US and the World

Term: Fall 2010

Subject Code: GHIS

Course Number: 5140

This course analyzes and evaluates the distinctive position of the United States in the contemporary world. What are the sources and dynamics of the power of the U.S.? After the economic and political shocks of the 1960s and 1970s, how was the preeminent position of the U.S. established and even expanded in the last three decades? Almost two decades after the end of the Cold War, debates continue about American power and commitments. Vigorous arguments have emerged about relations between the U.S. and international institutions; the problem of terrorism; and international economic relations. Difficult questions arise about the appropriate uses of American military power, whether for security or humanitarian purposes (Rwanda, Kosovo, Iraq). To assess contemporary American power we draw on studies of international relations, international political economy, and American politics. And we focus on three theoretical issues. First, what is power, as regards the capacities of states and nations and their relations? Second, what is the meaning of democracy as both an aim and an instrument of U.S. policy? Third, what terms should we use to theorize relations between the U.S. and other countries? Is 'hegemony' an appropriate concept for this purpose? Authors include Michael Doyle, Eric Hobsbawm, Samuel Huntington, Paul Kennedy, Robert Keohane, Kenneth Waltz, and Aristide Zolberg.

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