HIST 695a Announcements

** Hist. 695a Announcements **

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Please note that we have changed classrooms. Next week we will meet at the regular time in Psychology 305, which is on the north side of the campus mall, to the west of the Student Union.

Also, my office hours have changed to: Wednesday and Friday, 1-2:30pm.

9/27    Here is the first midterm exam:

Hist 695a First Midterm Exam
September 27, 2010

Please choose one question and write an 8-12 paper. Please have your completed essays ready by October 4 (one week from today).

1. Comment on the following:

As both an academic approach and as a foreign policy practice, the doctrine of idealism (or “utopianism” in the formulation of Carr) constitutes an ideology of U.S. foreign policy, which seeks to present the raw exercise of power in the most “enlightened” and “moral” terms. This approach assumes that the flowery platitudes of government officials about democracy, human rights, self determination, and the like are real, motivating factors; in reality they are simple propaganda tools designed to obscure the true motives of foreign policy élites.

In writing your essay, consider how E. H. Carr (and various other writers we have examined) would assess the above block quote. Your essay should provide a comprehensive analysis of these readings, with regard to the issues raised in the block quote.

2. In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx once referred to the state as the “executive committee of the bourgeoisie,” implying the existence of a unified, virtually monolithic capitalist class. Some of the readings on political economy do seem to imply such a monolithic capitalist class, which controls or at least strongly influences foreign policy. Other readings in contrast emphasize divisions among the capitalist class, including such factors as finance versus industry; businesses that produce for export versus those that produce for the domestic market; investment banking versus commercial banking etc. The first group emphasizes capitalist unity in affecting state policy; the second group emphasizes conflict among these different sectors, and the effects that such conflicts have on state policy. Compare and contrast these two approaches.

Hist 695a Second Midterm Exam
Handed out: October 25
Due: November 15

Choose one of the following and write an 8-12 page paper. Your paper should assess these essays both evaluating the readings by John Lewis Gaddis, Christopher Layne, and at least three other authors.

- In We Now Know, John Lewis Gaddis presents U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War as flowing from a long-term American national character going back at least to the time of Alexis de Tocqueville, which is characterized by the following: At the internal level, there is a political system based on adherence to rules, trust, and decentralization of power; at the external level, there is a tendency to emphasize international cooperation and avoidance of aggressive military action. Overall, there is a strong implication of a a benign and relatively non-offensive foreign and military policy on the part of the United States both during the period of the Cold War and (by implication) before the Cold War as well. Your essay should assess these points at two levels: First examine how the various readings we have had would respond to Gaddis' argument, regarding the supposedly benign character of U.S. foreign policy. Second provide your own assessment.

- Gaddis also affirms that studies of the Cold War (and U.S. policy more generally) have overemphasized the role of economic and geostrategic "interests" as motivating factors, and under-emphasized the role of "ideas." Your essay should do two things: First, analyze how various class readings would assess the relative merits of emphasizing ideas or interests. And second, provide your own assessment.

Third Exam
Handed out: December 6, 2010
Due: December 10, 2010

Choose one of the following and write an 8-12 page paper:



-- Of the theories presented in class -- realism, idealism, economic approach -- which of the three best accounts for U.S. conduct during the Cold War of 1945-89? Note that the military-industrial complex approach may be considered a sub-set of the economic approach.

     -- Of the theories presented in class, which of the three best accounts for U.S. conduct during the post-Cold War period, after 1989?

As in previous exams, your essay should be written from a specific point of view; it should systematically analyze and compare various readings and approaches. When you select an approach, and argue for it, make sure you anticipate and consider various counter-arguments that may be presented by those arguing for alternative approaches. For example, you argue for the idealist approach, make sure to consider the various ways this approach has been presented in Carr, Gaddis, Huntington, Smith etc. Then state why you find this view convincing, on balance, despite criticism (including implied criticisms) that might be issued by other writers, representing different interpretations.