KC Johnson

History 7442X: U.S. Diplomatic History

This course will explore U.S. foreign relations in an international context from the Revolutionary War until the present day.

Requirements

  • Research Paper: 50%
  • Participation: 30%
  • Study Questions/Supplementary Reading: 20%

Books: (all available through amazon.com, at link below)

My Contact Information:

Schedule:

August 30: Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy

September 6: Expansionism

September 13: Growth of U.S. Power  (articles will be e-mailed) [study questions: Cassie, Phil]

Supplementary Reading:  (Walter LaFeber, The New Empire)

  • Cyrus Veeser, “Inventing Dollar Diplomacy,” Diplomatic History 27, pp. 302-328.
  • Michael Devine, “Was James G. Blaine a Great Secretary of State?,” Diplomatic History 27, pp. 689-694.
  • Daniel Rodgers, “In Search of Progressivism,” Reviews in American History 10, pp. 1-21.
  • Stephen Valone, “‘Weakness Offers Temptation’: William H. Seward and the Reassertion of the Monroe Doctrine,” Diplomatic History 19, pp. 583-600.

September 20: International Relations of the 19th Century Middle East **Course Paper Topic Due** [study questions: Rob, Jonathan]

Supplementary Reading: (Cassie–James Field, United States and the Mediterranean World; PhilRobert Allison, The Crescent Obscured)

September 27: Wilsonianism [study questions: Iliya, Alexis]

Supplementary Reading: (Rob–Thomas Knock, To End All Wars)

October 11: Interwar Imperialism [study questions: Davin, Lisa]

Supplementary Reading: (Alexis–Akira Iriye, After Imperialism); (Jonathan–Emily Rosenberg, Financial Missionaries to the World)

October 18: War on the Western Front [study questions: Rich, Jacob]

Supplementary Reading: (Iliya–David Reynolds, The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance); (Lee–Julian Hurstfield, America and the French Nation); (Vinny–Akira Iriye, Power and Culture)

October 25: The Origins of the Cold War [study questions: Lee, Kelly]

  • Geoffrey Roberts, “Stalin at the Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam Conferences,” Journal of Cold War Studies 9.4 (2007) 6-40.
  • Jeronim Perović, “The Tito-Stalin Split: A Reassessment in Light of New Evidence,” Journal of Cold War Studies 9.2 (2007) 32-63.
  • Melvyn Leffler, “The American Conception of National Security and the Beginnings of the Cold War, 1945-48,” American Historical Review 89 (1984).

November 1: The Course of the Cold War [study questions: Ben, Kayla]

Supplementary Reading: (Rich–Melvyn Leffler, A Preponderance of Power); (Jacob–Thomas Alan Schwartz, America’s Germany); (Anna–Michael Hogan, The Marshall Plan)

November 8: LBJ & Foreign Affairs

Supplementary Reading: (Kelly–Brian VanDeMark, Into the Quagmire); (Kayla–Thomas Alan Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe);  (Ben–Michael Oren, Six Days of War)

[no reading]

November 15: Third World Adventurism [study questions: Catherine, Anna]

Supplementary Reading:  (Ben–Frances Fitzgerald, Way Out in the Blue); (Lisa–James Mann, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan); (Tracey–Condoleeza Rice & Philip Zelikow, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed)

November 29: [study questions: Rachel, Juanna]

December 6: The Road to 9/11 [study questions: Tracey]

Supplementary Reading:  (Catherine–9/11 Commission Report); (Rachel–Dennis Ross, Missing Peace); (Juanna–Steve Coll, Ghost Wars)

December 13: Review Session

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  1. Vinny Piccolo said, on September 4, 2011 at 6.59am

    Hey guys:
    Study Questions for week 2 on “Manifest Design”:

    1. How did Senator Walker bring Northerners on board for the annexation of Texas?

    2. What did the Battle of New Orleans come to mean for Jacksonians?

    3. How did the phenomenon known as “land hunger” contrast with the economic downturn in the wake of ‘The Panic of ’37’?

    4. How was racism tied to the expansionist debate?

    5. Why did Polk fail where Jackson largely succeeded in temporarily marginalizing the slavery issue?

    6. What are the long term impacts of both Polk’s successes and his failures today?

    7. Though history largely validates Calhoun’s trepidation, is there any merit to Ritchie’s call for a ‘decisive military victory’? How might such a victory have changed today and the fierce argument over various border issues?

    8. What is the biggest fallacy of O’Sullivan’s notion of ‘Manifest Destiny’? What part of his message still resonates with Americans today, if any?

    Enjoy guys and have a great holiday weekend.

    -Vinny

  2. Cassie Cantalino said, on September 13, 2011 at 5.08pm

    1. Veeser cites many factors for the development of the more aggressive foreign policies of the early 20th century. Which one do you think is the most crucial, and can that be feasibly answered?

    2. Would you say that Roosevelt’s justification for Dominican intervention was valid under the tenets of the Monroe Doctrine. How far did he ‘twist’ this document? Do you agree with the French ambassador (320)?

    3. Do you think that the so-called ‘Dominican crisis” was a good way for Roosevelt to attempt to fuse the realms of the financial and geopolitics?

    4. Going on a modern-day sense of legal ethics, what do you make of Moore’s meshing of the public and private areas; his ‘duality?’

