Political Science 468
Comparative Foreign Policy
This course will become POLI 368 Comparative National Security Policy in the fall of 2015
It counts for the International Relations concentration
(no matter what number it was/is when you take it)
Office Hours: This is an online course, so there will be no office hours. However, e-mail as often as you like.
home page with links to other syllabi. If you are a blackboard use and encounter problems, you can also access this syllabus through my home page: http://www.people.vcu.edu/~wnewmann/index.htm
This course is an on line course. All papers will be submitted through e-mail. All papers will be returned with comments through e-mail as well. There will be no class meetings. A full schedule of the class assignments and expectations is included in this syllabus.
This course is an examination of theoretical and policy-related aspects of foreign policy. All readings and all papers explore one simple, but difficult to answer question: Why do states behave they way they do in the international arena? As you read the assigned books and write your papers keep that question in mind. Scholars of international relations and foreign policy have been trying to answer that question for decades. Now it’s you turn. Linked to the syllabus is a short essay on theories of international relations and foreign policy. Read this before you read anything else (unless of course you’ve already started reading). This is a good preliminary introduction that will be a useful reference for you as you read and write. Please read this or you may find yourself lost. In the past this course has been taught by examining several nations’ foreign policies. This semester, however, the course will be a more theoretical examination of what is the root explanation for states’ foreign policies.
This is a writing intensive class. You will read five books and write five
papers. Each paper is worth 20% of the grade. You will have an opportunity to
rewrite one paper to get a better grade; the new grade will replace the old
one, but it will not remove a late penalty.
That rewrite can be turned in at any time during the two weeks of the
class, but must be turned in by the last day of the semester,
Your initial papers may be rocky, but I am looking for your effort and indications that you are learning. Early difficulty will be overshadowed by the quality of your papers at the end of the course. Your grade will reflect the improvement. In other words, put the grade aspect aside for the moment and learn. If you learn something, you will ultimately be happy with your grades. What you have learned and your level of effort will be reflected in your final grade. So, don’t be discouraged if your early grades aren’t what you had hoped.
The following books are available at the Virginia Book Company (Franklin and Shafer St.) and at the VCU Bookstore. They are not on reserve.
· Josef Joffe. The Myth of America's Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies (NY: Liveright, 2014) 978-0871408464
· David Shambaugh. China Goes Global: The Partial Power (Oxford University Press, 2014) 978-0199361038)
· Rajan Menon and Eugene Rumer. Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Order (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015) 978-0262029049
· Ray Takeyh. Guardians of the Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2011) 978-0199754106
· Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger. ISIS: The State of Terror (NY: Ecco, 2015) 978-0062395542
· Each paper must be five full pages in length, at minimum (four pages and one sentence is not the same as five pages); more than five full pages is no problem (I’ll read as much as you want to write; if you are very interested in a subject and want to play around with the ideas for more than five pages, then I am very happy; enjoy yourself and I will enjoy your enthusiasm and ideas). But fewer than five full pages would lead to a significant point deduction.
· Each paper is worth 20% of the grade
· You will have about a week to read each book and write each paper.
· Papers should be doubled-spaced with one-inch margins, and reasonable sized font (11 or 12 point). Shorter pages with wide margins and large print size font will be penalized.
· All paper are to be submitted over email at midnight of the date the paper is due, so if the paper is due June 17, that means midnight June 17 as June 17 becomes June 18. The full schedule is below. Please email an attachment and cut and paste the text of the paper into the body of the email. The latter part is very important; please don’t forget. Do not put the paper in the Blackboard digital dropbox.
· I will make comments on your paper and email that version back to you. If you have questions, we can email back and forth as often as you like. I will try to mark up your papers pretty heavily with grammar, substance, and devil’s advocacy, but the grade will reflect more of the substance. Since this is a writing intensive class, expect to work on the writing style. Even if your first papers are a bit ragged, your last papers will be sharply analytical and organizationally elegant. I will get your papers back to you as soon as I can. I will get them back before the next paper is due, so that you can use my comments to improve your next paper.
Revision You will be required to rewrite one of your papers based on the comments I make on it after I have graded it. This is a requirement, but it is also an opportunity. If you are unhappy with a grade, you get the chance to fix a paper. Any one of the papers can be chosen for a rewrite except the last paper. I will replace the grade for the paper you rewrite. Use my comments on the paper to fix the papers you rewrite. Please leave my comments on the paper when you submit the rewrite.
I base the grade on several things:
1. Introductory paragraph
2. Organization of the paper
3. Analysis of the author’s argument
4. Command of the supporting evidence the author introduces
5. Your argument and ideas
In your paper, please do not simply summarize the book. Your paper should be 40% summary and 60% your ideas – critical comments on the author’s ideas and argument. When I say critical, I don’t mean that you have to disagree with the author. I mean that you should assess the author’s argument in terms of:
1. consistency (are there big contradictions in the author’s argument?)
