POLI/INTL 363: US Foreign Policy

Research Paper


This is big and has very important information in it.  For that reason, I’ve created a Table of Contents (linked to sections below) for you to use to find information you’re looking for.  You should read this entire assignment, however.  I guarantee you will wind up with a better grade if you do.


The Assignment


Optional Rough Drafts


Citations and Bibliography

Citing Specific Information

Page Numbers

Numbering Endnotes or Footnotes

Introductory Paragraph



Nitpicks and Style Issue (or Helpful hints)

Late Papers

Sample Topics

The Assignment

Pick a specific US foreign policy decision. Choose a one president and some foreign policy decision he made during his term.  At the end of this document are a list of possible decisions.  These are just examples of what you can do; you can choose something else. Pick any decision you like.  There are two exceptions.  Please do not choose the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  Too many of the case studies used to illustrate the models of presidential decision making already examine the missile crisis. Also, please do not choose any Obama administration foreign policy decisions.  There simply isn’t enough information out there yet for you to get the depth of information you need for this assignment.  I will be approving the topic, so I’ll make sure you have a topic that is appropriate. Remember this is one decision made by one president. It should be a narrowly defined decision. What I mean is this: the Johnson administration's decision making on Viet Nam is not a suitable topic. That is a book, not a term paper. Hypothetically, if you were interested in that topic then you could narrow it down: Johnson's decision making during the Gulf of Tonkin Crisis of 1964 or Johnson's decision making to escalate the war from February 1965 to July 1965 or Johnson's decision to de-escalate the war in the winter of 1968.

Presidential decision making is a key focus of this course. Many scholars hypothesize that presidents attempt to bring order to decision making. Without some order, the decision making process can be chaotic. The hypothesis that a president attempts to structure, control, or manage the decision making process is often called the Presidential Management Model (PMM). Richard T. Johnson developed the PMM ideas and Alexander George has used them to analyze most post-WW II presidents. You’ll be reading some of their work to get a good understanding of the PMM idea (see the links below).  PMM outlines three management styles presidents have used to gain control of their administration's foreign policy decision making process: (1) Competitive style, (2) Formalistic style, and (3) Collegial style. In the first week of class we will discuss foreign policy decision making and the PMM model in detail though we will not go into the three different styles with any depth. That is part of your job as you research and write your paper. Look at the three management styles of the PMM, and examine the decision you have chosen. Which theoretical management style best describes the decision process during the specific case you have chosen?  In other words, is the decision making style competitive, collegial, or formalistic? Also (and this is important), presidents don’t use “models” to make decisions; scholars use models to explain how presidents make decisions. Remember that as you write the paper. Don’t write a sentence that says: “Nixon used a formalistic model to make his decisions on China.” Say this: “The formalistic model explains how Nixon made his decisions on China.”

The following readings are the ones that detail the presidential management model.  You must read at least one of these, but I would recommend both.  Johnson gives the basic outline of the theory and George and George expand on it and give an overview of how these ideas apply to post-war presidencies up to Clinton (super useful in giving you a look at how presidents make decisions). Without reading these and understanding them you cannot do the paper.  The links below will take you to pdf files of the readings.

1.      Richard T. Johnson, Managing the White House, New York, Harper and Row, 1974, pp. 1-8, and 230-240; (JK518 .J63 1974) 

2.      Alexander George and Juliette George, Presidential Personality and Performance, Westview Press, Boulder, CO., 1998 (JK 511 .G46 1998): Chapter 6, "Presidential Management Styles and Models," pp. 199-280 (pp. 263-280 are footnotes; this has a section on every president from FDR to Clinton so you can get some ideas on each president’s decision style from this chapter. These footnotes will also help you get started with sources.)


A brief, but important note follows.  I will use an example from the Bush administration to make the point.

·         This is not an examination of whether the decision was a good one or not in your view, so do not write a paper on whether the US should have invaded Iraq or should not have invaded Iraq in 2003

·         This is not an analysis of why the decision was made, so don’t write a paper explaining why the Iraqi threat was so great that the US had to intervene or why the Iraqi threat was not very large and the Bush administration intervened to gain control of Middle Eastern oil and to prepare for an invasion of Iran.

What I’m looking for is an analysis of how the decision was actually made, so please do write a paper that would tell me:

·         Who did the president use for advice?

·         What committees were used or created to make the decisions?

·         Who seemed to be the more important members of the decision group and why?

·         Who were the less important members of the decision group and why?

·         Did the president desire debate among his advisers or did he try to prevent it?

·         Were alternative ideas encouraged or discouraged?

·         What were the key arguments and which advisers led the argument?

