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PLS 330
Cold War

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The Cold War
Saint Martin’s College
Course Syllabus

Dr. Richard L. Langill      

Fall 2012


Office: Old Main #333      

Phone: (360) 438-4588  (Office)     

(360) 943-3258  (Home)

Office Hours: MWF 8-9 am 10-11 am

Also by appointmnet


Purpose of the Course

The purpose of the course is to describe and evaluate American foreign policy from WW II to the end of the Cold War.  This period was dominated by the Cold War, a period of intense competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.  Within a relatively short period of time, US-Soviet relations underwent a profound metamorphosis- from one of wartime collaboration to post-war fear, competition and hostility.  Most foreign policy issues were increasingly seen through the prism of the Cold War.

In this course we will trace the origins of the Cold War, its impact on the foreign and domestic policy, the role of perception and misperception on the part of decision-makers in both countries.  We will examine the assumptions that each administration made with respect to US-Soviet relations. By the end of the course, students should be able to critically evaluate the US-Soviet relations. They should be able to understand the underlying factors that led to competition between the US and USSR around the world.  They should be able to critically evaluate the factors that led to the demise of the Soviet empire.

Course Requirements

This course will be a lecture/discussion course with discussion strongly encouraged.  The instructor expects students to keep up with the reading so they will be able to participate more actively in these discussions.  The instructor will also use a variety of AV tapes from the CNN Series, “The Cold War” to highlight various aspects of this course.  The AV tapes are an integral part of the course, not entertainment. Students should be prepared to take notes on these topics.  Questions from the tapes may be raised on examinations.

Cold War Film Paper

All students will be required to watch a film on the Cold War and write a short 5 to 7 page paper on the film.  Some questions that students might focus on include the following.  What is the theme or thesis of the film as it relates to the Cold War?  How does the film portray the Russians, Chinese or other adversaries of the United States?  What's the central message of the film?  How does the film helped to shape attitudes about the Cold War and threats to American security?  There is no set pattern to writing this paper.  This paper is meant to be a personal view of the film.  The paper is due by November 15.  Grades for the paper will be based on originality of analysis and the quality of the writing.  (You must select a film from the following list.)  Cold War Film List

Grading Policy 

There will be THREE EXAMINATIONS in this course. Each examination will count 25% of you total grade.  Class participation and class discussion will count for the remaining 25% of the final grade.

First Exam   =100 points (20%) A= 500-450
Second Exam   =100 points (20%) B=  450-400
Final Exam    =100 points (20%) C=  400-350
Class Discussion   =100 points (20%) D=  350-300    
Cold War Film  =100 points (20%) F=   300-250


The examination for this course will consist of broad essay questions drawn from the lectures and textbooks.  A study guide for each examination will be provided by the instructor to help focus your study.  Students will also be expected to answer short identification questions focusing on the major personalities, historical events, and concepts of the course. 


I consider attendance to be an important part of this course.  Excessive absences will be penalized.  Students who miss more than 3 classes for any reason will be penalized one letter grade.   

Required Textbooks

Stephen Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley. The Rise of Globalism, 8th Ed.
     Penguin, 1997
Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing.  Cold War: An Illustrated History,
     1945-91.  Little, Brown and Co, 1998

 8/29 Introduction
8/31 Origins of the Cold War
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 1-2, pgs 1-34
     Isaacs and Downing, “Comrades” pgs 2-21
    Lecture Outline: The Beginning Cold War
9/5-7 Containment Doctrine
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 4, pgs 52-74
     Isaacs and Downing, “Iron Curtain” pgs 22-41
    Lecture Outline: Containment Policy of US
9/10 Film:  CNN Cold War Series "Iron Curtain"
9/12-14 Marshal Plan and Berlin
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 5-6gs 75-113
     Isaacs and Downing, “Marshall Plan” and "Berlin" pgs 42-81
    Lecture Outline: Marshall Plan, Berlin, and NATO
9/17 Film: CNN Cold War Series “Marshall Plan”
9/19-21 China and Korea
     Ambrose and Brinkley, “Chpt 3 and 7 pgs 35-51/ pgs 114-126
     Isaacs and Downing, “Korea” pgs 82-105.
 Lecture Outline: Containment in Asia
 Lecture Outline: Korean War
9/24 Film: CNN Series “Korea”
9/28 Eisenhower and the Military Balance
    Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 8, pgs 127-150
      Isaacs and Downing, “Reds”and  “After Stalin” pgs. 106-143
    Lecture Outline: Eisenhower and the Military Balance
10/1-3 Sputnik and Berlin Wall
     Isaacs and Downing, “Sputnik and the Bomb” pgs 144-163
    Isaacs and Downing, “The Wall” pgs 164-183
    Lecture Outline: Sputnik and the Decline of American Confidence
10/5 Film: CNN Series “Sputnik”
10/8-10 Cuba and Guatemala
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 9-10, pgs 151-189
    Isaacs and Downing, “Backyard: Guatemala and Cuba”
     pgs 1844-203
    Lecture Outline: Guatamala and Cuba
10/15 Film: CNN Series “Cuba”
10/17-19 Vietnam
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 11, pgs 190-223
     Isaacs and Downing, “Vietnam” pgs. 203-229
    Lecture Outline: Kennedy, LBJ and the Vietnam War
10/22 Film: CNN Series “Vietnam"
10/24 Prague Spring and Eastern Europe
      Isaacs and Downing, “Culture Wars” pgs. 246-267
      Lecture Outline: Prague Spring and East Europe
10/26 Nixon, Détente and the USSR
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 12 and 13, pgs 224-280
    Isaacs and Downing,   “Surrogates” pgs 270-309
    Lecture Outline: Nixon, Détente and the USSR
10/29 Film: CNN Series “Détente
10/31-11/2 Nixon and China
      Isaacs and Downing,  “Détente” pgs 270-289
      Lecture Outline: Nixon and China
11/5 Film: CNN Series "China"
11/9 Carter and Human Rights
      Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 14, pgs 281-302
      Isaacs and Downing, “Freeze” pgs 310-331
     Lecture Outline: Jimmy Carter and World Order Politics
11/14 Film: CNN Series "Backyard"
11/16-19  Iranian Hostage Crisis and Afghanistan
     Lecture Outline: Iranian Hostage Crisis and Afghanistan
11/21 Film:  CNN Series “Soldiers of God”
11/26-28 Reagan and the Evil Empire
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 15, pgs 303-351
     Isaacs and Downing, “ Reagan” pgs 332-353
    Lecture Outline: Reagan and the Evil Empire
11/30 Gorbachev and Soviet Reforms
     Ambrose and Brinkley, Chpt 16, pgs 352-380
      Isaacs and Downing, "Gorbachev"
     “People Power, and 
“Endings” pgs 354-422    
    Lecture Outline: Gorbachev and the Demise of the USSR
12/3 Film:  CNN Series “The Wall Comes Down."
12/5 Reflections on the Cold War
  FINAL EXAMINATION  Monday 12/10 @ 10:15