Graham Allison Photo

Graham Allison

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government

David Sanger

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

Using a series of case studies from the front page, and from the most urgent and important issues on the U.S. national security agenda, this course will engage students in grappling with the hardest American national security challenges of the decade ahead. Issues range from Russiagate and the economic and military rise of China to Iran, Syria and the continuing war on terrorism. Assignments require strategic thinking: analyzing dynamics of issues and developing strategies in a government whose deliberations are discombobulated by leaks, reports about internal differences among policymakers, and press analyses. Students will learn to devise strategies and write Strategic Options Memos as participants in the policymaking process. Strategic Options Memos combine careful analysis and strategic imagination, on the one hand, with the necessity to communicate to major constituencies in order to sustain public support, on the other. A major subtheme of the course explores coping with a world where a pervasive press makes secrecy more often the exception than the rule. In each case, there will be exploration of how media coverage affects decision making, with an examination of leaks about Russia’s cyber intervention in the 2016 election, WikiLeaks, and the Snowden case as well as the revelations about drones and secret, American-led cyberattacks, and other examples of the publication of classified information.

Also offered by the Government Department as Gov 1796.