·         How were the arguments settled and by whom?

·         How did the president ultimately decide to make a decision?

Don’t structure your paper as an answer to these questions, however.  See below on a suggested structure.  This is how an academic paper on the subject would look.


The goal is to look at the historical record -- how the senior decision makers actually made their decision -- and then compare that to the three management styles of the PMM model. In your opinion, which management style more accurately describes the decision making process? What you are really doing is examining a decision, deciding which management style describes the decision process, then using your research on the decision making process to prove your point. You also need to prove why the other management styles are less accurate in explaining the decision process as you see it.  You may decide that a decision has attributes of more than one management style. Excellent. You just need to illustrate that in your paper. You may also decide that the president lost complete control of the decision making process. A president may have attempted to manage the decision making process but failed to do so, or a president may have never attempted to manage the process. In effect, there was no management style, only chaos, the type of free-for-all that happens sometimes and leads to a breakdown in the process.  But then again, is this really no management style or is it a deliberate attempt by the president to have a wide open, freewheeling decision process. Maybe the president likes anarchy.

So in essence, this adds a fourth, fifth, and sixth choice, if you want:

That is excellent as well. Again, you just need to illustrate that in your paper. That's the key: using details from the actual decision making process to support your analysis and conclusions about that process.  There is no right or wrong answer.  The question is how well you make your case -- analysis backed up by evidence drawn from your research.


How is this done? You can do it in a number of ways.

A. Pick the management style you think is the most accurate. Explain how this model best illustrates the decision making process, then briefly (about two pages) tell why the other two styles are not accurate descriptions of the decision making process.

B. Show why several of the management styles (or lack of management) are relevant, and why you think that several of the styles are evident in the decision making process. Of course, address why the leftover (if any) management style is not relevant.


Ultimately, these are the questions you will answer.  Note that this is an exact repeat of the paragraph above.  It is important:

o   Who did the president use for advice?

o   What committees were used or created to make the decisions?

o   Who seemed to be the more important members of the decision group and why?

o   Who were the less important members of the decision group and why?

o   Did the president desire debate among his advisers or did he try to prevent it?

o   Were alternative ideas encouraged or discouraged?

o   What were the key arguments and which advisers led the argument?

o   How were the arguments settled and by whom?

o   How did the president ultimately decide to make a decision?


In essence, you are trying to look at how presidents organized (or failed to organize) the advice given by decision makers and the method presidents used in choosing a policy. Be specific. Don't give me only generalities. You must illustrate your point with the historical record. When were decisions made? What were the key meetings? Who was there? Who was not there and why? I’m looking for names and dates.

A sample structure:

·         Intro Paragraph (See below on what a good intro will have)

·         2-4 paragraphs that illustrate the three models to show me that you know them.  You’ll need citations to the works of Johnson and George here.

·         The narrative of the decision making process.  Tell me the story of the decision chronologically.  Who was involved? The committees? The factional battles between advisers and coalitions of advisers? Who did the president listen to? How did they decide?  In that story you’ll answer the questions in italics in the paragraphs above this one.

·         Conclusion



Optional Rough Drafts

            Up until the rough draft deadline indicated on the syllabus I will look at anything you’d like me to look at regarding the paper.  Anything from outlines, bibliographic sources, or even completed drafts can be turned in for comment up until that date.  I will go over what you have, mark it up, and if you like give you a hypothetical grade.  You can then make revisions based on my comments.



            Ask me!  If you have a question on where to find sources or if you need a specific source and you can’t find it, ask me.  This is what I do for a living.  I have everything!

Library: Use the Library: Really!!!!  Here’s what I mean: Library

Memoirs: You are studying decision making. Presidents and almost all their key advisers write memoirs of their time in office.  These are books that the library has and that I also have.  These will be your best sources for information on decision making. If you don’t use memoirs, you are making it very hard on yourself. You are searching and searching for information that is sitting in someone’s memoirs, bur refusing to read the memoir.  You’re wasting your time.  I have placed a number of the key memoirs on reserve at Cabell Library room 301. For the list of memoirs, follow this link: Memoirs.

Journalist Accounts: In addition, journalists write detailed day by day accounts of the decision processes of presidential administrations.  These often focus specifically on key decisions or are 400 page books that jump from decision to decision and focus on the interplay between the advisers, exactly what you’re looking for. These are not on the web.

Biographies: There are phenomenal biographies of presidents and secretaries of state. They detail decision making and will provide you with excellent sources.  The library should have them or I have them. They are not on the web.

