POL S 349 A: Strategy And War

Meeting Time: 
MW 11:30am - 12:50pm
Location: 
SMI 205
SLN: 
19451
Instructor:
Jonathan Mercer

Syllabus Description:

Strategy and War

syllabus here (and pasted below)

Lecture outlines, here

Assigned readings, here

Reading questions, here

 

Professor Jonathan Mercer                                                     Pol Sci 349, Winter 2018

Gowen 135, mercer@uw.edu                                                 M,W 11:30-12:50

Office hours: Monday, 4:30-5:30                                             Room: Smith 205 

Teaching  Assistants                                                  Sections

            Bree Bang-Jensen, breebj@uw.edu                 AC, AD

            Will Gochberg, gochberg@uw.edu                  AA, AB

 

Strategy is when my best move depends on your move. It is central to the study of international security. The course will familiarize students with deterrence theory and other theoretical approaches to the study of international conflict, as well as provide background in a few substantive areas of international security. Course topics include: an assessment of strategy and rationality; the influence that material and ideational structures have on behavior, including torture and assassination; ethnic conflict and insurgencies; an examination of ethics, choice, and war crimes; nuclear deterrence theory; terrorism; chemical and biological weapons; cyber warfare; intelligence; economic sanctions; and non-lethal weapons.

 ******************** Syllabus pasted below *************************

Professor Jonathan Mercer                                                     Pol Sci 349, Winter 2018

Gowen 135, mercer@uw.edu                                                 M W, 11:30-12:50

Office hours: M 4:30-5:30                                                      Room: Smith 205

 

Teaching  Assistants                                                            Sections

            Bree Bang-Jensen, breebj@uw.edu                 AC, AD

            Will Gochberg, gochberg@uw.edu                  AA, AB

 

Strategy is when my best move depends on your move. It is central to the study of international security. The course will familiarize students with deterrence theory and other theoretical approaches to the study of international conflict, as well as provide background in a few substantive areas of international security. Course topics include: an assessment of strategy and rationality; the influence that material and ideational structures have on behavior, including torture and assassination; ethnic conflict and insurgencies; an examination of ethics, choice, and war crimes; nuclear deterrence theory; terrorism; chemical and biological weapons; cyber warfare; intelligence; economic sanctions; and non-lethal weapons.

 

Required Texts

*Daily reading of the New York Times. HUB Games Area at 206.543.5975 or the By George Newsstand at 206.543.4087. Digital subscription, NYTimes.com/UWashington.

*All other readings on course webpage

 

Requirements and Grading:

            Option one:

            Two exams (25% & 30%)

            Participation (15%)

            Paper due 8 March (30%)

                        *declare paper option in writing by Tuesday 6 February

                        *decision for (or against) paper option is final. No exceptions.

                       

Option two: (no paper)

Two exams (40% & 45%)

Participation (15%)

 

No make-up exams unless the student provides a written excuse from a physician for having missed an exam. Attempts at a fait accompli (“already bought my ticket”) will fail without exception. For additional information on courses, grading, academic conduct, and on university policies, go to https://www.polisci.washington.edu/department-and-university-policies

 

Disability accommodations easily arranged with a letter from the Disability Resources for Students Office: 448 Schmitz Hall, 543-8924 (voice), dso@uw.edu.

 

Please do not access the internet during lecture. For additional departmental and university policies see: http://www.polisci.washington.edu/Dept_and_Univ_Policies.pdf

  1. Wednesday January 3

War: What is it good for?

 

  1. Monday 8 January

Deterrence Theory

Thomas Schelling, “The Diplomacy of Violence,” Arms & Influence (Yale, 1966), 1-34.

 

  1. Wednesday 10 January

Decision-making and Rationality

Scott Sagan, "The Origins of the Pacific War," in The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars, ed. Robert I. Rotberg and Theodore K. Rabb (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 893-922.

 

Monday 15 January: Holiday (Martin Luther King Day).

 

  1. Wednesday 17 January

Strategy and Psychology

Charles A. Duelfer and Stephen Benedict Dyson, “Chronic Misperception and International Conflict: The U.S.-Iraq Experience,” International Security 36/1 (Summer 2011): 73-100.