2. logic (does the argument make sense to you?),
3. supporting evidence (does the author’s evidence support the theory?)
4. accuracy (does the author’s argument seem realistic given what you know about the world. If so, why? If not, why not?)
5. Focus on the concepts and ideas, not on the writing style
Be creative. If you want to redesign the author’s theories and arguments, go ahead. What are your ideas on the subject? What is the author missing? Where does the argument miss the point? What are the logical conclusions of the author’s arguments and your ideas?
On Writing a Good Analytical Paper
For example, someone might say "China is an expansionist nation because it is going to invade Taiwan." Challenge that idea; analyze it. Ask and answer some questions. In this case the author’s conclusion is that China is expansionist. The author’s evidence is that China will invade Taiwan. Is it valid to prove a point using evidence that has not yet happened? Can someone say "I know that you are hungry because I believe that you will eat soon?" Isn't that simply hypothetical? If China hasn't invaded Taiwan, but the author believes it will, then the entire argument is based not on what China is or has done, but on what the author perceives about China. Have we learned anything about China? No, but we have learned something about the author. (I'm using an example taken from an op-ed piece in the Washington Post from 1997, which used this exact logic.) Now, you may believe that China is an expansionist power, but the author made a poor argument. So, you've got to make the argument stronger. If the author is convinced that China will invade Taiwan because China is building missile batteries along its eastern coast, buying equipment for amphibious landings, practicing amphibious landings, holding military exercises near Taiwan that simulate an invasion of an island, and saying “we will invade Taiwan.” Then the author has a better argument. What have we done here? We’ve done some basic social science analysis. We've challenged the author's argument, examined his cause and effect logic, and revealed his assumptions.
The introduction of your paper (Important!!!) This is the difference between an “A” and a “B”!
Writing for social science, in particular Political Science, is different from other types of writing. It is absolutely crucial that you make sure that the reader of your paper knows a few things all within the first couple of paragraphs of the paper. Here are the three key things the reader must know: (1) what is your theme or argument; (2) how you are going to go about supporting that theme or argument, and 3) what are your conclusions. In other words, these first paragraphs or first paragraph 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 complete sentences in the first few paragraphs of the paper. This is different from journalism, or History, or magazine writing, but it is the way we do it in Political Science. The reader should know what you are going to say by the end of the introduction. It flows from the nature of government where your boss is a busy governmental official and has about two minutes of time to give to the five weeks of work you’ve been doing on analyzing some issue. So for instance, if your boss is the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the DNI has asked you to write an analysis of whether Iran has nuclear weapons. He/She needs a quick summary of your answer that can be digested in about five minutes because he/she will be presenting that answer to the President of the US who will give the DNI about two minutes to present the answer. So the style is to be very clear and concise and summarize everything in those first few paragraphs. In short, if Political Science scholars wrote mystery novels, the first sentence of the book would be: “The butler did it.” This is why political scientists don’t write mystery novels.
Here is an example of what I think is a good introduction to an analytical paper. This is a sample intro paragraph for an analysis of Fareed Zakaria’s book From Wealth to Power. Notice how it summarizes Zakaria’s ideas then adds the ideas of the paper’s author.
In From Wealth to Power Fareed Zakaria examines what causes wealthy nations to become “great powers” with large militaries and global foreign policy ambitions. Historically, some nations translate their wealth into power, while others do not. The reasons why nations make this transition is crucial – in almost all historical cases in which wealthy nations become militarily powerful the result is international conflict and/or war. Though most analysts say that the transition from wealth to power and ambition is inevitable, Zakaria argues that the key ingredient in a nation’s rise to global power lies within the domestic political system. When a nation’s government becomes strong, ready to use the nation’s resources for political ends at home, it also becomes ready to harness the nation’s resources to achieve political goals abroad. His case study of the lag between US wealth (mid-19th century) and US ambition (late 19th century) provides an excellent argument of how the strength of the US government lagged behind the growth of its economy. However, Zakaria has discounted two other important state-level factors that play a role in this transition: national ideology and historical legacy. Some ideologies are more aggressive than others and will shape the way a nation deals with the rest of the world. Some nations have a historical legacy of insecurity (Russia), or sense of international mission (US), or aggression (Japan), or even regional supremacy (China) that deeply influences its foreign policy. Adding these variables into an assessment of a nation’s potential rise to power brings a more accurate vision of what translates wealth to power. This paper will first examine Zakaria’s argument then discuss the importance of national ideology and historical legacy. A conclusion considers the shape of the 21st century, speculating on the wealthy nations that will seek to increase their power in the international system. Ironically, this analysis suggest that the even as the US declines in relative wealth, its ability to use national resources, its ideology, and its historical legacy will lead it to fight – politically and even militarily – to maintain its leadership role.
