Description   |   Syllabus

Covering Conflict in a Dangerous World: Crisis Management and American Power
UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Spring 2006

Mark Danner and Peter Tarnoff 
 Course Number J298 // North Gate Hall 104
 Mondays, 3-6 p.m. 

Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fashionable debate in Washington took up whether we had reached "the end of history." More than a decade later history inundates us: terror, war, nuclear blackmail and the sheer pace of events have become overwhelming. After the attacks of 9/11 led to President Bush's "war on terror," a historic conflict once again dominates coverage of foreign affairs, with "crisis management" and a new "American Doctrine of Preventive War" at its heart. Through a close study of conflicts both real and speculative and through extensive class discussions and some role-playing, we will investigate how foreign policy crises develop and how they are managed, by senior policymakers and by the press. Against the background of the September 11 attacks and the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which we will analyze and study throughout the course, we will delve into potential crisis scenarios and their effect on the United States and the American government. These scenarios might include: a political confrontation between the U.S. and South Korea over North Korea; a coup attempt in Saudi Arabia; disagreements between the U.S. and the EU/UN over Iran's nuclear program; dealing with a new Palestinian "state" in Gaza; the future of "Plan Colombia"; and the struggle over Kashmir between India and Pakistan. We will also unfold at least one scenario involving domestic terrorism, treating the government's evolving attempts to manage it, and the response of the press. Through a thorough airing of these and other topics in class discussion, supplemented by extensive reading and weekly writing assignments, we will come to an understanding of the structure of international crises - how the U.S. government would likely respond to them and how journalists should seek to cover them. Mark Danner, a longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, has covered conflicts in Central America, Haiti, the Balkans, and Iraq, among other stories. Peter Tarnoff, a longtime diplomat and foreign policy professional, served as Undersecretary of State from 1993 to 1997. 

*Main Class Requirements:* This is a seminar. We judge it most important that students:
  • Attend all classes
  • Participate vigorously in discussions
  • Do all reading and writing assignments
The class meets only fifteen times and attendance is mandatory. There is no final paper or midterm or final exam. A student's record of attendance and participation in class discussion, together with the thoroughness of his or her preparation for playing the role in the scenario, will determine the success of our class and contribute the better part of the grade. 

*Writing:* Students will be assigned a number of short papers. Insofar as possible, students should draw in their papers on the assigned reading and on class discussions. In this graduate-level journalism school course, we will grade heavily on the clarity and vigor of the writing. (Note that Strunk and White's Elements of Style and George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" are recommended reading for this course. We strongly suggest you read - or reread - these thoroughly before the third class.) Books and Articles: Students will find books for the course on sale at Analog Books, on Euclid Avenue just north of North Gate, between Hearst and Ridge. Other materials, including articles, chapters, case studies, and, in some cases, entire books, we will distribute in photocopy. Copies of all photocopied material will be kept in the office. The following are required; all, with the exception of the Packer, are in paperback: George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy David Frum and Richard Perle, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror Henry A. Kissinger, Diplomacy Richard Haass, The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course George Packer, The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq Mark Danner, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror Newspapers and Magazines: Although we will be trying to look to "the near future," this course in fact takes up contemporary foreign affairs. From the beginning of this course, students are expected to be well-versed in current events and to follow them daily in the newspapers, preferably The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. At minimum we expect that you will come to class having read the international news in the day's major newspapers. We also recommend frequent visits to Google News, a useful news gathering website. The Economist, a British weekly available at any good newsstand, is also highly recommended. 

*Films:* From time to time during the term we will screen films intended to complement our studies. *Schedule:* Note that all classes will take place Mondays, 3 to 6 p.m., and will be divided at 4:30 p.m. by a ten-minute break. They will be held in the North Gate library except on those occasions when the library is given over to public events. On those days we will meet in North Gate room 104. 

