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PS110Y/D: War & Peace in American Foreign Policy | Kenneth Schultz

Week 1 Course Introduction & the National Interest 


Class Announcements

  1. New Section Time. There is a new section available on Coursework on Monday morning at 10:30am.

  2. Verify Course Version. Make sure that you are signed up for the correct version of this class! If you are taking the class to satisfy the writing in major (WIM) requirement, then you should be enrolled in PS 110D.

Section Objectives

  1. Positive vs. Normative Theory. Explain the differences between positive and normative claims and be able to distinguish between the two.

  2. The National Interest. Review Rice (2000) and identify what Rice claims the national interests are. Compare/Contrast the similarity with national interests identified in lecture, discuss limitations of the national interest/realist model, and debate whether promoting democracy abroad is a national interest.

Normative vs. Positive Theory

Week 1: Course Intro & Natinal Interst

Class ExerciseDetermine whether the claims below are normative or positive ones.

  1. A country selects its foreign policy in order to further its national interest. (Positive)

  2. A country should only select foreign policies that further its national interests. (Normative)

  3. Rice (2000) argues that the United States should focus on making its military allies stronger, particularly those in Eastern Europe so that they will be less tempting to Russia. (Note: Is Rice’s claim positive or normative? -- Normative)

  4. Countries that are equal in power are less likely to go to war with each other. (Positive)

  5. Rice (2000): “It is in America’s interest to strengthen the hands of those who seek economic integration because this will probably lead to sustained and organized pressures for political liberalization. There are no guarantees, but in scores of cases from Chile to Spain to Taiwan, the link between democracy and economic liberalization has proven powerful over the long run (pg. 55).”  (Trick question. First sentence is a normative claim. The second sentence is a positive claim.)


Key Notes about Positive vs. Normative Theory

  • A positive claim can be correct or incorrect. Even if a claim is patently wrong, it is a positive claim as long as it is (attempting and failing) to explain the world as it is. For example, if I say “Eating ice cream for breakfast every morning will cause you to lose weight,” I’m still making a positive claim even though what I am saying is incorrect.

  • Positive theory can (and often does) inform normative prescriptions. See #5 on exercise above. There is a long academic literature documenting the relationship between economic development and regime change. In particular, autocracies with high levels of economic liberalization are more likely to democratize. If we think that it is important for China to become a democracy, then, it would make sense to recommend promoting economic liberalization (the normative prescription) to achieve that end.

Making Sense of the National Interest


National Interest: Things that are strictly necessary to maintain the well-being of the country as a free and prosperous nation.

As you can see, these two lists are more or less similar. Humanitarian goals and upholding international law are notably absent in both cases. However, Rice’s list does seem to put a bit more emphasis on promoting democracy and American values abroad than the Commission on America’s National Interests.


What do you think? Is promoting democracy abroad a national interest of the United States? Is it a goal that we should be willing to use military force for?

Limitations of using the "National Interest" as a Guide to Foreign Policy

  1. It is an indeterminate guide to foreign policy.

    There are many goals with which most people can agree that they are in our national interests. For instance, preventing a chemical weapons attack against the United States. However, while we can agree on the ends here, the means by which we can best achieve them is the source of some of the most vicious debates in foreign policy. (We'll see this in the case of Syria, which you'll have to write about in your first paper assignment.)

    For instance, what about the use of international law to prevent chemical weapons attacks? In both Rice's and the Committee on America's National Interests, upholding international law is absent. However, someone could come back and say, "Yes, while upholding international law for its own sake isn't a national interest of the United States, using and enforcing international law can be a powerful tool to achieve U.S. interest." The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is one of the most widely ratified treaties in all of international law, and one could say that it has done a great deal to deter the use of chemical weapons. However, once a state does use chemical weapons, it's important that the law is enforced if you still want to use the law to deter other countries. Otherwise, these other potential aggressors will see that the law has no bite and have no incentive to follow it. Thus, should the United States enforce the CWC when a state uses chemical weapons? Is it a reasonable way to pursue its national interest?

  2. Concerns about credibility and leadership can rapidly expand what can be justified as being in the national interest.

    Think about Ken's discussion from lecture of his son and throwing a pebble in a pipe. Once he told his son not to do it, his credibility as a parent was on the line when his son threw another pebble in the pipe. While Ken didn't really even care about the pebble, he had an incentive to reprimand his son. The same is true of international politics. We'll see this concern about credibility popping up over and over throughout the quarter, but if you still don't fully understand how this applies to IR, see the slides on the Cuban missile crisis from lecture 2 in class.


For those who are interested, see Wolfers (1952) on the ambiguity of "national security" as a way to justify policy as well as the number of ways politicians have relied on the rhetoric about the "national interest" to justify policy. As you can see, it pops up in a lot of places and in ways that we wouldn't typically expect based on what we talked about in class. Moving forward in the class, we'll restrict our attention to just the traditional national interests outline in lecture, but I wanted you to be aware how it pops up in the news all the time!

Supplemental Readings

Week 2 Bureaucratic Politics, Domestic Politics, & Public Opinion


Class Announcements

  1. Verify Course Version. Make sure that you are signed up for the correct version of this class! If you are taking the class to satisfy the writing in major (WIM) requirement, then you should be enrolled in PS110D.

  2. Upcoming Paper Assignment. Start thinking about the first paper assignment. For WIM students, the first draft of the paper will be due April 19th, the Tuesday of the week after next. For non-WIM students, the final version of the paper will be due April 26th.

Section Objectives

  1. Theoretical Lenses of the President. Review the three views of the president: as a statesman (i.e. national interest model), as a chief executive (i.e. bureaucratic politics model), and as a politician (i.e. domestic politics model).

  2. Public Opinion. Review Zaller (1994) and Shapiro & Page (1988). Distinguish between the bottom-up and top-down models of public opinion.

  3. Understanding Syria. Introduce topic and requirements for first paper assignment. Provide overview of the conflict, and identify evidence from Syria Readings #1-6 for the models of the presidents as well as the theories of public opinion.

Section Quiz

  1. What are the two main limitations of the national interest model?

    First, national interests are an indeterminate guide to policy. Second, Leadership and credibility concerns can radically expand the set of policies that can be justified.

  2. What are the two key features of the bureaucratic politics model? Give an example from Marsh (2012) of the bureaucratic politics model at work.

    One tenet of the bureaucratic politics model is that bureaucratic actors have preferences over when and how force is used.  Therefore, patterns of support and opposition among these actors influence policy choice. Another tenet is that organizations develop standard operating procedures (SOPs), which limit the options available to the president. 

