Covering Catastrophe: The Management of Inernational Crisis
UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Mark Danner and Peter Tarnoff
Description: A decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union led some to talk of "the end of history," Americans find themselves inundated by it: historic conflict dominates coverage of foreign affairs, with "crisis-management" at its heart. Through a close study of conflicts both real and speculative, and through extensive class discussion and some role-playing, we will come to understand how foreign policy crises develop, how they are "managed," and how they are brought to an end. Against the background of the September 11 crisis which we will analyze and study throughout the course - we will delve into a number of crisis scenarios and their effect on the United States and its leaders. These scenarios might include the border war between India and Pakistan; the struggle over oil in the Caspian region; the brewing conflict across the Taiwan Straits; the escalating narco-war in Colombia; the struggle with Russia over the control of nuclear weapons, and other subjects of current interest. We will also investigate at least one scenario involving domestic terrorism, treating the government's evolving attempts to "manage" it and the journalist's response. Through a thorough airing of these and other topics - and by means of extensive reading and weekly writing - we will come to an understanding of the current state of international crisis, and the challenges facing the journalist seeking to cover it.
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. A student's record of attendance and participation in class discussion, together with the thoroughness of his or her preparation, 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 Collected Thoughts Bookshop, which is located at 1816 Euclid Avenue, about fifty yards north of the Graduate School of Journalism at North Gate Hall (Lorraine Zimmerman, owner; telephone: 843 1816). 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.
*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 or The Los Angeles Times. 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.
*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.
As we pursue this inquiry, our schedule will surely change. Some books and articles may be discarded; others may be added to the list. Our project is ambitious and it is likely we will need to shape and reshape it as we move along. Once again, the success of the class depends heavily on your informed participation in discussions.
~ Indicates books should be purchased. All other reading, unless otherwise noted, will be distributed in photocopy.
*January 27: Making Foreign Policy - America and the World*
The Roots of US foreign policy. Discussion of fundamentals of foreign policy making in the postwar United States. The National Security Act of 1947. The roles of the U.S. foreign affairs and national security agencies. The Cold War struggle. The post-Cold War world: the End of Ideology?
Writing Assignment (in-class): Write for 20 minutes on "How the U.S. Should Use its Power in the World."
George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy
John Lewis Gaddis, "Lessons From the Old Eraï¿½," in Talbott and Chanda, The Age of Terror
Niall Ferguson, "Clashing Civilizations and Mad Mullahs," in Talbott
Paul Kennedy, "Maintaining American Power," in Talbott
February 3: American Realism and the September 11 Crisis
From Realism to the New New World Order. George Kennan and the Cold War. The Kissinger Moment. The Coming of 9/11, Background to the Korean Crisis.
Readings (for Korean Peninsula scenario): Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas (excerpts)
"Ending North Korea's guerrilla tactics," by Scott Snyder, Financial Times, Feb. 2, 2003.
"Seoul's Choice: The U.S. or the North," op-ed by Richard V. Allen, New York Times. Jan. 16, 2003.
"North Korea is no Iraq: Pyongyang's Negotiating strategy," by Leon Sigal, Arms Control Today. December 2002.
"Seoul Looks to New Alliances," by Howard French, New York Times. Jan. 26, 2003.
"Making History, South Korea Gives Archenemy a Little Credit," by Howard French, New York Times. Jan. 26, 2003.
"North Koreans Still Demand Direct Talks with the U.S.," by James Brooke, New York Times. Jan. 26, 2003.
"Be Patient with North, Seoul's Kim Urges the U.S.," by James Brooke, New York Times. Jan. 25, 2003.
"Suddenly, Three's a Crowd in South Korea," by Sangmee Bak, Washington Post. Jan. 26, 2003.
"U.S. to Ask Atom Agency to Chastise North Korea," by James Dao, New York Times. Feb. 12, 2003.
"Pyongyang Warns of 'Total War' if U.S. Attacks," by Andrew Ward, Financial Times. Feb. 6, 2003.
George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"
Strunk and White, Elements of Style
Writing assignment: An op-ed of 800-1000 words about the crisis in the Korean peninsula.
