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Graham Allison Photo

Graham Allison

Appointment
Douglas Dillon Professor of Government
617-496-6099

David Sanger

Appointment
Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

IGA-211

From the rise of China and resurgence of Russia, to the nuclear weapons ambitions of North Korea and Iran, from America’s longest war in Afghanistan to the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, Central Asia, and East Africa, and emergence of cyber conflict, this course examines the central challenges to American national security. Through a series of mini cases, students address these issues as if they were professionals at the National Security Council working for the President or an assistant to the Secretary of State or Defense. In response to specific assignments, students write Strategic Options Memos that require analyzing the challenge, assessing the current strategy, and identifying alternative strategies for protecting and advancing national interests. 

Assignments require strategic thinking: analyzing dynamics of issues, formulating key judgements, and developing feasible strategies. In the real world of Washington today, this means thinking clearly about what the US is attempting to achieve in the world in the midst of a swirl of a government whose deliberations are often discombobulated by leaks, press reports, tweets, and fake news. A sub-theme of the course explores ways in which pervasive press coverage intrudes, sometimes informing, sometimes distorting, national security decision making.

In addition, the course will include several related side bars where we will discuss Applied History, “behind the veil” at a major newspaper, strategy (as taught at the Naval War College), structured analytical techniques, and basic numeracy.

Also offered by the Government Department as Gov 1796.