    We can see the bureaucratic politics at play in Marsh's analysis of Bush's decision in late 2006 to order the Iraq troop surge. One of the primary advocates for this decision was General David Petraeus who had developed the Military’s new COIN doctrine. Iraq provided the best opportunity for him to put the principles of his new doctrine into action, which would provide the basis for his promotion through the ranks of the military. By contrast, Donald Rumsfeld of the DoD was against the surge because it would indicate a defeat of the strategy that he was responsible for devising.


  3. According to Russett (1990), when is a president most likely to use military force abroad in order to generate a rally around the flag effect?

    Russett (1990) argues that the president is most likely to use military force for diversionary purposes before an election (especially if the election is close) and during deteriorating economic conditions.

  4. What are the main claims Shapiro & Page (1988) make about American public opinion? What is the argument that the authors are trying to counter?

    Shapiro & Page advance the following three claims: (1) As a collective body, the American public's evaluation of foreign policy is stable and structured (i.e. opinion is not volatile); (2) the public uses information provided to them by elites and the media to inform their perspectives; and (3) when shifts in public opinion do occur, it is a rational response to changing political conditions or events. 

    In advancing these claims, Shapiro & Page are challenging the claim that the American public is "moody" and unreliable, which pops up in arguments against allowing public opinion to influence foreign policy. ​


Three Views of the President

Week 2: Bureaucratic Politics

Syrian Chemical Weapons Crisis


Crisis Overview

  • Protests against the Assad regime begin as part of the Arab Spring in 2011. The government responds with violent repression, and the country devolves into civil war by early 2012.

  • Throughout the protests and conflict, President Obama had repeatedly calls for Assad to step down from power.

  • In August 2012, Obama issues his famous “red line.” Obama makes it clear that if Assad begins to mobilize chemical weapons, he will not hesitate to respond with military force against his regime.

  • By June 2013, there is evidence of some minor use of chemical weapons. There is some debate at the elite level about how to respond.

  • The situation, however, blows up in late August 2013 when there is a very public attacks on suburbs of Damascus in which chemical weapons were used. Many clear videos of the attacks circulate.

  • These attacks put Obama in a position where he needs to decide what to do. After all, he had said he would take military action in 2012 if this happened, and now that it had, he has to decide whether to follow through on his military threat.

  • There is a big debate among the American public and elites about whether the United States should conduct airstrikes against the Assad regime. Obama decides to seek Congressional authorization for the attacks, although there did not seem to be much support in Congress at the time.

  • Before Congress votes, Russia steps in to negotiate a deal that gets Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and the United States is able to avoid using military force.


The Prompt: Essentially, what the prompt is asking you to do is to interpret this deal made by the Russians, and you can take one of two broad positions:

  1. Either Obama’s military threat was credible. Had the Russians not made deal, he would have been willing to follow through on his military threat. In fact, it is precisely because Obama’s military threat is credible that Syria was willing to give up its nuclear weapons. The Assad regime only did so because it wanted to avoid U.S. military action. If you think that Obama’s threat is credible, you will need to explain why he would be able to use military force in the face of domestic opposition.

  2. Obama’s military threat was not credible. Given the amount of domestic opposition, there was no way President Obama would have been able to follow through with military action. Obama only accepts the deal made by the Russians because he would not have been able to take military action, and the deal offered him a way to back down from an incredible threat. If you believe that Obama would not have been able to use force, who and what would have been able to stop him? Why?

For both of these arguments, be sure to discuss the role and influence of the president, the military, public opinion, and Congress. Also, please remember that we are asking you to make a positive argument: that is, we want you to explain what happen. Be careful to avoid making normative claims. Avoid saying what President Obama/Congress/etc. did right or wrong, or what these players should have done instead.

Case Questions: Syria Readings #1-6 

National Interest

  1. [SR #1] When President Obama first issues the “red line” in 2012, what national interests does he claim are at stake?

    The Obama administration claimed that if Assad mobilized chemical weapons, there would be a risk that these weapons fall into the hands of terrorist groups in the region, like Hezbollah or al Qaeda. The acquisition of these weapons by terrorist groups would pose a direct security threat to the United States and its key allies in the region, including Israel.

  2. [SR #1] What kind of military operation would be required to protect these national interests, should Assad begin to mobilize chemical weapons?

    In order to neutralize Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, the United States would need to insert specialized teams as well as troops to protect those teams.

  3. [SR #3] When President Obama is considering using military force in 2013, what reasons for taking military action does the administration give? Compare/Contrast with the justification given in 2012.

    The administration began to justify taking action in terms of international and humanitarian law.

  4. [SR #3] What kind of military action is the administration considering in 2013? How is this suited (or not) to achieve the objectives described above?

    The administration was considering using limited airstrikes against the Assad regime, designed to send a message. There is no discussion of troops on the ground.

  5. Even if we do not consider the justifications for military action given in 2013 as ones strictly in the national interest, what “instrumental” national interest is as stake?

    The Commission on America’s National Interest [Lecture #2] includes several instrumental interests as being part of the “national interest.” One notable instrumental interests is that of credibility. In particular, it is important that other states believes that the United States will uphold its commitments and follow through on its military threats. Once President Obama issued the red line and the Assad regime crossed it, U.S. credibility was on the line.


Bureaucratic Politics

  1. [SR #2] Who are the main bureaucratic players within the administration highlighted in these articles?

    John Kerry, Secretary of State Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

  2. [SR #2] Which of these actors prefer taking military actions? Which do not?

    Kerry is arguing in favor for airstrikes against airfields under Assad’s control. Dempsey opposes Kerry’s plan and wants the United States to stay out of Syria. If the United States were to attack Syria, Dempsey would prefer to go in with much more force than what Kerry is advocating.

  3. To what extent do the disagreements between these actors reflect the dispositions of their bureaucratic organizations?

    As we learned in class, members of the military are often highly skeptical of becoming involved in humanitarian crises, which is consistent with Dempsey’s position. We may think that members of the State Department would be more concerned with upholding international law, which is consistent with Kerry’s position.

  4. How might we think disagreement between these actors influenced the type of military action that Obama was considering in 2013?

    The airstrikes Obama is considering in 2013 seems like it could be a compromise between not going in at all (Dempsey’s position) and more widespread airstrikes that could change the balance of power in favor of the rebels (Kerry’s position).

Domestic Politics

  1. [SR #1] When does President Obama issue the “red line” against the use of chemical weapons? Does the timing of the red line speech reveal anything important?

    President Obama issues the red line in August 2012, about three months prior to the presidential election in November. The timing of the “red line” might make us think that President Obama took such a hard stance against Syria in order to general a small “rally” or bump in approval in order to win the election. Importantly, at this time, Mitt Romney, his opponent, was criticizing him for being weak on foreign policy.