    5. Can it be reasonably deduced that one of the reasons that Roosevelt chose Hollander as the investigator of Dominican debt over Moore had to do with the whole idea of trying to move away from this dabbling in both the public and private sectors as Moore had done for most of his career? Can you think of other reasons?

    6. Devine invites the reader to consider the extent of Blaine’s legacy in United States diplomatic history. Would you agree that his “forward-looking” vision (regarding keeping the focus on the West) is enough to merit him such accolades? How much does vision account for in politics over concrete action?

    7. Rodgers goes to great lengths to argue that one cannot pigeonhole a movement and stringently categorize its members and ideas. How far do you agree with his argument? Do you think it may be beneficial to some extent as a historian to attempt to place some parameters around a movement to give its study structure?

    8. Going on the previous question, is the historian’s (and rather human) predilection to define necessary at all? Rodgers advises us to focus on the context of what is going on around us instead. Would you say that this obsession with definition is moot when trying to understand something intangible like an ideology/movement, and is something arbitrarily imposed by people on the world, (rather like the argument over the ‘periodization of history’)?

    9. Regarding Seward’s article, why would you say that few Vienna troops incensed Seward profoundly more than the long French occupation? How much do you think the fact of Austria’s vulnerability comes into play here?

    10. Our course discusses in part the interplay between the domestic and foreign when studying American diplomacy. What factors would at ‘home’ may have influenced Seward’s actions?

    Enjoy!
    – Cassie Cantalino

  3. Phillip Butehorn said, on September 13, 2011 at 10.25pm

    1) What was Progressivism?

    2) Why does Peter Filene declare that the Progressive movement is dead?

    3) Is Progressivism a movement or an ideology?

    4) Why did Daniel T. Rogers believe Progressivism was difficult to define?

    5) What was the Dominican Intervention?

    6) What was the SDIC and what was its relationship with Washington?

    7) Who was a more successful Secretary of State? Blaine or Seward?

    8) How should a Historian judge the accomplishments of a Secretary of State?

    9) What was the purpose of France giving Maximilian the throne in Mexico?

    10) Why have Historians neglected the Austrian-American crisis of 1866?

  4. Robert W. Markuske said, on September 19, 2011 at 3.53pm

    Needed more maps :0, enjoy and hope these help in your preparation for class – see you all tomorrow…

    1. Can the separation of policy exist from f “geopolitical decisions” of local actors?

    2. Do the authors effectively argue the Middle East’s current malaise was decided by its internal actions of the past? Also, did the Middle East exhibit as much potency with political decisions as other European actors in determining the fall of the Ottoman Empire and forming the modern problems plaguing the Middle East today?

    3. From Karsh and Karsh’s text, how can we correctly define balance of power? Does domestic policy and race effect contribute to balance of power decisions?

    4. Do the authors argue correctly in saying that the Ottoman Empire didn’t fall from the lack of political choices but rather the existences of to many choices?

    5. In these events was domestic policy an issue? Were all issues revolved around foreign policy and expansionism? Remember conversations from previous classes.

    6. Does Karsh and Karsh’s story show these political actors acting out of political ideology or out of manipulation of other actors’ grievances and vulnerabilities?

    7. How is religious bias the same as race bias in this book? Can religion be superimposed on race in our previous discussions while discussing this book?

    8. Using all of our readings, how would the U.S. fit into this book?

    9. How has the U.S. changed its role in the Middle East?

    10. Who is instrumental in deciding the definition of a state or nation using Karsh and Karsh’s arguments?

  5. Jonathan said, on September 20, 2011 at 1.28pm

    Questions for Empires of the Sand:

    1. which would you say hurt the Middle East’s nationalistic movements more, Western diplomacy or internal power plays?

    2. Prior to the Great Arab Revolt a multitude of small movements, with various national ideals, defined the Arab movement. Did factionalism prolong independence for the Middle East?

    3. Does chapter 13 do enough to deconstruct the historiography built up around the Great Arab Revolt as the culmination of the “Arab Awakening”?

    4. Would it have been more beneficial for the British to adhere to its original position of recognizing Hussein as the ruler of the Hijaz?

    5. What effects did The Sykes-Picot Agreement have on the Middle East?

    6. In what ways was the Balfour Declaration different from The Sykes- Picot Agreement? Are there any similarities that can be drawn between the two doctrines?

    7. What was President Woodrow Wilson’s role in the development of the Middle East post-World War One?

    8. How did Wilson’s Oriental Secretary, Gertrude Bell, view Mesopotamia’s ability to self govern? What was the secretary’s justification?

    9. Is the book’s manipulation of primary sources, such as personal correspondents from power players, enough to give the reader a valid sense of the average person in the Middle East and what they would like to see happen in the region?

    10. Would the Middle East been better off if the Western powers kept out of its affairs and allowed the small kingdoms and fiefdoms to develop their own ideal situations?

  6. Alexis Schild said, on September 26, 2011 at 8.37pm

    The Wilsonian Movement:

    Very interesting book that raises a lot of “What If…” questions in my mind as I am reading.

    1) In retrospect we know the failures of some of Wilson’s initiatives regarding self-determination and getting the U,S to fall behind these issues, does that change the views of Wilson as a leader and, if it does, is calling this period the Wilsonian era somewhat of a misnomer?

