PS 142A Fall 2020

PS 142A. United States Foreign Policy                                           Instructor: David A. Lake

Fall 2020, Asynchronous schedule                                                           Email:

Canvas course page:




This course provides a broad overview and analysis of U.S. foreign policy since the beginning of the twentieth century. No prior background in international relations is assumed. Students will broaden their understanding of the history of U.S. foreign policy, explore the roots and challenges facing the current liberal international order, and develop analytic tools necessary to understand future U.S. foreign policies.


All times listed on this syllabus are for the Pacific time zone. Assignments must be submitted on Pacific time regardless of where you may be living or submitting your work.


On the Canvas course page, under Modules, you will find all lectures, readings where available electronically, quizzes, and weekly discussion questions. The modules page will be your most effective guide to the course.




This course will be taught asynchronously. Lectures will be pre-recorded and posted to the course webpage on Canvasin advance of their normally scheduled times (listed below for information). There are 19 lectures scheduled. Each lecture may be broken up into shorter segments and will be designated, for example, as Lecture 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. Students are responsible for the material in all segments of the lectures (as well as readings) on the quizzes for the appropriate week (see below).


Open Discussion Sessions


On Thursdays from 2-3 PM, I will be available for group discussion via Zoom. Nothing can substitute completely for a live in-person class, but this is an opportunity to ask questions about the readings or lectures and raise issues for discussion with me and your fellow students. I will not be covering additional material in these sessions, only answering questions you might have or addressing issues you would like to discuss (this can include current events). Under university rules on remote teaching, these synchronous group discussion sessions are not required and no course credit is assigned for participation. The group discussions will be recorded and posted to Canvas for students who choose not to or, because of scheduling issues, cannot participate directly. Participation in the discussion presumes your consent to the recording of these sessions.




There are two books available for this course which can be purchased through the UCSD bookstore or online. I strongly urge that you purchase the basic history text by LaFeber. We will read much of this book and, unfortunately, it is not available electronically. Additional readings will be available on Canvas. More contemporary topics towards the end of the quarter are covered mostly in articles. All articles are available online through the UCSD library web portal (needed to be logged in via VPN to UCSD).


Walter LaFeber, The American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad, 1750 to the Present (Second Edition). New York: W. W. Norton, 1994.


David A. Lake, The Statebuilder’s Dilemma: On the Limits of Foreign Intervention. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016. Available electronically through UCSD Library.




Grades for this course will be based on three response papers, each 25% of final course grade, due on the dates on the schedule below. All papers will be inspected by through the Canvas portal.


There will also be weekly online, asynchronous quizzes, which altogether constitute the remaining 25% of the total course grade. Each quiz covers the readings and lectures for that week. Quizzes will open on Thursdays, 3 PM and will close on Saturdays at 2:59 PM. All quizzes must be completed within this 48-hour window.


Missed deadlines may be made up only after a Doctor’s note is submitted explaining why you were too ill to submit the paper on time or take the quiz. If you “forget” to take a quiz within the allotted time period, there will be no makeup option. No exceptions.


All assignments are subject to UCSD’s academic integrity standards (see Canvas).


Teaching Assistants


D.G. Kim (

Remote office hours: Thurs. 8-9 AM and by appointment

Zoom ID: 671 817 4305


Austin Beacham (

Remote office hours: Weds. 12-1 PM and by appointment

Zoom ID: 621 465 2097


Course Webpage


The Canvas page for this course is available at: All readings, assignments, and pre-recorded lectures will be available from this page.


Contact Information and Office Hours


Office hours will be held remotely and by appointment only, usually on Tuesdays between 1-3 PM. A signup sheet is available here: . Office hours will be held via Zoom on my personal meeting space: 819 729 5556


The TAs and I will also be available to answer questions via email. Please note that if you do not receive a response in 48 hours, you should feel free to resend your email. Sometimes a first email gets overlooked.


