Meghan O'Sullivan Photo

Meghan O'Sullivan

Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs


This course uses some of the greatest contemporary challenges in American foreign policy to explore the broader issue of how and why important foreign policy decisions are made. Employing a decision making framework developed in class, students will examine more than a dozen specific, historic decisions made in regard to the Middle East over the last fifteen years.  There is a special emphasis on Iraq, given the centrality of that case to shaping policymakers thinking about intervention in the Middle East more broadly. This case format allows students not only to gain knowledge about the recent past, but also to gain insight - through positive and negative examples - into how policymakers can make the best decisions in the face of imperfect information and various constraints. The course enables students to extract lessons from recent experiences which are relevant for current and future interventions and nation-building efforts by the United States or other powers. Students will emerge from the course not only with substantive knowledge about the Middle East, but equipped with analytical tools to understand and evaluate foreign policy decision making more generally.

To see a short VIDEO describing this course, please follow this link: