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2018 Spring

Course Syllabus

Bilateral and Multilateral Policy and Diplomacy

International Relations

Brown University

Spring Semester 2017


Instructor: J. Brian Atwood

Office: Watson Institute

Class Hours: 3-5:30 pm, Mondays

Office Hours: Monday 10 am-noon (by appointment)

Email: [email protected]


Course Description


This course will examine the practice and profession of diplomacy and its relationship to the policy process. The focus will be on bilateral and multilateral diplomacy; while the practice will focus on a U.S. context, the lessons learned apply to other nation states. We will briefly review the history of inter-state relations, including the international legal basis for diplomatic relations. The practice has evolved over the years and has been greatly influenced by modern technology; however, it continues to incorporate such common functions as policy formulation, representation, reporting, negotiation, intercultural contacts and interaction with the media, parliamentary bodies and other external actors.


The end of the Cold War and the globalization phenomenon has introduced many new actors and considerations. We will examine the ways these forces, institutions and individuals impact on the work of the modern diplomat. We will also examine how diplomats may respond when confronted with policies they do not support. The past two American Administrations have elevated the development mission and placed it alongside diplomacy and defense. We will look at what this implies for diplomats as threats to the global commons and the dangers represented by “fragile states” create a demand for "development diplomacy." International organizations represent more complex environments for diplomats and we will use several segments to better understand what is needed in this arena.

This course will provide a knowledge base for understanding the policy formulation process and will expose students to policy analysis, memo writing for decision-making, negotiations and verbal communications. Diplomacy is the art of influencing the behavior of individuals, nations and international organizations that do not necessarily share the policy goals or interests of the home country of the diplomat. This requires perceptive understanding of other cultures, political and economic systems, and the awareness of how interests clash or cohere and how various types of hard and soft power are employed for leverage. The policy formulation process considers geo-strategic positioning, global threat analysis and contribution to global stability and/or . The knowledge and skills acquired in this class have more general application. Please be prepared to actively participate to gain the maximum from this class.

Course Requirements: Students will be graded on an A, B, C, NC basis. Grading will be as follows:

            20% Class participation-- several exercises will be held and each student

will be assigned as a "desk officer" for a country. He/she will be expected

to track events/issues related to that country and will be called upon to brief

the class on newsworthy events.

            20% Paper/ memo on a policy issue to be decided by the Secretary of
            State-- A real-world policy matter will be the subject and students will write

a memo using the following sub-headings: "Issue for Decision;"

"Background and Analysis;" "Policy Options;" and "Recommendation." In that this is a

memo to a busy executive , it will be written concisely, no longer than 5 single-space pages.


Note: This course qualifies as a WRIT course and fulfills the IR capstone requirement. Students taking the course for a capstone must take the course for a grade. The topic of the memo to the Secretary will be selected by me and be on a current issue widely discussed in open material. It will be graded on its consistency with a prescribed format and on the quality of analysis, considering the pros and cons of the approaches considered and the choice of a recommendation. It will incorporate concepts of diplomacy discussed in class and external factors including political, economic and social considerations as applicable to the specific subject. Feedback on this and other writing assignments will be provided by me in the form of written marginal comments and direct meetings with students as appropriate.

            20% Group Exercise involving a negotiation-- This will involve groups
            representing the protagonists in the dispute; one student will play the role

of mediator. Students will identify the specific issues to be negotiated, decide on tactics,

and then negotiate a solution with the help of the mediator. In the final session,

the group will present a power point briefing showing the results of the negotiation.

40% A final paper on the topic of the particular negotiation in which the
individual student participated -- we are looking for 3500 words (or 15 pages

double-spaced) and an analysis of the dispute and lessons learned from the exercise.

This paper should be analytical and constructively critical of the process. It should also provide

enough background on the dispute so that an uninformed reader could comprehend

the ways in which historical and cultural factors, relative power, politics, and

international concerns played a role. We also will be looking to see how the various

lessons of the course are reflected in this paper.