Scholarly Accounts: Scholars also write detailed hour by hour accounts of decisions on foreign policy, based on interviews and archival research. These will also be excellent sources.  For these, look at www.scholar.google.com.  It is the best way to find the scholarly articles.  Key journal are Presidential Studies Quarterly, Foreign Policy Analysis, and Diplomatic History. One way to use google.scholar is to use key words for the president, the issue, and then the name of one of the journals listed below.  After doing that, then a search under the president and the issue might get you some other sources, but they are likely not as good.  So, for example, search under “Clinton, Bosnia, Washington Quarterly” and you get a boatload of articles from the Washington Quarterly and other journals as well.  A full list of journals and some hints on how to use them are at the end of this document.

Citation Tracing: Don’t forget one of the best ways to find good sources. Say you found a great article on exactly the issue you’re researching.  That article will have footnotes, endnotes, parenthetical references, and a bibliography.  Find those articles and books.  Use them.  They are almost guaranteed to be useful because the author of the great article you just read must have found them useful.

Presidential Libraries and Other Archives: Presidential libraries and some archives do exist where you can search for original documents (minutes of meetings, memos between advisers and the presidents).  Eventually all of these will be digitized.  The JFK Presidential Library is leading in this category.  It announced in January 2011 that it was going to put everything it has on line.  This will take years, but it forces all the other libraries to keep up. So here are links to all the Presidential Libraries and info on what is available on the web.  There is also the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington DC. The Archive is compiling every document on foreign affairs that it can find and trying to get the US government to release more and more.  If you have questions about archives and the release of government documents, let me know.  Most of my research is based on wading through archival material.

The Web: You cannot do this type of research only on the web.  Do not expect to be able to sit in front of your computer and find the information you need to write this paper.  It is not on the web.  You must use books and articles. If you try to do your research this way, you’ll be wasting your time. You’ll search and search the web for information that is simply not there and you’ll come to me the week before the paper is due and say something like: “I can’t find any information on Nixon’s decisions on China.  I found tons of info on why it was a good policy or a bad policy and why Nixon did it, but mothing on how he did it.”  I might cry.  Nixon wrote a two-volume memoir (about 1,400 pages) and his National Security Adviser wrote three memoirs (each about 1,000 pages), and that’s just the starting place. There are more memoirs and scholarly accounts.  But they are not on the web.  Remember that the primacy purpose of the internet is advertising (even what passes for information is really advertising its information). The web tells you that everything you need is on the web. That is not true.  It is especially not true when it comes to decision making. 

A Warning about the Web: I don't think I need to tell you much about the web. In college I wrote papers on a manual typewriter and I took my SATs on stone tablets. But if you do have any questions about it let me know. An important note about internet sites: what is crucial about any webpage is that you and I know what the source of the information is. All information on the web is not equal. Before you trust any information on the web you must know who runs the websites. Who is the source of the information? The US Nazi Party has many websites. Their information is probably not a source you want to use for research on Israeli foreign policy, for example. Also for example, if you find a home page for a terrorist group, it will be useful for illustrating doctrine, but may not be the best source for objectivity on the success of the organization’s strategy or counterterrorist efforts against it. So you need to know who runs the site, and you need to tell me that in the citations (see below)

Citations and Bibliography

Read this. Pay attention to it; Or face everlasting doom! Failure to pay attention to this will likely result in a grade of D.

The following is not just because I want to annoy you or because I like to have things done my way.  The following is because this is a class where you will do social science research and the rules of social science research are different from the rules of English composition or journalism.  Learning how to write for different audiences and in different styles is part of the university experience.

You must use an established format for citations and your bibliography.  You need to learn how to reference information properly, and how to write a bibliography with the correct and complete information before you leave VCU. This is easy to do, but more important than you think. Whether you go into academia or business you will be judged on the quality of your information, and that means people will want to know where you found your information. They will judge you at first, before they read your text, on your bibliography and citations. If you do it wrong while at VCU, you’ll get a deduction from your grade.  If you do this in graduate school or government or the business world, you will be asked to go home and not come back (as in “you’re fired”).

It does not matter to me what format you use, as long as you use an established standard format for the social sciences. You can use footnotes or endnotes or parenthetical references, but you must learn to do it correctly.  Here are web resources that will teach you to do this:

·         You can use scholar.google.com another way.  If you found the book or article on this page, you’ll see that underneath the small paragraph on the source is a link for “cite”.  Click on that and it will you give several already formatted citations.  You can do that even if you didn’t originally find the source on scholar.google.com.  Just go to the page and search for it there, then click the “cite” link. The properly formatted citation can be copied and pasted directly into you bibliography. Remember, however, that these are bibliographic formats.  Footnotes and endnotes are slightly different and have different page number rules that are discussed below.  That is very important.

