This course introduces students to seminal literature in the field of security studies. It treats theory and policy as mutually reinforcing pursuits.
In connection with theory, the course emphasizes both rational choice and bounded rationality approaches. It treats rational choice in the context of deterrence and coercion. The course includes cognitive constraints on rationality that explain why deterrence and coercion fail. Prospect theory from the field of psychology is a main focus.
Also with respect to theory, the course addresses strategies of deterrence and coercive diplomacy applied to international outlaws, such as states that sponsor international terrorism and that engage in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), "rogue regimes." Also included are "freelancers" who collude with rogue states spreading terror as well as creating nuclear, biological, and chemical armaments.
During the Cold War, the Soviet threat was known, there was consensus in the West on how to meet that threat. During the post–Cold War era, aggression by regional states with large conventional forces, such as Iraq, was the menace of the moment. With the defeat of Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait, came the post–Gulf War era. Then, state–sponsored terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by rogue regimes constituted the main threat. But there was much less accord on how to counter the rogue state threat. During this time, free lancers operating from failing states became the danger of the day. As the 21st Century opens, nonstate free lance terrorists who seek to acquire and use chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction are challenging rogue regimes as the main threat facing the United States.
At issue is what policies should Washington adopt to meet the new threats. Extreme policies range from "doing nothing" to "doing too much," such as sending ground combat troops. Midrange policies consist of adopting economic sanctions and launching cruise missiles against suspect terrorist installations and facilities for the construction of WMD.
A specific topic the class addresses is whether policies intended to deter and coerce have the effect of provoking undesirable behavior. The course discusses deterrence and coercion as strategic approaches to bargaining. In addition, the course addresses persuasion and search as complementary approaches to bargaining.
The class draws upon ideas from the fields of psychology, economics,
and political science to make
inferences about conditions for successful application of strategy and persuasion.
In dispute is the relevance of concepts developed for superpower relations to lesser threats. "Can a dog intended to fight a cat "lick" the kittens?" Can American Cold War policies originally directed at the former Soviet Union also deter rogue states like Iran, Iraq, and North Korea? Can policies successfully implemented in Europe coerce a failed state like Afghanistan? Is it possible to coerce nonstate freelancers? Given the fact that weapons of mass destruction are not politically usable by a superpower, what would deter and compel a country like Iraq or a freelance terrorist?
The strategy of coercive diplomacy aimed to induce states to cease undesirable
behavior or to take an action the United States favored. In the post-Cold
War period, deterrence and coercion appear to be less
applicable: Because of the breakup of empires and the presence of failed states, international actors are less amenable to strategic threats and promises. In contrast to such strategic action, persuasion seeks to change behavior by convincing others that it is in their own best interest to act.
Persuasion or its antithesis, military action, rather than strategy may be the guiding principles of the new world order. Because challengers are less concerned with relative capabilities, resolve, and risk calculations than in the Cold War, they are less subject to strategy. Similarly, they are more constrained by their cognitive structures and thus not as influenced by threats of punishment and promises of reward.
Washington's battle to limit trade with rogue states confronts Moscow's willingness to trade with them. And in the post-Cold War relaxation of tensions, American allies also engage in trade with "rogue regimes." As a result, Washington charges that the allies facilitate international terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The allies counter that America creates enemies by isolating states with which it has political differences.
The course begins with a discussion of themes like bargaining theory, deterrence, and coercive diplomacy.
Barbara Farnham (ed.) Avoiding Losses/Taking Risks: Prospect Theory
and International Conflict (Ann
Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994
Richard Haass, (ed.) Economic Sanctions and American Diplomacy
(A Council on Foreign Relations
book, Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1998)
Robert Jervis, Richard Lebow, Janice Stein, (eds.) Psychology and
Deterrence (Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins Press, 1985)
Michael Klare, Rogue States and Nuclear Outlaws (NY: Hill and Wang, 1995)
Raymond Tanter, Rogue Regimes: Terrorism and Proliferation (NY: St. Martin's Press, 1998)
Lecture Notes are available under Fall 1998 Notes and Instructions at:
Please learn to take notes using a word processing program. Prior to
a class, see
notes on the topics to be covered in that class. Upon entering the class,
copy and paste the day's notes into a word processing document.
The students' own notes on the material presented in class that day may then
be added to the lecture notes. Students should save their work for that
day to their IFS home directory.