Course Allotment Statement


Over 14 weeks, students will spend 3 hours per week in class (42 hours total). Required readings for the seminar meetings is expected to take up to 7 hours per week (98 hours); however, this will vary and reading assignments will be somewhat lighter during the simulations as outside research and group collaboration will be required. Writing and researching weekly response essays and reporting on country desk activities and the final paper is estimated at a total of approximately 40 hours over the course of the term


Accessibility and Accommodations Statement


Brown University is committed to full inclusion of all students. Please inform me early in the term if you have a disability or other conditions that might require accommodations or modification of any of these course procedures. You may speak with me after class or during office hours. For more information, please contact Student and Employee Accessibility Services at 401-863-9588 or [email protected].


Academic integrity

Academic integrity is the pillar of teaching and learning. Students are expected to complete the assignments with honesty. Misrepresenting someone else's work as your own can result in disciplinary action.   The papers upon which the class presentations are based must be emailed to the instructor on the date due (see syllabus for due dates). In the interest of fairness, deadlines are firm.  Late papers will lose a full letter grade for each 24 hours or portion thereof.  

Students may ask for reasonable and timely accommodations for religious observances. Please review the syllabus closely to determine if your religion will present scheduling conflicts with any of the assignments.

The University Student Conduct Code defines scholastic dishonesty as follows:

SCHOLASTIC DISHONESTY: submission of false records of academic achievement; cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing; altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement. Within this course, a student responsible for scholastic dishonesty can be assigned a penalty up to an including an "F" or "N" for the course. If you have any questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam, please ask. I will be more than happy to discuss the elements and expectations at length.


January 29     Course Introduction/Overview/Sovereignty/Policy Formulation


            Course requirements will be reviewed and we will cover terminology and historical background. We will introduce ourselves with a brief description of backgrounds and interest in foreign/ development policy and diplomacy. 

American foreign policy is often influenced by concerns over national security matters. Nuclear proliferation frequently is at the center of these concerns. We will examine this tendency to “securitize” policy and focus on the contrasting ways nuclear proliferation policy was applied in the cases of India and Iran. The conduct of diplomacy is sometimes enhanced by the capacity to use military power, or to offer a plausible threat to do so. What are the risks of an over-dependence on such threats?



  • International Studies Quarterly (Vol. 53, No. 4, December 2009) Hayes, Jarod, “Identity and Securitization in the Democratic Peace: The United States and the Divergence of Response to India and Iran’s Nuclear Programs,” pp. 977-999. 
  • Leguey-Feilleux, Jean-Robert, The Dynamics of Diplomacy, Intro pp 1-21; 
  • Vienna Convention in Diplomatic Relations, 1961, United Nations, January 24.           


February 5     Policy Formulation: the Intellectual/ Ideological Context


            Scholars and intellectuals who have attempted to categorize policies and approaches have influenced American foreign policy. While pragmatism has been predominant in American political culture, policies and policymakers have been characterized by ideological labels such as "realism," or "institutionalism" (or "liberal internationalism"), “liberal interventionism,” "constructivism," and "neo-conservatism." Our readings and discussion will explore how these concepts have influenced policies.  

            A policy formulation memo to the Secretary of State will be assigned and will be due February 20.


  • Stephen Walt, “Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power,” International Security, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Spring 1985), pp. 3-43.
  • Arjun Chowdhury and Ronald R. Krebs, “Making and Mobilizing Moderates: Rhetorical Strategy, Political Networks and Counterterrorism,” Security Studies, 18:371-399, 2009.
  • M. E. Brown, Coté, Jr. O.; Lynn-Jones, S. M.; Miller, S.E. Theories of War and Peace, John J. Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions,” pp 329-383 and John Ruggie, “The False Premise of Realism,” pp. 407-415. 


February 112    Policy Formulation: The Intellectual/ Ideological Context


             The premise of more recent US foreign policy is built on the concept of a liberal world order. The end of the Cold War seemed to confirm this worldview; however, the emergence of China, the shift in Russian policy and the impact of globalization has created a new model that is gaining support among nation states, especially those that reside in the neighborhood of these two powers. Likewise, there has been a resurgence of nationalism in Europe and the United States. Many fear that nativist politicians and their supporters are undermining international institutions and democratic values. We will debate the future of liberal democracy in the context of these emerging trends. 

