History 2330 Fall 2011
G. Shanafelt

Leadership, Excellence, and Virtue
A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must necessarily come to grief among so many who are not good. Therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince          

For Purchase

Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy

The Course

We like to think that leaders achieve greatness not just because they are effective in attaining their goals, but because they observe high moral standards in the pursuit of those goals: that virtue is an essential component of successful leadership. Yet national leaders have often been faced with situations in which attaining their goals seemed to require actions that conflicted with their own moral values. This has particularly been the case in the area of foreign policy, where there is a whole tradition which argues that states in the pursuit of their interests should not be bound by the normal moral codes governing the behavior of individuals. Are virtue and success contradictory rather than complementary concepts in the conduct of statecraft? Can a leader attain morally virtuous ends through means which are morally dubious? To explore this issue, we will briefly survey the history of international relations from the origins of the European state system at the time of the Renaissance to the end of the Cold War. Our guide will be Henry Kissinger, who brings some unique credentials to the table. Kissinger cannot be regarded as a disinterested academic analyst of these issues, for he was also a direct participant in them, first as Richard Nixon's National Security Advisor and then as United States Secretary of State. In the course of our journey through five centuries of international history, we will encounter a series of figures who wrestled with the challenges involved in successful leadership: Richelieu, Napoleon, Metternich, Bismarck, Gladstone, Wilson, Hitler, Stalin, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Gorbachev; and, ever lurking in the shadows, Kissinger himself.

Course Objectives

History 2330 is one of a number of courses that satisfies McMurry's 3-hour general education requirement in Leadership, Excellence, and Virtue (LEV). It is designed to explore basic ideas of virtue and leadership as demonstrated in the lives and ideas of major figures in world history. Different situations and emphases may be used in different semesters. Students this semester will be expected to

Understand differing approaches to the conduct of foreign relations;
2. Discuss the interplay of foreign and domestic concerns in the making of foreign policy;
3. Define the role of virtue and morality in foreign policy decision-making;
4. Evaluate the leadership qualities necessary to craft a foreign policy that successfully considers the above (1-3) items.
5. Examine their personal standards of conduct in light of the issues discussed in the class.


It goes without saying that you're expected to come to class having completed the weekly reading assignments. Your grade in this course will be computed as follows: 22% on each of three semester tests, 22% on a 5-page typed, double-spaced paper, and 12% on class participation. If you note the reading schedule, there is no week devoted to the Vietnam War. Yet Kissinger devotes three chapters to it, more than to any other topic in his book. Your paper assignment will be to read those three chapters (chs. 25-27) and evaluate Kissinger's interpretation of the efficacy and morality of American involvement in the conflict. Specific details will be forthcoming later in the semester. Note that late papers will lose one percentage point per day that they are late.

Your final grade will follow standard grading format, i.e., 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, 60-69 = D, 0-59 = F. Within those parameters, plus and minus grades will be given: A: 93-100, A-: 90-92, B+: 87-89, B: 83-86, B-: 80-82, etc. There will be no A+ grades and no plus or minus grades for an F. Borderline cases (e.g., 89.6 or 79.8) will be decided on the basis of improvement in the course, class participation, and regularity of attendance.


Cheating in any form will not be tolerated. Plagiarism, passing off the work of someone else as your own, will result in a zero grade on the assignment concerned, a failing grade in the course, and a referral to the Dean of Students for further disciplinary action.


Excessive unexcused absences may lead you to be administratively dropped from this class. The McMurry Catalog defines “excessive” for Tuesday-Thursday classes (like this) as three or more. Of course, even an authorized absence does not excuse you from responsibility for whatever material was covered on the day of your absence.

Students with Disabilities

McMurry University abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulates that no otherwise qualified student shall be denied the benefits of an education “solely by reason of a handicap.” If you have a documented disability that may impact your performance in this class and for which you may be requesting accommodation, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Services Office, located in the south wing of President Residence Hall. Arrangements will be made for students needing special accommodations.

Cell Phones, Computers, and Other Non-class-related Activities

Expect to be held accountable to the basic rules of considerate behavior as described in the McMurry University Council Fire. Cell phones should be turned off during class. Your computer should also be turned off during class, since students are too easily distracted by Facebook from paying attention to the lecture material which will actually be covered on the tests. If you take lecture notes on your computer, you now get to experience history directly by doing this the old fashioned way, with pen and paper.


My contact information will be found on the upper right corner of the syllabus. If you lose your syllabus, you can download another from my webpage. If I need to send you any official communications, FERPA privacy regulations stipulate that I use your McMurry account, not any other mail account that you might have. If you never check your McMurry email, now might be a good time to change your habits.

Proposed Class and Reading Schedule
Aug. 30
Sept. 1
Introduction: Determinants of Foreign Policy Kissinger, chs. 1-2
Sept. 6
Sept. 8
The Classical European Balance Kissinger, ch. 3
Sept. 13
Sept. 15
The Vienna Settlement and the Concert of Europe Kissinger, ch. 4
Sept. 20
Sept. 22
Upheaval: Cavour, Napoleon III, and Bismarck Kissinger, chs. 5-6
Sept. 27
Sept. 29
Realpolitik and Weltpolitik Kissinger, ch. 7
Oct. 6 The Bones of a Pomeranian Grenadier Kissinger, ch. 8
Oct. 11
Oct. 13
The New Diplomacy and the Versailles Settlement Kissinger, ch. 9
Oct. 18
Oct. 20
The World Restored: The Age of Locarno Kissinger, chs. 10-11
Oct. 25
Oct. 27
The World Destroyed: The Age of Hitler Kissinger, ch. 12
Nov. 1
Nov. 3
The Nazi-Soviet Pact and the Second World War Kissinger, chs. 13-14
Nov. 10 The Road to Pearl Harbor Kissinger, ch. 15
Nov. 15
Nov. 17
Cold War and Containment Kissinger, chs. 17-18
Nov. 22 Ich bin ein Berliner!” Kissinger, ch. 23
Nov. 23-25 [Thanksgiving]
Nov. 29
Dec. 1
The China Syndrome Kissinger, ch. 28
Dec. 6
Dec. 8
The End of the Cold War Kissinger, ch. 30
Dec. 13 THIRD TEST (10:30-12:30)