American National Security


Block I:            Foundational Concepts and Principles

Block II:           National Security Strategy

Block III:          Instruments and Actors

Block IV:         Orchestrating the Instruments of National Power

Block V:           Practical Application

Block VI:         Reforms

Block I

Foundational Concepts and Principles

I.A. Security primer

This block introduces (or reviews) the concepts and principles of international relations theory and then challenges those principles with the effects of globalization. It then goes from the general to the specific by examining American traditions and predilections.

I.B. Globalization and challenges to the geostrategic calculation

I.C. War and American democracy

Block II

National Security Strategy

II.A. The meaning of national security strategy

The meaning of national security strategy is provided before presenting the 8 variations of the Cold War containment strategy, the post-Cold War strategic alternatives, and the strategies of the post-Cold War administrations. A small number of strategic options are also introduced.

II.B. Cold War national security strategies

II.C. Post-Cold War national security strategies

Block III

Instruments and Actors

III.A. The instruments of national power

This block first presents the somewhat abstract idea of instruments of power and then turns to the departments and agencies of the executive branch that actually wield the instruments. The relevant congressional committees are identified. The war powers of the executive and legislative branches are presented including historical examples.

III.B. The departments and agencies

III.C. Congressional committees

III.D. War Powers

Block IV

Orchestrating the Instruments of National Power

IV.A. The National Security Council

We now turn to the problem of orchestrating all the instruments of power. The National Security Council is the highest level organization charged with integrating responsibilities. Each administration’s NSC is reviewed to identify what works and what doesn’t. Other lower-level structures used from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan are also discussed.

IV.B. The Overseas Internal Defense Policy

IV.C. Provincial Reconstruction Teams

IV.D. Combatant Commands

Block V

Practical Application

V.A. Practicum A: Roles and Missions

First, students produce a policy statement defining the roles and missions of the departments and agencies. Second, students are presented with an intelligence briefing on a realistic situation. In small groups, students consider options and propose solutions, first in a planning exercise, and then again when a crisis erupts.

V.B. Practicum B: Somalia

Planning exercise

Crisis response exercise

V.C. Practicum C: Formosa Strait

Planning exercise

Crisis response exercise

V.D. Review

Block VI

Reform of the National Security Apparatus for the 21st Century

VI.A. Achieving a stable national security strategy

There is considerable evidence that the U.S. national security apparatus, designed for great power war, is inadequate to the needs of the 21st century. Current efforts in Washington, D.C. to reform the system are presented in this block of instruction.

VI.B. A new division of labor across the departments and agencies

VI.C. Career development for national security professionals

Return to Top of Page

Return to Class Home Page