The post-Cold War period has seen widely divergent paths taken by the two American political parties. While scholars of different policy persuasions have clearly influenced the policymakers, so has the desire to demonstrate contrasting styles in the political arena. We will explore this phenomenon in readings the authors of which react to policy approaches taken by the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II administrations. We will also examine divisions on these issues within the parties and discuss the differences of the past two candidates for President, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. 


  • G. John Ikenberry, “The Future of the Liberal World Order: Internationalism After America, Foreign Affairs, (May/June 2011). 
  • Freeman, Chas W., Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. “National Interests and National Concerns,” “Political Actions and Methods.” Pp 33-41. 


February 19   Policy Formulation: Obama to Trump/ and Representation


            The Obama presidency inherited two wars, an ongoing terrorist threat and a global financial crisis. How would one categorize the administration’s approach? Did American foreign policy become less “securitized?” New diplomatic initiatives have been opened, including a major change in Cuba policy, a climate change agrreement and a nuclear agreement with Iran. 

The Trump Administration has adopted an "America First" mantra. What are the actions taken to reverse the policies of the Obama years and what are the implications for American foreign policy and relationships?

We will also discuss “representation”. A diplomat represents national interests and reflects national culture, history and sovereign power. It is not always easy to advocate for policies that an individual diplomat does not support. However, the Department of State uses a “dissent channel” to enable its officers to voice their concerns. This was not enough for John Brady Kiesling who chose to resign in protest. We will be joined by a retired diplomat.   




  • Foreign Affairs, (May/June 2012). Indyck, Marten, Sieberthal, Kenneth and O’Hanlon, Michael. “Scoring Obama’s Foreign Policy: A Progressive Pragmatist Tries to Bend History. 
  • Sanger, David E. The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Powers. Epilogue: “Obama’s Challenge,” pp 445-474. 
  • Laura Neack, The New Foreign Policy: Power Seeking in a Globalized World, Chapter 5, “National self-Image, Culture, and Domestic Institutions,” pp. 81-94. 

Reminder: Memo to SecState due today. 


February 26   Representation II/Negotiation Simulation

            Representing the United States in another nation requires political as well as diplomatic skills. The US Ambassador to one of these countries – Japan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy or Russia – is normally a political appointee. Other important embassies like Saudi Arabia can be led either by a career ambassador or a political appointee. He/she becomes a political actor within the society and must play that role with skill. We will discuss the role with a former ambassador.

The second part of the class will begin the segment on negotiation. We will cover the form and process of negotiation using Roger Fisher’s “Getting to Yes.” Negotiations start with adversaries and evolve into partnerships of undetermined depth and scope. Their success often depends on the evolution of this partnership; however, external factors – most importantly headquarters instructions – come into play. The premise is a willingness to find a solution even when tensions between the sides are great. 

            The Art of Negotiation I: We will simulate this process using real world issues/conflicts. Groups of five (ideally), two sets of protagonists and one mediator will convene and seek common ground. We will suggest several possible negotiating situations (conflicts between states) and each group will select one. The first task is to isolate and identify the issues for negotiation and their priority order, then to decide on tactics as to how best to “Get to Yes.” Each side will consider and act out relevant cultural and historic factors and try to understand how those factors will influence the opposing team. In this initial session, we will discuss Fisher’s book and some of the history of international negotiations.


  • Mondale, Walter F. The Good Fight, “An Alliance in Asia,” pp 311-336.
  • Lequey-Feilleux, Jean-Robert, The Dynamics of Diplomacy, Chapter 7. “The Resident Mission, pp 207-216.
  • Roger Fisher, and William Ury, Getting to Yes. Chapters 1 & 2, pp 3-39.
  • Brigid Starkey, Mark S. Boyer, and Jonathon Wilkenfield, International Negotiation in a Complex World. Chapter 1, pp 1-33. 


