History of American Foreign Policy

History of American Foreign Policy 1945-2016: The Middle East as a Case Study

Spring semester
Professor Arnon Gutfeld


Short description:

In the course we will focus on the main themes governing American foreign policy in the post World War II Era. We will describe and analyze the ideologies and constraints from hat influenced the various administrations during that time period. U.S. policy in the middle East and especially in the Arab-Israeli conflict would serve as the case study.


Grade Components:

Attandance & Participation – %15

Midterm Exam - %19

Final Paper (6-8 pages) -  %66

Attendance is Mandatory!


Basic texts:

Seyom Brown, The Faces of Power: Constancy and Change in United States Foreign Policy from Truman to Clinton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: Post War American  National Security. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Dennis Ross, Doomed to Succeed: The U.S. – Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama. New York:  Farrar and Straus, 2015.


Lecture topics and the required weekly readings:

[all in the TAU course website]

Week I: The U.S. as a super power in the post 1898 era: a historic-strategic definition.

 Arnon Gutfeld, " United States Policy in the Middle East: A Strategic Definition," in Avigdor Levy (ed.). The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Risks and Opportunities. p 26 - .

Michael Roskin,"From Pearl Harbor to Vietnam: Shifting Generational Paradigms and Foreign Policy," Political Science Quarterly.  Vol. 89, (Fall 1974), 563 – 568.


Week II: The Genesis of the Cold War and its Middle Eastern implications.

George F. Kennan, "The Long Telegram,"

George F. Kennan, The "X" article.

John L. Gaddis, Strategies of Containment. p. 24 - 52.

J0hn C. Campbell, Defense of the Middle East.p.11 -29, 49 – 62.


Week III: The Cold War in the Middle East in the 1950s: Mutual defense pacts and the road to the Suez crisis.

John C. Campbell, Defense of the Middle East. P. 99 – 130.

John L. Gaddis, Strategies of Containment. ch. 4.


Week IV: The Suez crisis and its consequences – The second Eisenhower administration 1956 -1960: Eisenhower Doctrine, Lebanon and Jordan 1958, Bagdad Pact.


William Roger Louis, " Dulles, Suez and the British," in






Richard E. Immerman (ed.). John Foster Dulles and the Diplomacy of the old War. P. 158 – 193.


John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment. ch. 5.


Week V: John F. Kennedy and the "Flexible Response"; Cuba, Dimona.

Abraham Ben-Zvi, Decade of Transition. P. 66 – 84.

John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment. ch. 7.


Week VI: Lyndon B. Johnson 1963 -1968. Vietnam, 1967 War, U.N. Resolution 242.

Fred C. Thomson, "How Could Vietnam Happen, " The Atlantic. April 1968.

William Quandt, Peace Process. P. 1 – 54.

Arnon Gutfeld, " Israel Approaches the Nuclear Threshold: The Controversies in the American Administration Surrounding the Israeli Nuclear Bomb," Middle Eastern Studies. Vol.53, n 5, Sept. 2016, 715 - 736.


Week VII: Nixon, Kissinger, Ford 1968 -1973. Detente, Rogers initiatives. War of Attrition.

Dennis Ross, Doomed to Succeed. p. 103 -124

John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment. Chs. 9 and 10.


Week VIII: Nixon /Kissinger- The Yom Kippur War 1973.

William Quandt, Peace Process. 130 - 176.

Arnon Gutfeld and Boaz Vanetik, "'A Situation that Needs to be Manipulated': The American Airlift to Israel during the Yom Kippur War," Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 52 n 3, M ay 2016, 419 – 447.


Week IX: Jimmy Carter, 1976 – 1980. Camp David, Iran hostage crisis, Carter Doctrine.

William Quandt, Peace Process. P. 177 – 244.


Week X Reagan and the end of the Cold War. Lebanon, AWACS, Osirak.

Dennis Ross, Doomed to Succeed. P. 180 – 216.

Arnon Gutfeld, "From 'Star Wars' to 'Iron Dome': US Support of Israel's Missile Defense Systems," Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 53 n 6, 2017, 934 – 938.


Week XI: George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton 1998 – 2000. Madrid, First Gulf War, Unipolarity, Camp David 2000.

Dennis Ross, Doomed to Succeed. P.217 – 255, 256 – 298.

Arnon Gutfeld, "The Growth of Conservatism in the U.S. 1945 -2008," Democratic Culture. Vol. 13, 2013, 1 – 38.


Week XII: George Bush Jr. 200- 2008. PNAC, Second Gulf War, 9/11.


Ivo H. Daalder, James M. Lindsay, America Unbound. p. 1 – 16, 98 – 115.












Week XIII: The U.S. and Israel –"The Special Relationship,"; Obama vs. Netayahu.


Walter Russell Mead, "The New Israel and the Old: Why Do Gentile Americans Support Israel," Foreign Affairs. July/Aug 2008.

Clark Clifford, "Factors Influencing President's Truman Decision in Support of Partition," in Rostow and Tuchman, The Palestine Question in American History. P. 24 - 45.

Dennis Ross, Doomed to Succeed. p. 342 – 392. 



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