*February 10: Crisis on the Korean Peninsula*
Scenario: Crisis in the Triangle - North Korea, South Korea and the US. The newly sworn in president of South Korea, Roh Moo Hyun, announces at his inauguration that his government will pursue a treaty of non-aggression with North Korea. The U.S. has not been informed ahead of time of this move.
Consensus: The Principals meeting decides to advise the President on the following policy: The U.S. is not opposed to talks with North Korea as long as Pyongyang agrees to certain pre-conditions over its nuclear program.
Writing Assignment: A press statement of the new policy decided in the Principals meeting.
*February 24: Crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Part II*
Scenario: Crisis in the Triangle - North Korea, South Korea and the U.S., part II. An added wrinkle to last week: The Chief of Staff of the South Korean army (portrayed by Mark Danner) wants to talk urgently with the Principals. He won't take no for an answer. He says that there are those in the army that do not agree with President Roh's decision to sign a non-aggression pact with North Korea. What should the U.S. do?
Consensus: The Principles suggest to the president that he talk to his own military leadership. Tell him that he is on shaky ground - that there are those in the military who are concerned and that he might want to slow down a little in regards to North Korea.
Reading Assignments: "Napoleonic Fervor," by Robert Kagan, Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2003.
"Power and Weakness," by Robert Kagan, Policy Review. No. 113.
George Bush speeches, West Point, June 1, 2002, Sept. 20, 2001, State of the Union 2002, and the VMI April 17, 2002 speech.
"Marooned in the Cold War, the Alliance, and the Quest for a Vanished World," by Mark Danner, World Policy Journal. Fall 1997.
The National Security Strategy of the USA, Sept. 2002
"Please log on to Frontline and view 'The War Behind Closed Doors'":http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/iraq/view/
The script can be found here.
Also take a look at the interviews about the Wolfowitz 1992 draft entitled "Defense Planning Guidance" which outlined the pre-emption strategy long ago.
"Transatlantic Chill? Blame Europe's Power Failure," by Gianni Riotta. Washington Post. Jan. 26, 2003.
"Ever Awkward, Sometimes Risky," The Economist. Jan. 30, 2003.
"Politicians With Guts," by Robert Kagan, Washington Post. Jan. 31, 2003.
*March 3: Will The West Survive A War in Iraq?*
Scenario: Prime Minister Tony Blair faces a vote of non-confidence because of his handling of the Iraq crisis. Two million people protest in London against a possible war. The political winds there are moving in the direction of delay and demanding a second Security Council resolution. Blair comes to the U.S. asking for time. How will the President react? Should he proceed under the belief that the U.S. doesn't need the British or should he modify the U.S. stance in order to help Blair?
Consensus: We need to meet with Blair and listen to what he needs in terms of delay. Since he is the one in the hot seat, Blair should go meet with the French and Russians to see if they can find the basis for a common position on a second security resolution.
Readings: "Anti-Europeanism in America," by Timothy Garton Ash. New York Review of Books. Feb. 13, 2003.
"What's New about the New Europe? The Economy," by William Drozdiak. Washington Post. Feb. 9, 2003.
"Revealed: U.S. Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War," by Martin Bright, The Observer. March 2, 2003.
"Spying Report No Shock to U.N.," by Colum Lynch, The Washington Post. March 4, 2003.
"Britain Floats Compromise to Get U.N. Votes on Iraq," by Colum Lynch, Washington Post. March 6, 2003.
"Bush's Future is in Blair's Hands," by Linda Bilmes, Financial Times. March 7, 2003.
"Why We Need a Second U.N. Resolution," by Joseph Biden Jr. Washington Post. March 10, 2003.
"Time to Disagree without Being Disagreeable," by Ted Galen Carpenter, Financial Times. March 10, 2003.
"Desperately Seeking Hamilton," by Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times. March 5, 2003.
*March 10: The Iraq Crisis: Will The West Survive?*
Scenario: Splitting the Western Alliance. The U.S. has decided to go into Iraq unilaterally. It has warned any noncombatants (U.N. inspectors for example) that they have 72 hours to get out of Baghdad. Meanwhile, foreign ministers of the EU nations meet in Brussels to decide what their common response to the U.S. action will be. (However, Blair remains in power, having survived the vote of no confidence in the House of Commons).
