International Relations – Course by Dr. Avi Spiegel


International Relations

POLS 175

Dr. Avi Spiegel

Fall 2012

This course is an introduction to the study of international relations.  As you read this, in at least three countries around the world the United States military is launching predator drones with the ability to kill individuals from computer terminals thousands of miles away.  At the same time, revolutions are still unfolding in the Middle East, ushering in a new wave of democracy or chaos or both.  In the past year, young people have taken to the streets in Athens, Barcelona and London demanding local and global economic change.  The same technology that bolstered many of these peaceful political and economic protests is also equipping flash mobs to rob 7-11 stores in Maryland.  New challenges to state sovereignty and international security abound: drug wars, global warming, human trafficking, hacking, clandestine immigration, global financial crises, robotics, even Facebook.

How has the world changed in the last century – since World Wars I and II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the first and second Gulf Wars or even 9/11?  Can the theories we employ to understand how the world operates still apply to our rapidly changing world?  Is the world still composed purely of states pursuing their power-based interests?  Was it ever?  How, in short, does the world work?  Why do nations go to war? Why should they?  How do you impose order (if “order” is even possible) in an increasingly disordered world?  And is the task of imposing such order the responsibility – or burden – of the United States, the United Nations, someone or something else entirely or no one at all?


This fall, the outcome of the presidential election in the United States might be determined by the answers to many of these questions.  In 2012, citizens in almost a third of the countries of the world will also head to the polls.  How are we changing and how is the world around us changing?


This course, in sum, will examine the major theories and developments within the study of international relations.  It is not a class in current world events, but we will regularly reference events around the globe to help us understand the scholarly field of international relations.





Learning Outcomes:


Upon completion of this course, successful students will be able to:


  • Distinguish among the major theories of international relations
  • Identify important concepts and issue areas in international relations
  • Construct and evaluate analytical arguments and write clear logical prose about topics in international relations
  • Identify and gather information from credible primary and secondary sources.
  • Develop political competence and a theoretical and practical understanding of the value of active participation in politics and global citizenship




1. Russell Bova, How the World Works: A Survey of International Relations, 2/E:  2012 (Be sure to get the 2nd edition.)

2. Daniel Drezner, Theories of International Politics and Zombies, 2011


3. Electronic Course Reader, Available on Course Blackboard Page at


***All readings listed in the syllabus — not in Bova or Drezner books — are available on our Blackboard Page.  Each reading is listed online by LAST NAME OF THE AUTHOR.


***All assignments, exam reviews, and readings (other than Bova and Drezner) and will be posted on our Blackboard course page.  It is critical that you familiarize yourself with this page.




20% Examination #1

20% Examination #2

20% Examination #3/Final Exam

20% Final Paper Assignment

20% Participation (Attendance and active engagement and participation in classroom discussions, debates and short assignments)


Critical Dates


*Examination #1 – 10/11

*Examination #2 – 11/15

*Final Paper Assignment Due Date – Due in class at your final exam.  Assignment will be posted on Blackboard before Thanksgiving.

*Final Exam: Examination #3 –

POLS 175-03 T/Th 4:00: December 18 (2-4pm)

POLS 175-04 T/Th 2:30: December 20 (11am-1pm)


General Points and Expectations


Throughout the course of this semester, you will be expected to:


1) Attend class, arriving on time.  More than two unexcused absences (those in which your absence is not brought on by an emergency, religious purpose or has not been cleared with a medical note) during the course of the semester will result in a zero grade for participation.  Arriving late is disrespectful to your fellow classmates and disrupts the class.  Being late more than three times may result in a lowered participation grade.  Unfortunately, not being able to find parking is not an acceptable excuse for lateness.


2) Participate actively in classroom discussions.  I will at times call on students without warning.  This is why it is imperative that you come to class prepared – and have read all the assigned readings that are listed on the class date before coming to class.  If I call on you and you are not prepared to participate, you may pass by saying “pass.”  The first pass is free, but any additional passes will significantly lower your participation grade.


Your participation grade will be based on your engagement in class discussions and debates, your performance when called upon and how well you critically engage with the material.  Let me be clear: simply showing up to class does not count as “participating”  — indeed, that is the equivalent of not participating, of showing up to the ballot box and not voting.  Showing up to class and not participating would represent a D grade for participation.  Again, your participation in class discussions is critical to your success in this course.