·         Easy Bib

·         Bibme

·         Purdue OWL (Online Writing Workshop)

·         Chicago Manual of Style Quick Guide

·         Endnotes (and footnote style). This is an article that I wrote which has endnotes that you can use as a template.  It also includes a bibliography that you can use as a template.  Endnote and footnote citation style are the same. The only difference is where you place them in the text.  Microsoft word allows you to choose endnotes or footnotes and to switch one to the other if you like.  Ask me if you have questions on how to do this.

·         Parenthetical References This is a link to an article I wrote which can be used as a template for citing using parenthetical references. Note in the citations that the author’s name and publication date is within the parentheses (and page numbers if available). You may have to sign in to get the article.


Since I have instructed you to pay attention to notation and bibliographic style, and have provided you with a specific place to look for the proper styles, I will take points off of your paper if you do not do this in the correct manner. This is simple. If you do not do it correctly it means one or both of the following: 1) you are not taking the assignment seriously or are too lazy to do the paper correctly; and/or 2) you are doing the paper at the last minute. Both of these are good reasons why you will not get the grade you are able to earn.


Warning! What not to do.  I realize that in many cases instructors in ENGL 200 are telling you to include reference material in the text of the paper. However, this is exactly the wrong way to reference in social science.  What I mean is the following. 


Citing Information

In doing research there are three basic types of things you must cite: quotes, specific information, and other people’s ideas.  Other people’s ideas are covered above under plagiarism.  See the section on quotes, but that shouldn’t be a big issue here.  This is a small paper and you should avoid quotes.  When I say specific information, what I refer to is any information which is not general knowledge.  For example, you would not need to use a citation if you state that Henry Kissinger was Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser in Nixon’s first term (general knowledge).  But you would have to cite the fact that Kissinger met with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on July 9, 1971 and any details of the meeting.

Page numbers

If you are referring to specific information that you found on a specific page in a source (if the source has page numbers, unlike some web sources), you must include the page number where you found the information.  Let’s say you found information in a book that is 450 pages long. Citing the book and not the page number is not very helpful for anyone who thought that the information was interesting and wanted to learn more about it.  You’re forcing that person to scan through 450 pages of text to find the info. Instead, cite the page number and then the reader can just turn to that page number.  This is the established method of citation. This is true even for parenthetical references.  If you are citing the main point of an article or book or something as background information, you don’t need the page number, but if it is specific material it does need a page number.


Numbering Endnotes or Footnotes

You may use endnotes. You may use footnotes, but then the paper must be a bit longer since some of the page will be taken up by footnotes. In the social sciences, footnotes and endnotes are numbered consecutively.  The first note is number 1; the second is number 2, etc.  Microsoft Word will do this for you.  You can use a source more than once in your paper.  There are specific citation formats for the first citation and for the second citation.  You can also put more than one source in a specific note.  See my article for examples for all of this: Endnotes/Footnotes.  A short reference follows:

·         Footnotes and endnotes are numbered consecutively (1, 2, 3, 4…) Please don’t use the natural sciences-style that merges the bibliography and citations.  This format lists the sources in a bibliography and numbers them, then cites information in the text by listing the number of the source used in the bibliography.  That format is for natural sciences and I have never seen it used in any Political Science journal.  Since this is Political Science, you should learn how Political Science works.


On Writing a Good Introductory Paragraph

This is the key to writing a good paper so I am providing detailed instruction on this. Political Science has a specific style of writing, especially when it comes to introductory paragraphs.  It mirrors the style of government memoranda.  In short, the introductory paragraph should summarize the paper and that includes giving the reader a summary of you conclusions.  If you don’t do this, even a great paper, becomes a grade of B. 

A good introductory paragraph should include the following:

In other words, the introduction should provide your reader with a "road map" that explains exactly what you will say during the paper. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Basically, what you need to do is write the outline you have for your paper in sentences in the first few paragraphs of the paper. Your opening paragraph (or couple of opening paragraphs) should also give the reader some reason to be interested in your topic and in your argument. Tell the reader why this subject is important. Here is an example of an opening paragraph: (I’ll use a topic that won’t overlap with anyone’s potential topic.)