Lecture 1: Introduction (equivalent to lecture on 10/1)


Lecture 2: The Liberal International Order (equivalent to lecture on 10/6)


Lake, Martin and Risse, Challenges to the Liberal International Order (manuscript, June 2020)


Lake, Indirect Rule, Chapter 1


Lecture 3: Theoretical Foundations (equivalent to lecture on 10/8)


Lake, Indirect Rule, Chapter 2


Lectures 4 and 5: Informal Empire in the Caribbean (equivalent to lectures on 10/13 and 10/15)


LaFeber, Chapters 6-8, pp.157-267

Lake, Indirect Rule, Part III (to be posted later, check Module in Canvas)


Lecture 6: World War I and the League of Nations (equivalent to lecture on 10/20)


LaFeber, Chapters 10-11, pp.302-368


First Response paper assigned on October 20, due October 27 at 3 PM


Lecture 7: World War II and the Origins of the Liberal International Order (equivalent to lecture on 10/22)


LaFeber, Chapters 12-13, pp.369-456

Lake, Indirect Rule, Part II (to be posted later, check Module in Canvas)


Lectures 8 and 9: The Cold War (equivalent to lectures on 10/27 and 10/29)


LaFeber, Chapters 14-16, pp.457-579


Lecture 10: The Vietnam War (equivalent to lecture on 11/3)


LaFeber, Chapter 17, pp.580-632


Lecture 11: The End of American Hegemony (equivalent to lecture on 11/5)


LaFeber, Chapter18, pp.633-679


Lecture 12: The End of the Cold War (equivalent to lecture on 11/10)


LaFeber, Chapter 19, pp.680-744


Second response paper assigned, due November 10, due November 17 at 3 PM


Note: No lecture equivalent to 11/12


Lecture 13: The New World Order (equivalent to lecture on 11/17)


LaFeber, Chapter 20, pp.745-782


Lecture 14: The Backlash to Empire and the War on Terror (equivalent to lecture on 11/19)


Andrew H. Kydd and Barbara F. Walter, The Strategies of Terrorism, International Security 31, 1 (2006), pp49-80.


Hal Brands and Peter Feaver, Trump and Terrorism: U.S. Strategy After ISIS, Foreign Affairs 96, 2 (2017: 28-36.


Lecture 15: Democracy Promotion and Statebuilding (equivalent to lecture on 11/24)


Lake, Statebuilder’s Dilemma, pp.1-100 &153-194


Note: Thanksgiving on 11/26: no discussion session and no quiz for this week


Lecture 16: The Iraq War and Aftermath (equivalent to lecture on 12/1)


Lake, Statebuilder’s Dilemma, pp.101-152 &195-208


Jeremy Pressman, Power without Influence: The Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy Failure in the Middle East, International Security 33, 4 (2009), pp.149-79.


Lecture 17: Populism at home and abroad (equivalent to lecture on 12/3)


Dani Rodrik, Populism and the Economics of Globalization, Journal of International Business Policy 1 (2018), pp.12-33.


Walter Russell Mead, The Jacksonian Revolt: American Populism and World Order, Foreign Affairs, 96, 2 (March/April 2017), pp.2-7.


Fareed Zakaria, Populism on the March: Why the West Is in Trouble, Foreign Affairs, 95, 6 (Nov./Dec. 2016), pp.9-15.


Michael Kazin, Trump and American Populism: Old Whine, New Bottles, Foreign Affairs, 95, 6 (Nov./Dec. 2016), pp.17-24.


Cas Muddle, Europe’s Populist Surge: A Long Time in the Making, Foreign Affairs, 95, 6 (Nov./Dec. 2016), pp.25-30.


Lecture 18: The Rise of China (equivalent to lecture on 12/8)


Yuen Foong Khong, Primacy or World Order? The United States and China’s Rise – A Review Essay, International Security 38, 3 (2013/14, pp.153-75.


Randall L. Schweller and Xiaoyu Pu, After Unipolarity: China’s Visions of International Order in an Era of U.S. Decline, International Security 36, 1 (2011), pp.41-72.


Avery Goldstein, First Things First: The Pressing Danger of Crisis Instability in U.S.-China Relations, International Security 37, 4 (2013), pp.49-89.


Lecture 19: The Future of the LIO (equivalent to lecture on 12/10)


Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Will the Liberal Order Survive? The History of an Idea, Foreign Affairs 96, 1 (Jan./Feb. 2017), pp.10-16.


Michael Mazarr, The Once and Future Order: What Comes After Hegemony?, Foreign Affairs, 96, 1 (Jan./Feb. 2017), pp. 25-32.


  1. John Ikenberry, The Plot Against American Foreign Policy: Can the Liberal Order Survive, Foreign Affairs, 96, 3 (May/June 2017), pp.2-9.


Jeff D. Colgan and Robert O. Keohane, The Liberal Order is Rigged: Fix It Now or Watch It Wither, Foreign Affairs, 96, 3 (May/June 2017), pp.36-44.


Randall Schweller, Three Cheers for Trump’s Foreign Policy: What the Establishment Misses, Foreign Affairs, 97, 5 (Sept./Oct. 2018), pp.133-43.


Third response paper assigned December 10, due December 17 at 3 PM