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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2004

GOV 360N • International Relations Theory

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35112 MW
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
FAC 21

Course Description

Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary. Why do political leaders make the foreign policy decisions that they do? What distinquishes "good" decision making from "bad"? Are there "lessons from history" for makers of contermporary foreign policy? This course focuses on decision making approaches to the study of foreign policy. We address competing theoretical models of decision making and critically evalaute their insights into major foreign policy crises of the 20th century. In the first part of the course we review the "rational actor model" and its limitations, the implications of group dynamics for the quality of decisionmaking, organizational and bureaucratic approaches to policy making, and the role of situational factors in foreign policy analysis. In the second part of the course, we turn to major historical cases and examine contending accounts of the decision making process. Among the cases considered are: the origins of WWI, the failure of deterrence in 1939, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the decision to drop the atomic bomb, US intervention in Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars.

Grading Policy

This course requires regular attendance, reading, and participation. Grades are based on: attendance and participation -- 10% reaction papers -- 30% midterm -- 30% final --30%


Readings: Allison and Zelikow, Essence of Decision, 2nd ed. Others TBA


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