History 450, Spring 2012

 American Foreign Relations Since 1914
Hist. 450, Section 1
Offered by the Department of History, University of Arizona
Spring Semester, 2012
Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00am-12:15pm
Meinel Optical Sciences, Rm. 410

David N. Gibbs, Professor of History
Office: Social Sciences, Rm. 227
Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 8-9:30am
Tel: 621-5416

Graduate Teaching Assistant: 
Hayley Rucker, hrucker@email.arizona.edu 
Office hours: By appointment

** Class Announcements **
Students should check the announcements page regularly.

    This class will analyze basic issues of international relations and foreign policy, with a special focus on U.S. intervention in underdeveloped countries. The main purpose of this class is to provide students with an ability to examine international issues critically and in a historical context. Several general areas will be emphasized: The historical background that led to the emergence of the USA as a major power, beginning at the end of the nineteenth century; the role of covert operations during the Cold War; the Vietnam War and its long-term effects; the end of the Cold War; and post-9/11 U.S. actions. 

    Throughout, students will be asked to evaluate the causes and motivations of specific events in international relations and to compare multiple interpretations of these incidents. For example in the section on the Vietnam War, students will be asked to consider why the United States acted as it did; to lay out several different potential explanations for U.S. actions in Vietnam; and to decide which of these possible explanations seems most plausible.    


    The course requirements include two in-class exams and a research paper. The two exams will involve a combination of essay and short answers. The class grades will be calculated as follows:

First midterm, 30 percent;
Research paper, 30 percent;
Final, 40 percent.

    Students must take the exams on the scheduled dates. Please look at the syllabus and make sure that the exam dates are open for you. If you have an engagement scheduled for one of the required dates -- if you have a wedding or a sports event, for example -- then you should take another class. The following circumstances constitute legitimate reasons to miss an exam: illness, death in family, religious holiday, or mandatory military service. Students who present such reasons must be prepared to show documentation, such as a note from a doctor, clergy, or commanding officer. 

Class Attendance

    Students are required to attend the first day of class. If you fail to show up on the first day, you will automatically be dropped from the class. After the first day, I will not take attendance. Students are of course expected to attend class regularly, as the exams are based in part on the class lectures. If you must miss a class, I recommend you copy the class notes from another student. You may also ask a student to record classes that you expect to miss. 

Research Papers

    Research papers will be in the range of 10-15 pages (double spaced, with standard fonts and margins). They are due April 12. Students are expected to use primary sources for their papers, and I have created a web site for locating declassified government documents, many of which are available online.

    Students must properly attribute any information or material borrowed from other sources. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden. When turning in papers, students should attach copies of the first page of all research materials that were used in preparing the papers. Students should also keep a copy of the paper on their computers. If I have any doubts about a student's paper, I may ask the student to produce computer records and/or research materials. For further information regarding plagiarism, see the UA Code of Academic Integrity, and the UA History Department’s Policy on Academic Dishonesty. For online assistance on how to construct citations, click here.

   In the course of the semester, I will further discuss requirements for the paper, as well as basic research techniques.

     The UA Writing Skills Improvement Program runs regular workshops for students. Students may also consult the following classic: William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, fourth edition (New York: Allyn & Bacon, 2000). It is short, inexpensive, and available in the UA bookstore. For those on a tight budget, an earlier version of this book is available online (click here for full text). Also check out the online Economist Style Guide. This is the standard writing guide used by journalists at The Economist magazine of London.

   The UA History Department has a part-time writing instructor, Tyler Ralson, tralston@email.arizona.edu. He can read drafts of your papers, and can help you refine your writing style.

Students with Disabilities

    I will be happy to arrange the assignments in any reasonable way that is consistent with the student’s needs, in cooperation with the UA Disability Resource Center. It is the student’s responsibility to find out what the Center requires, to fill out the forms, and to undertake the necessary “foot work” for special arrangements. The student is responsible to make sure that all deadlines are met.


The following can all be purchased at the University Book Store:

Robert D. Schulzinger, US Diplomacy Since 1900 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Several articles listed below are available through one of several electronic databases. Other materials, as indicated below, are available through the course D2L page.

I may make small changes in the reading list – with advance notice – during the course of the semester.

Please note:
This class contains offensive material. If this is a problem for you, then you should select a different class. 

Week of January 11
First Week of Class

General introduction, no readings. 

