Azusa Pacific University
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of History and Political Science

[Note: In preparing this syllabus, let me acknowledge—up front—how much I have benefited from ideas contained in the syllabi of my department colleagues, particularly those by Dan Palm, Bryan Lamkin, and Brad Hale.]

POLI 390 History & Politics of Non-Western World: Iraq/Afghanistan (3 credits)
(#12387) (Section 01) 9:20-10:50 TuTh Duke #127

Faculty Information

David E. Lambert, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History
My office is located on the first floor (Room #124) of the Ronald Building on the East Campus.

Office hours: Until I get a bit more used to this semester's schedule, I am not yet sure what hours will work best for you and for me. But for sure we can always meet before and after class and by appointment (I live very close to campus and can be here quickly if you need to see me).

My office phone number is 626-815-6000, ext. 3341, but I do not check that phone for messages. Instead, please feel free to call me on my home phone (626) 335-4787. Try to call between 8AM & 8PM.

My email address is

Thorn in the Flesh

My aim is always to be as transparent and as real with you, my students, as possible. So here goes:

I have been dealing with a problem with my eyes, dating back to childhood but which has not resurfaced until the last year or so.

My drifting eyes: Technical term is "strabismus."

Please excuse me for the times when I am apparently not seeming to look straight at you. I can't do anything about it on my own. It is most embarrassing to me, I assure you. It is probably also awkward for you.

For various reasons, eye specialists have concluded that any operation would be too risky at this point in my life. I will just have to deal with the situation as it is.

I often take comfort from the following Bible verses in which the Apostle Paul speaks of a "thorn in the flesh" afflicting him. That "thorn" may have related to an eye problem. For him, and for me, the problem does serve to keep one humble.

Galatians 4:13-15 NIV

As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn.
Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NIV

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

APU Mission Statement

Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical Christian community of disciples and scholars who seek to advance the work of God in the world through academic excellence in liberal arts and professional programs of higher education that encourage you to develop a Christian perspective of truth and life.

Course Information

a. Course description

POLI 390 History and Politics of the Non-Western World (3)
Fall 2015 topic: Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

This course offers an overview of historical and political patterns in one pre-announced selected area of the non-Western developing world. The course may be repeated for credit as the topic varies.

b. Credit hour policy

Following the APU Credit Hour policy, to meet the identified student learning outcomes of this course, the expectations are that this 3 unit course, delivered over a 15 week term will approximate 3 hours/week in classroom or direct faculty instruction. In addition, out-of-class student work will approximate a minimum of 6 hours each week.

c. Course goals

For a more extended discussion of what I hope to teach you about how a historian goes about his/her work, please take a look at the following page (SHEG=Stanford History Education Group) on the Learning Professor wiki:

The notes from T. Mills Kelly's book, Teaching History in the Digital Age, are particularly relevant. I will develop this material a bit more fully in several of our class sessions.

We all need to learn to read carefully. Close reading can actually help our writing: topic sentences, prose style, transitions, punctuation. Our course, and therefore your reading, should focus on the following:

1) Who were the people?
History (or HERstory) amounts to using a reverse time capsule to peek in on how people lived their lives. Newspapers are a first draft of that story. What is to us an historical event was for them usually just the daily news. They were living their lives, without knowing the future outcomes.

2) Where are the places?
I believe strongly in the value of knowing geography.

3) What were the events?
I tend to emphasize political/diplomatic/religious aspects of history. No need to remember dates as such, but it is critical to be aware of chronology so we can determine cause and effect relationships.

4) What were the problems (as viewed by each player) and how were they handled?
You are welcome to have your own emotional position as a bottom line, but I want you to be able to analyze dispassionately as if you were training to be a lawyer and argue either prosecution or defense.

d. Methods of instruction

A number of years ago, I was born again as a Christian. Recently, I have had a rebirth in my approach to teaching, trying to move from a lecturing, cover-the-material teacher to an approach in which we use our laptops and practice analytical skills.

I hope to achieve a balance between the hard work we do in class and what you should do outside of class (close to 2 hours outside of class for each hour of class).

I am pretty well educated in a professorial way. I have a B.A. in International Affairs from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, an M.A in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh, an M.B.A. in Finance and International Business from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and a Ph.D. in U.S. History from the Claremont Graduate University. But because of my somewhat eclectic background and varied military and executive experiences prior to becoming a professor, I have goals—broader than just the academic pursuit of the who, what, and when of history per se—that I hope we will achieve this term.

