P160C War [Spring 2003]
Politics 160C: Security, Conflict, Violence, War
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Further Reading: http://www.learnworld.com/COURSES/P160C/P160C.MoreReading.html
Notices [Class use Only]: http://www.learnworld.com/COURSES/P160C/ClassroomUse/Notices.html
Thucydides [Table of Speeches]: http://www.learnworld.com/COURSES/P160C/Thucydides.Table.JPG
Peloponnesian War [Timeline]: http://www.learnworld.com/COURSES/P160C/PeloponnesianWar.JPG
Onset of WWII [Timeline]: http://www.learnworld.com/COURSES/P160C/1933-1942.JPG
The Nonproliferation Regime: http://www.learnworld.com/COURSES/P160C/NonproliferationRegime.pdf
Graphics [Thumbnails & Links]: http://www.learnworld.com/COURSES/P160C/P160C.Graphics.html

Spring 2003 Stevenson 175
MWF 11-12.10 Professor Jeff Knopf
TA Maryanne Schiffman
TA Alec Stefansky

Politics 160C
Security, Conflict, Violence, War


Note: Professor Larkin has been asked by the University to take on an assignment abroad during Spring 2003. This class will be taught instead by Professor Jeff Knopf. The reading list will therefore not follow, in many respects, the reading list which is shown here. Please attend the first meeting of class and obtain a syllabus from Professor Knopf.

This course is about the politics of war. Why is a war undertaken? How could it be avoided? What about decisions to arm and deploy weapons, or send troops abroad? Is the ‘war on terrorism’ a war in an ordinary sense? How can US use of ‘force and statecraft’ in the Iraq imbroglio be understood? More generally, how is deliberate, organized violence, by states or by groups, to be understood? What are the politics between two states contemplating war? And what about the place of internal politics?

Does democracy make for peace? Authoritarianism for war? Is someone--some particular person or group--responsible for a war? or is it the result of an impersonal force sweeping citizens and officeholders willy-nilly in its way? And what of the politics of ending a war? Finally, studying the politics of war presents an occasion to ask ‘what is politics’? We will show that differing views about war--and about particular wars--are closely associated with distinct views of ‘politics’.

What will you learn? You will complete the course with three accomplishments:

First, you will acquire, or develop more fully, a repertoire of cases. You’ll have read some political history and be ready to talk about actual wars and what people say about them. You will study several cases at some length, and be introduced to many others through brief texts and films.

Second, you will learn terms and concepts with which claims about war have been made and an exemplary repertoire of such claims. “Vasquez says . . .” “Joll attributed the onset of World War I to . . .” “Kalevi Holsti considers the preconditions for a stable post-war settlement to be . . .”

Third, you will exercise your interpretive skills. You will choose a war and answer concisely a panel of questions about that war, concluding with your best judgment why it was undertaken. [As a whole this exercise will be the equivalent of a twenty-page term paper, but you will present parts in succession, as will be explained in class.]

Attendance in class and section is mandatory. There will be a final exam.


In addition to a short reader of several articles, the following are assigned:

Texts Assigned in Politics 160C: War

Concept and Analysis:

Author Citation
Holsti, Kalevi J. Peace and War: Armed Conflicts and International Order 1648-1989 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991].
Howard, Michael War and the Liberal Conscience [Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1978].
Larkin, Bruce D. War Stories[New York and Zurich: Peter Lang, 2001].
Vasquez, John The War Puzzle [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993].
Walzer, Michael Just and Unjust Wars [Princeton: Basic Books, 1977].


Author Citation
Joll, James Origins of the First World War [New York: Longman, 1984].
Thucydides The Peloponnesian War. [The on-line version, also in the Crawley translation, includes book and chapter divisions, but not §§.] Required in this course are:
Book 1: All [§§ 1-146]. Book 2: §§ 1-71.
Book 3: §§ 1-51, 70-86. Book 4: §§ 1-42, 117-119.
Book 5: §§ 85-116. Book 6: Recommended.
Book 7: Recommended. Book 8:

Select one of the following versions.

The Complete Writings of Thucydides [New York: Modern Library, 1934, or later]. [Note: This is the unadorned Crawley translation. The most recently-published version goes by the title History of the Peloponnesian War (T. E. Wick, editor).] [As the Strassler ed. version is now available in paperback it is preferred, and only the Strassler ed. version has been ordered for the course.]
Robert B. Strassler [ed], The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War [New York: Free Press, 1996], which incorporates the Crawley translation in toto. [This is recommended for its extensive maps and notes.]
Tuchman, Barbara The March of Folly from Troy to Vietnam (New York: Knopf, 1984).


