Assessing America’s National Security Threats digs into the history, scope, and scale of America’s most pressing national security threats. In 12 lectures, you will work with former US National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster to understand the threats facing the United States today. You will dive into history to better understand the motivations, goals, and world views of our adversaries; investigate American foreign policy, both past and present; and see how to reframe strategy and construct sound policy in light of specific challenges like climate change and Russian misinformation.
Assessing America’s National Security Threats
H. R. McMaster, a former national security advisor and a retired US Army lieutenant general, is the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He received a PhD in Military History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of the best-selling books Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free Worldand Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.
01: From Cold War to Hot Wars
Begin with an exploration of US foreign relations since the Cold War. Discover the meaning and consequences of strategic narcissism and take stock of the threats facing the United States in the 21st century, from aggressive adversaries to jihadist terrorism to climate security.
02: Vladimir Putin’s Russian Playbook
After the dissolution of the USSR, Russia continued to pose a threat to the West. Explore how dictator Vladimir Putin consolidated power; comb through the Russian playbook of economic dependence, disruptive technologies, and disinformation; and see how powers like the United States can respond to it.
03: Misunderstanding China’s Communist Party
China has emerged as one of the most powerful adversaries of the United States. Here, investigate what drives the Chinese Communist Party to perfect its technologically enabled police state, and explore how the United States and allies can strengthen free societies against Communist Party coercion.
04: Afghanistan and Jihadist Terrorism
Closely examine the evolution of US policy in Afghanistan. Investigate the costs and consequences of American foreign policy that pursues strong ties with Pakistan. And survey a range of transnational terrorist organizations operating in South Asia, considering how the threat jihadist terrorists pose today is greater than ever.
05: Iraq and the Middle East
Trace how the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule, the rise of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and Iranian-backed militias unleashed sectarian civil wars and cascading crises across the Middle East. And explore how the United States could and should engage in the Middle East to help break the cycle of violence.
06: Iran and Its Terrorist Proxies
Turning east toward Iran, assess Iran’s four decades of proxy war against the United States and its policy responses from the 1979 revolution to the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal. Explore the motivations that drive Iranian aggression, not only toward the United Sates, but also toward Israel, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and others.
07: The Unresolved Conflict with North Korea
Why is the Kim family regime in North Korea so intent on developing nuclear weapons? Examine the history of North Korea from Japanese occupation to the present day and evaluate the success of various US strategies aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation.
08: Climate Change and Energy Security
Climate change, a clear and present reality, also poses a range of security risks. Zoom outward to see how climate change is a global problem that needs multinational solutions. Consider how countries and industries can collaborate to tackle the interrelated challenges of climate, food, energy, and water security.
09: Dangers in Space and Cyberspace
Space represents a new security domain, and the US defense apparatus must be prepared as adversaries learn how to navigate and exploit space. Investigate how space became a critical security domain and how the United States can compete within it.
10: The New Information Warfare
Emerging technologies have the potential to do good, or to empower adversaries. Understand how bad actors use technologies like ransomware, social media, AI, and cryptocurrency to undermine security, and evaluate how the United States—and private industry—can use emerging technologies to build a prosperous future.
11: Building Strategic Confidence
Examine strategic competence: Explore how strategy at the highest level is made, through the example of a firsthand account of a 2017 NSC meeting on China. Investigate the ethical and moral dimensions of strategy in war. And see how studying history can help us regain strategic competence.
12: Learning from Dereliction of Duty
In Dereliction of Duty, H. R. McMaster gave historical evidence showing how military leaders failed their troops and country during their conduct of war in Southeast Asia. Investigate one of the most important questions in US foreign policy: How should America engage with global challenges? Interrogate the legacy of US retrenchment in various conflicts and explore how good foreign policy can be crafted, with Vietnam and Iraq as references.