You can further check out my background by reviewing the material on the About Me page of this wiki:

Thomas L. Friedman's work [The World is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (New York: Picador, 2007), 308-324] helped me decide upon several of these goals. He underlines the importance of being flexible over our career and taking away from our college years a facility for 1) learning how to learn, 2) understanding in a deeper way how to navigate the web, and 3) increasing our intellectual curiosity and passion for learning. Though I will try to role model each of these desired characteristics, I can't be successful at it unless you yourself take responsibility for your own learning by setting challenging goals for this course (and for your career).

Student Learning Outcomes

Describe and analyze major events, themes, ideas, and personalities pertaining to Iraq-Afghanistan.

Analyze primary source materials concerning Iraq-Afghanistan.

Articulate the relationship of the Christian faith to major events, themes, ideas, and personalities in Iraq-Afghanistan.

Analyze how major events, themes, ideas, and personalities in Iraq-Afghanistan affect American life today.

Required textbooks and resources

a. There are no required textbooks for this class. We will be using online sources exclusively. The appropriate URL or reference information for each source will be noted on our specific wiki pages for the course.

b. You will need to have a laptop with you at every class session.

Course Calendar/Schedule

CAVEAT: The course schedule, topics, evaluation, and assignments may be changed at the instructor’s discretion.

Specific day-to-day assignments will be posted to the following page on our Learning Professor wiki:

Course Introduction
Thursday, 10 September

Islam: use of the veil/Islam as a religion
Tuesday, 15 September
Thursday, 17 September

Islamic state (ISIS)
Tuesday, 22 September
Thursday, 24 September

Why did US get involved in Afghanistan?/US military approach/Afghanistan history and description
Tuesday, 29 September
Thursday, 1 October

Soviet war in Afghanistan/Taliban
Tuesday, 6 October
Thursday, 8 October

US in Afghanistan: operational aspects
Tuesday, 13 October
Thursday, 15 October

Pakistan's role in the Afghan conflict
Afghanistan recently: Taliban success
Tuesday, 20 October
Thursday, 22 October

Afghan recently: women, Karzai, Ghani
Tuesday, 27 October
Thursday, 29 October MID-TERM EXAM

Saddam Hussein/Baath Party/Iraq history: a brief look
Tuesday, 3 November
Thursday, 5 November

WEEK #10
Iran/Iraq War/Iraq invasion of Kuwait
Tuesday, 10 November
Thursday, 12 November

WEEK #11
Gulf War/Evolution of the Bush doctrine/Failure of diplomacy
Tuesday, 17 November
Thursday, 19 November

WEEK #12
US invasion of Iraq/The Lost Year in Iraq (Coalition Provisional Authority)
Tuesday, 24 November
Thursday, 26 November [THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY]

WEEK #13
US in Iraq: early years/The Surge/Sunni Awakening
Tuesday, 1 December
Thursday, 3 December

WEEK #14
US withdrawal/Recent events
Tuesday, 8 December
Thursday, 10 December

Tuesday, 15 December
Thursday, 17 December


a. Exams: Mid-term and final (35% each)

Exams will be essay. They will not be cumulative. Please supply your own blue book and write in pen.

A missed exam may not be made up, except for legitimate reasons and with the instructor’s approval. See policy below about make up exams.

Final Exam will be given on the assigned date and not before— make travel plans accordingly. Please note the following from the current Undergraduate Catalog: “Final examinations are required in all courses. No final examination shall be given to individual students before the regularly scheduled time. No exception can be made to this rule without the written approval of the instructor, the department chair, and the appropriate academic dean.”

b. Research paper and class presentation (20%): 1500 (+/- 25) words, typed, double-spaced, with properly written footnotes and a bibliography. A full description of the assignment will be distributed during the course. Note that the History/Political Science Department follows the Chicago Manual of Style footnote format. Others styles (MLA, APA, etc.) are not acceptable. Late papers will be accepted, but penalized one day late unless you have made prior arrangements with the instructor.

II. Term paper: due at final exam

a. 1500 words. Use at least 15 solid sources.

b. Grading Rubric

c. Topic selection and content analysis

Think of your paper as a political science case study.