  2. In 2012, the country was becoming increasingly polarized, although not anywhere near the level of polarization we see today. How does this affect the potential for a political rally? [On your own, why might it not affect the potential for a rally?]

    As we saw in from some of the graphs in lecture, it is more difficult (but not impossible) to get a political rally when the country is polarized [Lecture #2, see lack of rally for Libya in 2011]. One reason why rallies may be less likely when the country is very polarized could be that elites are more willing to speak out against military action, leading to polarization effects instead of mainstreaming ones.

  3. How might war fatigue affect the potential for a political rally? [On your own, can you think of any reasons why war fatigue may not affect the potential for a political rally?]

    Although we haven’t talked about war fatigue in class, it is important to remember that the United States had recently undertaken airstrikes against Libya (in 2011, which was followed by the Benghazi attacks in 2012), had only recently ended the Iraq war, and was still involved in Afghanistan. With the American public warry of war, again, we may think elites of the opposition party would be more willing to criticize the policy, creating a polarization effect instead of a mainstreaming one.

  4. How might war fatigue and the level of polarization affect the type of military action President Obama was considering using in 2013? Why?

    As we saw in class, the President’s approval rating drops quickly as a war’s body count increases. So, in order for military action against Syria to be political popular (or at the very least, not politically disastrous), President Obama would need to select a quick and low-risk strategy--things that very targeted airstrikes could be.

Public Opinion

  1. [SR #4-6] Do the articles present any evidence for a “rational” or “reasonable” public in the sense that Shapiro & Page (1988) argue? If so, what?

    Yes, although public opinion is changing over the time period covered in the readings, there aren’t any “reversals” (i.e. the public is mostly opposed and it stays opposed). Additionally, in Syria reading #6, the Pew Research Center shows that the public has “reasonable” justifications for their opposition (i.e. many believe that that airstrikes are likely to make things worse in the Middle East).

  2. [SR #6] What evidence do these articles present for the mainstream and polarization effects discussed in Zaller (1994)? (Hint: How is public support changing over these articles?)

    It’s a little difficult to say for sure that there’s evidence for Zaller’s mainstreaming or polarization effects here, since we aren’t seeing what elites are saying at this time. However, as Syria reading #6 points out, most of the loss in support for airstrikes over the course of the public debate is coming from Republicans becomes opposed to taking military action, not the Democrats. We can therefore imagine that it is republican elites in Congress that are most likely speaking out against the attacks, creating a polarization effect. From Syria Reading #3, we can at least see that Republicans are avoiding speaking out in favor of the attacks, instead making arguments that Congress should have the final say in authorization.

  3. [SR #4-6] Is there anything odd about the trends in public opinion shown here, given what we would expect based on the polarization effect?

    Based on the polarization effect, we would expect Republicans to be more likely oppose military action and Democrats to be more likely to support it, since President Obama and John Kerry (those making the arguments for taking action) are Democrats. However, we see that Democrats are deeply divided over supporting the airstrikes, instead of simply following the cues from the Obama administration. The deep division among Democrats, however, may simply reflect the fact that Democrats are more likely to oppose military action in general.

  4. In Syria Reading #5, Andrew Dugan argues that public support for military action against Syria is likely to increase if Obama is able to get congressional authorization. Using the theories about public opinion we discussed in class, why should congressional authorization increase public support?

    To a certain extent, we might think that Congressional authorization would indicate some degree of elite consensus, since Republicans controlled the House. Elite consensus, in turn, would lead to a mainstreaming effect in support of airstrikes, according to Zaller.

  5. Why would President Obama care about a low approval rating, given the timing of this crisis?

    Importantly, President Obama is a second-term President in 2013, which means that he can’t seek re-election. Without an election in the future, it’s less clear why President Obama would care about public opinion or his approval. One reason he might care, however, would be to get more support for domestic legislation he wants to pass.

Supplemental Readings

Week 3: Media and Congress

Week 3 The Media and Congress

Class Announcements

  1. WIM first drafts due Tuesday. Please turn in a hard copy of your paper to me at the beginning of class Tuesday AND upload an electronic copy to Dropbox. When submitting to Dropbox on Coursework, you do not need to check the option to notify all instructors.

Section Objectives

  1. The Media. Explain how indexing and newsbeat systems can lead to biased coverage of foreign policy issues. Relate to the top-down model of public opinion and highlight the limits to the President’s ability influence public opinion.

  2. Congress & The President. Identify the tools Congress has to (at least in theory) influence the President’s decisions about war and peace. Discuss the incentives Congress has to delegate decisions to the President and how the President’s ability to anticipate opposition in Congress down the line may influence his policy decisions.

  3. Understanding Syria, Pt. II. What should we make of President Obama’s decision to seek Congressional authorization? Do you think that Congress would have approved the airstrikes or not? Why? What should we make of the deal made by the Russians?

Section Quiz

  1. What is the difference between mainstream and polarization effects?

    The mainstream effect occurs public opinion follows elite consensus, usually in support of the President’s policies. The polarization effect occurs when public opinion follows partisan cues when there is elite disagreement. Both of these effects increase with a person’s level of political awareness and/or education.

  2. What is indexing? What is a newsbeat? How do these practices affect news coverage of foreign policy issues?

    Indexing is when the media only covers the parameters of elite debate. So, when there is elite consensus, news coverage will reflect that consensus. When there is debate among the elites, only arguments made by elite voices will receive attention.

    Media outlets assign reporters to news beat, or a basic news territory, like the White House, State Department, or the Department of Defense. The reporter is then supposed to follow all the news traffic that come in and out of his/her beat. Thus, when there is a foreign policy crisis, media outlets will turn to the “Golden Triangle” to get their position on what is happening, meaning that the President’s administration can have a lot of leeway in controlling what appears in the news.


  3. Why do leaders care about their country’s credibility?

    Leaders want other countries to believe both their military threats and their commitments so that they aren’t challenged. Even if the United States is willing to go to war over an issue, it would be better if the United States could use the threat of force to get another country to comply without having to take military action. The same is true of U.S. commitments. The United States does not want its adversaries to challenge its commitments even if it is willing to uphold them.

Reviewing Public Opinion and the Media

Congressional Influence on War & Peace

Week 4: The Vietnam War

Week 4 The Vietnam War

Class Announcements

  1. WIM Students. I’ll have your papers ready for pick up at the end of class on Tuesday. Remember, you’ll need to submit your original draft with my comments attached with your final paper.

