School of Arts and Sciences




 Course Number

POL 332-A

Course Title

  American Foreign Policy


 Fall Semester


 Spring Semester


Summer Semester

Credit Hours



Name of Instructor

 William Miller


Meeting Day, Time, and Room Number
 Wednesdays, 3:30pm, Butler G132


Final Exam Day, Time, and Room Number

 Wednesday, May 9, 3:00pm. G132 Butler


Office Hours, Location, Phone  Always email ahead of time! Ireton G107; 703-284-1687

 Tuesday-Fridays, 11:00-12:00pm, 2:00-3:00pm; Wednesdays by appointment and before and after class.


 E-mail and Web Site Email is always the best way to reach me! All announcements and assignments are posted on this web site, never on Canvas.

Course Description





By accepting this syllabus, you pledge to uphold the principles of Academic Integrity expressed by the Marymount University Community. You agree to observe these principles yourself and to defend them against abuse by others. Items submitted for this course may be submitted to for analysis.


For the benefit of current and future students, work in this course may be used for educational critique, demonstrations, samples, presentations, and verification.  Outside of these uses, work shall not be sold, copied, broadcast, or distributed for profit without student consent. 

Please address any special challenges or needs with the instructor at the beginning of the semester. Students seeking accommodations for a disability must complete the required steps for obtaining a Faculty Contact Sheet from the Office of Student Access Services (SAS). Students are then responsible for meeting with their instructors at the beginning of the semester to review and sign the Faculty Contact Sheet and develop a specific plan for providing the accommodations listed. Accommodations cannot be granted to students who fail to follow this process. Appointments with the SAS director can be scheduled through the Starfish "Success Network" tab in Canvas. For more information, check the SAS website, e-mail, or call 703-284-1538 to reach the SAS director or an academic support coordinator.


When students are absent due to a crisis situation or unexpected, serious illness and unable to contact their individual instructors directly, the Division of Student Affairs can send out an Emergency Notification. To initiate an Emergency Notification, students should contact the Division of Student Affairs 703-284-1615 or Emergency Notifications are NOT appropriate for non-emergency situations (e.g. car problems, planned absences, minor illnesses, or a past absence); are NOT a request or mandate to excuse an absence, which is at the sole discretion of the instructor; and are NOT a requirement for student absences. If a student contacts instructors about an emergency situation directly, it is not necessary to involve the Division of Student Affairs as arrangements are made to resolve the absence.

For non-emergency absences, students should inform their instructors directly. 


Copies of your work in this course including copies of any submitted papers and your portfolios may be kept on file for institutional research, assessment and accreditation purposes. All work used for these purposes will be submitted confidentially. 


Weather and Emergency closings are announced on Marymount’s web site:, through MUAlerts, area radio stations, and TV stations. You may also call the Weather and Emergency Hotline at (703) 526-6888 for current status. Unless otherwise advised by local media or by official bulletins listed above, students are expected to report for class as near normal time as possible on days when weather conditions are adverse. Decisions as to inclement closing or delayed opening are not generally made before 6:00 AM and by 3:00 PM for evening classes of the working day. Emergency closing could occur at any time making MUAlerts the most timely announcement mechanism. Students are expected to attend class if the University is not officially closed. If the University is closed, course content and assignments will still be covered as directed by the course instructor. Please look for communication from course instructor (e.g., Canvas) for information on course work during periods in which the University is closed.


A history of the policies if the United States toward other governments and analysis of the principal factors to be considered in formulating and executing American foreign policy. The course surveys American foreign policy from the formation of the country in the 1770s to the present day and outlines several traditions that American policy has followed over its history. The course also introduces the students to several major approaches to or theories of foreign policy and uses these theories to evaluate American foreign policy at various points in American history. Finally, the course focuses on the principal issues of foreign policy today in light of the American traditions and the theories of foreign policy.

