Prof Mel Gurtov

Office: 650D Urban Affairs Building

Telephone: (502) 725-5974


Office Hours: T 9-10, 2-3; W 9-12 & by appointment

Course Purposes:

The course examines the changing international perspectives, policy instruments, and processes of decision making in U.S. administrations since 1945.  Two major objectives of the course are to develop an understanding of the interests that shape foreign policy, and a capacity for critical analysis of the ways in which U.S. power has been projected abroad.  In pursuit of those objectives, we pay considerable attention to clashes of cultures and value systems, the use of force, ethical considerations in policy making, and alternatives to chosen courses of action.


Spanier and Hook, American Foreign Policy Since World War II (16th ed);
Hunt, Crises in U.S. Foreign Policy

Course requirements:

           Your grade will be based on: (1) consistent attendance and participation; (2) midterm exam, October 26; (3) research paper (see below for guidelines), due November 9; (4) comprehensive final exam, Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 10:15 AM.

Please take note: (1) Students are responsible for being aware of the date and time of the final examination, and making preparations to take it then.  Only in exceptional circumstances will a final exam be given at another time.  (2) The grade of I (incomplete) will only be given in extraordinary circumstances, and then only if the student has attended class regularly and completed all other assignments.  In addition: take notes or donít take the class.

Overheads: Schools in US Foreign Policy, Cold War Alignments, US-USSR Strategic Forces, 1962, The Road to Vietnam, Sources of JFK's Cuba Policy, 1962, How did Vietnam happen?

Discussion Sequence:



Submarine Warfare and Pearl Harbor: Patterns and Priorities






Spanier & Hook, ch. 1
Hunt, Chs. 1 and 2






Origins of the Cold War (Roosevelt and Truman)






Spanier & Hook, ch. 2
Hunt, ch. 3 (through doc. 19)






Globalizing Containment (Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, 1947-63)






Spanier & Hook, ch. 3
Hunt, ch. 3 (from doc. 20) and chs. 4-5 (Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis)






Vietnam and the Imperial Presidency (Johnson, 1963-68)






Part I: Spanier & Hook, chs. 4-5 (to p. 141); Hunt; ch. 6 (documents to p. 325)
Part II: Spanier & Hook, remainder of ch. 5; Hunt, remainder of ch. 6
Film: "Hearts and Minds"






Managing World Order (Nixon and Ford, 1969-76)






Spanier & Hook, ch.6
Film: "On Company Business" (part 3: The CIA in Chile and Angola)






Human Rights versus Revolution (Carter, 1977-80)






Spanier & Hook, ch. 7
Hunt, Ch. 7 (Iran)






Counterrevolution (Reagan, 1981-88)






Spanier & Hook, ch. 8
Film: " Coverup: Behind the Iran/Contra Affair" (OTA 274)






"New World Order" (Bush, 1989-92)






Spanier & Hook, chs. 9 and 10 (to p. 270)






Engagement and Enlargement (Clinton, 1993-2000)






Spanier & Hook, chs. 10-12






The War on Terrorism (G.W. Bush, 2001-?)



The National Security Strategy of the US

Spanier & Hook, chs. 13-14
Hunt, ch. 8

Instructions for Papers

1. Topic:  Choose any topic within the scope of the course.  Check with me to make certain your choice is appropriate.  The possibilities are many, and include: (1) the decision-making process in a foreign-policy crisis, such as the Berlin Blockade; (2) the influence of some aspect of domestic politics on foreign policy; (3) the role of transnational corporations or commercial interests in foreign policy decisions or processes; (4) origins or application of a foreign-policy doctrine; (5) tracing policy over time on a specific issue, such as human rights, nuclear weapons, alliances, immigration, drugs, or terrorism; (6) assessments of external threat; (7) overall assessment of U.S. foreign policy in one or more time periods, or comparatively between one administration and another; (8) study of U.S. relations with a particular country or region. 

2. Approach: It is important that your essay begin with a statement of the issue and the way you intend to handle it.  Your essay should be more than a description of events; it should first and foremost be a foreign-policy analysis that concludes with your own evaluation of what the evidence shows. 

3. The Paper: 8-10 pages of text, using a minimum of 6 sources (including at least one primary source, such as memoirs, documents, and newspaper accounts of the period under study).  You may cite the course texts, but they will not count as one of your sources.  The Internet may be used for official documents, newspapers, and published, signed scholarly articles.  Do not use news magazines such as Time unless the news item is a primary source, such as an interview. 

4.  Citing sources:  Use any consistent form for citing sources: footnotes, endnotes, in-text notes. A bibliography is not needed; include all relevant information (author, article and journal or book title, and page numbers) in your notes.  Cite specific pages.  See the end of this syllabus for samples of footnotes or endnotes.1 2 3 4 


1 Morton Smyth, ed., Henry Kissingerís Diplomacy (New York: Norton, 1995), pp. 1-10.

2 Mary Jones, ďClintonís China Connection,Ē Journal of International Security, vol. 61, No. 3 (Summer, 1998), pp. 8-12.

 3 Ibid., p. 13.  (ďIbid.Ē refers to the last-mentioned item.)

4 Smyth, ed., Henry Kissingerís Diplomacy, p. 58.

5.  Check spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  (If you donít yet know the following distinctions, learn them: there/their, principal/principle, its/itís, affect/effect, to/too, countryís/countries.)  A sloppily written paper will count heavily against you. Don't forget to paginate and title your essay.  Use 12-point font, please.  Do not rely excessively on any one source. 

6. Questions?  I'm here; and I would like to see each of you at sometime during your research.

Basic Documentary (Primary) Sources


U.S. Department of State

Department of State Bulletin (weekly); Foreign Relations of the United States (diplomatic and other official papers); American Foreign Policy: Current Documents; American Foreign Policy, 1950-55; U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements (since 1952).





Other Documentary Collections

Public Papers of the Presidents (includes speeches, press conferences, etc.); The Pentagon Papers (Vietnam policy; various editions); The Congressional Record (day-to-day record of speeches and debates in the Congress); Hearings of House and Senate committees.





Recommended Newspapers and Journals


New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times (all on-line)

Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Security (all quarterly)





U.S. Government Agencies and International Organizations on the Web

(see the back of Spanier and Hook)