  2. Non-WIM Students. Papers are due, both on Dropbox and in hard-copy, at the beginning of class on Tuesday.

  3. Preparing for Paper #2. For your second paper, you’re going to have to rely on case studies of the wars we cover in class to make your argument. I’m including a blank version of the table below in the “Class Materials” section. You should use this table when completing the remaining readings to fill in evidence about these different aspects of the war. I won’t be providing as detailed tables in the future. So, filling in the tables while you read now will save you a lot of trouble when it comes time to start writing your second paper!

Section Objectives

  1. Containment. Explain the doctrine of containment and how it plays into the (at least) perception of a strong national interest in Vietnam.

  2. Reviewing Vietnam. Recap main features of the Vietnam War. Evaluate the extent to which domestic interests (political, bureaucratic ones) “pushed” the United States to involve itself in Vietnam vs. national, strategic interests. Assess whether America’s failure in Vietnam results from domestic constraints or features of the conflict itself.

U.S. Involvement in Vietnam

“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now.” – Ronald Regan, 1980

“Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world's policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world's midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war.” --Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1979”


  1. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

  2. General Writing Tips

  3. Blank Vietnam War Table

Supplemental Materials

  • Westmoreland, William (1976). A Soldier Reports . Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

    In this book, General Westmoreland, who commanded U.S. forces in Vietnam, argues that the United States lost the war because Washington failed to provide the resources necessary for victory.

  • Caputo, Philip (1996). A Rumor of War . NY: Holt Paperbacks.

    Philip Caputo was a marine lieutenant in one of the first combat units in South Vietnam. In this book, he recounts many of the horrors of war, explaining both “the things men do in war and the things war does to them.”

Week 5: Persian Gulf and Somalia

Week 5 Persian Gulf War and Somalia


Class Announcements

  1. WIM Students: Re-writes are due on Tuesday, again in-person and on Dropbox at the beginning of class. Remember, you need to turn in your original draft with my comments as well. I’ll be holding additional office hours Monday morning, from 9:30-11 am if you want to meet to talk about your re-write.

  2. Non-WIM students: I’ll have your papers ready for you to pick up at the end of class on Tuesday.

Section Objectives

  1. Paper #2: Introduce the prompt for the second paper assignment, and work through questions that will be helpful for framing the direction of your paper.

  2. The Powell Doctrine: Explain the main tenets of the Powell Doctrine and its application in the conflicts in Iraq and Somalia. Analyze how the Powell Doctrine influenced U.S. goals and strategies, as well as highlight its limitations. Recount the erosion of the Powell Doctrine in Somalia in particular.

Thinking about Paper #2


You should start thinking about the second paper. It’s still a while off before the papers are going to be due, but it’ll be helpful for you to have the prompt in mind as we go through each of these cases. Be sure to read the prompt carefully on your own, but here’s the main thrust:

“Surveying the cases from this course, from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, it is certainly the case that many military operations failed to achieve their objectives. To what extent do you think that failures of American foreign policy are due to poor decisions by presidents? Did presidents make decisions that were clearly wrong-headed and ill-advised, or were failures a product of domestic and/or international constraints beyond their control. As you think about cases with failed outcomes, how much difference would it have made if a different person had been president?”


This is a fairly open-ended question, and it’s meant to be that way. But here are some more specific questions to keep in mind as you think about the direction you want to take your paper.

  1. Do domestic concerns “push” the United States into conflicts that are fundamentally unwinnable (or are at least very difficult)? Why or why not?

  2. Do domestic concerns lead the United States to adopt strategies that are ill-suited for the conflict at hand?

  3. Or does something entirely different account for U.S. failures? For instance, are there just inherent features of the conflicts we examined in this class that makes success unlikely?

  4. At the end of the day, why is the United States losing so many wars? Why aren’t we achieving our objectives?

Section Quiz

  1. How does divided vs. unified government affect the president’s decisions about war and peace?

    Divided government refers to when different parties control Congress and the White House, while unified government refers to when the same party controls both branches. Howell and Pevehouse (2005) show that the president is less likely to undertake major military actions abroad when there is divided government because he anticipates that Congress will oppose him down the line.

  2. What event marked the turning point in the Vietnam War? Why?

    The Tet Offensive marked the turning point in the Vietnam War. Although the offensive was not a military success for North Vietnam and the Vietcong, it was a political defeat for the United States. The offensive illustrated that victory was not at hand, and it created a “credibility gap” between what the administration had been saying and the reality of the war. Notably, it caused Walter Cronkite to report that if anything, the United States was mired in stalemate. Following the Tet Offensive, majorities in the United States would start believing the involvement in the war had been a mistake. President Johnson decided to cap troop involvement at 540,000 thousand, and he also withdrew from the 1968 presidential race.

  3. According to Zaller, how did domestic concerns affect President Bush’s decision to go to war with Iraq? Compare/Contrast his decision to commit to reversing the aggression in Kuwait in August 1990, his decision to send the initial 200,000 troops to Saudi Arabia, and his decision to send additional troops again in November to give the United States an “offensive option” for dealing with Iraq.

    When Bush declared that Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait “will not stand” in Aug. 1990, Zaller argues that he was not responding to any over political pressure. Rather, he suggests that President Bush was worried that Democrats in Congress would criticize him for responding weakly to aggression. Zaller also suggests that President Bush recognized that a successful military operation against Iraq could gain him a lot of political points in the 1992 election, especially since the United States was on the verge of a recession.

    Congressional support for Bush’s decision to send the initial 200,000 troops to Saudi Arabia (Operation Desert Shield) reflected a consensus that it was the correct decision for U.S. national interests. Democrats did oppose the Bush’s decision to send additional troops in November 1990 to give the United States an “offensive option” for dealing with Iraq. However, they found it difficult to publicly oppose the policy, since they recognized that doing so would undermine U.S. resolve. Instead, they believed it would be better to wait to launch any criticism until after the election so that the initial rally following the President’s decision would subside.


The Powell Doctrine in the Persian Gulf and Somalia


As we will see below, the Powell Doctrine is very important for understanding both the strategies and goals we adopted in the Persian Gulf and Somalia. Yet, the outcomes of these two conflicts are very different. The Persian Gulf War was in many ways an overwhelming success, while Somalia was a disaster. When reviewing the material below, ask yourself if the United States can use force abroad decisively. If so, how? If not, what’s preventing the United States from doing so?


Main Tenets:

  1. National Interest. Is a vital U.S. interest at stake?

  2. Overwhelming Force. Will we commit sufficient resources to win (swift, decisive, and overwhelming force)?

  3. Clear Objectives & Strategy. Are the objectives clearly defined? Is there a clear exit strategy?

  4. Commitment. Are we willing to sustain the commitment to win?

  5. Congressional & Public Support. Is there a reasonable expectation that the public and Congress will support the operation?

