SSI1 160

The Dilemmas of Statecraft: Foreign Policy and the Ethics of Force

The use of force to achieve political ends is the most consequential decision a leader can make. Those uses of force may defend a country from conquest, defeat rapacious dictators, secure vital economic assets, or protect innocents from slaughter. Force may also be used to conquer, dominate, and annihilate. Since force is a tool that can be used for both good and ill, it is not surprising that there is significant debate about the conditions for its appropriate use. After examining two schools of thought addressing the ethical obligations of leaders, students embark upon an exploration of difficult cases designed to shed light on the consequential decisions that leaders of coutries face. Was Truman justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945? Is it permissible to order a military intervention that violates a state?s sovereignty to in order to protect people from ethnic cleansing? Is the use of drones to conduct targeted assassination an acceptable part of a counter-terrorism strategy? These are just some of the questions this course poses. In examining these issues students complete extensive reading and writing assignments, learn to assess sources of information, develop their ability to read and think critically, and practice writing and speaking persuasively. Affiliate department: Politics and Government.