2.  COURSE OBJECTIVES:  Upon successful completion of this course students will be expected to:


     1. be able demonstrate an understanding of the major contemporary theories of foreign policy;

     2. be able demonstrate an understanding of the distinctively American traditions of foreign policy, their origins, and examples of their influence in American history;

     3. be able to speculate reasonable, in light of the theories and the American traditions, on contemporary international issues facing the United States.



      The course will be conducted in seminar fashion using class discussions and presentations on the common readings as the focal points. Lecturing will be kept to a minimum. In addition to written/oral presentations on the course readings, students will also present at least one review of an approved article.




          Friday, February 16, 2018, is the last day to withdraw from a class without academic record.

          Friday, March 23, 2018, is the last day to withdraw from a class with a grade of W.


The final grade is based on components that include graded class assignments (which cover answering questions in class and participating in class discussions) and quizzes (if necessary), two short graded presentations, two essay exams, and a written article/chapter review, as follows:

20% = Two presentations, 10% each

20% = Written Review

20% = Mid-term exam

30% = Final exam

10% = Class assignments, quizzes, constructive contributions to class discussions.


The usual scale of 90-100%=A, 80-89%=B, 70-79%=C, 60-69%=D, and 59% and below=F will be used for all graded work.


No grade of "I" or "Incomplete" will be given. If possible, the presentations and the exam will be graded within two weeks. The first presentation may be postponed once for the same documented reasons needed for an excused absence; otherwise, the failure to give either presentation or the review on time will result in an F. 




Attendance: Beginning with the second week of classes, students are allowed a total of five absences, excused and/or unexcused. Students who miss six or more classes for any reason whatever will receive an “F” in the course.  


Each unexcused absence beyond two—up to the absolute limit of five—will result in a lowering of the final grade by one percentage point. To be excused, an absence must be documented, unless I indicate otherwise. Excused absences are typically medical-, legal-, or job-related excuses. Acceptable documentation typically consists of a statement or form on official stationery (1) signed by a third party (e.g., doctor, police, judge, supervisor) that (2) refers specifically to the day of absence from class and (3) the reason for the absence.


Occasionally coming to class late—even really late once or twice—is not considered an absence. Coming to class without hard copies of the text for the day, leaving the classroom for most of the class-time, or leaving class early without the prior permission of the instructor, however, is considered an unexcused absence.


Merely informing me ahead of time that you will be absent from class does not mean I excuse the absence, though I appreciate your courtesy. I will not excuse your absence because you are simply not feeling well or because you choose to do something worthwhile other than come to class even if you inform me ahead of time. If you are coughing and sneezing and coming down with a cold or the flu, and you don't want to spread your virus to your classmates, your fellow students and I salute you! Staying home may be the right thing to do, but it is not an excused absence. You all get three unexcused absences to use as you see fit, and it is your decision to use them to stay home when you don't feel well or want to attend some other event or need to prepare for another class instead of going to my class. Use them for good reasons: that's what they are for.


The limit of five total absences recognizes that excessive excused absences may also be a problem. You should discuss such situations with me well before the last month of the semester. This is not a distance learning class. Any absence prevents you from participating in the class, but if your job or an illness keeps you away from class, it will significantly affect the class participation component of your grade and may be a good reason to drop the course and take it another time. All of us find ourselves in these situations from time to time and have to deal with them appropriately. You also have an obligation to report this to a University office (see the section titled “Attendance” in the University Catalogue).


When in doubt about any of these policies, please come and talk to me. They have been formulated with our substantial commuter and working student population in mind and are intended to be fair to everyone. You should also review the University's policies on absenteeism in the section titled “Attendance” in the University Catalogue.