  6. Last Resort. Have we exhausted all other operations?


Notice how these criteria were meant to prevent us from making the same mistakes as we made in Vietnam. Powell wanted us to use “overwhelming” force to avoid the problems caused by Johnson’s “incremental escalation.” Remember, for a variety of political reasons, he kept trying to use the “minimum” amount of force necessary to prevent South Vietnam from falling to communism. When he would find that the number of troops he had sent were not enough, he’d dribble a little more in. So, even though we eventually had 540,000 troops there, it was only after we had lost control of the conflict. The counterfactual here is that had we sent the 540,000 troops (or more) at the beginning of the conflict, there’s a better chance we would have one the war.


The same is true for the criteria for clear objectives, clear exit strategy, and domestic support. “Preventing the spread of communism” is a succinct goal, but it’s not actually clear how the United States could or should have gone about it. As for domestic support, remember that many in the military strongly believed that the reason the United States lost the war was because there were so many political constraints on their actions, not because the military was incapable of winning.

Persian Gulf: Strategies & Goals

There were two main phases of the Gulf War: (1) Operation Desert Shield, which involved sending 200,000 troops to Saudi Arabia to deter further Iraqi aggression following its invasion of Kuwait; and (2) Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase of the war that lasted from Jan 17 to Feb 28, 1991. For the purpose of this class, it’s important that you understand the strategies in Operation Desert Storm.

Operation Desert Storm: There were two main components of Operation Desert Storm: the aerial campaign and the ground campaign, which included the famous “left hook.”


  • How did the United States use air power in the Gulf War? Did we adopt a punishment, coercion, or interdiction strategy?

    • The United States used an air interdiction strategy during the Gulf War. As Freedman and Karsh explain, the primary purpose of airpower was to prepare the battlefield for the ground troops. The air force by and large targeted lines of communication, supply lines, and military stockpiles. It is important to remember, however, that the air campaign did play a large part in the war, even if it was meant to aid the ground campaign. In fact, there was about 5 weeks of bombing before the ground invasion began, and the war ended after only 100 hours of ground combat.

  • How did this strategy different from the way we used airpower in Operation Rolling Thunder?

    • Operational Rolling Thunder was fundamentally a coercive bombing campaign. Remember, the United States wanted to convince North Vietnam that it was willing to inflict a lot more damage if U.S. demands were not met, and there were pauses in the campaign for negotiations. Another important thing to keep in mind here is that the United States chose to use Operation Rolling Thunder in lieu of a ground invasion of North Vietnam. Johnson made this decision for a number of reasons (for instance, not wanting to risk a wider war with the USSR and China), but one concern was U.S. casualties.

  • Why didn’t we use coercive airpower as a substitute for a ground campaign in Iraq? Even though there were only about 150 U.S. combat deaths during the campaign, many were convinced before the war started that any ground campaign would be mired with U.S. casualties. How did the Powell Doctrine influence this decision?

    • Here, we can see the influence of the Powell Doctrine, which says that you need to go in big, with overwhelming force so that you can have a quick, decisive victory. This was precisely the problem that Powell had with any plan that relied only on airpower. He was worried that a coercive or punishment strategy would NOT be swift and decisive. During a Senate Hearing in the lead up to the Gulf War, Colin Powell explained:

      “The fundamental problem in all such strategies is that it leaves the initiative in Saddam Hussein’s hands. He makes the decision as to whether or not we will or will not withdraw. He decides whether he has been punished enough so that it is now necessary for him to reverse his direction and take a new political task.”

    Powell, of course, had no doubt that the air force could inflict a lot of damage. But the problem is that “one can hunker down. One can dig in… {So even after a terrible amount of punishment}, the decision is still in the hands of the defender to decide whether or not he has had enough.”

    Using ground force, however, is different. Here, you physically defeat the other side. You push the troops back. You make them retreat. You get them out of Kuwait.

U.S. Goals in the Gulf: The other primary way we can see the influence of the Powell Doctrine on the Gulf War is in the aims of the operation itself. The United States decided to pursue the limited, clearly defined objective to reverse the aggression against Kuwait, choosing not to go all the way to Baghdad to oust Saddam.


Why didn’t the United States do the latter? For one, it would require nation building, which mean that there would not be a clear exit strategy. It was also unlikely that domestic support would last. Although the United States had avoided many casualties in reversing the invasion, the casualties most likely would have started to mount as the United States slogged its way to Baghdad. As we know from class, as soon as the body count begins to rise, domestic opposition mounts. With both of these factors in mind, it’s probably unlikely that the United States would have been willing or able to sustain its commitment to the conflict. As Cheney explained (then Secretary of Defense):

“I think if we were going to remove Saddam Hussein, we would have had to go all the way to Baghdad, we would have had to commit a lot of force because I do not believe he would wait in the Presidential Palace for us to arrive. I think we’d have had to hunt him down. And once we’d done that and we’d gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and his government, then we’d have had to put another government in its place. What kind of government? Should it be a Sunni government or Shi’a government or a Kurdish government or Ba’athist regime? Or maybe we want to bring in some of the Islamic fundamentalists? How long would we have had to stay in Baghdad to keep that government in place? What would happen to the government once U.S. forces withdrew? How many casualties should the United States accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable? I think it is vitally important for a President to know when to use military force. I think it is also very important for him to know when not to commit U.S. military force. And it’s my view that the President got it right both times, that it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq.”

Somalia: Erosion of the Powell Doctrine
w5_somalia timeline.png

Although there was no national interest at stake in Somalia, the United States did try to adhere to the Powell Doctrine (for the most part) when it first intervened. Most prominently, the United States chose to pursue a very clear and limited objective of ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout the country, instead of pursuing the much wider aim of ending the civil war there.


This objective is problematic because one cannot clearly separate out the humanitarian effects of the conflict from the civil war itself (“symptoms vs. disease”). In short, the famine isn’t a coincidence. As Rice (2000) explained:


Humanitarian problems are rarely only humanitarian problems; the taking of life or withholding of food is almost always a political act. If the United States is not prepared to address the underlying political conflict… the military may end up there for an indefinite period of time. Sometimes, one party (or both) can come to see the United States as the enemy.


So, as we can see, the Powell Doctrine began to erode as quickly as it was formulated. The criteria of war being a "last resort" had been ignored in the Persian Gulf War when Bush chose not to wait to let sanctions work. But in Somalia, even more criteria began to erode. There was no “national interest” at stake in Somalia, at least in the strict sense we’ve adopted.

While there were clear flaws with the U.S. objective in Somalia, let’s still say that it adheres to the “clear objective” criterion anyway. The United States did also have “overwhelming force” – 25,000 U.S. troops – for the very limited, ill-conceived aim of distributing humanitarian aid.

