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Assessing America’s National Security Threats

Examine America and its adversaries in the 21st century.
Assessing America’s National Security Threats is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 11.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overview of National Security issues H.R. McMaster did a great job of condensing very complicated issues into a high-level overview that gave me a better understanding of the topic. While each topic could be fleshed out into a stand alone course, he gave a concise analysis of the main threats facing the west and how they are tied together. The segments on how hostile nations have manipulated the American public toward the political division we have today was particularly enlightening and show how each of us has to challenge our own biases. I hope that those on both sides of the political spectrum will watch these with an open mind so we can work together on finding solutions.
Date published: 2023-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Assessing America’s National Security Threats A concise and informative review of the threats facing America in the 21st century by a deeply knowledgeable instructor. Thank you, H.R. McMaster, for teaching the course.
Date published: 2023-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Insights of How Governments Think I appreciate that H.R. McMaster took time to author and present this course. It's particularly interesting to watch a presentation by someone who has not only watched history but been an active participant. The most interesting concept introduced to me was Strategic Narcissism, which I believe explains a lot about how our government leaders have acted for most of my life. I would apply this term differently than the General, though frankly I was only a one-term sergeant, so I never had to carry the burden of responsibility for strategic planning as he did in the military, much less as National Security Advisor. It's very easy to have an opinion in the peanut gallery, and not so much when you're on the playing field. While I didn't necessarily agree on every issue, my only real point of contention is the obligatory nod to the widely disseminated misstatement that everyone agrees that climate change is manmade and dangerous. I would simply advise anyone to look back at geologic evidence before humans and note that the climate changed. Climate Discussion Nexus takes on this claim in their video, "The 97% Myth." It seems like Strategic Narcissism to the nth degree to believe governments can control the climate. The old movie "Our Man Flint" humorous deals with such hubris, and yet the US needs to be concerned with whether or not India grows sugarcane and what ramifications that will have on global warming. Taking that section with a grain of salt, I think there is a good summary of concerns that we are facing as a country. I tend to agree with President George Washington and those early Founding Fathers who thought we should best be concerned with our own country and defending our own borders rather than becoming involved in foreign intrigues. In that aspect, I think Mr. McMaster's old boss in the White House was better than most, and I assume Mr. McMaster deserves some credit for helping avoid becoming involved in a new war during his Presidency. Thanks for taking time to share the information, which I imagine being presented with the same even-handed demeanor in dealing with world leaders. I also appreciate that the General is so learned and obviously loves our country and wants what is best for us.
Date published: 2023-02-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too much expressing of opinion instead of fact. I was disappointed that the instructor was so politically opinionated and was happy to make political comments in the course. His political comments were a big distraction from the topic. I’ll never sign up again for a class taught by HR McMaster.
Date published: 2023-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from H. R. McMaster tells us what really happen. This is just telling the true. It is the truth that happen in each time.
Date published: 2023-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best! Wondrium certainly continues to obtain the best experts. For anyone interested in opening their mind to facts of national security, this course is a must.
Date published: 2023-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Worth Watching This course should be viewed by all - Republicans and Democrats. Yes, the professor leans toward conservatism. But he is right in that Republicans are the only voice that seeks to keep the county as a Republic and not some form of socialist, perhaps even communist form of government. That being said this course gives a good estimate, although some might consider the course content as "opinion" only. A course well worth of the Great Course stable of content.
Date published: 2023-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Course! The Great Courses has scored a real coup in securing Gen. H.R. McMaster to provide his insights on the security threats our nation faces in this important course. While Gen. McMaster served as National Security Advisor under President Trump and currently serves as a fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution at Stanford, he offers in this course blunt criticisms of many of the foreign policy decisions of all of the Republican and Democratic administrations since Kennedy. He argues that administrations of both parties have been guilty of what he calls "strategic narcissism"--an overly US-centric view of the world--and is particularly critical of the isolationist left and right in the United States today. As the lecture list reflects, Gen. McMaster touches on the most pressing foreign policy challenges the United States faces all around the world. As to each, he provides eye-opening detail in describing how we have reached the current state of affairs and then offers candid suggestions--some posed as a high structural approach, others proposed as specific, concrete actions--to address the risks the US faces from abroad. All, however, are grounded in his study and experience honed through his many years in the White House, the military, and as an historian (he has a PhD in history). Many people on the left and the right will disagree with certain of his assessments, criticisms, and proposals, but I do not believe anyone can fairly criticize his passion, his fair-minded approach to engage debate from all perspectives, and his confidence that the US will rise to meet its challenges around the globe. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2023-01-12
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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.


H. R. McMaster

I'm determined to explore how we can work toward promoting peace and prosperity for generations to come.


Hoover Institution, Stanford University

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.

By This Expert

Assessing America’s National Security Threats
Assessing America’s National Security Threats


From Cold War to Hot Wars

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.

32 min
Vladimir Putin’s Russian Playbook

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.

28 min
Misunderstanding China’s Communist Party

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.

28 min
Afghanistan and Jihadist Terrorism

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.

15 min
Iraq and the Middle East

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.

16 min
Iran and Its Terrorist Proxies

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.

26 min
The Unresolved Conflict with North Korea

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.

28 min
Climate Change and Energy Security

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.

19 min
Dangers in Space and Cyberspace

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.

20 min
The New Information Warfare

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.

21 min
Building Strategic Confidence

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.

21 min
Learning from Dereliction of Duty

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.

30 min