Accueil > Grand strategy in diplomacy past and present


Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies


There is no strict prerequisite for this course but students should preferably have some previous knowledge of international relations theory, diplomatic history and contemporary events.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to grand strategy in diplomacy. It will review the sources, processes, pressures and challenges of crafting and implementing a grand strategy, taking the perspective of the practitioner and decision-maker. It will study three memoranda that introduced new grand strategies for major powers, drafted by three master strategists (Otto von Bismarck and the Pracht Schrift, Eyre Crowe and the Crowe Memorandum and George F. Kennan and the Long Telegram), as well as analyze their respective successes, failures and legacies. The course will then address a number of contemporary crises and issues from the vantage point of grand strategy, providing students with the analytical tools to better frame and examine (through comparison or abstraction) diplomatic challenges and responses. These crises will include the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq, the annexations and provocations by Russia in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, the reclamations by China in the South China Seas, the confrontations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and India and Pakistan in South Asia, the deconstruction of collective security at the United Nations, among others. The course will also address the question of whether grand strategy is attainable for small states and will look into a specific case, Costa Rica, a small country without an army that is in the unenviable position of not having the luxury of threatening to use “all options”. The second-to-last session will consist of presentations of draft memoranda prepared by students, while the last session will draw from the previous sessions in providing lessons and conclusions on grand strategy in diplomacy.


STAGNO UGARTE, Bruno (Professeur associé à Sciences Po, Deputy Executive Director Human Rights Watch)

Pedagogical format

Interactive lectures followed by intensive discussion.

Course validation

2,000-word policy memo (35%), 5,000-word country grand strategy paper (55%) and class participation (10%).


Extensive reading as well as a policy memo and a country grand strategy paper. The policy memo will address a specific major crisis from the vantage point of a foreign ministry officer while the country grand strategy paper will make the case that a specific country does or does not have a grand contemporary strategy. Crises and countries will be selected in conjunction with the instructor.

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Session 1: Course Introduction and Presentation
Course Plan, Definitions, Scene-Setting
Session 2: The Power of the Memorandum- Bismarck and Kennan

  • O. v. Bismarck, “Extracts of Correspondence with Gerlach”, 1856-1857. (provided by Prof. Stagno)
  • G.F. Kennan, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct”, Foreign Affairs, July-August 1947.
  • G.F. Kennan, “Containment 40 Years Later”, Foreign Affairs, March-April1987.
  • Background Reading:
  • J.L. Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, 24-52.
  • J.L. Gaddis, Kennan, 248-276.
  • H.A. Kissinger, “White Revolutionary: Reflections on Bismarck”, Daedalus, Summer 1968.

Session 3: The United States and G.W. Bush: The Winter of the New World Order

  • P. Pillar, “Intelligence, Policy and the War in Iraq”, Foreign Affairs, March-April 2006.
  • C. Powell, “A Strategy of Partnerships”, Foreign Affairs, January-February 2004.
  • C. Rice, “Promoting the National Interest”, Foreign Affairs, January-February 2000.
  • C. Rice, “Rethinking the National Interest”, Foreign Affairs, July-August 2008.
  • Background Reading:
  • J.L. Gaddis, “Grand Strategy in the Second Term”, Foreign Affairs, January-February 2005.
  • R. Kagan, “The September 12 Paradigm”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 2008.

Session 4: The United States and Obama: Leading from Behind

  • J. Biden, “Building on Success”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 2016.
  • T. Christensen, “Advantages of an Assertive China”, Foreign Affairs, March-April 2011.
  • H.R. Clinton, “Security and Opportunity for the 21st Century”, Foreign Affairs, November-December 2007.
  • R. Holbrooke, “The Next President”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 2008.
  • M. Indyk et al., “Scoring Obama’s Foreign Policy”, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2012.
  • B. Obama, “Renewing America’s Leadership”, Foreign Affairs, July-August 2007.

