Teaching Defense StatecraftComments
I had the time this last holiday break to contemplate how a course that I’ve now taught 18 times has changed over the years.
Much has changed in the study of defense statecraft in the last year, largely due to the lessons learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But what if we take a longer time horizon? How has the teaching of defense statecraft (and similar national security courses) changed over the past two decades? The question matters, because the way that we teach conflict is fundamental to public literacy about war. In the midst of the latest debate about sending tanks to Ukraine, knowing what a tank is and what it does is surely important to the deliberations of a democratic public.
Long story short… it’s changed a lot. The subject matter has changed (COIN no longer has pride of place), the information environment has changed (easier to find good, policy relevant material), and of course I have changed (older and perhaps somewhat less wise). I don’t believe that there are now any readings left from my 2005 syllabus; I think I dropped the last one (Lawrence Freedman on nuclear strategy) this last semester.