Author Citation
Michael E. Brown, Owen R. Cote, Jr., Sean M. Lynn-Jones, and Steven E. Miller [eds.] Theories of War and Peace: An International Security Reader (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1998).
Paul GardeVie et Mort de la Yougoslavie [Paris: Fayard, 1993].
J. Glenn GrayThe Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle [New York: Harper Torchbook, 1967].
Iriye, Akira Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific (New York: Longman, 1987).
Akira IriyePearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War: A Brief History with Documents and Essays [New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999].
Karnow, Stanley Vietnam: A History [New York: Penguin Books, 1983]. Preface and Chapters 1-14.
Levy, Jack S. "The Causes of War: A Review of Theories and Evidence," in Philip E. Tetlock, Jo L. Husbands, Robert Jervis, Paul C. Stern and Charles Tilly eds., Behavior, Society and Nuclear War, Volume I [NY: Oxford University Press, 1989], pp. 209-333.
Mitchell, Gordon R. Strategic Deception: Rhetoric, Science, and Politics in Missile Defense Advocacy [East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 2000].
Phillips, Kevin. The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America [New York: Basic Books, 1999].
Robertson, Esmonde M. [ed] The Origins of the Second World War [London: Macmillan, 1971].
Robert I. Rotberg and Theodore K. Rabb, eds.The Origin and Prevention of Major Wars [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989].
Bruce Russett [and collaborators]. Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post-Cold War World [Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1993].
Robertson, Esmonde M. [ed].. The Origins of the Second World War [London: Macmillan, 1971].
Taylor, A. J. P. The Origins of the Second World War [New York: Penguin Books, 1964]..
Hugh ThomasThe Spanish Civil War [New York: Harper, 1961]. Especially the prefaces, Book One [pp. 3-196, on origins of the war], and Book Two [pp. 199-464, on the first four months of the war, including the posture of foreign states]. [This book is out of print in the United States; you may find it in used book stores, and several copies are on Reserve.]
Donald Cameron WattHow War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War 1938-1939 [New York: Pantheon, 1989].

Assignments by Class Meeting

Note: You are responsible for assigned readings which are not listed ‘by class meeting’, such as Chs. 2-4 of Tuchman. You are not expected to read the sections in Iriye and Brown included in the list of classes: they are for your reference, if interested in source of some issues to be raised.

The first day of class is Wednesday, 2 April. Monday 26 May is Memorial Day: the class will not meet. Friday 6 June is the final day of instruction. The final exam is Monday, 9 June, 9-11 am.


Class 1. Introduction. Then [Video] Gulf War debates [US House of Representatives, January 1991]. Who ‘won’ the Gulf War?

Class 2. Barbara Tuchman: The March of Folly, sections on the Vietnam War, Chapters 1 and 5, and Epilogue [pp. 4-33, 234-387]. [video] Portions of Vietnam: A Television History [Part 3]. How was the United States drawn in?


Class 3. Vietnam War. Continued. [Video] Vietnam: A Television History [Part 7]. Can a democracy wage an unjust war? How do internal politics bear on war decisions? Is war ‘political’?

Class 4. The “War on Terrorism”.

Class 5. The Iraq imboglio.


Class 6. Michael Walzer: Just and Unjust Wars. Who is responsible? Is the ‘arson/criminal model’ persuasive?

Class 7. Is there ‘jus in bello’?

Class 8. Is war a failure of balancing or deterrence?


Class 9. James Joll: Origins of the First World War. Was WWI a choice, or a mistake?

Class 10. How would you have averted WWI? [Reference: Michael E. Brown et al. [eds]: Theories of War and Peace Part I. Realist Theories of War and Peace.]

Class 11. Are there ‘good reasons’ to wage war? Is ‘peacemaking’ a good reason? ‘Peacekeeping?’ Preemption? Prevention?


Class 12. Michael Howard: War and the Liberal Conscience. Is self-determination a ‘good reason’?

Class 13. [Video] Prelude to War. Is avoiding tyranny a ‘good reason’? Is suppressing threat a ‘good reason’?

Class 14. [Reference: Michael E. Brown et al. [eds]: Theories of War and Peace Part II. Democracy and War.] What of the notion of the “democratic peace.”


Class 15. World War II, the Korean War, and 'terrorism'. Bruce D. Larkin: War Stories, Introduction, pp. vii-xiii, and Chapters 1-7, pp. 1-96. How can we ‘make sense’ of complex events? Can we say there was responsibility for WWII?

Class 16. What is required for ‘collective security’? What endangers ‘collective security’? Does failure to deter or resist carry a burden of responsibility for subsequent war?

Class 17. Was WWII the act of a madman? As there have always been madmen, will there always be danger of another World War? [Note: Part 4 of your paper is due today.]


Class 18. Kalevi J. Holsti: Peace and War: Armed Conflicts and International Order 1648-1989. Are we learning? Would knowing enough avert major war? Do we now know enough?

