it is important to consider the specific nuances inherent in each topic that make choosing the best course of action difficult for policymakers. At the same time, be sure to step back and reflect upon how these specific issues complement and influence one another, inform more broad theories of international relations, and fit into more comprehensive historical narratives.  *

Unit 4 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 24.25 hours.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 2.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 3.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 5.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3.1: 3.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5: 7.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.1: 1.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.3: 2.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.4: 1.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.6: 3.75 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- identify contemporary issues on the agenda of U.S. foreign policymakers; - describe, identify, and design policy proposals to address these issues; and - apply theories of international relations and foreign policymaking to these issues as well as describe how these concrete issues can inform more abstract theories.

4.1 The U.S. and Energy Security   - Web Media: C-SPAN’s “Energy and U.S. Foreign Policy” Link: C-SPAN’s “Energy and U.S. Foreign Policy” (Flash)

 Instructions: Watch this panel discussion on energy security,
global oil demands, and the price of oil and natural gas sponsored
by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. Policy experts and
energy industry representatives on energy offer their perspectives
on U.S. oil dependency.  

 Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: National Energy Policy Institute: John Deutch’s “Oil and Gas Energy Security Issues” Link: National Energy Policy Institute: John Deutch’s “Oil and Gas Energy Security Issues” (PDF)

    Instructions: Click on the “Download Publication” link on the right-hand side of the page to view the article.

    This article provides a good overview of energy issues from a policy perspective; the author presents his own argument, in which he suggests that “the security problems created by oil and gas import dependence will not be eliminated by government action.” His advice to national leaders “is to prepare to manage difficult crises, and perhaps even conflict, in the years ahead. It is most likely that the United States and other countries will remain dependent on oil and gas imports for many decades and will need to balance the security disadvantages with the economic advantages of international trade.” As you consider the author’s overall argument, think about different theoretical approaches to the issue of energy security. Are energy issues best addressed through a realist approach, in which military and political power is used to “ensure” continued access to energy resources? Or, is an approach that focuses on the construction of international regimes, cooperation, and stronger trading relationship a better path (the liberal approach)? How is the energy issue framed, and how does this framing shape policy choices and approaches?

    Reading this article should take approximately 1 hour.

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

4.2 The U.S. and the Middle East   4.2.1 Overview of U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East   - Lecture: University of California, Santa Barbara: Michael Oren’s “Power, Faith, and Fantasy, America in the Middle East” Link: University of California, Santa Barbara: Michael Oren’s “Power, Faith, and Fantasy, America in the Middle East” (Flash)

 Instructions: This lecture is an account of U.S. foreign policy
towards the Middle East in historical perspective.  

 Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

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

4.2.2 The U.S. and Iran   - Reading: Foreign Policy Research Institute: Shaul Bakhash’s “The U.S. and Iran in Historical Perspective” Link: Foreign Policy Research Institute: Shaul Bakhash’s “The U.S. and Iran in Historical Perspective” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this text.    

 This article is an overview of U.S.-Iran relations. Pay particular
attention to the section “Mossadegh and Oil Nationalization Crisis.”
This is a very important period of US-Iran relations, and provides
critical context to the current relationship between the two
countries.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: University of California, Irvine OpenCourseWare: Erlich Reese’s “Obama, Nukes, and the Democratic Movement in Iran” Link: University of California, Irvine OpenCourseWare: Erlich Reese’s “Obama, Nukes, and the Democratic Movement in Iran” (Flash)

    Instructions: This lecture addresses an important contemporary issue for U.S. foreign policymakers: Iran’s efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon. Reese begins with a general overview, covering some of the topics discussed in the first reading, including the United States’ decision to overthrow Iran’s first democratically-elected government. Reese also provides a somewhat critical view of U.S. foreign policy, and raises the question: is a nuclear Iran really a threat to the U.S. and its allies, including Israel? Is Iran an existential threat? How does Reese answer this question, and what are the theoretical implications of his answer?

    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.

