Political Science 369

US National Security

Spring 2017


Bill Newmann, Political Science program

Office Hours: 318 Founders Hall; Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-1:45; and by appointment

e-mail: wnewmann@vcu.edu; POLI Dept. Phone: 828-2076

Newmann's home page: with links to other Newmann syllabi and other fun stuff.



This course serves as an introduction into US national security affairs.  First, you may ask: how is this different from a course on US foreign policy (an especially important question if you have taken a course in US foreign policy)?  National security studies take a different approach to issues of how the US interacts with the rest of the world.  While there are many differences (and you’ll see them during the semester), the key difference is this: US national security studies focus on the political-military aspects of defending US national interests – issues such as  the use of force, the evolution of US force capability (from infantry to ships to planes to nuclear weapons to ballistic missile defense to cyberweapons), the strategies of deterrence and compellence, the transformation of national security due to technology and globalization, and civil-military relations.  Foreign policy often focuses on diplomacy and the evolution of relations between states; national security leans a bit more toward an examination of the evolution of military capabilities and its impact on US national interests within the arena of global politics.  Here is a quick outline of the topics we’ll cover in the class:

·         Decision Making for National Security with particular focus on the evolution of the interagency process (departments, the NSC process, and the NSC staff)

·         The Department of Defense: civilian control of the military, the role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Combatant Commanders, and civil-military relations

·         Defense Planning, Budgeting, Acquisition and the role of Congress

·         The Use of Force and how it has evolved technologically and strategically

·         Deterrence and Compellence (Concepts)

·         Total and Limited War

·         Classic and Modern Strategy: from Clausewitz to Mahan to Brodie/Wohlstetter/Kaufmann/Schelling to the just developing strategic thought related to cyberdeterrence and cyber war)

·         Evolution of US nuclear strategy (massive retaliation to flexible response to assured destruction to limited nuclear war to the prevailing strategy to national missile defense)

·         The first and second nuclear ages

·         Transformation of war (how globalization and technology has influenced threats to the US and how the US responds to those threats)

·         Cyberwar, robotics, drones

·         Asymmetric threats and counterinsurgency

·         Future security challenges (demographic change, civil wars, refugees, bad ideologies, over urbanization, nationalism, US education, food security, water…)



We will be discussing current events as they happen. So stay on top of the situation. Read The New York Times or Washington Post for the best coverage on a day by day basis and check out all the websites I have listed below to learn more.


Links that may be of interest

Links to sources on nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and missile defense

Links to Websites on foreign policy and national security.





You need to read them; you don't need to buy them. The books are available at the Virginia Book Company on Shafer Street at the VCU Bookstore. If anyone has problems getting access to the texts, for any reason, let me know as soon as possible so you don't get too far behind in the reading. I will be placing readings on reserve if possible.  As soon as that’s done, I will let you know.


·         William W. Newmann. Managing National Security (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003): On reserve at Cabell Library: UA23 .N5426 2003

·         Thomas Schelling. Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2008); On reserve at Cabell Library: UA23 .S34 2008

·         Paul Bracken. The Second Nuclear Age (New York: St. Martin’s, 2013). On reserve at Cabell JZ5665 .B73 2012 

·         P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman. Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); On reserve at Cabell Library: QA76.9.A25 S562 2014

·         National Intelligence Council, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Global Trends 2035: Paradoxes of Progress, January 2017. https://www.dni.gov/files/images/globalTrends/documents/GT-Full-Report.pdf



If you have any problems getting the readings for any reason, talk to me as soon as possible so you don't get behind in the reading. A guideline for the readings: I've tried to pick reading that are fair minded and balanced. That doesn't mean that these books don't have a point of view. They might, but it is a point of view based on knowledge and years of study and a point of view that is reasoned and analytical. You do not have to agree with the authors. I may or may not agree with them. The point is that you need to read critically. Don't believe everything you read. Use your own logic and knowledge and insight to decide what you think about the issues.  So feel free to questions or disagree with the ideas here and bring those questions and disagreements to class, so we can talk about them.  That will make the class more valuable for everyone.


Grading System: Grades will be determined through the following:

Map Quiz

Printable Blank Maps

January 26

5% of the grade

Exam 1

March 16

30% of the grade

Research Paper

Required Rough Draft

Final Draft


March 2 (Returned March 16)

April 11



30% of the grade

Role-Playing Simulation

April 27, and May 2

5% of the grade

Exam 2

May 9, 8:00 AM in the same room. Note the time change!!!!

30 % of the grade

How do you calculate your grade? Use the percentages from the above table. So, if you received the following grades, you would calculate your grades in the following manner:

I give you this very detailed formula for a number of reasons. You should never be unaware of what your class average is. You can calculate it at any point in the semester. If your grade is not what you'd like it to be, you should know, and you should come see me about it. Do not come to me after Exam 2 and say that you're having trouble in the class. It's too late at that point. But any time in the semester that you feel you are having trouble, or not doing as well as you feel you should, come talk to me. During my office hours and by appointment I am happy to talk to you about the class

Grading scale: I use a typical scale: A = 90-100; B = 80-89; C = 70-79; D = 55-69. Borderline grades are considered in the following manner.

