KC Johnson

US Foreign Relations (fall 2021)

This course explores American foreign relations from the Progressive Era to the present day. The course will be structured as a combination of lectures (on-line, asynchronous, via snippets) and synchronous small-group meetings.


  • Final exam (50%)
  • NSC Group Participation (30%)
  • Quizzes [from lecture snippets] (10%)
  • Participation (10%)

Contact Info:

Office: Zoom, by appointment

email: kcjohnson9@gmail.com; cell: 207-329-8456

All journal articles will be emailed, and each class also will feature additional reading from primary sources.


August 28.  Introduction

Week 2 (8/31-9/2, lecture snippets).

Origins US foreign relations, Progressivism

  • Nancy Mitchell, “The Height of the German Challenge: The Venezuela Blockade, 1902–3,” Diplomatic History 20 (1996), pp. 185-210.
  • Mary Barton, “The Global War on Anarchism: The United States and International Anarchist Terrorism, 1898–1904,” Diplomatic History 39 (2015), pp. 303-330.

Week 3 (9/9 lecture snippets only, CUNY schedule no classes 9/3-9/8).

World War I

  • Ross A. Kennedy“Woodrow Wilson, World War I, and American National Security,” Diplomatic History 25 (2001), pp. 1-32.
  • Michael Adas, “Ambivalent Ally: American Military Intervention and the Endgame and Legacy of World War I,” Diplomatic History 38 (2014), pp. 700-12.

Week 4 (9/14 lecture snippets only, CUNY schedule no classes 9/15-9/16).

The League of Nations Controversy

  • Gerwarth and Manela, “The Great War as a Global War: Imperial Conflict and the Reconfiguration of World Order, 1911–1923,” Diplomatic History 38 (2014), pp. 788-800.
  • Emily Rosenberg, “World War I, Wilsonianism, and Challenges to U.S. Empire,” Diplomatic History 38 (2014), pp. 852-863.
  • League-related documents & maps

Week 5 (Week of 9/21, lecture snippets, group discussion)

1920s, Great Depression

  • William Walker III“Crucible for Peace: Herbert Hoover, Modernization, and Economic Growth in Latin America,” Diplomatic History 30 (2006), pp. 83-117.
  • Joseph Fronczak, “Local People’s Global Politics: A Transnational History of the Hands Off Ethiopia Movement of 1935,” Diplomatic History 39 (2015), pp. 247-274.

Week 6 (Week of 9/28, lecture snippets, group discussion)

Path to U.S. entry into World War II

  • Eric Paul Roorda, “Genocide Next Door: The Good Neighbor Policy, the Trujillo Regime, and the Haitian Massacres of 1937,” Diplomatic History 20, pp. 301-320.
  • Douglas M. Charles, “Informing FDR: FBI Political Surveillance and the Isolationist-Interventionist Foreign Policy Debate, 1939–1945 Diplomatic History 24 (2000), pp. 211-232.

Week 7 (Week of 10/5, lecture snippets, group discussion)

World War II & Aftermath

  • Sarah Ellen Graham, “American Propaganda, the Anglo-American Alliance, and the ‘Delicate Question’ of Indian Self-Determination,” Diplomatic History 33 (2009), pp. 223-259.
  • Marc Trachtenberg, “The United States and Eastern Europe in 1945: A Reassessment,” Journal of Cold War Studies 10, pp. 94-132.

Week 8 (Week of 10/12, lecture snippets, group discussion)

The Militarization of the Cold War

  • Steven Casey, Selling NSC-68: The Truman Administration, Public Opinion, and the Politics of Mobilization, 1950–51,” Diplomatic History (2005).
  • Robert Frazier, “Kennan, ‘Universalism,’ and the Truman Doctrine,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Volume 11, pp. 3-34.

Week 9 (Week of 10/19, lecture snippets, group discussion)

The High Cold War

  • Michelle Getchell, “Revisiting the 1954 Coup in Guatemala,” Journal of Cold War Studies 17 (2015), pp. 73-101.
  • David Coleman, “The Missiles of November, December, January, February . . . : The Problem of Acceptable Risk in the Cuban Missile Crisis Settlement,” Journal of Cold War Studies 9.3 (2007), pp. 5-48.

Week 10 (Week of 10/26, lecture snippets, group discussion)

LBJ and Vietnam

  • Thomas Allcock, “Becoming “Mr. Latin America”: Thomas C. Mann Reconsidered,” Diplomatic History 38 (2014), pp. 1017-34.
  • Pierre Aselin, ““We Don’t Want a Munich”: Hanoi’s Diplomatic Strategy, 1965–1968,” Diplomatic History 36 (2012), pp. 547-81.

Week 11 (Week of 11/2, lecture snippets, group discussion)

Nixon, Human Rights

  • Evelyn Goh“Nixon, Kissinger, and the ‘Soviet Card’ in the U.S. Opening to China, 1971–1974,” Diplomatic History (2005).
  • Tanya Harmer, “Fractious Allies: Chile, the United States, and the Cold War, 1973–76,” Diplomatic History 37 (2013), pp. 109-143.
  • Pat Holt (Foreign Relations Committee staffer) oral history

Week 12 (Week of 11/9, lecture snippets, group discussion)

Crisis and Cold War End

  • Evan McCormack, “Freedom Tide,” Journal of Cold War Studies 16 (2014), pp. 60-109.

Week 13 (Week of 11/16, lecture snippets, group discussion)

Bush & Clinton

  • Batholemew Sparrow, “Realism’s Practitioner: Brent Scowcroft and the Making of the New World Order, 1989–1993,” Diplomatic History 34 (2010), pp. 141-175.
  • Mary Elias Sarotte, “Not One Inch Eastward? Bush, Baker, Kohl, Genscher, Gorbachev, and the Origin of Russian Resentment toward NATO Enlargement in February 1990,” Diplomatic History 34 (2010), pp. 119-140.
  • Melvyn Leffler, “9/11 and American Foreign Policy,” Diplomatic History 29 (2005), pp. 395-413.

Week 14 (Week of 11/30, lecture snippets, group discussions):

Obama and Trump

Week 15 (Week of 12/7, group presentations)

Mock-NSC presentations

Final Exam

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