*Outline:* In working our way through the several actual or prospective foreign crises, we will come to understand: 1) how the U.S. government conducts its own internal negotiations among the heads of relevant foreign affairs agencies and departments before the President ultimately decides what the American position should be in a given negotiation; 2) how the U.S. government conducts itself in negotiation with a foreign government even as the situation evolves in the area of actual or potential conflict; and 3) how a correspondent, in understanding both the process of policymaking and its historical background, might be able to "pierce" the governmental and other barriers set up and cover a developing story.

*January 23: Introduction to the Course* General introduction of professors and students, course material, expectations, format of the course, and how scenarios will be run. Discussion of American foreign policy since WWII with a specific focus on the Cold War and its impact on governmental policy today. Writing Assignment Write a well-organized essay of roughly 700-800 words on a current and major foreign diplomatic crisis you feel has an important impact on American foreign policy today. Reading Assignment The Assassin's Gate, by George Packer (pg. 1-100) American Diplomacy, by George F. Kennan

*January 30: American Diplomacy* Discussion of the 1947 National Security Act, what it mandated, and how these governmental positions have evolved and been used by various officeholders in the last fifty years. Lengthy analysis of recent Hamas victory and its implications for Israel-Palestine relations and US involvement in the region. Discussion of George F. Kennan's American Diplomacy, the history of US foreign policy, and realist ideology. Reading Assignment Research the history of the Saudi Arabian-US relationship as well as the role of your assigned cabinet member in the governmental decision process. Research your topic fully in order to suggest realistic solutions to this crisis. Writing Assignment Write several pages on how you prepared your role as your assigned government official dealing with the present crisis in Saudi Arabia and include the websites, books, and articles used to enhance your argument. Be prepared to discuss with other members of the cabinet your proposals for US action regarding the situation.

*February 6: Saudi Arabia'A Liberal Coup* Saudi Arabia Scenario A group calling itself the Committee in Defense of Islam and Democracy in Saudi Arabia has released a statement calling for a liberal reform of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, asking that the government remain faithful to the teachings of Islam and the principles of democracy. This group of some thirty insurgents has peacefully seized the Consulate and is asking that the international community and the Saudi government open a transparent dialogue with members on their specific demands. The United States has just received the document with their demands and holds a meeting of the principals at 4:30 a.m. to decide how to proceed before the story appears on every major network on the morning news. Discussion The Saudis suggest that there is a strong al-Qaeda element within the group and hint that the western reformers involved in the group are being manipulated to veil the al-Qaeda elements. The oil fields in and around Dharhan have experienced a minor shut-down and ARAMCO officials are meeting to discuss the situation, though there does not appear to be a lessening of production. Israel warns that 'this is not what it appears' and advises the US to proceed with caution. Secretary of State briefs the principals on the safety of the 60,000-70,000 Americans in Saudi Arabia, the disposition of troops, questions the Israeli reaction, conjectures about a potential political element involved (movement of the national guard and not the army in Saudi Arabia). Secretary of Defense gives a sense of what kind of liaison people the US has in the armies, embassies, etc. and relays intelligence gathered on the situation. Secretary of Energy discusses the potential effects of the crisis on international oil markets and ways in which damage might be mitigated. Writing Assignment Write a 750 word editorial representing a major newspaper giving a clearly defined opinion on the Saudi Crisis. Write from the perspective of a journalist synthesizing information at 10 am the morning the story breaks. As a journalist covering the story you would likely look through clips on Saudi political development, make calls to talk to people about the situation, and research the past policy in the country. The editorial should synthesize news for the reader and serve a predictive/prescriptive function in detailing what the paper believes the position of the government should be.