But, the “clear exit strategy” criterion is problematic. The plan is to leave after a few months and hand off the much wider, more difficult mission of ending the civil war to UNOSOM II. However, UNOSOM II would consist of much smaller, more lightly armed troops. So, even though the United States had an exit plan, it wasn’t clear when considering the scope of the conflict and how it would veer once most of U.S. troops withdrew.

There was also not a reasonable expectation of “public & congressional support” -at least for the entirety of the conflict. Although the public and Congress initially supported the intervention, we know that they are sensitive to U.S. casualties. Given that the United Sates was putting U.S. troops in the middle of a civil war – even if just to deliver humanitarian aid—it’s unlikely that the United States could maintain domestic support throughout the conflict. It is therefore unlikely that the United States would have been willing to sustain its “commitment” to the conflict, especially given the lack of national interest.

So, the only criteria of the Powell doctrine that remain are the “clear objective” and “overwhelming force” ones. But then, mission creep sets in.

Mission Creep occurs when the objectives of a mission gradually expand due to unanticipated events on the ground, and it usually leads to a long-term commitment, even if the mission originally was meant to be limited.

The event that set mission creep in motion was the killing of 24 Pakistani peacekeepers in June 1993. The day after the attack, the UN called for members of UNOSOM II to use “all necessary measures” to punish those responsible for the attack, and the man hunt for Aidid began. While capturing Aidid was a relatively clear objective, it was not clear when one considers what it means for the conflict overall. Was the United States trying to end the civil war? On whose side was it fighting? What other kinds of actions would that necessitate? Thus, the objective of U.S. involvement was no longer clear.

Now, given the much larger objective, it’s hard to argue that the United States was using “overwhelming force.” In fact, by this time, many of U.S. troops had returned since UNOSOM II had officially started, and the military had to demand another 400 army rangers to make up a quick reaction force in July. The military requested even more troops in September, but their request was denied. So, no longer was the United States using overwhelming force.

And that’s the fate of the Powell Doctrine. The very criteria that we believed led us to a stunning victory in Iraq, crumbled before our eyes during Somalia.

Soon after Secretary of Defense Aspin denied the additional request for armored forces, the fateful “black hawk down” incident – or rather, the “Battle of Mogadishu” – occurred. 18 U.S. army rangers were killed in an assault on a hotel in Mogadishu where it was thought Aidid was hiding, and images of the army ranger’s bodies being drug through the streets were televised back in the United States. Three days later, Clinton announced that he would send additional troops to Somalia, but all troops would be withdrawn within 6 months.

Supplemental Materials

  1. Persian Gulf War Stories

  2. Clarke, Walter and Jeffrey Herbst. (1996). “Somalia and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention.” Foreign Affairs 75, pg 70-85.

  3. Crocker, Chester. (1996). “The Lessons of Somalia: Not Everything Went Wrong.” Foreign Affairs 74, pg. 2-8.

  4. Walt, Stephen. “Applying the 8 Questions of the Powell Doctrine to Syria.” , September 3, 2013.

Week 6: Humanitarian Intervenion Debat

Week 6 Humanitarian Intervention Debate


Humanitarian Intervention Timeline

Week 7 Afghanistan and Iraq, Part 1


Course Announcements

  1. WIM Students: The first draft of paper #2 will be due Tuesday (both on Dropbox and in person) at the beginning of class. Let me know if you have any questions.

  2. Remaining Sections. We only have two sections left after this week! Next week, we are going to discuss the military strategy used in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we will also discuss COIN doctrine. In Week 9, we’ll wrap up any loose ends that are left, but you should plan to come to sections with questions about course material.

Section Objectives

  1. Paper #2: Walk through paper prompt and outline possible arguments one could make. Review tips about what makes a strong paper.

  2. Afghanistan & Iraq. Explain the lead up to 9/11 and decision to intervene in Iraq in terms of the risks of action vs. the risks of inaction. How does Operation Infinite Reach (Afghanistan & Sudan) illustrate the risks or costs of military action pre-9/11? What effect did 9/11 have on decision-making for the Iraq War?

  3. Preemption, Prevention, & Deterrence. Explain the difference between preemption, prevention, and deterrence. What are risks of “anticipatory defense”? Is it ever appropriate?

Section Quiz

  1. What is PDD-25, and what effect has it had on U.S. intervention in humanitarian crises?

    PDD-25 was a document drafted in the aftermath of Somalia that was meant to develop criteria for the United States to adhere to when considering humanitarian intervention or even the decision to support a UN peacekeeping mission. It contained many elements of the Powell Doctrine, including criteria such as requiring the mission to advance U.S. national interests, clear objectives, and a clear exit strategy. Because of these criteria, PDD in many ways biased the United States AGAINST undertaking or supporting humanitarian interventions.

  2. Why don’t Livingston & Eachus find the “CNN effect” to be a compelling explanation for U.S. intervention in Somalia?

    In Somalia, the claim is that images of starving children in Africa lead the public to want to intervene, and in turn, this public desire for intervention is what ultimately caused the United States to intervene. Livingston and Eachus find this claim unconvincing because extensive press coverage of the events in Somalia occurred only AFTER the United States decided to intervene.

  3. What is the mainstream vs. polarization effect? (Aside: why do these effects arise?)

    Mainstream and polarization effects are the effect of elite discourse on public opinion. When there is elite consensus (i.e. when prominent elites are either all speaking out in favor of a policy, or at least failing to speak out against it), there is a mainstreaming effect on public opinion. Within the public, both Democrats and Republicans will generally be supportive of the President’s policies. When there is elite disagreement, the polarization effect occurs and public opinion will become divided. Republicans will support the republican position, and Democrats will support the democrat position.

Paper #2: Explaining U.S. Military Failures


Prompt: Surveying the cases from this course, from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, it is certainly the case that many military operations failed to achieve their objectives. To what extent do you think that the failures of American foreign policy are due to poor decisions by presidents? Did the presidents make decisions that were clearly wrong-headed and ill-advised, or were failures a product of domestic and/or international constraints that were beyond their control? As you think about cases with failed outcomes, how much difference would it have made if a different person had been president? [See Coursework for extended prompt]

Objectives: The first thing you should notice about this prompt is that it is asking you (1) to make an argument about what explains U.S. military failures and (2) to show your argument using small “case studies” from this class. As indicated in the full prompt, you should use 3 cases to make your argument. You need to devote sufficient detail to each case, so using more than three will likely detract from your paper overall, given the length requirements. For each of your cases, you will need to clearly explain and show why the case supports your overarching argument, and you should also anticipate and refute possible counterarguments. For instance, if you want to argue that domestic pressures constrained U.S. actions in Somalia, you’ll want to explain why your claim is true even though Bush was a lame duck president.