 

  1. Monday 22 January

The International System: Realism

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Case for Offshore Balancing: A superior U.S. grand strategy,” Foreign Affairs (July/August 2016): 70-83.

 

Hal Brands and Peter Feaver, “Should America Retrench? The battle over offshore balancing,” & Mearsheimer and Walt’s reply, Foreign Affairs (Nov/Dec 2016): 164-171.

           

  1. Wednesday 24 January

The International System: Norms (Torture, Assassination, and WMD)

  1. Charli Carpenter, “‘Women and Children First’: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian

Evacuation in the Balkans, 1991–95,” International Organization (Fall 2003): 661-694.

 

  1. Monday 29 January

Gender and Ethnic Conflict

Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett, “The Heart of the Matter: The Security of Women, The Security of States,” Military Review (May/June 2017): 18-34.

 

  1. Wednesday 31 January

Insurgency    

Michael Hastings, “The Runaway General,” Rolling Stone (Jul 8-Jul 22, 2010).

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-runaway-general-20100622

 

Christopher Kolenda, “America’s Generals Are Out of Ideas for Afghanistan,” Survival (Oct/Nov 2017): 37-46.

            Recommended movie: The Battle of Algiers

  1. Monday 5 February

Ethics and Choices

Note: Lecture will include a disturbing, graphic, and violent 12 minute video excerpt from the Vietnam War.

 

Jerry M. Burger, “Replicating Milgram: Would People Still Obey Today?” American Psychologist (January 2009). Read pp. 1-5, 9-10, skim “methods” and “results.”

 

Seymour M. Hersh, “The Scene of the Crime: A reporter’s journey to My Lai and the secrets of the past,” New Yorker (March 30, 2015): 1-22.

 

            Option 1: Paper proposal (declaration of intent) due in section Tuesday 6 February.        

 

  1. Wednesday 7 February: EXAM

 

  1. Monday 12 February

The Nuclear Revolution

Robert Jervis, “The Nuclear Revolution and the Common Defense,” Political Science Quarterly 101/5 (1986): 689-703.

 

Pick a city, pick a yield . . . http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

            Recommended movie: Dr. Strangelove, or, how I learned to stop worrying and       love the bomb

 

  1. Wednesday 15 February

Nuclear Strategy and Critiques

Keir Lieber and Daryl Press, “The Nukes We Need: Preserving the American Deterrent,” Foreign Affairs 88/6 (November/December 2009): 39-51 (skip the appendix).

 

Option 1: Draft of paper proposal (250-500 words) due in section 16 February.

 

Monday 19 February: Holiday (President’s Day)

 

  1. Wednesday 21 February

Terrorism and CBW

Audrey Kurth Cronin, “The ‘War on Terrorism’: What Does it Mean to Win?” Journal of Strategic Studies 37/2 (2014): 174-197.

 

  1. Monday 26 February

CBW and Cyber Warfare

Emerson T. Brooking and P.W. Singer, “War Goes Viral,” The Atlantic (Nov 2016):1-33.

 

  1. Wednesday 28 February

Intelligence

Robert Jervis, “Why Intelligence and Policymakers Clash,” Political Science Quarterly

(Summer 2010): 185-204.

 

  1. Monday 5 March

Economic Sanctions

Edward Fishman, “Even Smarter Sanctions: How to Fight in the Era of Economic Warfare,” Foreign Affairs (Nov/Dec 2017): 102-110.

 

  1. Wednesday 7 March

Non-lethal Weapons

NYT video on militarized police: SWAT: Mission Creep, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/us/the-rise-of-the-swat-team-in-american-policing.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A8%22%7D

 

            Please bring laptops or phones for course evaluations.

 

Paper due in section no later than Thursday 8 March.