Writing Assignment: Write a policy paper for your assigned European country following the U.S. announcement that it's going ahead with invasion of Iraq without U.N. backing. And prepare seven questions for Strobe Talbott, next week's guest.
Reading: The Russia Hand, by Strobe Talbott, ch. 1-5, 12, 13.
*March 17: Journalists And Diplomats - A Session With Strobe Talbott*
Former Deputy Secretary State and former Time Chief Diplomatic Correspondent and President of the Brookings Institution discusses foreign policy, making it and writing about it.
Writing Assignment: Write a critical review of the war press coverage in the country you've been assigned.
*March 31: World Press Coverage of the War*
A discussion about press coverage of the war in Iraq. The role of embedded journalists. What happened to Shock and Awe? Rumsfeld vs. the generals. Occupation vs. liberation.
Readings: "U.S., Allies Clash Over Plan to Use Iraqi Oil Profits for Rebuilding," by Colum Lynch, The Washington Post, April 2, 2003.
"Arab World is Seeing War Far Differently," by Emily Wax, Washington Post. March 28, 2003.
"Press Secretary Doles Out Answers, but Doesn't Give Away Much," by David Carr, New York Times. March 23, 2003.
"Open Access for Media Troubles Pentagon," by Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post. March 31, 2003.
"Reporters Respond Eagerly to Pentagon Welcome Mat," by Todd Purdum, New York Times. March 23, 2003.
*April 7 - Iraq, the War and the Press*
A discussion on the U.S. media coverage of the war, now in its third week. Should the U.S. media show the war dead on either side?
The changing narrative lines in the coverage: First, it was going to be a cakewalk; then progress was slowed by a number of mistakes and miscalculations; finally, that the U.S. has planned well and the war, especially in Baghdad, is going smoothly again. Big Story: the bureaucratic battle between the Department of State and the Department of Defense. The Fox effect, how to successfully package and sell the war.
Reading Assignments: John V. Mitchell, Renewing Energy Security, Royal Institute of International Affairs (July 2002)
"EIA OPEC Fact Sheet":http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/opec.html
"EIA Non-OPEC Fact Sheet":http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/nonopec.html
U.S. Department of Energy presentation (oil price shocks and the economy)
"The United States, Europe and Russia: Toward a Global Energy Security Policy," a Policy Brief by David Goldwyn. August 2002.
"How Hydrogen can Save America," by Peter Schwartz, Wired, April 2003.
"A Convenient War, Perhaps," The Economist, March 6, 2003.
Writing Assignment: A 3 to 5 page memorandum on your recommendations to the president about the Saudi Arabia disaster scenario (below).
*April 14 - David Goldwyn: The Saudi Attack and the Energy Nightmare*
Guest: David Goldwyn, adjunct professor at Columbia University, former assistant secretary of energy.
Scenario: Terrorists have detonated a "dirty bomb" in Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil processing facility, which processed 5 to 6 million barrels of oil a day. It will take at least a year to bring the facility back on line. Even if other OPEC countries stepped up production and the President tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPRO), there would not be enough oil to cover the loss of Abqaiq. The President wants to know what options are available, both in the short and long term.
Consensus: We will immediately start the sales of Iraqi oil to offset the shortage and release oil from the U.S. SPRO as well as other international petroleum reserves. We will start low-income housing assistance programs to help the nation's poor weather the difficult times to come. We will give funding to local responders to assure the safety and security of our citizens. We will lower the speed limit and encourage local conservation of gasoline. In the long term, we will accelerate our renewable energy program with the aim of creating a hydrogen economy to compliment the oil economy.
Assignment: Compile a list of sources (e.g. Cuban American National Foundation) you have found that deal with likely post-Castro developments in Cuba and potential U.S. policy initiatives for that period.
Reading: "U.S. Cuba: Time for a New Approach," Center for National Policy, available at firstname.lastname@example.org
*April 21 - After Fidel: The Cuba Scenario*
Scenario: Fidel Castro has died of natural causes. Raul, his brother, has been named as president. There is a huge rally in front of the presidential palace as Raul in his first appearance since Fidel's death gives his inaugural statement. In the crowd are hundreds of demonstrators calling for a transition to democracy. Although police quickly round up the demonstrators and whisk them away to prison, there are sporadic protests all over the country.
