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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: MAMS 504
Course Title: National Defense Policy
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Analysis of national defense policy in the U.S. The course examines the various ways the American political system decides what security issues deserve attention, how it makes policy decisions regarding the military establishment, and the implementation of those decisions by the Commander in Chief. Theoretical models for civil-military relations are explored in depth. Readings for the course analyze the role of national defense in the world today. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

Graduate standing.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Choose 1 of the required texts and at least 2 of the recommended texts. Additional biographies or autobiographies may be assigned as appropriate.

American Defense Policy, 8th ed.
By Bolt, Paul J., Darmon V. Coletta, Collings G. Shackleford, ed. (Johns Hopkins University Press (2005))
U.S. National Security: Policymakers, Processes, and Politics
By Sarkesian, Sam C., John Alen Williams, Stephen J. Simbala (Lynne Reinner Publishers (2007))
Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
By Bacevich, Andrew (Henry Holt and Co (2009))
New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War
By Bacevich, Andrew (Oxford University Press (2006))
Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American Defense Policy During the Cold War
By Gaddis, John Lewis (Oxford University Press (2005))
A Grand Strategy for America
By Art, Robert J. (Cornell University Press (2004))
Course Objectives
  • To understand the development of defense policy.
  • To explain the political processes employed leading to decisions to commit military resources and how those resources are utilized.
  • To consider the notion of "American Exceptionalism" and its impact on military policy.
  • To understand the economic and social impact of American military policy decisions.
Measurable Learning
  • Explain the political and bargaining processes leading to the development of military policy decisions.
  • Understand, via examples, past decisions to deploy troops and how those decisions were made.
  • Expore the various political actors who contribute to defense policy, including the president, Congress, the intelligence community and others.
Topical Outline:

Instructors should introduce students to the defense policy process using both theoretical frameworks and using historical precedent. The process must include writing an APA paper of at least 8,000 words in length on a specific decision to commit troops and how that decision was made. Students should NOT choose a major world war as their topic.

Topics for the course should include, but not be limited to the following:

  • How American defense policy is affected by world circumstances
  • The American military establishment
  • The President and Congress in defense policy
  • The role of the intelligence community
  • Contributions of interest groups and the public in defense policy.
  • Defense budgeting process
  • Nuclear and conventional policy
  • Arms control
  • Military relations with civilians

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: David Roebuck Date: February 23, 2010
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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