The Barack Obama administration’s decision to invade increase the number of troops in Afghanistan in 2009 can best be described as a collegial decision making process, in which the president relied on all his advisors to give him options and evaluations of options.  However, the final decision was made by Obama himself after close consultation with National Security Adviser James Jones, the senior commanders in Afghanistan, and key all-purpose political advisers within the administration. , (There's the topic and conclusion).  During the deliberations in 2009 and 2010 all senior advisers participated in the decision making process.  Even Vice President Joe Biden, who disagreed with the general direction of the policy, was always allowed to air his views in the National Security Council.  While divisions did exist between the political aides and the Dept. of Defense, no views were left out of the debate (the specific argument and your evidence). This decision making process will be illustrated by a brief examination of the situation as Obama entered office, an analysis of the intra-administration debate between January and December of 2009, and an examination of the final meetings where the decision was made.  The narrative of the decision will be followed by an analysis of the decision process in the context of the presidential management models. (your road map).


So, this paragraph tells me what you think, summarizes why you think that is true, and explains how you will illustrate your point.


You can use lots of topic headings and subheadings to correspond to the points on your "road map" -- they'll help you organize your thoughts, and they'll help your reader clearly identify where he is on the "road map." The above paper might have five main sections:



As you make the points that support your argument, you'll probably be aware of the places in which your argument is controversial or in which a reasonable person might disagree with you. Preempt those controversies in your text. Point out what those opposing arguments might be, and why you think your point of view is more accurate or reasonable.



·         Try not to use quotes. I want your writing, not anyone else’s.  If there is a great quote from a direct participant in the event, a phrase, or word, that you think really adds to the paper then a quote may be appropriate here or there.  But if you have a paragraph-length quote in an eight page paper, that would be bad.

·         In a paper of this size, you should not quote general information that you found in a scholarly article and don’t quote the conclusions of other scholars.  Paraphrase the information or the idea in your own words and then cite the source. The exact words of another scholar don’t really matter, so simply use your own works and cite the source where you found it. Ask me about this if you have a question.

·         Do not give me a sentence in your paper that quotes that information directly from the source.  For example, don’t include a sentence that says: “The United States included 20,000 troops.”  It is basic factual information and does not need to be quoted, but it does need to be cited.  Even if it is an analyst’s opinion, it does not need to be quoted.  Just paraphrase it in your words and cite the source. 

·         Reserve quotes for direct participants: candidates and their staffers.  The exact words matter in these cases.  In general though, go easy on quotes. 

·         Too many quotes means that you’re just cutting and pasting, not writing.  A research paper is not a series of quotes rearranged the way you like.  It doesn’t teach you anything and your grade will suffer horribly, terribly, and painfully. 

·         So, for example, if noted terrorist scholar Reed Richards says in his book that “Al-Qaeda probably only consists of 10,000 people worldwide.”  Do not give me a sentence in your paper that reads: Reed Richards says that “Al-Qaeda probably only consists of 10,000 people worldwide.”  Give me something that says: “One scholar estimates that al-Qaeda only has 10,000 active members globally” or “Al-Qaeda only has 10,000 fighters worldwide.”  (Add the citation here which cites Richards’ book and the page number in it where the information is found).  Or if Ben Grimm concludes in his book that: “Al-Qaeda’s growth depends on economic reform in the Middle East.  Elimination of poverty is not the biggest problem. Rather it is the ability of the middle class to gain social and economic mobility.”  Don’t quote that, but say: “Economic reforms designed to allow the middle class to grow and prosper will be the key to battling al-Qaeda in the future” (Add the citation here which cites Grimm’s book and the page number in it where the information is found). 

·         In a larger paper, but not in this one, sometimes quotes are useful.  A good quote is this: According to Osama bin-Laden, “for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples” (Add the citation here which cites Bin-Laden’s fatwa and the page number in it where the information is found or the internet URL).  This is an excerpt from the 1998 fatwa of OBL.  Bin-Laden is a participant, a historical figure.  His exact words are important.

·         In any case: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever cut and paste anything from a source into your document unless you place it in quotes and cite the source of the quote.  And generally in a paper that is under a few dozen papers, there is never a need to quote anything that is not an official source.  Why quote anything unless the exact works are crucial.  So quoting a President or Foreign Minister or a witness to an event is useful, but quoting a scholar or journalist is not. 


Plagiarism and Avoiding It (Or “How to Use Other People’s Ideas Legitimately”)

First, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever cut and paste anything from a source into your document unless you place it in quotes and cite the source of the quote. And generally in a paper that is under a few dozen papers, there is never a need to quote anything that is not an official source.  Why quote anything unless the exact works are crucial.  So quoting a President or Foreign Minister or a witness to an event is useful, but quoting a scholar or journalist is not.  For the purposes of this paper, there is no reason to quote anyone. The paper is too short for quotes.