*February 13: Saudi Arabia Scenario'the Crisis Continues* Updates on the Saudi Crisis It is now 11 am and the story has been released on the major news networks. The Secretary of Defense updates the principals that significant troop movement to Dharhan has been detected. The Saudi government is taking action for a show of force. The group has moved out of the consulate unconditionally. Prince Turki al-Faysal has met with the president to express his desire to have a forthright statement of support for the Saudi government as soon as possible, reminding the US of the long friendship between the two countries since 1943. The president declared that the US was not in the position to do that, but would be in touch. Consensus (delivered in a Press Release from White House spokesperson) The United States knows who these people are, and they have left the consulate, which is now secure in US hands. Principals are in constant touch with each other and have met numerous times to address the issue. It is important for progress/reform to continue in the country but it must take place in an atmosphere of dialogue, which has long been the principle of US policy. The US's friendship with the country since 1943 remains a high priority and a dialogue must take place, but the US will not give any suggestions for the format of these discussions. The parties involved must be as vigilant as possible to the al-Qaeda element, as it would be highly regrettable if this process of progress were unveiled by hostile groups. Writing/Debate Assignment The next two weeks will focus on Iran and the actual nuclear crisis taking place there. One person will argue for a military solution to the problem of Iranian nuclear proliferation, while the other will come at it from the angle of China and Russia. Each person will be given fifteen minutes to present his/her case, followed by a rebuttal. Danner and Tarnoff will present the point of view of the European Union and the United States. Reading Assignment Look to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website for articles by Joseph Cirincione that might add to the debate. Also look to the Council on Foreign Relations website for guidance. Finish An End to Evil by David Frum and Richard Perle and read The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course by Richard Haass.

*February 20: Grand Mosque Bombing and the Iran Nuclear Crisis* Discussion of the ongoing sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shi'ites in the wake of the bombing of the Grand Mosque; prediction of US policy because of this'officials are beginning to build a case for American withdrawal. Debate over how best to deter Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and using it'open discussion of the disadvantages of using US force to achieve desired results; more moderate plan should be adopted. Writing Assignment Examine the International Crisis Group's proposal for action in Iran and write a 3-4 page critique of the prescribed policy. Use the report as a stepping off point to raise issues not mentioned in the paper and propose a better solution to the situation. Reading Assignment Be sure to read the Henry Kissinger Op-Ed piece from the Washington Post, published today.

*February 28: No Class*

*March 6: No Class*

*March 13: Republican Policy/Iraq-Iran Relations* Discussion of Republican Party's increasing distress about the war in Iraq and the added element of the situation in Iran/how this will impact the situation in Iraq'Iran's influence in southern Iraq, Iranian grievances against US policy in the region. Predictions of political tactics of the Republican Party in the upcoming Congressional elections. Exploration of the function of the International Security Council and the impact that the decision it makes on behalf of its fifteen member countries will have on Iran. Writing Assignment Prepare a memo for your assigned government official based on the scenario to be run next Monday by David Goldwyn (Assistant Secretary of Energy under President Clinton) on the Cuba-Venezuela oil crisis. Reading Assignment "International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), US Code, Title 50, Chapter 35, esp. Section 1702,": "'Oil Shock Wave: Oil Crisis Executive Simulation,' Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE) and the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP)": "'Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism: State Sponsor Implications,' Patterns of Global Terrorism, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, US Department of State, 2004":http://www.state/gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/31644.htm "'Rules-of-Thumb for Oil Supply Disruptions,' Energy Information Administration": "'Venezuela: Country Analysis Brief,' Energy Information Administration": "Daniel Fisher, 'Hugo's Folly,' Forbes, February 3, 2005.": "Joanne Shore and John Hackworth, 'Impacts of the Venezuelan Crude Oil Production Loss,' Energy Information Administration": "W.T. Whitney, Jr., 'Venezuela and Cuba build trade pact,' People's Weekly World Newspaper, May 19, 2005":

