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 Defense Politics  posted by  member150_php   on 2/14/2009  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Sapolsky, Harvey, 17.460 Defense Politics, Spring 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Defense Politics

Spring 2006

Black hawk helicopters.

U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.)

Course Highlights

This course features an extensive list of readings and Web links in the related resources section. A list of suggested topics for the final research paper is also available in the assignments section.

Course Description

This course focuses on the institutional relationships that affect the raising, maintenance and use of military forces in the United States. It is about civil/military, government/industry, military/science and military service/military service relations.

The course examines how politicians, defense contractors, and military officers determine the military might of the United States. It analyzes the military strategies of the nation and the bureaucratic strategies of the armed services, contractors, and defense scientists. It offers a combination of military sociology, organizational politics, and the political economy of defense.


Course Requirements

The course requirements are a referenced and footnoted research paper of 25-35 pages on an approved topic related to U.S. defense politics for all graded students. Undergraduates are also required to take a mid-term examination.

Suggested paper topics are listed in the assignments section. These are only suggested topics. You are not required to pick from the list. You are required, though, to clear the topic with me. Think of topics on which you can do the research and produce a paper within the time limits of the semester. The papers are due on the last day of classes.


For both undergraduate and graduate students, class participation counts for 20% of the grade. Graduate students' papers will count for 80% of their remaining grade, while undergraduates will have the mid-term count for 30% and the term paper for 50%.

For Graduate Students

Class Participation 20%
Student Papers 80%

For Undergraduate Students

Class Participation 20%
Mid-term 30%
Term Paper 50%


1 U.S. Civil - Military Relations  
2 America's Security Strategy  
3 Who Fights America's Wars?  
4 The Military and National Politics  
5 The Political Economy of Defense  
6 Acquiring Weapons  
  Mid-term Exam  
7 Managing Defense  
8 Inter and Intra-service Politics  
9 Congress, Foreign Policy and Public Opinion  
10 Presidents, National Security and Public Opinion  
11 Cargo Cults, Homeland Defense, and Medicare  
12 Let'em Fight: Preparing for the Next War Research paper due   Tell A Friend