Session 5: The Middle East: the Great Game between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey

  • Davutoglu, “Turkey’s Zero-Problems Foreign Policy”, Foreign Policy, May 20, 2010.
  • Davutoglu, “Zero Problems in a New Era”, Foreign Policy, March 21, 2013.
  • M.J. Zarif, “What Iran Really Wants: Iranian Foreign Policy in the Rouhani Era”, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2014.
  • M.J. Zarif, “A Message from Iran”, New York Times, April 20, 2015. M.M. Milani, “Iran and Saudi Arabia Square Off: The Growing Rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh”, Foreign Affairs, October 2011.
  • M.M. Milani, “Iran and Saudi Arabia Square Off”, Foreign Affairs, October 2011.
  • M.B. Altunisik, “Bitter Frenemies: The Not-Quite-Alliance between Saudi Arabia and Turkey”, Foreign Affairs, May 2015.

Session 6: Russia: the Eurasian Heartland and the Siberian Hinterland

  • Barbashin and H. Thoburn, “Putin’s Brain: Alexander Dugin and the Philosophy behind the Invasion of Crimea”, Foreign Affairs, March 2014.
  • M. Gorbachev, Memoirs, 401-463.
  • M. Gorbachev, Perestroika, 135-160,190-209.
  • Kozyrev, “The Lagging Partnership”, Foreign Affairs, May-June 1994.
  • Lukin, “What the Kremlin is Thinking: Putin’s Vision for Eurasia”, Foreign Affairs, July-August 2014.
  • V. Putin, “A Plea for Caution from Russia”, New York Times, September 11, 2013.
  • S. Stankevich, “Russia in Search of Itself”, The National Interest, 1992.

Session 7: China: Biding for Time and Concealing Strength

  • Z. Bijian, “China’s Peaceful Rise to Great-Power Status”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 2005.      
  • D. Bingguo, “Adhere to the Path of Peaceful Development”, 6 December 2010.
  • Y. Fu, “How China sees Russia”, Foreign Affairs, January-February 2016.
  • W. Jisi, “China’s Search for Stability with America”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 2005.
  • W. Jisi, “China’s Search for a Grand Strategy”, Foreign Affairs, March-April 2011.
  • L. Mingfu, The China Dream: Great-Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-American Era. 113-136.

Background Reading:

  • H. Kissinger, On China, 2013, pp.514-530.

Session 8: India and Pakistan: The Nuclear Conjoined Twins

  • K.S. Bajpai, “Untangling India and Pakistan”, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2003.
  • Z.A. Bhutto, “Pakistan Builds Anew”, Foreign Affairs, April 1973.
  • Gandhi, “India and the World”, Foreign Affairs, October 1972.
  • H. Haqqani, “Breaking Up is Not Hard to Do”, Foreign Affairs, March-April 2013.
  • M.A. Khan, “The Pakistan-American Alliance”, Foreign Affairs, January-February 1964.
  • J. Nehru, “Changing India”, Foreign Affairs, March-April 1963.
  • J. Singh, “Against Nuclear Apartheid”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 1998.

Session 9: Small States- Costa Rica and the Absence of All Options

  • B. Stagno Ugarte and J. Lincoln, “Costa Rican Strategic Culture”, July 2011. (provided by Prof. Stagno)
  • B. Stagno Ugarte, “Sources of Nicaraguan Conduct”, La República. (provided by Prof. Stagno)

Session 10: The Power of the Memorandum (II)  

  • No reading required for this session as students will be making presentations.

Session 11: To Be or Not To Be of Grand Strategy

  • No reading required for this session as students will be making presentations.

Session 12: Lessons for Grand Strategy in Diplomacy

  • G.F. Kennan, American Diplomacy, “Diplomacy in the Modern World”, 91-103.
  • H.A. Kissinger, Diplomacy, 804-836.
  • H.A. Kissinger, A World Restored, “The Nature of Statesmanship”, 312-332.

Biographical information

Bruno Stagno-Ugarte served as Foreign Minister (2006-2010), Ambassador to the United Nations (2002-2006) and Chief of Staff to the Foreign Minister (1998-2000), among other postings in the foreign service of Costa Rica. He was also elected Co-President of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Conference (2007-2009), President of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court (2005-2008) and Vice-President of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (2003-2005). He was Executive Director of the Security Council Report (2011-2014) and is since Deputy Executive Director at Human Rights Watch. He is the author or co-editor of various books, book chapters and articles, including The United Nations Security Council in the Age of Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and The UN Security Council in the 21st Century (International Peace Institute, 2015). A graduate of Georgetown University, Sorbonne Nouvelle-UPIII and Princeton University, he is an Officier de la Légion d'Honneur.