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History of American Foreign Policy

IWP 635
Four credits

This course will examine the evolution of American foreign policy from the founding of the republic in 1776 to the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. Rather than just an historical narrative of U.S. conduct in the world over the last 250 years, from beginning to end, this course is intended to introduce students to the themes of policy, both internal and external, which led to the rise and growth of America in world affairs. Students will be encouraged to study the background conditions that produced both “isolationist” and “interventionist” foreign policies and to make assessments on the ways in which U.S. power has been used since independence. Particular attention will be paid to the themes explored in two seminal books on American foreign policy by Walter A. McDougall and Walter Russell Mead: Promised Land, Crusader State and Special Providence, respectively.

Finally, students will devote some of their time to thinking about the use and study of history in the education of strategic decision-makers. Particular attention will be paid to the pedagogical approach to understanding Clausewitz’s On War outlined by Jon T. Sumida in his Decoding Clausewitz. Students will conduct an historical reenactment of a particular case study from the history of American foreign policy in accordance with their particular area of interest.