3) Be aware of course and exam expectations.  Class sessions will not simply regurgitate the readings, but will rather build on them.  Indeed, our class sessions will consist of a dynamic and vibrant mix of lecture, debate, and discussion.  Exams will be based both on readings and on classroom lectures (even if we don’t directly engage with a particular reading in class).  In short, anything covered in class may appear on the exam and anything covered in the readings may appear on the exam regardless of whether it was specifically discussed in class.


NOTE: Study guides for exams—including key terms, concepts and key Powerpoint slides—will be posted on Blackboard before exams.


4) Turn assignments in—during the class meeting time—on the dates specified.  Late assignments will simply not be accepted (except, of course, in cases of medical emergency, and accompanied by note from the Dean’s Office.)


NOTE: You are responsible each week to check the readings on the syllabus – and to check if there are additional reading assignments due on that day.  If there are, you will see this line listed in addition to the readings: ®Reading Assignment on Blackboard


NOTE: There will be no make-up exams, nor will anyone be allowed to take any of the exams, including the final, at a time other than the scheduled date and time.


5) Abide strictly by the academic integrity rules established by the university (See  Infractions will most likely result in a failing grade.


6) Inform me if you require any academic accommodation (See


7) Inform me if you are particularly shy or have problems speaking in front of large groups or working within small groups (we all learn in different ways and have unique personalities and I am very sensitive to this).


8) Recognize that the syllabus is a working document.  It is subject to change and amendment.  I will at times during the semester ask you to complete additional assignments, depending on ongoing developments around the world and within the class itself.


9) Engage respectfully with your fellow classmates.  This includes: not using cell phones (in any way — to talk or text); and not reading or perusing materials from outside the class during class.  Using a cell phone more than once in class will result in a significantly lowered participation grade.  Also, please note that laptops, netbooks or any other electronic computerized devices are not permitted in class.


10) Recognize that your professor is here to help.  If you are having difficulty understanding the material or have any questions or concerns in general, I am here to help you.  Visit my office hours or email me.  If the office hours don’t work with your schedule for any reason, email me to set up a different time.  I may not respond immediately to your emails, but I will always respond.


NOTE: When sending an email to me, use this as a subject line:

(Class): (Subject)

For example:

POLS 175-03/04: Question on Assignment





Introduction to International Relations




Course Introduction




The World We Live In


*Study closely the maps at the beginning of Bova


*Thomas P.M. Barnett, Excerpts from The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century, 2004


*Barnett Map – High Resolution (Listed in course reader under “Barnett Map”)


®Reading Assignment on Blackboard





The Geography of International Relations


*Samuel Huntington, “Clash of Civilizations,” Foreign Affairs, 2003


*David Brooks, “The Segmentation Century,” The New York Times, 2012


*David Brooks, “Huntington’s Clash Revisited,” New York Times, 2011  (Listed in course reader as “Brooks2”)






A World of War:

Anarchy and International Relations




9/18: How to Think About International Relations: Realism


*Bova, Chapter One (Up until Page 19)


*John Mearsheimer, Excerpts from The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, 2001



9/20: Realism Continued


*Robert Gates, “Address by the Secretary of Defense to the World Forum on the Future of Democracy,” 2007




9/25: Challenges to Realism: Liberalism, Constructivism and Feminism


*Bova, Chapter One (From Page 19 to End)


*Condoleeza Rice, “The Promise of Democratic Peace,” Washington Post, 2005


9/27: Liberalism, Constructivism and Feminism Continued

*Ann Tickner, “Searching for the Princess? Feminist Perspectives in International Relations,” Harvard International Review, 1999

*Swanee Hunt, “Let Women Rule,” Foreign Affairs, 2007

*Micah Zenko, “City of Men,” Foreign Policy, 2011

*Heather Hulbert, “The Feminine Realpolitik,” Foreign Policy, 2011

10/2: War and Violence in International Relations: The Realist’s World


*Bova, Chapter Four (Up Until Page 121)




10/4: Terrorism and Nuclear Proliferation


*Bova, Chapter Four (From Page 121 to End)



10/9: War and Realism, Continued


*Stephen P. Rosen, “After Proliferation: What to Do if More States Go Nuclear,” Foreign Affairs, 2006

