The course is designed to review the principal features of international security as it is currently practiced. It does so by tracing the evolution of contemporary policy and other determining circumstances through the sequence of formative experience whereby current international security conditions developed. The underlying contention is that understanding the consequences of formative experience is indispensable for an adequate comprehension of the prevailing concepts, organizing principles, military deployment patterns, legal regulations, and political relationships that determine the state of international security at the moment. This set of arrangements provides the foundation for all international relationships and affects all international policy topics.
The period reviewed begins with the initiation of nuclear weapons programs during World War II. Contemporary security policy has deeper historical roots, of course, but current conditions were heavily determined by the developments that occurred over the past seven decades. Although it is common to assert that we are now in a new era, anyone who does not understand the formative events and enduring legacy of that period will certainly not understand the contemporary problems that are covered in the second half of the semester. The course reviews this history from the contemporary perspective to understand the current implications. That is, of course, a revisionist perspective from those who lived through the events in question, but it is legitimate and important to use the advantage of retrospect to understand current circumstances. The course is intended to be useful and appropriate for all people of all national affiliation.