Class 19. And do institutions matter? Ongoing politics? Is the aversion of war a political art? [Note: Part 5 of your paper is due today.]

Class 20. [Reference: Akira Iriye: The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific] Are the sources of war ‘internal’ or ‘external’? [Taking the Pacific War as a case.]


Class 21: Thucydides: The Peloponnesian War. Why did it occur?

Class 22. Does ‘empire’–or predominance–require war? Is ‘winning’ or ‘gaining’ or exercising ‘supremacy’ a ‘good reason’ to war?

Class 23. Class exercise: Does Thucydides illuminate the issue of Iraq (2002-2003)?

WEEK 9: [NOTE only two classes this week!]

Class 24. John Vasquez: The War Puzzle. What can ‘war theory’ do? Preconditions of major war? Explanation of the spread of war? How are wars undertaken? [Note: Part 6 of your paper is due today. Please submit at this time all earlier portions (Parts 1-5) which have been returned to you earlier.]

Class 25. [Reference: Michael E. Brown et al. [eds]: Theories of War and Peace Part III. Nationalism, Ethnicity, and War.]

WEEK 10:

Class 26. Do nuclear weapons change everything? CW? BW? Is war a consequence of technological possibility?

Class 27. [Reference: Michael E. Brown et al. [eds]: Theories of War and Peace Parts IV and V. International Institutions, War, and Peace.] War and peace in a changing international system. What are the trends in warfare? What will 21st Century war look like? Is war ‘inevitable’? ‘Out of our hands’? In what sense? What is to be done? [Note: Part 7 of your paper is due today.]

Class 28. [Final Class.] What are ‘good reasons’? Bruce D. Larkin: War Stories, Chapters 8-12, pp. 97-210. [Note: Part 8 of your paper is due today.]

Office Hours

My office hours are M 8.30-10.30. To make an appointment see me after class, call my office, or send me email (larkin@learnworld.com).

The TA is Maryanne Schiffman.

Web Sites

I maintain web pages on nuclear policy, web-based learning, and other interests. My site includes a long page showing syllabi of my current repertoire of courses, including P190B Security and Disarmament.


I also supervise the site of the Global Collaborative on Denuclearization Design, at


All of my course syllabi can be found at
This syllabus is on that page. But the actual site for this course is
which includes this Syllabus, a Table of Links, and a Directory [for registered students only] titled ClassroomUse. In ClassroomUse we will place a file Notices.html:

Term Paper

Politics 160C. War.

Term Writing Assignment

The writing assignment is to choose a war and then write about that war in response to the questions which follow. The war may be one of those among the cases assigned in Politics 160C, or it may be any other war. [You may also choose a case in which war was widely anticipated, but did not take place. Adjust the questions accordingly.] The war you choose may be an interstate war, a civil war, a war of secession, or any other suitable episode.

Each of your essays will center on claims or viewpoints which you state clearly and for which you offer reasons. That is: you will make reasoned arguments, citing texts. On the most important issues you will want to state concisely the strongest contrary position [or positions] and why some consider it plausible, then explaining why you do not adopt it as your own.

Contrary to an earlier version of the syllabus, papers are to be submitted in hard copy, not digitally.

Part #:

Session Due






Which war have you chosen? Attach a provisional bibliography of books and articles you may read or consult.




Who fought? And what was this war about? In brief overview, how did it start, and how did it end?




When did fighting begin? Does that point mark the ‘start’ of the war? Was there an ‘authoritative decision’ to undertake war? or a presumption among the leadership that it would fight? Did both [or all] parties to the war wish to fight? Did one party wish to fight?




Select one state [or movement &c.] Were there elements in the leadership which opposed going to war, or were reluctant to do so? How was opposition [or reluctance] expressed? [For this section of the paper, please consult at least two sources, if available, which appeared at the time the issue of war was being discussed.]

What internal party political purposes were served by positions taken on the war?




What were the politics between the states [movements &c.] before war was undertaken? What arguments are made, or could be made, that war could have been prevented? On what reasons? With what consequences? Did either or both take action which increased the likelihood of war?




Does this war confirm, or disconfirm, or otherwise speak to claims, hypotheses, propositions, theories or accounts of war and war causes which you have encountered? [Cite specific authors by name and page.]




Final bibliography.




Afterthoughts. What would a person learn–and what did you learn–from this particular case?

Please keep returned sections so that you can submit them as a set when you submit the final text portion at the 24th class. Please also keep backups–both hard copy and on disk–in case you or we should misplace your work.

Final Examination

The final examination will be two hours in length and will take place at the time prescribed in the schedule of courses, Wednesday June 5, 1-3 pm [note it begins at 1 pm]. The exam will not be given at any other time. It is necessary to pass the final examination to pass the course.

P160C War [Spring 2002] JUMP UP!