I want you to gain an understanding of how bureaucratic/political decisions get made by people--not in a vacuum and usually messy--and how those decisions are then critiqued, attacked, and defended (spin control) in our political system.

Take one event from our timelines.
Notice the headings on this timeline:

US side primarily: decisions, power struggles
On the ground in Iraq as necessary

Try to get at the following:
Who, what, when, where, why, how
What result
What effect

Example of a possible term paper topic: What were the factors/people/controversies involved in the U.S. decision to disband the Iraqi army in 2003?

How to get your sources:
Follow the leads on our timeline capsule summary (interview)

Use Washington Post and New York Times as base resources.

Use the Lexis Nexis (Lexis Nexis) database for other articles

Different points of view to round out your coverage.

Finding Opinions, Editorials, and Opposing Viewpoints (University of Texas)

Leanings of Magazines and Newspapers (Lorain County Community College)

Get further articles from APU database search

c. Class participation (10%): Class participation includes attendance, punctuality, preparedness, attentiveness, and compliance with all instructions, timely submission of all assignments, and contribution to class discussion through comments or questions. Also included is the quality of your work in a Roundtable Presentation. In addition, you may be asked to complete several in-class written responses over the course of the semester.

Excellent class participation can improve your grade as much as two steps (that is, a B- can be raised to a B or even to a B+). It is not possible to get an A in this course without at least good (B level) class participation.

d. Classroom attitude/participation: more specific thoughts

First of all, come to class. You can't participate if you are not present. Success in life is often merely showing up.

Second, come with your proper tools each time: You will be docked half an unexcused absence if you come to class without your required materials, principally your laptop. Your laptop is required for this course.

A word about laptops. Our laptops are to enhance learning. Excessive dinging around with it will grieve the Holy Spirit (and me) and will warrant half an unexcused absence. In other words, your participation grade will drop each time this dinging occurs. All of us need to be faithful in appropriately using our laptops during class time. I don't want to have to spy on you but hope to count on you not to be using your laptop to do email or surf the web. Conduct yourselves so that I can feel confident that you (and your mates) are working away appropriately even if I am not watching. [Note the reference to eye-service in both Ephesians 6:5-6 (NAS) and Colossians 3:22 (NAS).]

Third, do something once you are here. Your class participation will make the difference between an "A" and a non-A. Most of my grading of you is on-going, as I observe you day after day in class. Verbally and non-verbally, demonstrate enthusiasm and a positive attitude. Look toward me and make eye contact periodically. When you look continually at your computer when I am talking, I question—perhaps unfairly to you—what you are doing.

Demonstrate a positive attitude toward whatever feedback I may provide. Aim to get better, not bitter.

Even if you think you are done with what has been assigned for the class period, keep yourself legitimately busy until dismissal. Return to websites we used during prior class periods.

Information Literacy and Use of the Library

Information literacy is defined as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (American Library Association, 1989). In this course, teaching and learning processes will employ the following information literacy standards, as endorsed by the American Association for Higher Education (1999), the Association of College and Research Libraries (2000), and the Council of Independent Colleges (2004).

The students in this course will:
  • determine the nature and extent of the information needed;
  • access needed information effectively and efficiently;
  • evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system;
  • individually or as a member of a group, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

The APU University Libraries contain a myriad of resources to assist students in the completion of course assignments. Research assistance is available via the University Libraries staff and the APU Libraries website:

Evaluation/Assessment Rationale and Grade Determination

a. Here are the factors that will contribute to the final course grade:

Midterm Exam 35%
Research Paper 20% (1500 words)
Final Exam 35%
Class Participation 10%

Total 100%

b. Criteria used to calculate grades

Grades on coursework will be awarded as follows:

“A” work - Outstanding
Above and beyond the requirements of the assignment; outstanding effort, significant achievement, and personal improvement are clearly evident. Some measure of remarkable skill, creativity, or energy is also evident.

“B” work – Above Average
Fulfills all aspects of the assignment and goes a bit beyond minimum competence to demonstrate extra effort, extra achievement or extra improvement.

“C” work - Average
Fulfills all aspects of the assignment with obvious competence and grace. Assignments are completed exactly as assigned.