*March 20: Cuba-Venezuela Oil Crisis* Meeting of the principals with David Goldwyn (former Assistant Secretary of Energy for International Affairs) Cuba-Venezuela Scenario The US has received word that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is selling discount oil to Cuba, who in turn may be funding the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the nationalist Peruvian candidate, Ollanta Humala. The FARC are on the official US list of terrorist organizations and are tied to drug trafficking. The National Security Advisor has requested that the Principals weigh options to deter the Venezuelan threat, potentially using the State Sponsors of Terrorism list or the President's International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). As Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to the US the NSA wants to know how to mitigate the oil price and supply impacts of such measures. Discussion/Consensus (delivered in a Press Release from White House spokesperson) Discussion of the 'fear factor' threatening to send oil prices soaring; proposals of various courses of action'establish an OAS-sponsored group of several countries to monitor the situation? Inaction on the part of the US is an untenable position. The Secretary of Energy addresses the issue of how public the United States should make this issue, and the advantages and disadvantages of an arms embargo on Venezuela. The US might also increase substantially its military support for Colombia to fight against the FARC. The US ought to bring in the international community on this issue and establish an OAS-sponsored group of several countries to monitor the situation. The US has every intention of maintaining support for the democratically-elected government in Colombia. Writing Assignment Generate a list of questions for a phone interview with John Deutch, former Director of Central Intelligence, who will present the case in favor of journalist recruitment by the CIA. Write a one page government position paper on why the US should be allowed to recruit journalists as spies, to be discussed in class after the interview. Reading Assignment 'Subverting Journalism: Reporters and the CIA' by Kate Houghton.

*March 27: Spring Recess (No Class)*

*April 3: Phone Interview with John Deutch* Conversation with John Deutch about why the CIA should be allowed to recruit journalists, and the various legal and constitutional problems with excluding them. Discussion of the reform of the CIA, Deutch's opinion on the issue, and what needs to change. A detailed discussion of the structure of the CIA and intelligence community before and after the reform followed the phone interview. Discussion of the problems with the old structure of the intelligence community in the context of the intelligence failure surrounding 9/11 and what the new problems are as a result of these changes. Writing Assignment Pakistani President Musharraf has been captured by a group of Islamist officers who threaten to kill him unless Pakistan changes its position on cooperation with the United States. Write an editorial identifying yourself with a major newspaper and taking an opinion on what the United States should do. What options does the US have and what is the history of the relationship between the two countries in the recent past? Reading Assignment Steve Coll's recent article in The New Yorker on US-Pakistan relations. Council on Foreign Relations' foreign policy and affairs articles to get a sense of US-Pakistan relations. William Langewiesche's two-part series on AQ Khan in The Atlantic. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, by Ahmed Rashid 'The Iran Plans,' by Seymour Hersh, published in The New Yorker. 

*April 10: Seymour Hersh and 'The Iran Plans'* Overview of course for visiting graduate students. Discussion of journalist 'sources': on background, deep background, off the record, and consequences of 'burning' a source. Extensive discussion of Seymour Hersh's 'The Iran Plans' appearing in The New Yorker'facts, opinions, possible sources, intentions in writing piece. Talk turns to consequences of a US military invasion of Iran and what is at stake. Brief discussion of next week's scenario: smallpox is released in LAX international terminal'how does the government respond to dealing with the emergency and the press? Reading Assignment "Interpol Biosecurity/Smallpox": "Background on Dark Winter Exercise": "Consensus Statement on Smallpox as a Biological Weapons (Working Group on Civilian Biodefense): D.A. Henderson, et al, "Smallpox as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management, " JAMA, Vol 281, No 23, pp 2127-2137": "J. Bardi, 'Aftermath of a Hypothetical Smallpox Disaster,' Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 4, No. 4;" "T. O'Toole, 'Smallpox: An Attack Scenario, Emerging Infectious Diseases,' Vol.5, No. 4": J.P. Sullivan, "Terrorism Early Warning and Co-Production of Counterterrorism Intelligence," Paper presented to Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies, CASIS 20th Anniversary International Conference, Montreal, Quebec, 21 October 2005.   