This is really not a fine line.  Did you write the sentence or not? Did you come up with the idea or not?  When in doubt, it’s relatively simple: never include something in your paper that you did not write unless it is quotes and then it also must be cited.  Anything that is not your idea must be cited. Plagiarism is a violation of the VCU Honor Code and I will not hesitate to charge someone with a violation if I catch plagiarism.  If you have questions about what is plagiarism, ask me or see VCU’s Writing Integrity Workshop. 

But just because someone else has already written an idea that you agree with 100% doesn't mean you can't discuss it in your paper. Just point out whose idea it is; paraphrase it in your own words, cite the source of the idea, and expand upon it. Generally, that is how Political Science works. 90% of all Political Science articles and books do the following (I give you another example that is not topically relevant to the class):


There are various explanations for the Clinton administration’s decision to grant China permanent most favored nation trading status. First, the Clinton administration is accused of hypocrisy, campaigning on a human rights platform only to abandon it once in power and satisfying the business community revealed itself as the real priority (Barton 1994, 1-34). Second, China experts argue that Clinton learned during his first year of office that sanctions on China would accomplish very little and only slow and steady engagement would ultimately improve China’s human rights situation over the long term (Rogers 1997, 17-29). A third argument focuses on the internal bargaining within the administration and the ability of President Clinton’s economic advisers to best a human-rights first collation of advisers from the State Department and NSC staff (Romanoff 2000, 307-332). Each of these arguments has merit. A combination of the second and third arguments that emphasizes Bill Clinton’s learning process holds the most explanatory power.


The article would then outline the theories of Barton, Rogers, and Romanoff, analyze each one, and then develop the fourth theory. There is no problem as long as Barton, Rogers, and Romanoff get credited with developing their theories, and the fourth theory is yours. If the fourth theory belongs to a fourth author (Banner? Stark? Hill?), the author should be credited and your article will show why his theory is superior to the other three.  The point here is that you may find sources which have different opinions on an issue. 


If paraphrasing an idea: make sure to change the verb you use so it is different from the verb used in the source.  Make sure you change everything but the proper nouns. So let’s say, you’ve read this in your source: “The President phoned the Prime Minister immediately after he received the news.”  That may be the point you want to make in your paper, but you shouldn’t quote that and can’t copy it (or you’d be plagiarizing).  The only words you really can use here would be “President” and “Prime Minister.”  These are the proper nouns. So put it into your own words.  How about: “Once the President had been informed, he contacted the Prime Minister.” And then cite the source of the information.  That would not be a quote problem or a suspicion of plagiarism

And never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever cut and paste anything from a source into your document unless you place it in quotes and cite the source of the quote.  (He said it again! And in italics! Must mean something!)

Nitpicks and Style Issues (Or Helpful Hints)

1.      Margins and Font Papers should be doubled-spaced with one-inch margins, and reasonable sized font (11 point). Shorter pages with wide margins and large print size font will be penalized.

2.      Subject and Verb Make sure you have a subject and verb in every sentence. (You would be surprised how many important journals and books allow non-sentence sentences). This is non-fiction, not fiction. So you need to observe the basic rules of grammar. A long sentence is not necessarily a better sentence -- each sentence should express only one thought. Don't be afraid to break up a long sentence into two or three shorter ones. It will usually flow better that way.

3.      Official Titles Provide someone’s title in the text the first time you mention them if they are an elected official (Tim Kaine, Governor of Virginia) or an appointed official (Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Paul Nitze).  Thereafter, you can refer to them as Kaine or Nitze. So for the first mention, you’d say: “National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger told his assistant to.…”  From that point on, you can simply say “Kissinger told his assistant to…” When you mention a senator or representative, say: Senator John Warner (R-VA) to introduce and after than you can just say Warner or Senator Warner.

4.      Keep a Copy Make a copy of the paper for yourself before you hand it in to me. There are two reasons for this. If you have a copy, you don't have to worry about me losing a copy. I have never lost anyone's paper, but just in case you should always make sure that you have a copy of your paper with you, in any class, not just this one.

5.      Back up WHEN YOU TYPE YOUR PAPER ON A COMPUTER MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACKUP DISK WITH THE PAPER ON IT. AS YOU TYPE THE PAPER SAVE THE FILE TO THE BACKUP DISK EVERY TEN MINUTES OR SO. Don’t just leave it on your hard drive and hope it will be safe.  A super safe way to deal with this is to use your own, already built-in cloud system.  Email the drafts of your paper to yourself and then you know it will be safe on the VCU system and you can access it from anywhere on the planet. Also, remember that if you type on the university computers be careful. Putting your paper on the hard drive in the computer lab is risky – they sweep the hard drives of files at night. Keep a backup copy for yourself. I have several backup copies of anything I write. You don't ever want to lose work because you didn't back it up.