Possible Explanations: Of course you should feel free to make whatever argument you’d like, but here are a few potential routes you may want to think about:

  1. Failure is caused by domestic constraints. In other words, there are certain domestic pressures that consistently lead U.S. presidents to adopt suboptimal strategies or to pursue too limited goals.

  2. Failure is caused by the nature of the conflict. COIN, nation building, etc. are all very difficult, so U.S. failure is explained by selecting into really difficult cases. In other words, these wars are essentially “unwinnable.”

  3. Presidents are clearly making unwise decisions. The wars could have been won, and domestic factors are not preventing presidents from choosing better-suited strategies.


General Advice/Tips: Below are some general tips and advice for writing a strong paper. Most are reiterations of the tips included on the prompt on Coursework, but they are nonetheless good tips to follow.

  • Put your bottom-line upfront. Be explicit about your argument up front. You don’t want to lay out little pieces of your argument and then wait to tie it all together at the end. You should consistently tie each of your points to the overall argument you are making.

  • Make an encompassing argument. You should take a clear stance on the prompt and provide a narrative that unifies across cases. You need to avoid making arguments like “every case is different” and telling a series of disconnected stories. You are free to make a more nuanced argument (i.e. military force works in some cases but not others), but you need to be up front about that argument. You should also explain what the features of the cases are that make them either suited or not for military force.

  • Rely on a variety of sources & evidence. You should incorporate both lecture and reading sources, and you should also draw on some of the theories of democratic foreign policy making we learned in the beginning of the class. A paper that relies on only theory on only one source or type of class material will be considered weaker.

  • Anticipate & preempt counterarguments. As I mentioned above, you should try to anticipate possible counterarguments to yours, and refute them. To give another example, if you want to argue that failure in Vietnam is due to some feature of the conflict itself (asymmetry of resolve, etc.), you’ll need to recognize that there is an argument that says the United States could have won if it had not been for domestic political constraints and explain why this argument is not sufficient.

  • Avoid unnecessary background details. Don’t spend a lot of time giving background facts about your cases. You can assume that I know the basic facts, so you should only discuss background material insofar that it is relevant to your argument. For example, we don’t need to read that the Vietnam War has roots in the nationalist struggle against French colonialism unless you are making the case that the outcome of that war is attributable in some way to this fact.

  • Include a road map paragraph. In your introduction, you should motivate or frame the topic of your paper, and your last sentence (or two) should be your thesis statement (i.e. a statement that succinctly summarizes your argument without going into a lot of detail. The next paragraph should be a “road map” paragraph. As the name suggest, this paragraph essentially maps out the rest of the paper. You should identify the case you’ll be discussing and in what order, and you should also provide some idea of what each case is supposed to illustrate. So, in other words, don’t write something like “I will first discuss Vietnam, then Somalia, and finally Afghanistan to show that domestic constraints prevented U.S. success.” You want to be a bit more specific than that. See example Intro and Roadmap paragraph below.

  • Use headings. Don’t be afraid to use headings! They are really helpful for organizing your paper and for providing check points for your reader as you go along.

Example Intro & Road map Paragraph:


The 20th century witnessed a dawn of trade liberalization. Since the end of World War II, countries have refrained from imposing tariffs and quotas, which has facilitated a larger volume of trade worldwide. It is true that the widespread implementation of protectionist policies is puzzling from an economic standpoint: after all, free trade is more efficient. Yet this shift away from protectionism also needs an explanation. Milner and Kubota (2005) argue that democratization in developing countries is responsible for this trend. In particular, they suggest that democratization expanded the selectorate to include laborers, who both make up the majority of the population and would benefit from the increased income associated with free trade. Policies in democracies should therefore reflected these new preferences. However, while domestic institutions play an important role in determining trade policy, the crude distinction between democracies and autocracies is insufficient to explain variation. A complete domestic politics explanation must examine how institutions aggregate preferences to determine both whose preferences matter as well as specify what those preferences are.


In this paper, I will discuss the extent to which a blanket distinction between democracies and autocracies can explain whether countries adopt free trade or protectionist policies. In doing so, I will first discuss further the logic behind Milner and Kubota's (2005) claim that a larger selectorate in developing countries causes leaders to adopt free trade policies, and I will show that there is little direct evidence to support these claims. I will then argue that there are two reasons why this result does not hold. First, democratic institutions do not ensure that majority preferences will determine policy selection, and second, there are reasons to suspect that the majority of the population--particularly in developing countries--may prefer protectionism. After working through these theoretical arguments, I will explain why the evidence Milner and Kubota (2005) present do not assuage these concerns and suggest an alternative research design. I will conclude by reflecting more broadly on the ability of domestic institutions to explain variation in trade policy within countries, across countries, and over time.

Risks of Action vs. Inaction in Iraq and Afghanistan


We can understand a lot of the decision-making in the lead up to the war on terror (Afghanistan) and the war in Iraq in terms of the perceived risks of action versus inaction.

Failure to Prevent 9/11

The question we want to ask ourselves is why did the United States fail to respond seriously to Bin Laden in the 1990s. During this time, al Qaeda was taking increasingly hostile actions against the United State. For example:

  • In 1993, there was an attack on the World Trade Center in NY that killed 6 people.

  • In 1996 and 1998, Bin Laden released fatwas against the United States condemning its troop presence in Saudi Arabia, its support for Israel, and the sanctions it had imposed on Iraq.

  • Al Qaeda operatives attacked the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania

  • In 2000, AQ operatives attacked the U.S.S. Cole (a U.S. destroyer stationed in Aden, Yemen). The striking thing about all of these incidents is that the United States did not respond to any of them decisively. The most serious action the United States undertook was Operation Infinite Reach, and this case nicely illustrates how the risks of action appeared to outweigh the risk of inaction.

Operation Infinite Reach: This military operation consisted of a few cruised missile strikes against Bin Laden’s training bases in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in response to the Tanzania and Kenya embassy bombings. Like I said, this response is really useful for us to understand the cost-benefit analysis the United States faced up until the September 11th attacks. What risks of action vs. inaction does this case illustrate?

Week 7: Afghanisan and Iraq, Pt. 1
Impact of 9/11 on Iraq Decision-Making & Mobilization


The September 11th terrorist attacks had profound consequences on the decision-making and mobilization for the Iraq War in 2003. Unlike prior to 9/11, President Bush faced relatively few constraints on actions, and the perceived costs of inaction outweighed the perceived costs of action. Below are two of the main features of the decision-making process for the Iraq War that were strongly influenced by the September 11th attacks.

