Courses tagged with "MIT" (5)
This course examines the problems and issues confronting American national security policymakers and the many factors that influence the policies that emerge. But this is not a course about "threats," military strategies, or the exercise of military power.
What threatens those interests? How should the U.S. defend those interests? What kind of military should we build? Should the U.S. enter into alliances with other countries? Do we need a larger Navy? How much should we spend on weapons procurement?
The course has four broad goals:
- to demonstrate that definitions of national security and the specification of vital interests are subjective and fluid and that they are as much functions of domestic politics as they are responses to international politics and "objective threats";
- to demonstrate that policy decisions involve complex tradeoffs among political, social, economic, military, legal, and ethical goals and values;
- to explore how the many organizations, institutions, and individuals that participate in American national security policymaking affect policy formulation, implementation, and outcomes; and
- to better understand the historical context, evolution, and linkages of national security problems and solutions.
The course is organized along an historical time line. Beginning with the final days of World War II we follow American national security policy from the first stirrings of confrontation with the Soviet Union and China, into two hot wars in Asia that cost over 100,000 American lives and spawned social upheavals, through a close encounter with nuclear war, stumbling into the era of arms control, and conclude with the collapse of the communism. Selective case studies, memoirs, and original documents act as windows into each period. What were US national security decision makers thinking? What were they worried about? How did they see their options?
This course centers on mechanisms of civilian control of the military. Relying on the influential texts of Lasswell, Huntington, and Finer, the first classes clarify the basic tensions between the military and civilians. A wide-ranging series of case studies follows. These cases are chosen to create a field of variation that includes states with stable civilian rule, states with stable military influence, and states exhibiting fluctuations between military and civilian control. The final three weeks of the course are devoted to the broader relationship between military and society.
This course will conduct a comparative study of the grand strategies of the great powers (Britain, France, Germany and Russia) competing for mastery of Europe from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Grand strategy is the collection of political and military means and ends with which a state attempts to achieve security. We will examine strategic developments in the years preceding World Wars I and II, and how those developments played themselves out in these wars. The following questions will guide the inquiry: What is grand strategy and what are its critical aspects? What recurring factors have exerted the greatest influence on the strategies of the states selected for study? How may the quality of a grand strategy be judged? What consequences seem to follow from grand strategies of different types? A second theme of the course is methodological. We will pay close attention to how comparative historical case studies are conducted.