March 5          The Art of Negotiation II

            Groups will continue the negotiating process bringing to the table detailed background and analyses to support their positions on the identified issues. Role playing aspects of the history, culture, and politics of the nation-states, they will engage their negotiating counterparts with justifications of their positions. The mediation will meanwhile attempt to lead the parties to common ground.


  • Chas W. Freeman, Art of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy.” Diplomatic Negotiation” pp 87-92.
  • Roger Fisher and William Ury, Getting to Yes, Chapters 3 & 4, pp 40-81. 


March 12        The Art of Negotiation III

We will complete this section with  reports from mediators and discuss the lessons learned from the exercise and the readings for the section. We will also review the requirements for a 1500-word paper that summarizes for each participant the lessons learned, and insights into the particular conflict. How were the interests of the other side identified? Was a “partnership” possible among the negotiators? If not, what external factors played a role? Describe the real-world factors that impact on prospects for a peaceful settlement?  We will also discuss the Track II process described in the case study on Georgia-Ossetia.           


  • Leguey-Feilleux, The Dynamics of Diplomacy, Chapters 11 and 12, “Track II Diplomacy” and “Conclusion,” pp 331-365.


March 19        Multilateral Diplomacy 


In this segment, we will examine the international organizations that play an important role in promoting peace and development: the United Nations, the Bretton Woods organizations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. How do diplomats who represent member states operate in this institutional context and how do UN diplomats like Lakhdar Brahimi pursue the goals of the Security Council, the Secretary General, the General Assembly and the Voluntary Agencies.

The United Nations was created to promote peace in the world. Its charter creates a framework for peaceful relations among its member states. The UN Security Council may agree to intervene to create the conditions for peace (when its permanent members and a majority can agree). What is the state of UN Peace Operations? Why has the UN failed to act on Syria? We will also discuss the evolution of thinking related to UN intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, the so-called “right to protect” principle.


  • Karen A. Mingst and Margaret P. Karns, United Nations in the Post-Cold War Era; Westview Press, Chapter 2.
  • Annan, Kofi, “My Departing Advice on How to Save Syria,” Financial Times, August 2, 2012, FT.com (Google)
  • Susan J. Atwood, “From Just War to Just Intervention,” New England Journal of Public Affairs, pp 55-73.
  • Leguey-Feilleux, The Dynamics of Diplomacy, Chapter 8, “International Organizations Diplomacy,” pp 217-251.


Spring Break


April 2         Development Diplomacy

The global development architecture has become unwieldy in the past decade. Traditional donors (members of the Development Assistance Committee of OECD) still account for about 85% of Official Development Assistance, but South- South cooperation is increasing as is philanthropic assistance from organizations such as the Gates Foundation. The combination of a decade-long increase in ODA and resources coming from new providers has created what one critic has called "hyper-collective activity." A manifestation of this problem is the “fragmentation” of the effort at the country level to the point where recipient countries have difficulty tracking donor activity making it a challenge to "own" their own program. We will discuss efforts undertaken by the DAC to address these issues.

  • Readings
  • Jean-Michel Severino and Olivier Ray, Center for Global Development, "The End of ODA: Death and Rebirth of a Global Public Policy" March 25, 2009.


April 9          Development Diplomacy II


            Aspects of the development cooperation mission have been the subject of numerous UN conferences and summit meetings. The focus is usually on a development issue that is of great concern to a constituency group. Examples include climate change, gender, children, population, poverty, and in recent years development effectiveness. A 2002 summit in Monterrey, Mexico on Finance and Development inspired a series of effectiveness forums sponsored by the OECD Development Assistance Committee in the 2000-2010 decade. These led in 2011 to the Fourth High Level Forum on Development Effectiveness in Busan, Korea and to the creation of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, endorsed by 160 nations, civil society and the private sector. We will discuss a case study of this conference, examining the role of diplomacy in reaching a successful conclusion.

           We will discuss a case that demonstrates how a highly technical issue related to an interpretation of the 1972 definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA)could evolve into a major political dispute over certain loans that placed the ODA system and even the DAC itself at risk. We will discuss how this complex case was resolved. 