    2) How did the United States view tself during this era? What role were we to play in foreign affairs?

    3) What factors allowed Wilson’s message to become so far reaching?

    4) Why would the U.S. government feel the need to spread Wilson’s ideas to other nations, “some of the remote places of the Earth”?

    5) How do different groups define self-determination in this era? Why are these differences important when studying this time period?

    6)If Wilson had been more successful during the peace negotiations and in getting the U.S, to sign the treaty would the nations discussed in the book have been led down a peaceful and democratic route of freedom or was Revolutiion inevitable?

    7) What were Wilson’s requirements for self-determination? Why were they so miscontrued by the “non-European” actors who used “his” ideaology in this era?

    8) Can we compare the use of technology in the early 20th century for purposes of propaganda and revolutionary ideas/actions to the uses of modern technology in the more recent unrest in the MIddle East?

    9) How did the leading colonial powers react to this surge toward self-determination? Were they concerned with U.S, involvement in these areas or did these powerful nations understand the intended meaning of Wilson’s words?

  7. Iliya Tynan said, on September 26, 2011 at 11.45pm

    The Wilsonian Movement

    1) Would it be fair to say that colonies that strived for independence clearly overestimated the power that came with the office of the president and misread the sentiments residing within the American populous and government?
    2) Even though many of Wilson’s plans would evolve over the course of the war, certain elements would remain constant concerning the oppressed people of Europe. Why would the European “old guard” imperialists exhibit concern at some of the common “elements” of Wilson’s rhetoric.
    4) What were the guidelines that Wilson established for the creation of international cooperation.
    5) Did racism in the United States and Wilson’s own racism affect his message of “self-determination”.
    6) How did the European powers mediate between Wilson’s hopeful message and their colonies’ wish for independence?
    7) As a counterfactual, could there have been any conceivable way to appease both the European Powers’ interests and the interests of the colonies?
    8. Even though Wilson’s 14 points were eventually overshadowed by the treaty of Versailles and that the conference for peace had not really addressed the concerns of the colonies, did Wilson’s attempt at reorganizing the status quo have any lasting implications?
    9) Was the concept of Self-Determination suggested at to early a time for the European powers to accept it at as a feasible notion?

  8. Davin Ganpat said, on October 10, 2011 at 6.23pm

    The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934. By Hans Schmidt.

    1. What were the key differences between the 1915 and 1994 interventions in Haiti?
    2. How did US react to the Haitian Revolution?
    3. How did French colonialism influence independent Haiti?
    4. What role did race play in the 1915 intervention?
    5. What role did skin color play within Haitian culture?
    6. How did private/financial interests influence the US military and led to the occupation of Haiti?
    7. How did the Roosevelt Corollary change US foreign policy in the Caribbean?
    8. What role did self-determination play in Wilson’s policies toward Haiti?
    9. Why did Roger L. Farnham want Banque to default on its French debt?
    10. Why did Banque favor intervention?
    11. What reason did the US give for intervention?
    12. Who were the Gendarmeries and what role did they play in the occupation?
    13. What event led to the institution of Jim Crow laws in Haiti?
    14. How did nationalism and patriotism influence Haitian culture during the occupation?
    15. Why did the US end their occupation of Haiti?

  9. Lisa Sarni said, on October 11, 2011 at 2.49pm

    Lisa Sarni The U.S. Occupation of Haiti 1915-1934 By Hans Schmidt

    1. According to Schmidt, what were the primary differences of the U.S.’s interventions in the years 1915 and 1934?
    2. What was the most important and immediate effect of the National Railway Venture?
    3. What were the main considerations in deciding to intervene in Haiti?
    4. What reasons did the Assistant Secretary of State William Philips attribute to the United State’s initial intervention of Haiti?
    5. What were the provisions of the U.S.-Haitian treaty ratified in Feb. 1916?
    6. What were the effects of WWI in regards to Haiti?
    7. In drafting the new haitian constitution in 1917, what were the most important changes made? How did the National Assembly respond?
    8. Why couldn’t the Wilson administration withdraw its troops from Haiti in 1919?
    9.How did the Occupation prepare Haitians to participate in politics and self-government?
    10. In what ways were Americans defeated by their own racial and cultural prejudice regarding Haitians?

  10. Jacob said, on October 13, 2011 at 10.34am

    Strange Victory Study Questions:

    1. What is the essential argument in May’s revisionist history of France’s defeat in 1940?
    2. Is his use of film history persuasive in judging the French zeitgeist of the mid-1930s? (A contemporary analogy would be that the popularity of Avatar was indicative of American public’s lack of support for counter-insurgency type wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.)
    3. What was the role of intelligence gathering in the years leading up to the war? To what extent was it driven by political considerations? How successful was it?
    4. What evidence does May provide for the weakness of German morale in the years leading up the war?
    5. What were the differences and similarities of the arguments the German and Allied military elite made to their respective political leaders?
    6. How much did England and France’s belief in the decisiveness of air power influence their policy of appeasement? Was air power decisive in any war prior to WWII? Was air power decisive in WWII or afterwards?
    7. Was there a particular incident or operation that made German victory in 1940 inevitable?
    8. How did the various interests of the Allies, as opposed to the tactical autonomy of the Germans, determine the outcome of battle? Did this affect alliances or diplomacy in the post-war era?
    9. Is May’s critique of the Allies overconfidence accurate, considering their assessment that Germany could not sustain a war due to lack of resources ultimately correct?
    10. How did the Soviet Union impact the calculations of the Allies and Germany leading up the war? As a corollary: How did the threatened French attack on USSR over Finland fit into May’s argument?
    11. What lessons could multi-constituency democracies learn from the experience of France in 1940? Are there any similarities between England and France in the years leading up to the war and the US today?
    12. Is Strange Victory’s revision of history persuasive?