*April 17: Smallpox at Los Angeles International Airport (with John P. Sullivan, Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning Group)* The Scenario Sudden and mysterious outbreaks of a strange disease are occurring in Los Angeles and surrounding regions, as well as in pockets of other parts of the globe. Officials suspect that smallpox has been aerosolized and released in the LAX international terminal. Due to the nature of the smallpox virus, victims only show symptoms seven days after they are exposed to the smallpox. Hospitals are overloaded with people who have flu-like symptoms, who may or may not be infected. The government must decide how to respond to the public and the press and how to contain the virus through quarantine or otherwise. Consensus/Procedures The pathogen suspected to be smallpox must be run through a lab to make sure that this is indeed what is causing the flu-like symptoms, since no doctor or clinician has seen real smallpox since 1947 in NY and 1972 elsewhere. Government officials must be in touch with the 42 countries represented at the LAX terminal where the smallpox was released. By Day 10 after the attack, people will be mysteriously sick, but officials should not go public'mention that there is an outbreak of a contagious disease, but do not mention that it is smallpox to avoid alarm and build a level of confidence between state officials and the public. Health officers should be given unmitigated authority to detain suspects and declare a quarantine to be enforced by the LAPD. All those suspected of having been exposed should be vaccinated within four days after exposure, with priority given to representatives and health workers. The State Department must be heavily involved in the multilateral approach with other nations and massive local, state and national organization is required. Writing Assignment Write a 600-700 word newspaper editorial from a major newspaper analyzing what the United States should do now that Fidel Castro has died. The paper should include what this means in the context of US policy towards Cuba and the fifty year embargo on the country, what US policy should look like now, and how to handle the Miami Cubans. Reading Assignment Research 'Cuba after Castro.'

*April 24: Reports from Gabriel Dvoskin's Reporting Trip to South America (Postponement of Cuba after Castro Scenario)* Gabriel Dvoskin talks about his experience reporting on the recent elections in Peru, similarities and differences between Hugo Chavez, Michelle Bachelet, and Ollanta Humala and their respective voting publics. Implications of the broad political shift to the left in most of these countries and what this means in terms of who appeals to the public, who is elected, and the future of these nations. Discussion of the Washington Consensus and how this has affected US-Latin American relations throughout history. Discussion of James Baker's appointment as head of a study group for Iraq established by a Congressional mandate'the similarities and differences between this consultation of an outside source by President Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson's use of outside sources. Reading Assignment Review Richard Haass' The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course Review David Frum and Richard Perle's An End to Evil Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy (especially Chapter Two: 'The Hinge: Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson') Excerpt from Francis Fukuyama's The End of History, published in New York Times Magazine

*May 1: Neoconservativism vs. Realism/Cuba after Castro Scenario* Discussion of the history and origin of neoconservative and realist ideologies in the United States in the context of the United States' victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War. How Bush has forged a new identity for the Republican Party through an alternate foreign policy driven by neoconservative ideology. Discussion of Les Gelb's op-ed piece in The New York Times proposing a partition of Iraq to ease tensions between religious and political groups. The Scenario Fidel Castro has just died and power has passed to his brother Ra'l Castro. The principals must predict what the future holds for Ra'l and Cuba, the prospective for liberalization, and the United States' policy toward the country now that Fidel has died, paying particular attention to the Miami Cubans in the United States. The Consensus Relations with the US government and Cuba are likely to open up somewhat with increased foreign direct investment. Ra'l will have to institute changes to guarantee his political survival, since he cannot rely on his charm and charisma as Fidel did. The United States must be ready to encourage Cuba to move towards a more democratic system and make sure that China (to whom Ra'l seems very receptive) does not get its foot in the door first. The United States should encourage liberalization and use the carrot-stick method to gradually lift economic sanctions on Cuba with the amelioration of the present condition. Shift may occur in the voting affiliation of the Miami Cubans in this country after Castro's death, and the United States must be attune to their voices and be ready to deal with a massive influx of Cubans into this country. Assignment Prepare a list of questions for Mark Danner and Peter Tarnoff on anything that was not addressed in the course, or something you wish to be explored and discussed in greater detail.

*May 8: Conclusions* Discussion of genocide politics in the context of Serbia with particular attention paid to the ideologies driving US policy in the area. Discussion of the first Gulf War and the history of US involvement in conflicts around the globe; perception and politics. Closing words on the course and its goals, and on the future of the relationship between the government and the press.

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