Princeton University

Courses offered at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs

Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer

Diplomacy and Protracted Conflicts 

Diplomacy has had mixed success in dealing with protracted conflicts. Diplomats have utilized traditional diplomatic strategies and tools; preventive diplomacy; coercive diplomacy; and crisis diplomacy. Protracted conflicts test the limits of these diplomatic modalities. They persist for extended periods, assume different personalities over time, pass through periods of intense crisis and periods of surface calm, and are resilient and resistant to resolution

The task force will assess what lessons can be learned from past diplomatic interventions in protracted conflicts. Students will examine case studies of intractable, chronic conflicts and study diplomatic interventions over time. They will present their findings to American policy officials.


Ambassador Robert Hutchings

Strategic Intelligence and National Security Policy

This seminar examines the role of strategic intelligence in the making and implementation of national security policy, chiefly but not exclusively in the United States. In the first half of the course, we will explore theories of strategy and grand strategy and examine the evolution of the intelligence and national security systems. In the second half, we will focus on the analytic and political challenges of strategic intelligence. The course draws on the instructor’s background at senior levels of the State Department, National Security Council, and National Intelligence Council to explore the complex relationship between intelligence and policy.

Assignments replicate such real-world challenges as proposing a new national security strategy for a U.S. president, advising a foreign leader on how to create a national security system, briefing an EU high representative on an intelligence study on the Middle East, and writing the “terms of reference” (i.e., background analysis and key questions) for a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program or China’s “belt and road” initiative. The final paper will be in the form of a case study in strategic intelligence or a scenario analysis of the kind pioneered in the National Intelligence Council’s pathbreaking “Global Trends” series. (One such topic might be “Russia, 2040”; another might be “The Future of NATO: Three Scenarios.”)


Diplomatic Encounters; Or, So You Want To Be a Diplomat

This seminar offers an introduction to the history, theory, and practice of international diplomacy, which we define broadly as a set of activities by which political leaders and other officials, both senior and junior, conceive of, develop, and implement foreign policy. The course draws on the instructor’s experience as former ambassador and current scholar to examine the changing role of diplomacy in today’s digitally connected yet increasingly fragmented world. Our core texts will be Henry Kissinger’s World Order and two recent co-edited volumes by the instructor – one a series of case studies in successful diplomacy, the other a survey and comparison of the world’s ten largest diplomatic services.

We will begin with a survey of some of the classics: Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Callières, Richelieu, Clausewitz, and others. We will then explore the wonderful diplomatic memoirs by Harold Nicolson, George F. Kennan, and Dean Acheson, as well as more recent ones by James Baker, Condoleezza Rice, William Burns, Nabil Fahmy, Christopher Hill, Michael McFaul, Wendy Sherman, Marie Yovanovitch, and others. In these, we will focus selectively on key events and issues, such as the creation of the post-World War II international order, the U.S. opening to China in the 1970s, negotiation and renegotiation of NAFTA, initiatives toward Middle East peace, the ending of the Cold War, the Iran nuclear deal, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Obama administration’s opening to Cuba, and dealing with Russia under Putin.

Toward the end of the semester, we will descend from high politics down to ground level, focusing on practical aspects of diplomacy on which students can draw if and as they aspire to careers in international relations. Topics include strategic planning, analysis and decision-making, cross-cultural communication, and negotiating techniques. Underlying all of our explorations is the conviction that international diplomacy is a critical element of a workable system of relations among states and of a rules-based international order in which disputes are settled by means short of war. In this sense, diplomacy can be seen not just as a practical art but as an essentially ethical undertaking.


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