  11. Lee Nigen said, on October 18, 2011 at 12.21am

    Study questions on the Tractenberg, Frazier, and Leffler articles (for next week, October 25th; my apologies to Kelly if I usurped choices among the five articles due to my scheduling constraints):

    1. How did the military alliance between the Soviets and the West during World War II shape the debate over the division of Europe in the months between the fall of Germany and the end of 1945?

    2. Had Roosevelt survived until the end of the war and beyond, how, if at all, might U.S. policy toward the Soviets followed a different trajectory. Why?

    3. Did the U.S. sacrifice the West’s role as guarantor of free democratic rule in Poland and the Balkans in order to secure Soviet acquiescence in U.S. military governance in Japan? Did Secretary of State Byrnes’ address from London after the December 1945 Moscow Conference that “sealed the deal,” so to speak, over the U.S. role in Japan, allude to such a quid pro quo? Did State Department officials in Romania and Bulgaria who appeared to dissent from Byrnes’ concessions to the Soviets overlook the strategic importance of Japan to U.S. security in the postwar Pacific, or were they more perceptive of and loyal to Wilsonian concepts of making the world (and particularly the Balkans) “safe for democracy?”

    4. Does Byrnes’ apparent shift to a harder stance against Soviet expansion that begins in January 1946 become more pronounced just then because the understanding with the Soviets over U.S. dominance in Japan reached in December 1945 free the State Department leadership from further emphasis on accommodation to Soviet interests in Eastern Europe?

    5. Do the mutual interests of the West and the Soviets in preventing the perceived military threat of a reunited Germany help create momentum for the absorption of Eastern Europe into the Soviet sphere of influence? What alternatives could the West have explored? Could they have followed the desire of the French to avert separate rule by zones of occupancy in Germany?

    6. Could Stalin’s argument that “it could not be otherwise” that political control flows from occupation by armed forces in territory be countered without the West ruining its chances for control in places near the Mediterranean?

    7. Did the Soviet quest for warm water ports give rise to inevitable conflict that led to the Cold War?

    8. Why did U.S. policy shift toward containment of Soviet power?

    9. Why did Kennan essentially argue in his 1967 memoirs that containment did not have to be universal? Contrary to Frazier’s document-driven theory, does Kennan’s vociferous objection to the Truman Doctrine after all really have a great deal to do with growing opposition to the war in Vietnam in Democratic Party foreign policy circles during that time (and not to his lapses of memory of events from 1947)? Or, rather, does his own omission of his War College class discussion of “questions ‘c’ and ‘d’ tend to support Frazier’s thesis?

    10. Frazier mentions the absence of a public record of Acheson’s assurances about the unique nature of aid to Greece and Turkey in his testimony before Congress in 1947. Does this indicate that private assurances were made to key members of the foreign relation committee members of both houses of Congress in 1947? Does the absence of a clear record support a similar conclusion that written understandings reached in treaties between nations are the “tip of the iceberg” that reveal only a small portion of the actual terms of the agreements reached between negotiating nations (e.g., the Japan/Poland-Balkans trade-off reached by the U.S. and the Soviets in Moscow in 1945).

    11. Did Wall Street origins of Secretary of State Acheson, Defense Secretary Forrestal and other senior American policy makers during the early years of the Cold War help harden American views toward the Soviets, or were there overriding practical bases to their concerns that were not grounded in the ideological conflict between Western finance capitalism and its Marxist-Leninist doctrinal antagonist?

    12. Did the CIA’s emphasis on economic assistance to Europe described by Leffler actually represent a shrewd military strategy by bolstering the position of U.S. capitalism in the West?

    13. Did the forward base strategy favored by the U.S. military after World War II lead to over-reliance on private sector aviation to help protect U.S. interests in Latin America? Were there reasonable alternatives? What were they, given the constraints on U.S. resources at the time? Was the forward base strategy a product of the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, and if so was is a wise reaction?

    14. How was geopolitical military strategy changed by the early nuclear arms race? Did the nuclear arms race begin to drain the viability of open ideological confrontation between the Soviets and the West?

    15. How did the West’s view of the threat of the effects of starvation and economic collapse in strategic nations like France and Italy in the years after the war shape the Marshall Plan? How, if at all, and why did such a threat lead to an emphasis on economic aid over military assistance? Why did former enemies of the West like Germany and Japan become recipients of Marshall Plan assistance? Was there a reasonable alternative strategy? What would such a strategy have looked like?

  12. Richard said, on October 18, 2011 at 3.46pm

    1) Where did the myth of German superiority come from?

    2) In the introduction, May references Marc Bloch’s Strange Defeat – What factors does he pull from this valuable & contemporary source? (there are four)

    3) In what way does May’s approach take another, and arguably more complete, look at France’s defeat?

    4) May implies that democracies can be inefficient when it comes to war. Why is this?