 

Final exam: 2:30-4:20 Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

 

******

 

Optional Research Paper

 

This paper gives you the opportunity to apply course lectures and readings to a topic that you find interesting. The best papers begin with a clear puzzle, policy, war, or issue. Why did deterrence/compellence/appeasement work or not work in a particular conflict? Which is better, threats or promises, for addressing different kinds of threats or different kinds of actors? When policy-makers decide to go to war, are they driven more by fear or opportunity? Pick almost any war or conflict and some of these puzzles will be relevant. You can also address questions about the role that individuals play compared to material or ideational (normative) structures. How important are norms to understanding the reaction against child soldiers, the use of chemical weapons in Syria? Might focus on specific beliefs and their importance or unimportance. For example, has racism ever influenced the explanations of allies or adversaries behavior or intentions (pick a historical case, one of dozens of wars the British fought in the 19th century, or the Russo-Japanese War, or various U.S. wars). How do policy-makers assess credibility—examine and then explain various historical mistakes (United States going north of the 38th parallel in Korea, Britain underestimating Boer capabilities in 1899, Russians underestimating Japanese capabilities in 1904, Americans being surprised by the Tet offensive, Britain misjudging Argentine resolve, Russia being surprised by the German offensive). How important is prestige, or how important is reputation? Do other countries base their policies on a country’s prestige or reputation? What best explains a specific ethnic conflict (pick from dozens). You can do what you want, but listen to your TA about what is likely to work best. Avoid asking broad puzzles (What explains the Cold War, Why did the US invade Iraq) in favor of narrow puzzles. The narrower the better.

 

How you write the paper depends in part on your topic, but all papers will have four parts.

  1. A brief introduction that details what you are examining and why.

 

  1. Several paragraphs that detail your argument. This will require you to step back from the details of your event and think theoretically about the topic. Do you think individuals are key to your case, or perhaps material structures (like the balance of power) or ideational structures (like norms) are most important? Did a poor use of deterrence theory explain a war, or maybe faulty intelligence? Make a clear argument. Use this part of the paper to set-up the third part.

 

  1. Dive into the history and detail of your case to assess your argument. Use this section to detail evidence that supports or contradicts your argument. We do not care what you argue, only how you argue it. Although you can develop your argument (in part 2) from the assigned readings and from lectures, in part three you will need to research your topic and draw on several books or articles to explain your event and to provide evidence for your argument. Part three should be the longest part of the paper.

            No explanation is perfect. The challenge is not to “prove” that your argument is right, but to assess its power. If your argument accounts for most of the evidence, that is great. If there is evidence that your argument cannot account for, that is even better, for it shows that you recognize the limitations of your argument. Disconfirming evidence is your friend.

 

  1. A paragraph to summarize your findings and, if appropriate, generate policy recommendations.

 

The assignment asks you to be analytical, not descriptive. Keep in mind that this is not a “policy” paper where your job is to advocate a particular policy. Do not spend much time on background. Assume that we are familiar with the details of the case and focus on presenting and then testing your argument. The best papers will exhibit well developed arguments and the skillful use of evidence to support (and contradict!) one’s argument.

 

Declare your decision for the paper option in writing anytime but no later than in section on Tuesday 6 February. The decision for (or against) writing the paper is final. No exceptions.

 

The paper proposal is due in section on 16 February. It should be between 250 and 500 words.

 

Your paper proposal should answer five key questions:

1) What's your puzzle?

2) What's your case?

3) What is your argument (or what explanations from class would you like to test)?

4) What sources (books, articles, documents) have you collected?

5) Have you found initial evidence that might confirm or disconfirm the explanation?

 

The better and more detailed your proposal, the better will be your TA’s feedback. If you decide to write on a topic that differs from your proposal, get your TA’s approval.

Final draft is due on Thursday 8 March in section. The paper should be well written. Style counts. Even a skilled writer can benefit by reading, or re-reading, William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (or Stephen King’s On Writing). Also, consider consulting the Political Science Writing Center: http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/. The paper should be between 3,000 and 4,000 words (which is about 12 to 14 pages double spaced). Please put a word count on the title page.

Finally, be careful not to plagiarize. All papers will be run through plagiarism software. If you are uncertain about the meaning of plagiarism and how to avoid it, consult the Political Science Writing Center as well as the resources available at http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/plag.html

Catalog Description: 
Deterrence theory; decision-making and rationality; strategy and psychology; material and ideational structures; insurgencies and counter-insurgencies; ethics; nuclear strategy; terrorism; economic sanctions; chemical, biological, and cyber weapons; non-lethal weapons. Prerequisite: none; recommended: Pol S 203 recommended
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:36pm