Week of January 16
Theoretical Issues in U.S. Foreign Policy

Ronald Cox, Power and Profits: U.S. Policy in Central America (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1994), pp. 1-19. Available through D2L.

Week of January 23
Early American Intervention

Thomas McCormick, China Market (Chicago: Quadrangle Press, 1967), pp. 21-76. Available through D2L
Schulzinger, US Diplomacy Since 1900, chap. 2.

Week of January 30
Isolationism and U.S. Foreign Policy

Jeffrey Frieden, “Sectoral Conflict and U.S. Foreign Economic Policy, 1914-1940,” International Organization 42, no. 1, 1988. Available through JSTOR.

Schulzinger, US Diplomacy Since 1900, chap. 4.

Week of February 6
The Origins of the Cold War

Schulzinger, US Diplomacy Since 1900, chaps. 8-9.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Farewell Address,” January 17, 1961. For full text, click here. Note especially section IV of Eisenhower’s speech.

Week of February 13
Covert Operations I

Michael J. Sullivan, American Adventurism Abroad: Invasions, Interventions, and Regime Changes Since World War II (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008), chap. 3. Available through D2L 

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba,” March 13, 1962, recently declassified. For full text, click here.

 Week of February 20
Covert Operations II

Stephen Weissman, "An Extraordinary Rendition [on the 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba]," Intelligence and National Security 25, no. 2, 2010. Available through EBSCOhost-EJS (click on "Full Text").

Week of February 27
The Vietnam War and its Aftermath

Schulzinger, US Diplomacy Since 1900, chap. 10

Week of March 5
The Afghan Crisis

David N. Gibbs, “Does the USSR Have a ‘Grand Strategy’? Reinterpreting the Invasion of Afghanistan,” Journal of Peace Research 24, no. 4, 1987. Available through JSTOR.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Les Révélations d’un Ancien Conseilleur de Carter: ‘Oui, la CIA est Entrée en Afghanistan avant les Russes...’” Le Nouvel Observateur [Paris], January 15-21, 1998. For English translation, click here.

Midterm Exam: March 8.

March 10-18, no class; Spring Break.

Week of March 19
The “Second Cold War”

Norman Podhoretz, “The Present Danger,” Commentary, March 1980. Available through D2L.

David N. Gibbs, “Pretexts and U.S. Foreign Policy: The War on Terrorism in Historical Perspective,” New Political Science 26, no. 3, 2004. For full text, click here.

Week of March 26
U.S. Resurgence in the International Arena

Schulzinger, US Diplomacy Since 1900, chaps. 11-12.

Week of April 2
The Reagan Doctrine

Blum, Killing Hope, chaps. 41, 45, 48, 49, 53.

Week of April 9
American Strategy after the Cold War

Christopher Layne, “Rethinking American Grand Strategy,” World Policy Journal 15, no. 2, 1998. Available through D2L.

David Armstrong, “Dick Cheney’s Song of America: Drafting a Plan for Global Dominance,” Harper’s Magazine, October 2002. For full text, click here.


Schulzinger, US Diplomacy Since 1900, chap. 15.

Research Papers Due: April 12.

Week of April 16
Terrorism and the “Afghan Connection”

Julie Kosterlitz, “Troops and Consequences: America’s Track Record in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan Suggests that Today’s Solutions can Lead to Tomorrow’s Problems,” National Journal, Nov 3, 2001. Available through D2L.

Chalmers Johnson, “The Lessons of Blowback: Even Carefully Planned Actions Can Have Unintended Consequences,” Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2001. For full text, click here

Ted Galen Carpenter, “Unsavory Bedfellows: Washington‘s International Partners in the War on Drugs,” Foreign Policy Briefing no. 71, Cato Institute, Washington, DC, 2002. For full text, click here.

Week of April 23
The U.S. and the Persian Gulf

Blum, Killing Hope, chaps. 50, 55.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, “Iraq and the Gulf of Tonkin,” Washington Times, February 10, 2004. For full text,  click here.

Jim Vallette, Steve Kretzmann, and Daphne Wysham, Crude Vision: How Oil Interests Obscured U.S. Government Focus on Chemical Weapons Use by Saddam Hussein, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC, 2004. For full text, click here.


Joseph Stark and Martha Wenger, “From Rapid Deployment to Massive Deployment,” Middle East Report, January/February 1991. Full text available through JSTOR.

May 1
General Review

No assigned readings.

Final exam: May 10, 10:30am.

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