    5) What was different about the way the allies conducted the their intelligence as compared to the Germans? Why is this crucial?

    6) May makes the case that a Fascist regime, like that of the Nazi’s, is better suited for quick decision making in stressful situations than that of democracies, which have large bureaucracies and constituents to please. Do you agree?

    7) In the chapters on French political leadership, namely Daladier and Gamelin, did indecision(Rhineland) and the desire to avoid war prove costly? Why or why not?

    8) Again, in the chapter ‘cross currents’, we see another apparent disadvantage of the politicians of the Allied countries – the need to appeal to the masses, especially in election years. After reading May, and based on your own knowledge of history, can you see any other course of action for French politicians to pursue given the domestic and international climate? Could they have better promoted the need for action among the public?

    9) Why did the French military leadership, namely Gamelin, choose to limit the availability of intelligence?
    Why did he and Bonnet choose to not promote a sense of urgency when germany moved into the Rhineland and into Austria?

    10) May provides many examples of past events and traditional attitudes that clearly affected, and at times, inhibited the ability of French leadership to make resolute decisions. Can you name some examples – (racism, attitude toward Soviets, The cavalry, Losses of WWI, international and domestic reactions, past French movement in Rhineland in 1920’s)

    11) Is it realistic to think that French politicians could have reacted differently given the cool relations with Britain and the general domestic and international political climate?

    12) According to May, how influential was the appointment of Bonnet, a non-supporter of intervention against Germany?

  13. Kelly Masser said, on October 25, 2011 at 2.38pm

    1. Roberts and Perovic used primary sources from the recently opened Moscow archives. Are their conclusions about Stalin similar? How do these conclusions differ from those given by the other authors that used primarily American sources?

    2. How does Robert’s treatment of the peace conferences (using Soviet records) differ from Trachtenberg’s (using American records)?

    3. What were the major issues and compromises made during these conferences and were the resolutions as successful for the USSR as Stalin claimed in Roberts’ article? Were the compromises and decisions made at these conferences arbitrary or did they serve a particular purpose for the Big Three?

    4. Explain the role of hegemony and Soviet influence in Poland and Yugoslavia.

    5. What is the reason Perovic gives for the split between Tito and Stalin and how does it differ from the version previously held by many historians?

    6. How was Yugoslavia the model for other Eastern European countries in regards to “Stalin’s Sovietization? How did Yugoslav socialism under Tito differ from the Soviet hierarchy?

    7. Did Tito’s decision to sign a treaty with Bulgaria and send troops into troops into Albania affect Stalin’s negotiations with the US and Great Britain?

    8. Truman said “I’ve gotten what I came for,” when Stalin stated he would be ready to attack Japan by the end of August 1945. What were the goals of the United States during the Big Three conferences? Were there any ‘double-standards’ from either the United States or the USSR in the spheres of influence in Germany, the Balkans, and Japan?

  14. Kayla Goodson said, on October 30, 2011 at 4.33pm

    1. How did George F. Kennan define the term “containment” in 1947 and what did this policy seek to achieve?

    2. What does Gaddis cite as the most dramatic shift in policy towards the Soviet Union after the deliverance of Kennan’s “long-telegraph”? Does Gaddis see this as an effective strategy by the U.S. in 1947?

    3. How did Kennan differentiate the Soviet Union from Germany in terms of how each sought to expand their influences? What objectives did Kennan propose in order to handle the “Soviet challenge” of expansionism?

    4. What reservations did Kennan have in the development of NATO and why did he feel that Western Europeans misunderstood the intentions of the Soviet Union?

    5. What were some of the ways in which Kennan agreed and disagreed with what was outlined in NSC-68? Did Gaddis feel that NSC-68 was a success of failure in terms of U.S. diplomacy with the Soviet Union?

    6. In Eisenhower’s final years in office, many intellectuals claimed that the “New Look” strategy had failed. What explanations did Gaddis offer for this?

    7. What difficulties did the Eisenhower administration face while attempting to deal with Communism in the third world? Why did Gaddis claim that the administration suffered a “failure of vision” in terms of how they handled the threat of Communism?

    8. What was John F. Kennedy’s “new” identity and what were some of the ways in which he differentiated himself from Eisenhower?

    9. How was the “flexible response” strategy applied in Vietnam and what does Gaddis cite as its failures?

    10. In 1968, Henry Kissinger claimed that American foreign policy needed to undergo a “philosophical deepening” to sufficiently create world order. What did he suggest in order to achieve this? How were his proclamations similar to those of George Kennan’s?

    11. What were some of the ways in which Regan greatly differed from his predecessors in terms of how to deal with the Soviet Union? What were his complaints in regards to the strategy of détente?

    12. Does Gladdis feel that the Cold War strategies of containment can be applied to modern-day U.S. diplomacy in the war on terror? Why or why not?