Make-up Exams and Papers: The same basic rules about excused absences apply to taking mid-terms and presenting seminar papers. My policy of giving makeup exams on the same day as the final does NOT mean that you may choose to take the mid-term exam on that day rather than on the regularly scheduled day: it is not an alternative test date. To be eligible for a makeup, you must qualify for an excused absence, and this you should do a reasonable time before the day of the mid-term, if that is at all possible. You may be excused from taking a mid-term if you are certifiably sick or your job prevents you from attending class or you have a legal, family, or personal emergency on the day of the test. If one of these applies, and I am informed in a reasonable time before the exam, and you have written documentation to support your request, you may take the exam on the same day as the final exam. If none of these reasons apply, you may not take the exam at another time, and you will get a zero for the exam. Travel plans will never excuse an absence. If you are late for the exam because of events outside of your control, let me know immediately or as soon as possible that day, and I will let you take the exam later that same day if possible.


The seminar papers that you present in class are intended to provoke discussion, questions and comments by fellow students, that are part of your grade and that you must participate in. An unexcused absence on a day you are scheduled to present a paper results in a zero for the paper. An excused absence with advanced notice to me allows you to present the paper the following week. More than one such excused absence requires a discussion with me.


5.  CLASS SCHEDULE:  This schedule is subject to changes because of weather and other factors: see the link to "American Foreign Policy (Spring 2018)" in the Weekly Assignments section of the webpage before each class for an updated schedule and specific assignments.


Class I (1/17):      Introduction to the course; levels of analysis

Class 2 (1/24):   Approaches to international relations and foreign policy analysis; John Ikenberry and Ole Holsti

Class 3 (1/31):   Historical Account of American Foreign Policy; Walter McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State (“PLCS”), readings

Class 4 (2/7):      Older American Traditions; PLCS readings; Washington’s Farewell Address

Class 5 (2/14):   Older American Traditions; PLCS readings

Class 6 (2/21):    Later American Traditions; PLCS readings

Class 7 (2/28):   Later American Traditions; PLCS readings; George Kennan readings—Long Telegram & Mr X article

Class 8 (3/7):       MID-TERM


Spring Break


Class 9 (3/21):   Contemporary Issues ins American Foreign Policy; PLCS readings (conclusion)

Class 10 (3/28):  Angelo Codevilla, To Make and Keep Peace (“M&KP”), readings 

Class 11 (4/4):   M&KP readings; American constitutional and legal issues in foreign policy

Class 12 (4/11):   M&KP readings; Foreign policy towards ideological adversaries, “ideology”

Class 13 (4/18):   M&KP readings; Review due

Class 14 (5/2):     Class presentations


The final exam will be given only at the date and time prescribed by the University Final Exam Schedule: Wednesday, May 9, 3:00pm, Butler 132. Make your travel plans accordingly!


6.  REQUIRED TEXT       


Angelo Codevilla. To Make and Keep Peace: Among Ourselves and will All Nations. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 2014.


Walter McDougall. Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World since 1776. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.




G. John Ikenberry, ed. American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 978-0199350834 A book of readings. Most any edition will do.


Walter McDougall. The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.


Ernest Lee Tuveson. Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.




For the benefit of the class and your classmates, the following rules regarding electronic devices also apply to this course:

1.     Turn your cell phones off during the class. If you are expecting an important call, put your phone on “Vibrate,” sit near the door, and, when the call comes, answer it outside the classroom.

2.     It follows from the foregoing rule, but it must be separately stated: no talking and no texting on cell phones during class. If you do not follow this rule, I will publicly ask you to leave the room for the remainder of the class and will do my best to have you removed from the course for the rest of the semester.

3.     No open lap-top or other computers are allowed in class without my prior permission. Devices such as phones, tablets, Ipads, Kindles, and Nooks that lie flat on the desk and on to which the readings can be loaded are permitted if approved by me, but hard copies of the readings are better. You can mark them up and take notes on them in class. None of the texts this semester are legally available on digital devices, however. You must bring and use the hard copy texts.

4.     Be sure to check your Marymount email address regularly! This is Marymount’s and my principal way of contacting you with important information. Perhaps you rely mostly on Yahoo, g-mail, or some other provider, but check your mail daily to make sure you do not miss school information.


These rules are necessary to foster a suitable learning environment in the classroom during class. There are enough distractions with lawnmowers, air conditioners, and other outside forces to combat during lectures and discussions.