Friday, January 23, 2015

Readings POLSC 4 — World Politics (Spring 2015)

Dr. Donald Douglas, Long Beach City College, Spring 2015
POLSC 4 World Politics – Take-Home Essay Assignment

Students are to write a 4-6 page essay, double spaced with 10- or 12-point font, stapled in the upper left-hand corner. The topic is for students to use international relations theory to analyze America's retreat from world order. Vladimir Putin's expansionist, recidivist Russia goes unchecked by the day. China is now extending power in the South China Sea. Longtime allies such as Saudia Arabia, Israel, and Japan question U.S. alliance commitments. And the Middle East has exploded in violence, with over 200,000 civilians killed in Syria, both al-Qaeda and Islamic State wreaking unprecedented terrorist atrocities across the region, and Iran has extended its hegemonic capabilities from Lebanon to Gaza to Yemen, while possibly crossing the threshold of nuclear weapons capability. Has the Obama administration made the world less safe?

Students should use the textbook, James M. Scott et al., IR, for discussions of international theories as they relate to power and international order. Further, use the following articles for the basis of your analysis: Bret Stephens, "Yes, America Should Be the World’s Policeman"; Henry Kissinger, "On the Assembly of a New World Order"; Robert Kaplan, "The Gift of American Power"; Robert Kagan, "Superpowers Don't Get to Retire"; and David Petraeus, "The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq."

And an outstanding case study (evidence of the retreat of American power) is Michael Crowley, "The Syria Problem."

(All readings are available online and will be posted at the class blog and announced in class.)

No other outside reading is necessary. That said, additional readings may be used, but only at the discretion of Professor Douglas (i.e., you will need advanced-approval for readings not included on this handout). The assignment is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, April 15. Late papers are not accepted. Or, to be clear, it’s possible that I would accept a late paper in a genuine emergency, on the scale of personal hospitalization or the death of an immediate family member. A zero grade on the paper assignment will result in a “D” or “F” grade for the entire semester (depending on the student’s outstanding class average). Note that according to college policy, a critical thinking (writing) project is a requirement for all GE transfer classes.

Now, here’s the thing: The assignment forces students to think theoretically. Sometimes immediate events appear of greater significance than they actually are relative to the long-term goals of American grand strategy. What do you think? Are events as bad as they seem? Why or why not? What theories are most compelling here (or at least, most interesting and persuasive)?

Also, be sure to give concrete examples to back up your claims. That is, be specific and scholarly in your analysis. Are you happy with the way things have turned out so far with U.S. policy during the Obama administration? Do you think the U.S. has ceded influence to Russia and other international actors? You don’t have to agree with any of the articles assigned in making an assessment, but be sure to elaborate your own perspective with reference to the major theoretical paradigms presented in class this semester.


Dr. Donald K. Douglas
Long Beach City College: Spring 2015
Office Location: T2361
Office Hours: M-W 10:05-11:05am; T-TH 2:30-4:00pm
E-mail: ddouglas [at]

Course Outline and Reading Assignments:

I. The Study of World Politics (February 9, 11 and 18)

James M. Scott, Ralph G. Carter, and A. Cooper Drury, IR, 2nd. Ed (Boston: Wadsworth, 2016),
Chapter 1.
John Mearsheimer, "Structural Realism," in Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith, eds., International Relations Theories, 3rd ed. (2013).

II. Anarchy, States and Non-State Actors (February 23 and 25)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 2.
Jessica Mathews, “Power Shift,” Foreign Affairs (January/February 1997).

III. Liberalism and Realism (March 2 and 4)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 3.
Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, "Realism and Complex Interdependence," Chapter 2, in Power
and Interdependence, 3rd edition (2001).
Joseph Grieco, "Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation: A Realist Critique of the Newest Liberal 
Institutionalism, International Organization (Summer 1998).

 ************* Midterm Examination – March 9 *************

IV. Alternative Perspectives on IR (March 11 and 16)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 4.
Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power    
Politics," International Organization (Spring 1992), especially pp. 391-395.
J. Ann Tickner, "Engendered Insecurities: Feminist Perspectives on International Relations," in
Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security (1992).

V. Understanding Conflict and War (March 18 and 23)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 5.
Barry Posen, "Command of the Commons: The Military Foundation of U.S. Hegemony,"
International Security (Summer 2003).

 ************* Midterm Examination – March 25 ************

VI. International Conflict Management (March 30 and April 1)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 6.
John Lewis Gaddis, "The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Postwar International  System,” International Security (Spring 1986).

VII. International Institutions and Security Cooperation (April 13 and 15)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 7.
Michael Glennon, "Why the Security Council Failed," Foreign Affairs (May/June 2003).
Greg Shupak, "Libya and Its Contexts," Jacobin (September 2013).

VIII. Trade, Finance, and Economic Integration (April 20 and 22)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 8.
Helen Milner, "International Political Economy: Beyond Hegemonic Stability," Foreign Policy (Spring 1998).
Benjamin J. Cohen, "The Future of the Euro: Let's Get Real," Review of International Political Economy (2012).

************** Midterm Examination – April 27 **************

IX. Economic Statecraft (April 29 and May 4)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 9.
George A. Lopez and David Cortright, "Containing Iraq: Sanctions Worked," Foreign Affairs
(July/August 2004).

X. Political Economy and Development (May 6 and 11)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 10.
Andre Gunder Frank, "The Development of Underdevelopment," Monthly Review (September 1966).
David Dollar and Aart Kraay, "Spreading the Wealth," Foreign Affairs (January/February 2002).
Ruchir Sharma, "Broken BRICs: Why the Rest Stopped Rising," Foreign Affairs (November/December 2012).

XI. Human Rights (May 13 and 18)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 11.

************** Midterm Examination – May 20 *************

XII. The Global Environment (May 27 and June 1)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 12.
Bjørn Lomborg, "Environmental Alarmism, Then and Now. The Club of Rome's Problem – and Ours," Foreign Affairs (July/August 2012).
Steven Hayward, "In Denial: The Meltdown of the Climate Campaign," Weekly Standard (2010).

XIII. Transitional Advocacy Networks (June 3)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 13.

XIV. The Future of World Politics (June 8)

Scott, Carter and Drury, IR, Chapter 14.
Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations,” Foreign Affairs (Summer 1993).
Der Spiegel, "Assaulting Democracy: The Deep Repercussions of the Charlie Hebdo Attack," January 9, 2015.

********** Final Examination – June 10***********