  • Threat Inflation: Like the name suggests, threat inflation occurs when the President exaggerates the threat from an adversary in order to mobilize support for war, and it can occur because the White House has unique access to classified information which other societal actors do not have. In the case of the Iraq War, President Bush inflated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein by alleging that he was developing WMDs and had connections to al Qaeda. Threat inflation in this context was especially effective because the September 11th terrorist attacks lead the public to be more susceptible to appeals based on fear and links to AQ. Other contributing factors include the public’s delegation to elite for foreign policy opinions, and Democrats in Congress were unwilling to speak out against the War in Iraq or contest the intelligence.

  • Bush Doctrine: The Bush Doctrine was formed in many ways as a response to the September 11th attacks, and its advocated for the use of preemption/prevention against threats of terrorism and rogue regimes. It also included a willingness to act unilaterally in the face of international opposition (as it did in Iraq). Finally, the neoconservative ideology strongly influenced the Bush Doctrine as it was also premised on the belief that a state’s domestic regime strongly influences its stability and foreign policy.

Preemption vs. Prevention vs. Deterrence


The strategy of preemption articulated in the Bush Doctrine was a major departure from the approach past administrations had pursued, which relied primarily on deterrence. What exactly do these different types of “defense” strategies entail?

  • Deterrence – Dissuade an attack through the threat of unacceptable retaliation

  • Preemption – Attack first when an attack is imminent

  • Prevention – Attack first when an attack or threat of an attack is likely sometime in the future.


By all standards, the Iraq War was a preventive war, but the Bush administration’s rhetoric often framed the conflict in preemptive terms. Again, this rhetoric relates to threat inflation, since it is easier to “scare” people into support a war if the threat could happen any week or day from now versus sometime in the future.


In many ways, preemption/prevention is premised on a belief that the risks of inaction are greater than those for inaction. The cost-benefit analysis can swing in this direct when one believes that an attack is imminent, there are first strike advantages, or deterrence is unlikely to work. In the case of the Iraq War, the Bush administration frequently argued that deterrence was unlikely to work against Saddam Hussein because he was uniquely irrational and evil. However, Mearsheimer and Walt dispute this claim, explaining that his aggressive actions in the past had been rational responses to domestic conditions. For example, in the case of the Persian Gulf War, the authors argue that Hussein not only had legitimate economic concerns that motivated him to invade Kuwait, but also that his invasion of Kuwait did not represent a failure of deterrence. Rather, they argue, that deterrence was never tried. Before Hussein had sent his army into Kuwait, he had approached the United States to find out how it would react, and then U.S. Ambassador Glaspie responded by saying that “[W]e have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” Thus, the Bush administration’s argument for why we needed a preventive/preemptive war is questionable at best.


What are some drawbacks of preemption/prevention, or other “anticipatory” defense strategies?

  1. Possibility of mistakes if threat is uncertain, intelligence is poor.

  2. Waging war in the absence of an attack can lead to a loss of international support (failure to get UNSC authorization).

  3. Preemption is dangerous if used by everyone.

  4. A lot of cases where deterrence should be able to work against states, even rogue ones, as long as the leaders are minimally rational.

Week 8: Afghanistan and Iraq, Part II

Week 8 Afghanistan and Iraq, Part 2


Course Announcements

  1. OAE Accomodations. If you have any OAE accommodations that you need for the final OR if you have ALREADY made an arrangement with Professor Schultz, please send me an email ASAP letting me know.

  2. Non-WIM Students: Your second paper will be due on Thursday (both on Dropbox and in person) at the beginning of the class. It’s okay if you give me your hard copy paper at the end of class, as long as the electronic copy is up online. I’ll be having additional office hours next week on Monday afternoon from 3:30-5:00pm in addition to my office hours on Wednesday morning. Let me know if you’d like to come by.

  3. WIM Students: I will have your paper available to for pick up Tuesday at the end of the class. If you don’t get your paper from me at class on Tuesday, please arrange another way to pick it up from me since you don’t want to delay your re-write.

Section Objectives

  1. Initial Military Strategy in Iraq & Afghanistan. Explain what the initial strategies the United States adopted in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as why those strategies were adopted. Evaluate these strategies to understand why they failed in the conflicts.

  2. The ‘Surges’ and COIN Doctrine. Identify the key tenets of COIN doctrine and describe its implementation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Determine the extent to which the troops surges and new COIN doctrine were successful and why.

  3. Mini Debate. What to do about ISIS? A lot remains uncertain about the fate of Iraq (and Syria). Debate what the United States should have done and what, if anything, the United States could/should have done differently.

Section Quiz

  1. What were the Srebenica and Zepa massacres? Why are they important for understanding U.S. involvement in Bosnia?

    In July 1995, Milosevic’s forces overran to UN “safe zones” in Srebenica and Zepa and killed over 7,000 Bosnian Muslims. These massacres created both international and domestic pressure for U.S. military action, leading Clinton to launch Operation Deliberate force by the end of August. [ Aside : What were the domestic pressures that were created? The international ones?]

  2. What is preemption? How is it different from prevention? What are the drawbacks of preemption?

    Preemption is a form of offensive, or “anticipatory”, defense where a country attacks its adversary first when an attack is imminent. Prevention is also a form of anticipatory defense, but here the idea is that the country attacks now when the attack (or threat of an attack) from its adversary is likely sometime in the future. Some of the drawbacks of preemption include: (1) the possibility of mistakes if the threat is uncertain, (2) waging war in the absence of an attack can lead to a loss of international support, (3) preemption is dangerous if used by everyone, and (4) there are a lot of cases where deterrence should be able to work.

Strategy in Iraq & Afghanistan

Iraq and Afghanistan Handout

ISIS and the Future of Iraq & Syria

Operation Inherent Resolve (2015-Present): The proven ability of IS to conduct terrorist attacks around the world and its control of significant portions of territory in Syria and Iraq has paved the way for the United States to return militarily to Iraq. Currently, the United States is conducting air and drone strikes against IS in both Syria and Iraq, but it is relying on a hodgepodge of militant forces (Iraqi Army, Shiite militias, Kurdish militias, and Syrian Rebels) to fight IS on the ground since airpower alone cannot reverse territorial control. The United States does not want IS to become a state because it fears that it will become an exporter of terrorism, like Afghanistan prior to 9/11. At the same time, there are reasons to fear that once IS loses most of the territory it currently controls, it will melt back into the general population (making it more difficult to fight) and/or take its losses out by conducting terrorist attacks around the world. What should the United States do?

Options: (1) Get out, (2) no fly zones, safe areas, and humanitarian corridors, (3) back the Assad government, (4) Equip and train local forces, (5) Air strikes in support of local forces, (6) Limited ground force, (7) full-scale invasion.

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