  15. Benjamin Long said, on November 1, 2011 at 6.24pm

    1. Were the criticisms that the US policy during the Second World War “relied on the Russians too heavily to defeat the Germans too thoroughly” justified?
    2. To whom would George F. Kennan credit with having a “universalistic” approach to national interest in international affairs, what are his criticisms of this approach and what alternatives to this approach would he endorse.
    3. Why did Kennan believe it was unlikely that the Soviet Union would risk war with the United States and why did he warn against going to war with them?
    4. What were Keenan’s recommendations regarding the implementation of a policy of containment and how did it correspond with the actions of the Truman administration?
    5. In what ways was NCS-68 a break with Keenan’s policies and what was the “unexpected help” that its supporters received from the Soviet Union?
    6. How were the policies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles regarding the Soviet Union different from each other and what are the strengths of these arguments according to Gaddis?
    7. How did Walt Whitman Rostow’s “Basic National Security Policy” influence the American foreign policies of the 1960’s?
    8. In what ways were Keenan’s ideas of containment making a comeback during the Nixon administration?
    9. What does Gaddis see as the “limits” of symmetrical and asymmetrical containment and what strategy rose in their place?
    10. What is the possible “transferability” of Keenan’s containment policies in the twenty first century?

  16. Anna Bolman said, on November 15, 2011 at 12.06pm

    November 14, 2011
    Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa 1959-1976

    1. What are the succession of events that led to American involvement in Cuba? What American interests were represented?

    2. How did Castro’s personal inclinations about the USA shape Cuba’s foreign policy? Soviet commitment? African allegiance? From where did his feelings originate and what propelled them?

    3. What was the link that caused Cuba to assist Algeria? How did they offer that assistance? What was their “parallel struggle”?

    4. How does Glieijeses’ account of Cuban intervention in Zaire and the Congo change our perception of United States foreign policy? Is there any validity in suggesting that Cuba was involved in certain affairs to counteract US forces or was Cuba again representing countries in their “parallel struggle”?

    5. What “new” history can be learned from the accounts of Angola?

    6. In what ways does Gleijeses’ refute Kissinger’s assessment of the Angola situation [from the 70s]?

    7. What does Gleijeses’ work teach us about the root causes for American intervention and America’s mission across the globe? Is this hidden tyranny?

    8. In what ways does Gleijeses’ work restructure our perception of Fidel Castro? How is he depicted and how does that contrast or compliment our study of Cuba?

    9. How does Gleijeses’ meticulous use of first-hand Cuban and American sources effect his understanding of Cuban-African relations?

  17. Catherine said, on November 15, 2011 at 3.13pm

    1. What is the role of socialism in the relationship between the United States and Cuba? In other words, to what extent did communism influence Cuba’s actions toward the United States? Specifically, I am thinking of United States interference in Vietnam as a “test case” – “if the Soviets failed to respond forcefully to the American bombings there, what reason was there to hope that they would behave differently when Cuba was the target?” Cuba is in a unique position in that it seeks aid from a communist country while simultaneously attempting to assuage a democratic nation.
    2. As we discussed concerning Strategies of Containment, it is often the policy of the United States to become involved only to the extent that we can limit our casualties. To what extent does our involvement in Vietnam affect our ability to intervene in African politics? Here, American racism plays a significant role, which is one example of domestic policy as it affects United States’ foreign policy. Gleijeses notes that Washington officials cajoled and yelled at Belgium in order to force involvement in pushing through Washington’s agenda (124).
    3. What is the influence of Gleijeses’ sources? For example, the author states in the introduction that he was unable to gain access to any documents in Africa. In Chapter Seven, Benigno claims that Che had a rule that any Cuban who had a sexual relationship with an African woman would have to marry her, even if the soldier was already married. Benigno’s story is that a soldier, upon being ordered to bring his new Zairean wife to Cuba, shot himself in the head. According to this story, Che claimed that the men “lacked discipline” and would be punished for burying the body. In terms of sources, Gleijeses claims that this is problematic because Benigno is in France under political asylum and, therefore, not under Cuban rule. On the other hand, the author indicates that this story may be fictitious and representative of soldiers’ unwillingness to anger and upset Castro. How much validity do we lend to these sources and the stories that Gleijeses tells?
    4. What is the meaning behind Castro’s change of heart in claiming that socialism can be reached through the polls rather than through armed invasion (217)? It seems that Cuba expects aid on the basis of its political views, which allies the country with the Soviet Union and opposes it to the democratic United States.
    5. How does United States policy toward Latin America change over time? As Kissinger states in his policy toward Portugal, “If we are going to be tough to those who don’t cooperate, we have to be helpful to those who do” (227). Where do you think the United States should draw the line between military and economic aid? Kissinger claims that military aid will gain the United States more influence than any amount of money could accomplish.
    6. How does U.S. policy change once we estimate that the Soviet/socialist threat had been defanged? The author claims that Nixon’s African policy was apathetic and tilted toward a white-centric policy. In 1973, DCI Colby claims that Portugal is such a “sleepy backwater” that it might be advantageous to end United States involvement (274).
    7.What are we to make of the United States overlooking Cuban involvement in the covert operation in Angola? In Chapter 15, the author recognizes that MPLA partisans did not include Cuba, which seems to be a critical error in judgment on the part of Kissinger. “No one thought the Cuban troops would intervene,” according to Mulcahy (324). Here, historical memory is at play; even if the United States remembered the role of the Cubans in the MPLA. If, they recognized this role, it did not seem of importance to the United States.
    8. To what extent is the United States pressured into action in the civil war by the involvement of other countries? Gleijeses claims that this is due, in part, to the death of good alternatives. There was very little hope for a peaceful transition and once the Civil War began, there was little choice but to become involved.
    9. In hindsight, Kennedy’s administration recognizes that Castro’s fears of invasion were legitimate. Kennedy’s defense secretary Robert McNamara claims, “I want to state quite frankly with hindsight, if I had been a Cuban leader…I think I might have expected a U.S. invasion…And I should say, as well, if I had been a Soviet leader at the time, I might have come to the same conclusion” (19). Similarly, what was the (potential) impact of Kennedy’s assassination in accommodating Cuba? The author’s suggestion is that President Johnson could not have been as effective, in part because he is a new president and might be accused of “going soft” (21).
    10. When the U.S. asks Belgium to intervene militarily in Zaire, Ambassador Rose claimed that the Belgians “laugh at the Americans for seeing a Communist behind every bush” (64). What do you think is the validity behind this comment? What are the differences that we see among U.S. administrations in such foreign policy?