  • Center for Global Development Essay: “Creating a Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation,” Atwood, J. Brian, October 12, 2012, pp 1-33.
  • J. Brian Atwood, Lecture at Lisbon Conferences on Development, December 3, 2014.
  • Message from DAC Chair to Members, November 30, 2012
  • DAC Chair’s December 30, 2012 farewell Message
  • Statement issued after DAC High Level Meeting, December 2014. 


April 16          Public Diplomacy/ External Influences


         Diplomacy is often conducted through the media either through official statements made by high-level leaders or by their spokespersons. Frequently the practice of providing official information to the press on a “not-for-attribution” basis is employed. More often, journalists are able to piece together information and reveal sensitive information obtained from a variety of confidential sources. We will discuss how these methods impact on foreign policy in the next segments.

We will discuss the ways the US State Department promotes American values and culture through its missions oversees. Since the 1990s the Department has been sponsoring exchanges and running promotional programs from its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Previously this was the responsibility of a separate agency, the US Information Agency (USIA). We will discuss the pros and cons of promoting US diplomacy and the ways it is done using modern communications techniques. We will also discuss the legal basis for this activity, the Smith-Mundt Act. 

Foreign and development policies are no longer the exclusive province of diplomats and development professionals. External actors, especially in democracies, play an increasingly important role. In the next segment, we will discuss these actors and their impact on policy. The development field has expanded with budgets and both for-profit and not-for- profit organizations have combined forces to influence congressional consideration of the budget for foreign assistance. A foundation supports the Modernization of Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) and non-governmental organizations organize in a coalition called Interaction. The US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC). We will discuss these lobbying efforts with one of the founders of USGLC. 

The Congress of the United States as a separate- but- equal branch of government plays a very large role in US foreign policy. It holds the appropriations/budget power, and the US Senate has the treaty power and the right to confirm presidential appointments, including ambassadors. The Congress also shares the power to declare or authorize war with the President. The two committees that authorize the State Department and USAID budget, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs often hold hearings on policy issues. We will discuss these powers and the complications they create for the conduct of foreign policy in preparation for a mock hearing in which the class will participate.

The class will receive assignments for the mock hearing to be held on May 2. This class will include a planning session with the class forming groups based on the assignments. Assignments will include Executive Branch witnesses, Members of Congress, and print and radio journalists. A topical issue will be assigned (the issue of sanctions on Iran for example) and all sides will prepare to make the hearing as realistic as possible.



  • Neack, Laura. The New Foreign Policy: Power Seeking in a Globalized Era; Chapter 7, “Public Opinion and Media,” pp 111- 128.
  • Wikipedia: Smith-Mundt Act.
  • Bardos, Arthur A., VQR, A National Journal of Literature and Discussion, Vol. 77 #3, “‘Public Diplomacy’: An Old World Art, A New Profession,” December 12, 2003.
  • Anonymous, Alliance for international and Cultural Exchange, “Under Secretary (Tara) Sonenshine’s Farewell Note: Public Diplomacy Creates a Safer and More Prosperous World for Americans,” July 1, 2013. 


April 23     External Influences

            We will continue our discussion of the role of Congress in foreign policy and begin to prepare for a mock Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with students assigned roles as indicated above. The topic of the hearing will be assigned and students will research their assigned character role and the substance of the issue.



  • Franck, Thomas M., Weisband, Edward, Foreign Policy by Congress, “The Cutoff Complex: Congress Reverses Presidential Policies toward Turkey and Angola,” pp 34-46.

April 30      A Mock Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Students will play their assigned roles in a hearing on the foreign policy issue assigned in the previous class. Following the one-hour and a half hearing those assigned to press roles will report on the highlights. In the remaining time, we will summarize the lessons learned in the class. 

The final paper is due on this date.


The syllabus page shows a table-oriented view of the course schedule, and the basics of course grading. You can add any other comments, notes, or thoughts you have about the course structure, course policies or anything else.

To add some comments, click the "Edit" link at the top.

Course Summary:

Mon Feb 20, 2017
1st paper/memo due by 11:59pm
February 2018
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
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Course assignments are not weighted.

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