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DHP P205: National Security Decision-making: Theory and Practice

Course Description

Examines national security decision-making from both a theoretical perspective and from its execution in practice. The class focuses on how national security decisions are made rather than on the theories of international relations or the substantive content of national security or foreign policies. It begins with the history of the U.S. National Security Council, and an overview of the current structures, actors, and processes in the U.S. system of national security decision-making. Next, the course examines theoretical models of decision-making including cognitive biases, organizational processes, bureaucratic politics, how senior leaders often use history and analogies in their decisions, and the influence of domestic politics. The course also explores the roles of the Departments of State and Defense, the intelligence community, the influence of Congress and the media as well as the prospects for national security reform. Students are asked to analyze historical case studies and current events considering the broad themes covered throughout the semester. Emphasis throughout the course is placed on the national security decision-making system of the United States, however, participants are strongly encouraged to examine the systems and actors of other states and multinational organizations.

Course faculty: Abigail Linnington
Course duration: Full semester
Credits/Units: 3.0