4.3 U.S. Relations with China and Russia   4.3.1 The U.S. and the Rise of China   - Lecture: YouTube: University of California Television’s Conversations with History: “China and the United States with James Fallows” Link: YouTube: University of California Television’s Conversations with History: “China and the United States with James Fallows” (YouTube)

 Also available in:  

[iTunes](http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/conversations-history-audio/id382087410)  

 Instructions: Watch this discussion which focuses primarily on
developments within China over the past few decades.    

 This video also touches on foreign policy issues between the United
States and China. These issues are of utmost importance to U.S.
foreign policymakers, given that rivalry between the U.S. and China
will shape the international system for the foreseeable future. As
you watch this video, think carefully about the implications of
China’s economic development, its growing prominence in the global
economy as both a major source of and destination trade and
investment, and its increasingly strong economic links with the
United States in particular. Do these economic factors matter?
Should U.S. foreign policy attempt to strengthen economic links with
China and encourage Chinese industrial growth? Or, should the U.S.
be wary of China’s growing economic might?  

 Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take about 1
hour and 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Aaron Friedberg’s “The Future of US China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” Link: Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Aaron Friedberg’s “The Future of US China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” (PDF)

    Instructions: Read this article.  

    This is a theoretically-oriented discussion on the state and future of U.S.-China relations. Friedberg examines “liberal optimists,” who focus on economic interdependence, international institutions, and democratization; “realist pessimists,” who stress a shifting balance of power and the expansionists aims of China; “realist optimists,” who see strict limits to Chinese power and ambitions; and “liberal pessimists,” who focus on the effects of authoritarianism in China and the crusading nature of U.S. foreign policy. He also provides a similar binary discussion of “constructivist optimists” and “constructivist pessimists.” How does the author resolve the differences among all these perspectives? Or, does he resolve them? This article gives you a wonderful opportunity to build your own “theoretical muscles.” The article may be a bit challenging, so give yourself time to reflect on the material.

    Reading this material should take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

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

4.3.2 The U.S. and the Rise of Russia   - Lecture: iTunes U: Yale University’s International Politics: “The U.S. and Russia: Looking for a Re-set Button” Link: iTunes U: Yale University’s International Politics: “The U.S. and Russia: Looking for a Re-set Button” (iTunes)

 Instructions: As you go through this lecture, be sure to consider
the important role of energy issues. Click on the lecture titled
“The U.S. and Russia: Looking for a Re-set Button” and select “View
in iTunes.”  

 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.

4.4 The U.S. and Europe   - Reading: Council on Foreign Relations: Christopher Alessi’s “Backgrounder: The Eurozone in Crisis” Link: Council on Foreign Relations: Christopher Alessi’s “Backgrounder: The Eurozone in Crisis” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this webpage.    

 This reading on the Eurozone and the current economic crisis does
not focus on U.S. foreign policy per se, but it raises important
questions about what the United States’ role in the crisis should
be, if any. As you read about the issue, consider how the issue
would be interpreted from a realist, liberal, and constructivist
perspective. What are the “dangers”? What are the solutions? How
should the crisis be framed or understood? The article itself is
brief, but you should spend time thinking about how to apply the
various theoretical principles to evaluating the Eurozone crisis
from the standpoint of US foreign policy.  

 Reading this material should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: American University’s American Consortium on European Union Studies: ACES Working Paper Series: Thomas Banchoff’s “Value Conflict and US-EU Relations: The Case of Unilateralism” Link: American University’s American Consortium on European Union Studies: ACES Working Paper Series: Thomas Banchoff’s “Value Conflict and US-EU Relations: The Case of Unilateralism” (PDF)

    Instructions: Click on the third link titled “Value Conflict and US-EU Relations: The Case of Unilateralism” to download the PDF.

    There are several topics we could focus on in a discussion of U.S.-European relations, and one underlying foreign policy issue is the conflict values between the United States and the European Union. This paper was written during the Bush administration, when the value conflict was particularly salient. How are U.S.-EU relations different or similar under the Obama administration, in which there is supposedly a better alignment of values? Do values really matter? If so, what are the theoretical implications of saying so? Think about these questions as you complete the reading.