·         If your grade is 69.5, 79.5, or 89.5 or higher, then you may be a candidate for a round up to the higher grade (Notice those numbers in the sentence; do not ask for a higher grade if your average is a 68 or 78 or 88 or lower; those are not borderline averages).

·         You may become a candidate if your grades are borderline and if your grades have been going up during the semester.

·         That means that if you are borderline, but your last exam is lower than the previous exams (you are between a B and C, but your third exam is a C for example), you will probably get the lower grade.

·         If you are borderline, and your last exam is higher than the previous exams (you are between a B and C, but your third exam is a B), you may get the higher grade.

·         Another factor I consider is the typical grade you receive. Let’s say we have four grades for the class and three are grades of B and one is a C (bad day) and your average is a 79.6, you are a candidate for receiving a B.  If you have four grades and three are grades of C and one is a grade of B, you are probably not a candidate for the higher grade

·         There is no extra credit for this class.  Please do not ask.


March 24: Withdrawal Deadline



The exams will be short answer and essay exams.  One week before the exam I will place a review sheet on line, linked to this syllabus, below this paragraph. This review sheet should be used as your study guide for the exam. The review sheet will include some terms that are from the readings only, so that you can go back and review those items from the readings. Once you have the review sheet, feel free to ask me questions about the terms. This is the best way to study for the exam. If you understand the terms on the review sheet, you can define each one and see how each one relates to the larger concepts and issues we've discussed in class, you should do just fine on the exam.


Review 1

Review 2



Research Paper and Class Role-Playing Simulation

Follow the link for detailed instructions.  Read these instructions now.  Read them later.  Read them again and again. The short version is:

·         Over two class periods at the end of the term the class will simulate the national security decision making process.  Each of you will be assigned the role of a US governmental official with responsibilities for some aspect of US national security (officials in the Defense Department or National Security Council Staff or Intelligence Community, for example)

·         You will be given a national security problem to solve and guidance about what perspective you should focus upon.  For example, the problem this semester is the civil war in Syria and intelligence that suggests Iran is preparing to intervene with ground forces to keep President Assad in power (fictional, but based on real possibilities).

·         You will write a 1-2 page executive summary presenting options for how to deal with the issue (from the perspective of the role you have been assigned; for example, if you are the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, you will focus on multilateral options for solving the problem; if you are the Director of CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis, your research will focus on the counterterrorism implications of any US options to Iranian intervention.

·         Required Rough Draft: Due: March 2 (it will be returned to you with comments on March 16, so you can work on the final draft)

·         Final Draft Due: April 11

·         Both rough and final drafts are due in hard copy at the beginning of class on the day indicated; there are late penalties for both the rough and final drafts. The deduction is 10 points for each day late for both the rough and final drafts (there is a maximum of a 50 point deduction for the rough draft that is five days late or not turned in).

·         Paper Topics will be chosen in consultation with me. This is detailed in the research instructions and I will explain in class.

·         Role-Playing Simulation Assignments (will be linked here once they are made)

·         Once the research is done and I have made comments on both drafts of your paper, we’ll begin the role-playing simulation: a three day in class exercise where you will develop a draft Presidential Directive spelling out the options for US policy in case of an Iranian intervention in Syria.  I will prepare a detailed agenda for these sessions.  Essentially, you will gather together in several interagency committees and negotiate to come up with a draft that includes all your perspectives, evaluates the pros and cons of various US options, develops a government-wide consensus, or spells out where consensus could not be achieved and why.

·         Every aspect of this will be guided by a draft Presidential Review Directive where I will spell out what questions I want answered in the Presidential Directive (and in your papers). Once you’re assigned a role, you will have a specific research task. That research task will be spelled out explicitly in the Presidential Directive.

v  The PRD 37 is here (once it is updated)

·         All the details will be in the paper instructions, linked to the syllabus.

·         The result of your simulation: NSC Meeting Minutes



Attendance and Class Behavior

First, I will be passing out an attendance sheet each class period.  I have noticed the past few semesters that some students feel class attendance is optional.  They feel that way until they get back their first exam then they want to do extra credit to get their grade back up.  The simple answer is this: be there the first time.  Second, you may use computers in class to take notes.  However, that is all you should be doing with your computer – taking notes.  If you surf the web, check your facebook page or play Angry Birds etc, you will be disrupting other students in the class.  They can see your computer.  This qualifies as the type of class behavior that can result in your removal from the class.





The dates in the following reading schedule reflect what readings you should have finished by the start of class that week.



