Feb. 22, 2021
What We Are Learning This Week with Dr. Terry Terriff
Feb. 22, 2021 in POLI POLI 633 US Security Policy
Dr. Terry Terriff is exploring how the George W. Bush administration interpreted the 9/11 attacks and subsequently shaped its approach to, and implementation of, US security policy.
Can you tell us a little more about this topic?
The terror attacks on 11 September 2001 caught the Bush administration and America by complete surprise. The way that they sought to understand the 9/11 attacks reflected their view of the world and this view conditioned how they perceived the international threat environment. The Bush administration’s particular understanding, even peculiar understanding, shaped how it responded across a range of important security issue areas, including the ostensible threat posed by terrorist groups and nuclear proliferation and even Iraq, which has been broadly encompassed by what has often been referred to as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
What else do you cover in your course?
The main focus of what we cover in this course is the post-9/11 era and the various factors internal and external which affected the main decisions taken by the two Bush administrations, the two Obama administrations and the Trump administration. The US government and military have been engaged in conflicts in various parts of the world constantly since 9/11, and so many of the main policy decisions we look at relate to use of force questions. Also covered, though, are US relations with its main allies, and its policies and interactions with Russia and China.
What do you love about teaching this course?
What I love about this course is that we are able to get into the nitty-gritty of why the US behaves the way it does. We are able to examine and explore how American strategic culture and the vast bureaucracies and organizations that comprise the US national security establishment may influence policy decisions. We are able to understand how individual decision-makers, their biases, their world views, their personal foibles and flaws, and their interactions and disputes with other policymakers influence how they decide how best to respond to the international security environment and such policies should and are implemented. In short, we examine how flawed, real people come to decisions that are imperfect or outright faulty but which affect the world.
Finally, what other courses would you recommend for students interested this topic?
The Department offers a range of courses, both graduate and undergraduate level, that in whole or part concern security issues. One such is POLI 439 Strategic Studies which provides students with a grounding in the concepts. Also, there are POLI 483 International Law and POLI 543 Law and Armed Conflict which introduce students to the relationship and importance of law in the international system and the use of force. Other related courses are POLI 470 Genocide, Interpretation and War, and POLI 575 Intelligence and Policy, among others.