6.      No Wikipedia Do not use Wikipedia or any other web-based encyclopedia.  It is unreliable and you should have stopped using encyclopedias for research in elementary school.

7.      Reliability of the Internet Be careful about internet sources.  Make sure the source is reliable.  Remember that anyone can post anything on the internet.  There aren’t necessarily any editors or fact checkers.  For example, there is a website that links me to the Kennedy assassination; I was two years old. Ask me if you have questions about this (internet sources, not if I was involved in the Kennedy assassination; I wasn’t).

8.      The use of “I”: Try to avoid using “I” in non-fiction.  Instead of “I will discuss three problems…” say “This essay addresses three problems…”

9.      The use of a semicolon: Semicolons connect two complete sentences that are related to each other.  For example: “I went to the pizzeria to get a pie; it was closed so I had Chinese food instead.”  You could also write them as two separate sentences if you wanted.  The following would be an incorrect use of a semicolon: “I had six very tasty pizzas last week; except for that crappy one from the big chain store.”  That should be a comma, not a semicolon.  The test is this:  If the two sentences you are connecting with a semicolon could stand alone as complete sentences then use a semicolon.  So it becomes obvious: “Except for that crappy one from the big chain store” is not a sentence.

10.  The use of “however”: This trips everyone up.  It’s a bit similar to semicolons.  “I went to the pizzeria; however, when I got there, it was closed.”  Notice the semicolon, not the comma.  That’s because “When I got there, it was closed” could be a complete sentence by itself.  Also, this sentence is like the use of a semicolon.  You are connecting two complete sentences.  In this case, you’re connecting two sentences that are related, but related in a very specific way.  The second sentence is adding the “however” to show a different expectation than the first sentence implies.  The first sentence implies you were going to eat pizza.  The second sentence says you didn’t.   On the other hand, look at this example: “I went to the pizzeria.  Upon arriving, however, I found out it was closed.”  The “however” is surrounded by commas.  That’s because “upon arriving” is not a sentence by itself.  Here’s another aspect of this.  “I went to the pizzeria, the one with the best pizza in the world.”  There is a comma there because “the one with the best pizza in the world” is not a sentence by itself. These are the non-fiction rules. In fiction, you can do anything you want.

11.  Some useful rules:

1.      Numbers under 100 should be written as out.  So you would not have this sentence.  “President Bush met with 3 advisers.”  It would be “President Bush met with three advisers.”

2.      When you have an acronym, such as NSDD-75 or UN.  First write out the name in full: National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 75, or United Nations (UN). After that first use of the term, use the acronym.

Late Papers

Papers are due at the beginning of class on the date indicated in the syllabus. After about 10 minutes of class has passed, your paper is one day late.  That is true for the rough draft and the final draft in cases where a rough draft is mandatory. I will mark late papers down ONE GRADE for each day late. That means that an almost perfect paper -- one that I would give 98 points to -- becomes an 88 if one day late, 78 if two days late, etc,... all the way down to 8 points if nine days late, and zero points if ten days late. 

            Talk to me if you are having some family or personal problems. If there is a serious need to get an extension on the paper, I will give you an extension.  I do realize that there are more important things in life than this class and this assignment.  So if you run into a problem, talk to me. Computer problems do not count as a problem that warrants an extension.  If you are writing your paper at the last minute and you have a problem, the moral of the story is that you should not have been writing your paper at the last minute.  If you have a printer problem, that doesn’t have to be a problem.  Give me your disk and I will print up the paper, or come to my office hours and we'll print up the paper at my office.  If you have some kind of computer problem, and you are not writing your paper at the last minute, let me know.  Maybe I can help.

Sample Topics

What kind of topics could you choose?  You could choose, for example:

·         Wilson’s decision to intervene in WW I

·         Wilson’s attempt to get the US Senate to pass the Treaty of Versailles

·         FDR and lend-lease

·         FDR and policy toward Japan before Pearl Harbor

·         Truman and the Marshall Plan

·         Truman and the Berlin Airlift

·         Truman and Defense Spending (NSC-68)

·         Truman policy toward China

·         Truman and the creation of NATO

·         Eisenhower and US policy in Viet Nam (Dien Bien Phu is a great case study of presidential decision not to do something)

·         Eisenhower and US policy toward China or Lebanon, or the rearmament of Germany

·         Eisenhower and US nuclear weapons policy

·         Eisenhower and the US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Program