*John Mueller, “Terrorphobia: Our False Sense of Insecurity,” The American Interest, 2008

*Deborah Avant, “The Privatization of Security: Lessons from Iraq,” Orbis, 2006


®Reading Assignment on Blackboard



10/11: Examination #1






Searching for Peace and Order:

Law, Human Rights and Foreign Policy Making in International Relations




10/16: Historical Perspectives: Continuity and Change in International Relations


*Bova, Chapter Two (Entire Chapter)



10/18: Conceptualizing Foreign Policy


*Bova, Chapter Three (Entire Chapter)

*Graham Allison, “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” American Political Science Review, 1969

®Reading Assignment on Blackboard



10/23: Foreign Policy Decision-Making: Special Presidential Election Class

****Be sure to watch the Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy the night before class: on 10/22 from 6-7:30-pm PST



*Ross Douthat, “Obama the Realist,” The New York Times, 2011


*Ryan Lizza, “The Consequentalist,” The New Yorker, 2011


*Joe Klein, “Is Romney a Realist or an Idealist?” Time, 2012

*Brian Katulis, “Republicans, in Search of a Foreign Policy,” New York Times, 2012

*Conor Friedersdorf, “GOP Nominees Didn’t Always Run As Bellicose Nationalists,” The Atlantic, 2012

*Kori Schake, “Paul Ryan and Principled Foreign Policy,” Foreign Policy, 2012

*Michael Mazarr, “George W. Bush, Idealist,” International Affairs, 2007


®Reading Assignment on Blackboard



10/25: Conceptualizing Foreign Policy, Continued

*Howard J. Wiarda, “Beyond the Pale: the Bureaucratic Politics of United States Policy in Mexico,” 2000


10/30: International Law and Organization: The Promise of Liberal Institutionalism


*Bova, Chapter Five (Entire Chapter)


*Robert Keohane, “International Institutions: Can Interdependence Work?” 1998




11/1: The UN and the Challenge of International Organizations and International Interventions: The Case of Rwanda


*Samantha Power, Excerpts From A Problem From Hell: America And The Age Of

Genocide (“Bystanders To Genocide”), 2001


®Reading Assignment on Blackboard



11/6: The Human Rights Revolution: The Construction of International Norms


*Bova, Chapter Six (Entire Chapter)


*”The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”


®Reading Assignment on Blackboard



11/8: Rights and Interventions Continued


*Caroline Fluehr-Lobban, “Anthropologists, Cultural Relativism, and Universal Rights,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1995.


*John Tierney, “A New Debate on Female Circumcision,” The New York Times, 2007



11/13: The Challenges of International Justice


*Jonathan Fanton, “The Challenge of International Justice,” Address to the US Military Academy at West Point, 2008


*John Bolton, “American Justice and the International Criminal Court,” Address to the American Enterprise Institute, 2003


*Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves, “The US Should Not Join the International Criminal Court,” Heritage Foundation Report, 2009


*Steve Crawshaw, “Why the US Needs this Court,” Human Rights Watch, 2003


®Reading Assignment on Blackboard



11/15: Examination #2








A Global Economy:

The Globalization of International Relations





11/20: Economic Globalization


*Bova, Chapter Seven


*Thomas Friedman, excerpts from The World is Flat, 2005




11/27: International Law and International Taxation


*Jesse Drucker, “Google’s recipe for tax-rate cut: Double Irish and a Dutch Sandwich,” The Washington Post, 2010


*James Lamont, “Vodafone warns India tax bill to hit $5bn ,” Financial Times, 2011


*Sinead Carew, “Huawei calls on U.S. government to investigate it,” Reuters, 2011


*Taxation in China, InterChina Report, 2009 (Listed in course reader as “Taxation in China”)


®Reading Assignment on Blackboard



11/29: Transnational Challenges: The Environment and the State System under Stress


*Bova, Chapter Eight


*David Victor, “What Resource Wars?” The National Interest, 2007




12/4: Globalization and International Challenges, continued






12/6-12/11: IR Theories in Review: Toward an International Relations Theory of Zombies


Daniel Drezner, Theories of International Politics and Zombies, 2011 (Entire Book)

Pallab Ghoash, “Science Ponders Zombie Attack,” BBC, 2009

®Reading Assignment on Blackboard
12/13: Looking Back and Looking Forward: The Future of International Relations


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