Clifford A. Kiracofe, Jr., Ph.D.

PO325 - International Relations


Dr. Clifford Kiracofe



464-7079 at VMI

463-5719 at Home

Office Hours

MWF before and after classes, and by appointment. Stop by, welcome anytime.


Scott Shipp 413




Welcome, and thank you for selecting this course.


PO325 is an intensive introduction to the study of International Relations.  It is designed to give the student a solid foundation in international relations theory and research.  The student will acquire a range of tools with which to analyze the world we live in, the international system, and state behavior.


Our goal is for this course to contribute substantially to the ability of each student to develop their own thoughtful, and morally informed, understanding of world politics so that he or she can become the effective “citizen-soldier” that VMI strives to inspire.  Development of each student’s critical thinking skills, as well as oral and written communication skills, is integral to this goal.   

Textbooks and Materials:

We shall use two excellent textbooks: the Mingst text provides a clear and concise introduction to the study of international relations and the Craig-Alexander text provides sophisticated in-depth treatment of specialized topics with emphasis on comparative historical analysis.

Karen Mingst, Essentials of International Relations (NY: Norton)

Gordon A. Craig and Alexander L. George, Force and Statecraft (NY: Oxford U Press) 

Additional Materials: 

We shall also use materials via the Preston Library E-Reserve system, or in JSTOR to include:

Classical and Renaissance thinkers:

Isocrates (436-338 BC), Selections on E-Reserve.

Aristotle (384-322 BC), Politics (overview of major points) on E-Reserve.

Erasmus, “On Starting War” (from his The Education of a Christian Prince) on E-Reserve.

Contemporary scholars:

George Kennan, 1994 Note on the current international system on E-Reserve.

Adam Watson, “Decolonialization and Its Consequences” (from Ambassador Watson’s book Limits of Independence) on E-Reserve.

Barry Buzan, “The Present as a Historic Turning Point,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Nov. 1995) 385-398 n JSTOR.

Chaim Kaufmann, “Threat Inflation and the Failure of the Marketplace of Ideas: The Selling of the Iraq War,” International Security, Vol. 29, No. 1, Summer 2004, 5-48 in JSTOR.

We shall use the text of George Washington’s “Farewell Address” found at the Yale Law School’s excellent “Avalon Project”:


Cadets are expected to come prepared to each class so that they can follow the lecture, respond to questions posed, and contribute to discussion.  Should you be excused to miss a class, get notes from at least two other students.  There will be a Mid-Term Exam, a Final Exam, and a Term Paper-Essay.  The Exams will contain short answer and true-false questions based upon the textbooks and lectures.  There may also be one or more essay questions which will be judged from argument and display of substantive knowledge and analysis.

The Term Paper-Essay shall be 1,000-1,200 words total and the length shall be indicated by a word count on the title page which is to be properly signed and certified.  All students are required to visit the Writing Center for professional guidance on the writing of an effective essay with respect to argument, organization, and structure. 

The required essay topic for everyone is “George Washington’s Farewell Address, International Relations Theory, and Today’s World.” The student will: 1.) analyze the Address using the tools acquired in this course to identify and describe the perspective, policy preferences, and values of the author with respect to the international system and the state and 2.) comment on its relevance to United States’ national policy (foreign and domestic) today.  

Map Quiz will occur toward the end of the semester: a blank world map will be given to each student and the student will indicate on a test form the correct name of each numbered country.  Pass-fail basis, may retake if necessary.  Make it a regular habit to study the world maps in Mingst.

Terms used in Discipline will, of course, be fair game for short answer questions.  Therefore, please study intensively the glossary at the end of Mingst so that you are familiar with each and every term and its meaning.


Evaluation is based upon performance on Mid Term Exam (40%), Term Paper-Essay (10%), Final Exam (50%), Map Quiz (Pass-Fail basis no credit but must pass, can retake) and Classroom Participation.  Classroom participation is expected and can add positive or negative consideration (if lacking) when the overall grade is marked. With respect to the term paper, evaluation is based upon the quality of the argument, evidence, and style.  Style includes organization and structure as well as proper grammar, expression, and format. Allow time to make revisions needed to strengthen the paper.  It is essential to visit the Writing Center for guidance and advice on how to effectively communicate within an essay format.

All activity in this course will conform strictly to all VMI “Work for Grade” requirements.

Course Schedule



Required Reading

January 10

Approaches to International Relations 

Mingst: Chapter 1

Craig: 12, 20

Isocrates, Selections

Aristotle, Politics summary

January 17

Historical Context:

Ancient World-18th C.

Mingst: 2

Craig: 1

January 24

Historical Context:

19th Century


Mingst: 2

Craig: 2, 3

January 31

Historical Context:

20th Century

Mingst: 2

Craig: 4, 18

February 7

Contending Perspectives and IR Theory

Mingst: 3


February 14

The International System

Mingst: 4

Craig: 11

Kennan note on IS

Watson, “Decolonization”

February 21

Review for Mid-Term


February 28

The State

Mingst: 5

Craig: 13, 15, 19

Erasmus, “On Starting War”

March 7

The Individual

Mingst: 6

Craig: 5

Kaufmann, “Threat Infation”

March 14

War and Strife

Mingst: 7

Craig: 7, 14, 16, 17

March 28

International Political Economy

Mingst: 8

Craig: 6

April 4

Global Governance

Mingst: 9

Craig: 8, 9, 10

April 11

April 18

Globalizing Issues and Future Directions

Mingst: 10

Buzan, “Turning Point”

Craig: Epilogue

April 25

Review for Final


Examinations and Term Paper-Essay:

Mid-Term Exam will be on:  February 25

Term Paper is due on:  April 22 

Final Exam as posted.