·         Kennedy and the increase in US assistance and activity in Viet Nam

·         Kennedy and US escapades in Cuba

·         Kennedy and the Berlin Crisis of 1961

·         Kennedy and nuclear weapons policy

·         Kennedy and the development of Flexible Response (NATO strategy)

·         Kennedy and the Alliance for Progress

·         Johnson and several specific Viet Nam decisions (raising troop levels in 1965; troop deployments in 1966, or 1967 or 1968)

·         Johnson and the Dominican Republic invasion

·         Johnson and US aid to India (PL-480)

·         Johnson and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia

·         Nixon and Vietnamization

·         Nixon and the Cooper-Church Amendment

·         Nixon and the invasion of Cambodia

·         Nixon and the opening to China

·         Nixon and the India-Pakistan war

·         Nixon and the US actions in Middle East

·         Nixon and the pressure on Chile and ultimately the overthrow of Salvador Allende

·         Nixon and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)

·         Nixon and the development of the ABM

·         Nixon and the development of the MIRV

·         Nixon and the War Powers Act

·         The Church Committee

·         The Jackson-Vanik amendment

·         Ford and US near-intervention in Angola (Clark Amendment in particular)

·         Ford and SALT II

·         Carter and US policy on Human Rights

·         Carter and the Ogaden War (Ethiopia and Somalia)

·         Carter and the peace negotiations in the Middle East that led to the Camp David Accords

·         Carter and the SALT II Treaty

·         Carter and the Panama Canal Treaty

·         Carter and the Intermediate Nuclear Force, INF, decision (also called the NATO Two-Track Decision)

·         Carter and the Neutron bomb decision

·         Carter and the MX Missile

·         Carter and recognition of China

·         The Taiwan Relations Act

·         Reagan and the creation of the Contras in Nicaragua

·         Reagan and selling weapons to Iran

·         Reagan and arms negotiations with the USSR

·         Reagan and the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia

·         Reagan and US assistance to rebels in Afghanistan

·         Reagan and the INF Deployment

·         Reagan and the INF Treaty

·         Reagan and resumption of aid to rebels in Angola

·         Reagan and the MX missile

·         Reagan and the Strategic Defense Initiative (spending issues are relevant here)

·         Reagan and defense spending

·         Reagan and the sanctions against South Africa

·         Reagan and the nuclear freeze movement

·         Bush 41 and the first Gulf War

·         Bush 41 and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)

·         Bush 41 and the aftermath of Tiananmen Square (China), (Most Favored Nation status)

·         Bush 41 and trade tensions with Japan

·         Bush 41 and the breakup of Yugoslavia;

·         Bush 41 and the US intervention in Somalia

·         Clinton and the US intervention in Somalia

·         Clinton and the US intervention in Bosnia

·         Clinton and the US intervention in Kosovo

·         Clinton and the decision on Most Favored Nation status for China

·         Clinton and the US intervention in Haiti

·         Clinton and trade tensions with Japan;

·         Clinton and NAFTA

·         Clinton and the bailout of Mexico

·         Clinton and the bailout of Russia

·         Clinton and the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

·         Bush 43 and the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty 

·         Bush 43 and Decisions on Guantanamo Bay Detention

·         Bush 43 and the Enemy Combatant Decisions

·         Bush 43 and the US Invasion of Afghanistan


This is not an exhaustive list (though I got pretty tired typing it).  Of course, choose something not on the list, if you like.  This list is just a sample of all the different things that are possible topics.  You will not run out of topics.


List of Journals

Some of the best journals on national security affairs include the following (in no particular order).  The VCU libraries have almost all of these in text or available on line).  They are scholarly refereed journals that are excellent sources of information.  Using them can be tricky though.  Most of them deal with current issues, so if you are examining the Clinton administration, you need to look at issues from the 1993-2001 for example.

·         Journals that will specifically have decision making articles:

o   Presidential Studies Quarterly

o   Congress and the Presidency

o   Foreign Policy Analysis

o   Diplomatic History

·         Policy-Oriented that may have occasional decision making articles

·         Foreign Affairs (policy-oriented)

·         Foreign Policy (policy-oriented)

·         The National Interest (policy-oriented)

·         The Washington Quarterly (policy-oriented)

·         Survival (policy-oriented)

·         Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (policy-oriented)

·         The American Interest (policy-oriented)

·         Orbis (half policy; half academic)

·         Journal of Strategic Studies (half academic; half policy)

·         International Security (academic)

·         Security Studies (academic)

·         International Affairs (London-based academic)

·         World Politics (academic)

·         Journal of Conflict Resolution (academic)

·         Armed Forces and Society (academic on civil-military relations)

·         Journal of National Security Law and Policy

·         National Security Law Journal