Poli 378 - Syllabus
The Politics of American National Security Policy
TR 2:30 - 3:15
Office: Baker Hall 202
x3362, stoll AT rice DOT edu
- Tu 1:30 - 2:30
- We 11:00 - 11:50
- Th 11:00 - 11:50
- or by appointment (note: I am usually in my office on Friday afternoons)
The study of national security policy is a unique area of political science.
It has developed on its own, away from the other mainstream areas of international
relations, and it encompasses a wide variety of subjects, from the physics
of nuclear explosions to the sociology of small group interactions. Since
the subject matter of this course is scattered across a number of different
areas, it does not lend itself to a tight, well-integrated course of study.
Nevertheless, we will attempt to impose some order on this vast subject,
and to provide you with some basic knowledge that will allow you to form
your own opinions about the major defense problems of the US, and their
We live in interesting times. For most of the post-World
War II era, we have spent most of our time on two defense issues: strategic
nuclear weapons, and "the next war" in Europe. Both may seem
obsolete, but they are still important to study because they have dominated
US thinking on defense, and because aspects of each may well become important
again. We will as well consider a number of other defense topics in the
course, including some that appear to be more relevant to our current
Your final grade in the course will be determined as follows:
- Written Assignments 30%
- Midterm Exam 25%
- Final Exam 45%
Failure to take the final exam will result in a grade of F for the course.
The written assignments in the class will be done in groups. Groups will be
formed early in the semester, and will work together on all assignments. Groups
will consist of at least 3 students. It is not always possible to divide the
work evenly across a particular assignment. As well, there may be legitimate
reasons why a group member cannot completely meet her or his obligations to the
group on a particular assignment. However, if a student feels that a fellow
group member is seriously shirking, the student should inform me immediately.
As well, at the end of the course I will ask each of you to inform me if a group
member has consistently failed to meet her or his obligations. Students who
consistently fail to meet their obligations in the group assignments will be
Makeup Exams. There will be a makeup exam given for the midterm and
the final. A sign-up list will be posted by 202 Baker Hall; students
will be advised in lecture when the list will go up, and when it will be
taken down. The makeup will be given at one time and in one place, and
will not be the same exam that is given to the rest of the class. The
makeup may occur several days later or several days earlier than the
Regrades. If you wish to register a complaint about a grade, you
must observe the following procedures:
- You have 1 class week from the time the answer key for a piece of
work is available to lodge a complaint.
- Before you submit the work to be re-graded, you are advised to check the answer
key (available on the bookshelf to the left of Dr. Stoll's office).
- Turn in the work to the regrade box (the box is labeled "Stoll To Be Regraded")
that is on the bookshelf to the left of Dr. Stoll's office. Do not put any
marks on the work to be regraded. Instead, on a separate piece of paper,
indicate what question(s) you wish to be regraded. You can also indicate why you
think that you should receive a different grade.
- Dr. Stoll will re-grade only the part(s) you request. Your new grade
may be higher, lower, or the same as the original grade.
The following books will be used in the course. All have been ordered from the
Note: Haass will be read in conjunction with written assignments.
- Bolt, Paul, Damon Coletta, and Collings Shackelford. 2005. American
Defense Policy. 8th Edition. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins. ISBN 9780801880940.
- Donnelly, Thomas and Frederick Kagen (ed.). 2010. Lessons for a Long War: How America Can
Win on New Battlefields. Washington, DC:AEI American Enterprise Institute. ISBN 9780844743295.
- Haass, Richard. 1999. Intervention. Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The
Brookings Institution. ISBN 9780870031359.
- O'Hanlon, Michael. 2009. Budgeting for Hard Power: Defense and Security Spending under Barack Obama.
Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. ISBN 9780815702948.