Week 1: January 16-20 Introduction and Decision Making

·         No Readings

·         Decision Making


Week 2: January 23-27 The National Security Interagency Process I

·         Newmann, Chapters 1-3

·         Map Quiz: January 26

o   Printable Blank Maps



Week 3: January 30-February 3 The National Security Interagency Process II

·         Schelling, Chapter 1-2



Week 4: February 6-10 The Use of Force I

·         Schelling, Chapters 3-4

·         The Use of Force



Week 5: February 13-17 The Use of Force II:

·         Schelling, Chapters 5-6

·         Strategy to 1945



Week 6: February 20-24 The First Nuclear Age I

·         Newmann, Chapter 4-6

·         First Nuclear Age

·         First Nuclear Age Audio



Week 7: February 27-March 3 The First Nuclear Age II

·         Rough Draft due in hard copy at the beginning of class March 2

·         Bracken, Chapters 1-2

·         The MX Missile



Spring Break: March 5-12



Week 8: March 13-17

·         Exam 1: March 16 (Rough Drafts Returned)

·         Bracken, Chapter 3 (for first exam)





Week  9: March 20-24 From the First Nuclear Age to the Second

·         Bracken, Chapters 4-7

Second Nuclear Age


March 24 Withdrawal date



Week 10: March 27-31 The Second Nuclear Age: Proliferation Dangers

·         Bracken Chapters 8-10, and Conclusion and Afterword

·         National Intelligence Council, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Global Trends 2035: Paradoxes of Progress, January 2017. pp. vi-xi, 1-28.



Week 11: April 3-7: The Future I: Non-State Actors: When States Lose the Monopoly on Force

·         National Intelligence Council, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Global Trends 2035: Paradoxes of Progress, January 2017. pp. 29-128.

·         The Future


Week 12: April 10-14 The Future II: People Power and the Economic Factor

·         Global Trends 2035: Paradoxes of Progress, January 2017. pp. 129-226.

·         Final Draft due in hard copy at the beginning of class April 11



Week 13: April 17-21 The Future III: Cyberwar, The Drone Age, Robotics, and The Future

·         Singer and Friedman, pp. 1-84

·         Technology and Strategy


Week 14: April 24-28 Future IV and Simulation

·         Role-Playing Simulation Session 1: April 27

·         Singer and Friedman, pp. 85-185



Week 15: May 2 Simulation

·         Role-Playing Simulation Session 2

·         Singer and Friedman, pp. 185-258



Exam 2: May 9, 8:00 AM same room (Please note the time change).



Where can you find information on international affairs?


This is the questions students always ask me: “Where do I find good information on international affairs. I’m looking for something unbiased and something that doesn’t always look at the world through American eyes (as in how do these developments affect the US).”


Here’s the short answer:


For day by day coverage of events in the world:

  1. BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/.   On a day-by-day basis, no other news organization covers the world as well.  It has separate pages for most regions, links to past stories, links to data bases, all kinds of information that will get you up to speed on anything.
  2. World News Network: http://wn.com/. This is a site which covers day-by-day events by creating links to major news papers around the world.  So if something is happening in Pakistan, for example, there will be several links to stories about the event from web-based sources in S. Asia, E. Asia, Europe, N. America  It also has links to regional windows with coverage that is more focused.  It even has links to issue-specific compilations of links on various issues.  For example, the science page has sections for stories on AIDS, Biotech, cloning…
  3. For terrorism and counterterrorism check out The Long War Journal: http://www.longwarjournal.org.  It is a project of the Foundation for defense of Democracies, a non-partisan project, that keeps track day by day of events related to terrorism around the world.


On a weekly basis:

The Economist: www.economist.com.  This is a Britain-based weekly which covers world politics and world business.  There really is nothing else like it in the comprehensive nature of its coverage.  You can also buy it on the newsstand, but the web is free.  It covers world politics very well.


Long Term Views of Crisis and Conflict:

International Crisis Group: www.crisisweb.org.  This is the International Crisis Group, a non-profit organization that studies, analyzes, and makes recommendations about how to resolve various crises in the world.  There is nothing better for the in-depth examination of current world events and the dilemmas of problem solving and peace making.  It has reports (30-50 pages), briefings (10-30), and a weekly briefing (Crisis Watch), which you can get on the web site or sign up for e-mail delivery.



VCU Policies

VCU Email Policy

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VCU Honor System: Upholding Academic Integrity

The VCU Honor System policy describes the responsibilities of students, faculty and administration in upholding academic integrity, while at the same time respecting the rights of individuals to the due process offered by administrative hearings and appeals. According to this policy, "Members of the academic community are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity." In addition, "All members of the VCU community are presumed to have an understanding of the VCU Honor System and are required to:



More information can be found at in the VCU policy library at http://www.assurance.vcu.edu/Policy%20Library/Honor%20System.pdf.


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What to Know and Do to Be Prepared for Emergencies at VCU:



Important Dates

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