  18. Juanna Carmichael said, on November 28, 2011 at 11.46am

    Study Questions for A Problem from Hell- Part II-Chapters 9-14

    1. Besides the air strikes initiated by the Clinton administration, and the involvement of the UN peacekeepers, what are some other actions the United States could have taken to hastily stop the escalation of genocide in Bosnia? What other forms of penalties, the US could have adapted to discontinue ethnic cleansing? Couldn’t the United States have initiated economic sanctions, request the dismissal of countries with genocidal regimes from the United Nations, close US embassies or even freeze foreign assets…?

    2. Albert Einstein said “the world is a dangerous place to live in; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Was Bush immoral for being so lackadaisical towards the ethnic cleansing occurring in Bosnia? What role does the newspaper and media play in promulgating an apathetic attitude towards various ethnic cleansing incidences?

    3. Why was there such a lack of morality within the Bush and Clinton administration in regards to ethnic cleansing?

    4. Why are protagonist who challenge and defend moral, and ethical principals of world politics, oftentimes branded as being senseless and illogical?

    5. Does the Kosovo, and Rwanda genocide reflect an unfriendly, and selfish side to politics in which the right thing can only occur if it is in the best interest of the most prominently militarized nation?

    6. Did humanitarian efforts in Somalia truly “deflect attention from Bosnia”?

    7. Why did the U.S. focus on restoring a cease-fire and the Arusha agreement even after the Hutu government began eliminating the Tutsi?

    8. In addition to the five convoys sent to evacuate two hundred and fifty Americans and other foreigners in Rwanda, why weren’t additional reinforcement of convoys sent to join the existing UN peacekeepers to be a deterrent force to the Hutus?

    9. Weren’t the US and the UN aware that their threatening tactics to remove UN peace-keepers was what the Hutus wanted in order to carry out their vengeful acts?

    10. Why were European governments so adamant about America not lifting the arms embargo, which would have ultimately help the Muslims defend themselves?

    11. Similarly to Rwanda, UN was present when the genocide began in Srebrenica. Is America to be blamed for all the atrocities that occurred in the safe areas because they did not establish a military force of resistance to prevent the Serbs from furthering their brutality?

    12. Why was a presidential threat from Senator Bob Dole, who supported actions in Bosnia, the only impetus, for the Clinton administration to finally begin armed intervention with NATO in 1995?

    13. Why did the UN war crimes tribunal wait until May 24, 1999, to indict the then Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic; who had engineered two genocides during the years of 1995-1999?

    14. What U.S. interests were being threatened, that provoked the United States to become involved in the Serb-Albanian conflict?

    15. Does the punishment of perpetrators of genocide through the international court system help survivors cope with the atrocities they endured?

    16. Why did it take added atrocities to occur in Yugoslavia and Rwanda in order for a war crimes tribunal to be formed?

    17. Was Lemkin, and his successors influential in assisting to make genocide a crime?

    18. Are there political interest, incentives and alliances , which influence the UN, and the tribunal court to pursue some criminals and not others?

    19. Why did the United States prolong its refusal to ratify the genocide convention?

    20. Why was the United States so reluctant to use the term genocide during the Bosnian, and Rwanda massacres?

    21. Does the United States, the UN, and other countries have a moral responsibility to prevent and stop genocide throughout the world? Should the moral responsibility of multilateral involvement of countries take precedence over political interests?

  19. Rachel Gomez said, on November 29, 2011 at 11.40am

    A Problem from Hell, Samantha Power

    Chapters 1-8

    What, according to Power, is a recurrent theme of US failure to respond to acts of genocide over the years?

    Why does Power also examine the response of US citizens to acts of genocide around the globe?

    To what extent did Wilson’s self-determination policy support and challenge a sovereign state’s “right” to perpetrate acts of genocide?

    Why was it critical to Lemkin to find a word to describe what was happening to Jews in Europe pre and during WWII?

    What accounts for the shift in thinking in regards to holding nations and state leadership accountable for acts of genocide by the international community in December of 1948?

    What statement(s) can be made about the American political system and the American people that it took nearly four decades for the US to ratify the 1948 Human Rights Treaty?

    On page 69, Power states that US objection of the treaty “was rooted in a traditional hostility toward any infringement on US sovereignty.” Was this a valid concern in the 1950s? 1960s? 1970s?

    What role did the media, specifically the New York Times, play in advancing Lemkin’s cause? In advancing the isolationists cause?

    If the United States professes to support those peoples and nations who look to adopt democracy, what responsibility does the United States bare to those same nations and peoples who suffer such atrocities as ethnic cleansing and genocide?