Consensus: The Principals Meeting decided to issue the following press release: We are troubled but not surprised to see that Raul Castro has chosen to continue the policies of his late brother and therefore we will not relax our vigilance and opposition towards such an undemocratic and oppressive regime. The United States will tighten its trade sanctions on Cuba. We will also apply restrictions on academic programs with Cuba. However, we will review these policies within one year with the idea of changing them if Cuba has done the following by that date: Freed all political prisoners, given a list of names arrested, set a date for free and fair elections. Again the U.S. supports a democratic Cuba and welcomes the time
Reading Assignments (for India-Pakistan):
"Between the Mountains; India and Pakistan are caught in a dangerous struggle over Kashmir. But what do its people want?" By Isabel Hilton, New Yorker, March 11, 2002.
"On the Nuclear Edge,"by Seymour Hersh, New Yorker, March 29, 1993.
"An Explosion in the Desert," an unpublished chapter of Strobe Talbot's new book on India-Pakistan.
"South Asia," by Stephen Cohen.
"India, Pakistan and Kashmir," by a paper by Stephen Cohen, the Brookings Institution. Journal of Strategic Studies, Dec. 2002.
*April 28 - On the Brink: India, Pakistan and the Dirty Bomb*
Viewing: Nova special, "Dirty Bomb." (broadcast 4/24/03)
Scenario: A group of Islamic militants in Pakistan have obtained a dirty bomb and are traveling by van towards Srinigar, the capital of Kashmir, according to U.S. intelligence. Within 48 hours they will arrive in Srinigar, where they intend, sources say, to detonate the bomb in front of an Indian installation or government building. Sources tell us that Pakistan is aware of the matter and has not notified the U.S. The Indians are not aware of the situation.
Consensus: It was decided that the President should call both the Pakistani president and Indian primes minister with the idea of getting each to cooperate: from Musharraf, a promise to help track down the van and assurances that his government was not involved in the terrorist act; and from Vajpayee, it would mean a guarantee that India will not escalate and threaten nuclear war. Meanwhile, the U.S. will mobilize its special forces at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan if India and Pakistan agree that the U.S. should cooperate with each other to try to apprehend the terrorists.
Writing Assignment: Write a three-part essay on the media's coverage of the war in Iraq. First: a critical review on the coverage; second: the shortcomings of the coverage; and third, thoughts on how the reporting might be improved in the future.
Reading Assignments: "Snob Journalism," by Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, April 23, 2003.
"For Media After Iraq, A Case of Shell Shock," by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, April 28, 2003.
*May 5 - India-Pakistan: Building a Diplomatic Bridge*
Scenario: Bush makes the difficult calls, first to Musharraf who apologizes and claims he was just about to inform Bush of the theft of the nuclear material. Musharraf agrees to cooperate but must first consult with his cabinet about the use of U.S. troops to apprehend the terrorists. Then Bush calls Vajpayee, who is furious and immediately puts his armed forces on the highest state of alert. Bush tries to assure Vajpayee that Islamabad had nothing to do with the theft. In an attempt to defuse the situation, Bush suggests the three leaders sign a joint statement.
Assignment: As a class, write Bush's statement about the "dirty bomb" crisis in the Kashmir. Include elements that each leader can sign off on. Turn in to Mark and Peter by Friday.
*May 12 - India-Pakistan: After the Islamabad Coup*
Scenario: The plot thickens as a group calling itself the Islamic Military Council suddenly takes control of the Pakistani government. The IMC issues its first statement declaring that religion had been sidelined long enough by the Musharraf administration and that within 30 days the IMC will hold a constitutional convention to write a new constitution. Should the U.S. change its plans or accept this radical change in government and go ahead with the unified effort to prevent the dirty bomb from reaching its intended target?
Consensus: Most of the Principals wanted to pause and find out who the IMC was before cooperating with them. Instead, the U.S. would work to assist India as best it could, which includes sending troops to the Indian side of the Line of Control to bolster security.
Note: During class, instructor Peter Tarnoff was handed a note saying that terrorists had just exploded three car bombs targeting residential compounds occupied by foreign workers and their families, including Americans, in Riyadh. KPIX wanted to interview Peter for comment. Mark Danner commented that the in-class scenarios had an eerie habit of coming true