You could construct an outline of your paper, an outline that could be used to develop headings and subheadings in the paper:
2. Zakaria: Domestic Ability to Use Resources for Foreign Policy Goals
3. The Missing Variables (these are your ideas)
1. National ideology
2. Historical Legacy
4. Conclusions: US Hegemony: Same Ambition, Less Wealth
The key here is that by the end of the first paragraph, I know what you will write about. I know what your analysis will be. I know your conclusions.
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.
4. 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.
a) 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. (Richards, 2003, p. 27). The book doesn’t actually exist, but in the example, I’ve used a parenthetical reference, which gives the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number.
b) For your paper if you want to cite specific information, use parentheticals or endnotes or footnotes, but you don’t need to include a bibliography if all the citations are from the assigned book.
c) Or if Ben Grimm concludes in his book (not a real 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.” You might agree or not agree or you may be citing five or sis ways to combat al-Qaeda. In any case, you don’t need to quote. Say something like: “Economic reforms designed to allow the middle class to grow and prosper may be the key to battling al-Qaeda in the future” (Grimm, 2004, p. 235). Or if you agree, then say: “Economic reforms designed to allow the middle class to grow and prosper are the key to battling al-Qaeda in the future” (Grimm, 2004, p. 235). If you don’t agree, you can say: “Some scholars argue that economic reforms designed to allow the middle class to grow and prosper are the key to battling al-Qaeda in the future (Grimm, 2004, p. 235). This argument is too simplistic and provides no remedy for reducing terrorist recruitment success in the short term.”
d) 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.” (Bin-Laden, 1998). This is an excerpt from the 1998 fatwa of OBL. Bin-Laden is a participant, a historical figure. His exact words are important.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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).
10. 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…”
11. 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.” 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. It becomes obvious: “Except for that crappy one from the big chain store” is not a sentence.
12. 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. Read James Joyce. I can’t! There is no punctuation.
14. 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.
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.
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.
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:
There are various analyses of al-Qaeda’s power. Realists say al-Qaeda is a nuisance, but has no real ability to achieve any of its regional and global goals. (Stan 2004, pp 1-17). Regionalists disagree, arguing that al-Qaeda can use its passive support to instigate the overthrow of many governments in the Middle East; however, once it does so, it makes itself more vulnerable to destruction by conventional-style US military operations. (Kyle 2005, pp 365-374). Other scholars contend that al-Qaeda could successfully achieve its goals. Once having taken control of several regimes in the Middle East, the US will not have the capability to fight four or five simultaneous wars such as the current war in Iraq; the US will only have one option – containment of a new revolutionary ideology in a new cold war, in which terrorism will play a key role in the balance of power (Cartman 2005, pp. 27-42). Each analysis has merit; however, this essay concludes that a significant effort by the US at bringing populations in the Middle East into the realm of global capitalism and democracy, if accompanied by a new emphasis on human rights and international labor standards, will isolate al-Qaeda from Muslim populations around the world and leave it an extremist and fringe organization.
The article would then outline the theories of the realists, regionalists, and others, analyze each one, and then develop the fourth theory. There is no problem as long as Stan, Kyle, and Cartman get credited with developing their theories, and the fourth theory is new. If the fourth theory belongs to a fourth author (Kenny? Timmy?), then these authors must be cited and your article will show why his theory is superior to the other three.
I will catch any plagiarism. It takes me less than ten seconds to take any sentence from your paper and cut and paste it into a google search engine. If you have taken the paper from a document on the web, google will identify the source in under a second. I know none of you would ever try this, so tell your friends. The VCU library has a tutorial on how to cite and avoid plagiarism: http://guides.library.vcu.edu/integrity.
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!) (And it’s in bold, and italics, and red; maybe I should pay attention to this.)
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,... 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, no 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. Also, remember that you have a rewrite. Hypothetically, is you are about to crash and burn on a paper and can’t get me a finished product on time, hand me a rough draft (or a sentence). You’ll get a horrible grade, but then use that paper as your rewrite. This is a built-in loophole. Use it if you need to. It’s much better than a late penalty.
This is a tight schedule. Don’t fall behind because you may not be able to catch up.
Before you read anything else, read the small essay called theories of international relations and foreign policy.
May 18: Begin reading Joffe
May 25: Joffe paper due at
May 26: Begin reading Shambaugh
June 1: Shambaugh paper due at
June 2: Begin reading Menon and Rumer
June 8: Menon and Rumer paper due at
June 9: Begin reading Takeyh
June 15: Takeyh paper due at (as June 15 becomes June 16)
June 16: Begin reading Stern and Berger
· Stern and Berger paper due (as June 22 becomes June 23
· Rewrite due also at midnight (although you can turn this in at any earlier time if you choose)
Notice that we’re going a bit over the deadline for the class. Officially it ends June 18, but I want to give you a few extra days. With this schedule, you get one week for each paper.