On an IBM machine with Windows NT, your IFS home directory may be
found on the desktop. In addition, when saving a file to your IFS home directory,
you may go to the H:\ drive to save the file. The H:\ drive is your IFS home
Grades for this course derive from scores earned via midterm exam (35%),
research paper (35%), class participation (10%) and participation in Conferencing
on the Web -- COW (20%):
Graders calculate scores for COW based upon quantity––frequency with
which you nest an
argument within the context of colleagues' thoughts and the extent to
which they take your ideas into account when framing their own. These
grades also include an assessment of the quality of argumentation and an
indication that participants conducted Internet research to locate primary sources. Before drawing an inference or advocating an option, students should search for documents.
Before using a web Search Engine like AltaVista, Excite, or Yahoo!, access:
1) All students MUST obtain an e-mail account immediately. Without this
account it is not possible to participate in this class. In rare instances, course administrators may communicate via a class email group. Instructions for joining and leaving this group are at:
2) Participants should complete readings before the date on the syllabus.
3) Students should select the topic upon which they wish to conduct research and place a research question on COW by 14 October. By 28 October, students should post a draft outline on COW.
The final paper must be posted on the PS
472 Fall 1998 Term Papers page and delivered in hard copy
on the last day of class, 9 December. With respect to style, all papers should be double spaced, in 14 point font, full justification, and in HTML.
4) Students should be prepared to discuss their research on appropriate class dates. Students will benefit from class and COW concerning paper topics.
Students should choose an actor on which to write their papers. That actor might be a state or a nonstate entity or person that is in conflict with the United States.
Before choosing a topic or actor, see other contributions to knowledge from prior ps472 and ps498 students, e.g., at:
In citing sources, students must use the Turabian
style guide for endnotes. There is no need to have a bibliography in
the term paper.
Here is the assignment to be completed for class on Monday 14 SEP.
1) Using the Documents Center page for International Security Affairs Political Science 472, find the vote count in the House and the Senate for the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996.
Also find the United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorized Member states to take "all necessary means" in order to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
2) Using the University of Michigan Documents Center, which is also located on the Documents Center page for International Security Affairs Political Science 472, locate the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Online via GPO Access, find the President's "Address to the Nation on Military Action Against Terrorist Sites" of August 20, 1998.
What did the President say about Osama bin Laden (a.k.a. Usama bin Ladin)?
3) For numbers one and two above, post the locations of the pages as links on COW.
And post a paragraph on COW regarding your search procedure. Post all
responses on COW as HTML.
Monday 14 SEP Grace York, the Documents Center Librarian,
Wednesday 16 SEP Jennifer Morgan with Livetraining.com
Monday 21 SEP COMPREHENSIVE RATIONAL ACTION
Jervis, Lebow, and Stein 125-179 (Calculation, Miscalculation, and Conventional Deterrence)
Wednesday 14 OCT--RESEARCH QUESTION DUE ON COW
--PROSPECT THEORY: AVOIDING LOSSES/TAKING RISKS
Also skim: Anna Song, "Psychological factors in decision-making"
Also skim: Michael Janson, "Prospect Theory"
READINGS: Farnham 119-157
(Prospect Theory and International
Relations; Prospect Theory and Political Analysis; Conclusions)
Monday 26 OCT--MIDTERM
Wednesday 28 OCT No Lecture; Lab assignment for research outline due on COW
Haas: Foreword, Introduction, Conclusion
Monday 2 NOV--PLOT:
Chapter 1. In Pursuit of
Enemies: The Remaking of U.S. Military Strategy
Chapter 2. Operation Desert Storm: The Liquidation of a Rogue State
Wednesday 4 NOV--PLOT:
Chapter 5. Rogues, Outlaws, and Hegemons: A Pentagon Roster of the "Iraqs of the Future"
Chapter 6. The Ambivalent
Crusade: Washington's War Against Proliferation
Wednesday 11 NOV
Klare: Chapter 7, Beyond the Rogues: Military Doctrine in a World of Chaos
Haass: Chapter 7, Pakistan
Monday 16 NOV No Lecture; Lab Assignment
Tanter, Rogue Regimes
Haass: Chapter 4, Iran
Monday 23 NOV
Tanter: Chapter 3, Iraq: Accommodation or Containment
Haass: Chapter 5, Iraq
Wednesday 25 NOV
Tanter: Chapter 4, Libya,
Contain or Embrace.
Haass: Chapter 6, Libya
Monday 30 NOV
Tanter: Chapter 5, Syria, Contain or Embrace.
Wednesday 2 DEC
Tanter: Chapter 6, Cuba,
Contain and Embrace.
Tanter: Chapter 7, North Korea, Contain and Embrace.
Monday 7 DEC
Freelance terrorism and proliferation
Wednesday 9 DEC-- TERM PAPERS DUE
Final paper due online--classes end 11 DEC