    How should the United States balance its interests (political, economic, social) with extreme human rights violations as seen in Cambodia, Iraq, and other nation states who initiate ethnic cleansing or genocide?

    If other powerful nations (England, Germany, etc) fail to act other than to condemn such atrocities, should the United States?

    Does America’s history in Vietnam justify the lack of a response to Pol Pot?

    Given the fact that Americans were extremely distrustful of their own government, is it understandably that they then questioned whether or not the reporting on Cambodia was accurate?

    According to McGovern, what was the difference between US involvement in Vietnam and the potential US involvement in Cambodia in the late 70s?

    Given Carter’s post-presidential record on fighting against human rights violations, why did he refuse to involve the US in Cambodia?

    To what extent is the UN and the International Court ineffective if nothing actually changes as a result of a UN declaration?

    Why did the US finally ratify the genocide convention under Reagan?

    What were US motivations in supporting Iraq during the war with Iran despite the ratification of the genocide convention?

    Despite the information gathered by the State Department, why didn’t the US act?

    If countries that ratified the genocide convention fail to respond in any measure to genocide, should they be held accountable?

    How did Pell’s bill provide the Reagan administration an opportunity to act?

    If the Reagan administration had the power to influence Iraq, why did they yet again choose not to despite more and more intelligence indicating the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds??

    Are there any analogies to the Reagan and Bush (initially upon taking office) administrations appeasement of Hussein to that of Western Europe to Hitler during WWII?

  20. Juanna Carmichael said, on November 29, 2011 at 3.40pm

    Study Questions for A Problem from Hell – Chapters 9-14
    1. Besides the air strikes initiated by the Clinton administration and the involvement of the UN peacekeepers, what are some other actions the United States could have taken to hastily stop the escalation of genocide in Bosnia? What other forms of penalties, the US could have adapted to discontinue ethnic cleansing? Couldn’t the United States have initiated economic sanctions, request the dismissal of countries with genocidal regimes from the United Nations, close US embassies or even freeze foreign assets…?
    2. Albert Einstein said “the world is a dangerous place to live in; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Was Bush immoral for being so lackadaisical towards the ethnic cleansing occurring in Bosnia? What role does the newspaper and media play in promulgating an apathetic attitude towards various ethnic cleansing incidences?
    3. Why was there such a lack of morality within the Bush and Clinton administration in regards to ethnic cleansing?
    4. Why are protagonists who challenge and defend moral and ethical principles of world politics, oftentimes branded as being senseless and illogical?
    5. Does the Kosovo and Rwanda genocide reflect an unfriendly and selfish side to politics in which the right thing can only occur if it is in the best interest of the most prominently militarized nation?
    6. Did humanitarian efforts in Somalia truly “deflect attention from Bosnia”?
    7. Why did the U.S. focus on restoring a cease-fire and the Arusha agreement even after the Hutu government began eliminating the Tutsi?
    8. In addition to the five convoys sent to evacuate two hundred and fifty Americans and other foreigners in Rwanda, why weren’t additional reinforcement of convoys sent to join the existing UN peacekeepers to be a deterrent force to the Hutus?
    9. Weren’t the US and the UN aware that their threatening tactics to remove UN peace-keepers was what the Hutus wanted in order to carry out their vengeful acts?
    10. Why were European governments so adamant about America not lifting the arms embargo, which would have ultimately help the Muslims defend themselves?
    11. Similarly to Rwanda, UN was present when the genocide began in Srebrenica. Is America to be blamed for all the atrocities that occurred in the safe areas because they did not establish a military force of resistance to prevent the Serbs from furthering their brutality?
    12. Why was a presidential threat from Senator Bob Dole, who supported actions in Bosnia, the only impetus, for the Clinton administration to finally begin armed intervention with NATO in 1995?
    13. Why did the UN war crimes tribunal wait until May 24, 1999, to indict the then Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic; who had engineered two genocides during the years of 1995-1999?
    14. What U.S. interests were being threatened, that provoked the United States to become involved in the Serb-Albanian conflict?
    15. Does the punishment of perpetrators of genocide through the international court system help survivors cope with the atrocities they endured?
    16. Why did it take added atrocities to occur in Yugoslavia and Rwanda in order for a war crimes tribunal to be formed?
    17. Were Lemkin and his successor’s influential in assisting to make genocide a crime?
    18. Are there political interest, incentives and alliances, which influence the UN, and the tribunal court to pursue some criminals and not others?
    19. Why did the United States prolong its refusal to ratify the genocide convention?
    20. Why was the United States so reluctant to use the term genocide during the Bosnian, and Rwanda massacres?
    21. Do the United States, the UN, and other countries have a moral responsibility to prevent and stop genocide throughout the world? Should the moral responsibility of multilateral involvement of countries take precedence over political interests?

  21. Tracey F. Laroche said, on December 4, 2011 at 7.04pm

    Tracey F. Laroche – Study Questions for “The Road to 9/11”

    What are two major themes that were discussed as the U.S. foreign policy since the 1960s that led to 9/11?

    How did key issues in the secrecy of decision-making affect policy?

    What is the significance of World War II that Dale discusses?

    Private wealth rather than public initiated what kinds of issues?

    Who is Dale referring to that had the greatest impact?


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