    Reading this working paper should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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

  • Web Media: NPR’s “Europe’s Debt Crisis Casts a Cloud Over U.S. Economy” Link: NPR’s “Europe’s Debt Crisis Casts a Cloud Over U.S. Economy” (MP3 or HTML)

    Instructions: Click play to listen to the audio story, and then read the article below the audio.

    Listening to this clip and reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

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

4.5 The U.S. and Asia   4.5.1 North Korea   - Lecture: YouTube: Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Schieffer Series Dialogues: “North Korea: The Road Ahead” Link: YouTube: Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Schieffer Series Dialogues: “North Korea: The Road Ahead” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this entire lecture, which addresses foreign
policy issues concerning North Korea. As you go through this
lecture, consider the previous material on nuclear proliferation.  

 Watching this lecture and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

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

4.5.2 Pakistan   - Lecture: YouTube: Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “A Perilous Course? The Future of the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership” Link: YouTube: Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “A Perilous Course? The Future of the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this entire lecture, which addresses the
complicated issues foreign policymakers confront regarding
Pakistan.  

 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.

4.5.3 Afghanistan   - Lecture: YouTube: University of California Television’s Conversations with History: “Afghanistan and Pakistan” Link: YouTube: University of California Television’s Conversations with History: “Afghanistan and Pakistan” (YouTube)

 Also available in:  

[iTunes](http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/conversations-history-audio/id382087410)  

 Instructions: Watch this video. This lecture addresses the issues
that U.S. foreign policymakers face regarding Afghanistan and
Pakistan in context with one another.  

 Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: iTunes U: Carnegie Council on International Affairs’ Afghanistan and Pakistan Videos: “The Ethics of Exit from Afghanistan” Link: iTunes U: Carnegie Council on International Affairs’ Afghanistan and Pakistan Videos: “The Ethics of Exit from Afghanistan” (iTunes)

    Instructions: This lecture addresses the issues foreign policymakers confront in considering how to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Scroll down to the lecture titled “The Ethics of Exit from Afghanistan” and select “View in iTunes.”

    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.

4.5.4 India   - Lecture: iTunes U: University of Chicago’s The Center for International Studies: The World Beyond the Headlines: “India: The Emerging Giant” Link: iTunes U: University of Chicago’s The Center for International Studies: The World Beyond the Headlines: “India: The Emerging Giant” (iTunes)

 Instructions: This lecture addresses the issues U.S. foreign
policymakers confront regarding the rise of India. Scroll down and
click on the link for the lecture titled “India: The Emerging
Giant,” and then select “View in iTunes.”  

 Listening to this lecture and pausing to take notes should take
approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

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

4.6 Nuclear Proliferation   - Lecture: iTunes U: MIT World’s International Affairs: “Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons” Link: iTunes U: MIT World’s International Affairs: “Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons” (iTunes)

 Instructions: This lecture provides a historical perspective and
projections for the future of nuclear proliferation. Scroll down to
and click on the lecture titled “Bomb Scare: The History and Future
of Nuclear Weapons” and select “View in iTunes.”  

 Watching this video 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.
  • Reading: Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation: Scott Sagan’s “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? Three Models in Search of a Bomb” Link: Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation: Scott Sagan’s “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons?  Three Models in Search of a Bomb” (PDF)

    Instructions: Read this article. Written by one of the field’s leading scholars, this article provides a theoretically-oriented discussion on the question of nuclear proliferation. The article, we should note, is not specifically about U.S. foreign policy, but the underlying argument is nonetheless quite relevant. That is, understanding why “states build nuclear weapons” is absolutely crucial to developing a sound foreign policy on nuclear proliferation/non-proliferation. As you read the article, keep in mind what a sound policy would be under the different models. Also, consider which model makes the most sense, and which model, if any, the author subscribes to.

    Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.

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