“D” work – Below Average
Below average either because some aspect of the assignment has not been fulfilled or because a preponderance of errors (more than one or two per page) interferes with clear communication. A “D” may also indicate failure to follow directions, failure to follow specific recommendations, or failure to demonstrate personal effort and improvement.

“F” work – Not Acceptable
Not acceptable, either because the student did not complete the assignment as directed, or because the level of performance is below an acceptable level for college work.

c. Grading Scale

93-100=A 87-89=B+ 77-79=C+ 67-69=D+
90-92=A- 83-86=B 73-76=C 63-66=D
80-82=B- 70-72=C- 60-62=D- 0-59=F

Course Policies:

a. Class attendance

Your attendance is considered mandatory for the class, and attendance will be taken regularly. You will be allowed two unexcused absences without any grade drop. For each unexcused absences thereafter, your grade will drop 10 points.

Please note that pre- or post-holiday travel is not cause for an excused absence.

An excused absence (i.e. medical, family emergency, university business) must be properly documented by an acceptable authority. When possible, you should inform me of an anticipated absence in advance.

Please try to be in class on time. Excessive tardiness (more than 10 minutes late) will be considered half an unexcused absence. If other responsibilities require you to be tardy on a regular basis, you should discuss the matter with me by the end of the first full week of class.

b. Incompletes/late work/extra credit

Only in rare instances (medical reasons) will I be willing to accept a request for an incomplete. You should plan to finish your course requirements within the parameters of this semester.

Late papers will be accepted, but one letter grade will be deducted per calendar day late.

Normally, extra credit work is not accepted. On occasion, however, I may offer limited bonus points for your attendance at various academic functions such as lectures, seminars, and the Common Day of Learning.

c. Make Up Exam Policy and Procedures (2014-15):

1. Present written request to your professor to take make-up exam, detailing reasons for the request, and including medical or other documentation.
2. Receive permission from your professor to take make-up exam.
3. Contact Dept. Program Coordinator at to schedule the exam, including your name, the course, the professor’s name and three times you are available to take the make-up exam.
4. Understand that make-up exam time slots are limited and that advance planning on the student’s part is essential.

d. Academic Integrity

The mission of Azusa Pacific University includes cultivating in each student not only the academic skills that are required for a university degree, but also the characteristics of academic integrity that are integral to a sound Christian education. It is therefore part of the mission of the university to nurture in each student a sense of moral responsibility consistent with the biblical teachings of honesty and accountability. Furthermore, a breach of academic integrity is viewed not merely as a private matter between the student and an instructor but rather as an act which is fundamentally inconsistent with the purpose and mission of the entire university. A complete copy of the Academic Integrity Policy is available in the Office of Student Life, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs, and online.

Both the expectations for this course and the consequences for violations of academic integrity are consistent with those outlined in the academic integrity policy.

With respect to this course, the instructor expects all work submitted for a grade (book review, term paper, short assignments, oral/ppt presentation) to be your own work, with quotations and ideas you reference properly cited using Turabian/Chicago Manual of Style footnotes.

You are strongly encouraged to have others proofread and offer comments about your work, but everything you submit must be your own work, and properly cite other sources. Collaboration with other students is encouraged as you prepare for class presentations and discussions, and is certainly permissible as you study for exams.

Written assignments for this course will be submitted electronically to

e. University or Department Policies

All university and departmental policies affecting student work, appeals, and grievances, as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog and/or Department Handbook will apply, unless otherwise indicated in this syllabus.

f. Available Support Services for Students with Disabilities

Students in this course who have a disability that might prevent them from fully demonstrating their abilities should meet with an advisor in the Learning Enrichment Center (ext. 3849) as soon as possible to initiate disability verification and discuss accommodations that may be necessary to ensure full participation in the successful completion of course requirements.


Additional sources are available on the specific wiki pages used for the class.

a. Books

Paul Rieckhoff. Chasing Ghosts. New York: Penguin, 2006. ISBN 978-0-451-22121-6.
Dexter Filkins. The Forever War. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2008. ISBN 978-0-307-26639-2.
Richard Engel. War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4165-6304-4
Jeff Courter. Afghan Journal: A Soldier's Year in Afghanistan. Self Published. ISBN 978-1438259666
David Finkel. The Good Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. ISBN 978-0-374-16573-4
Bing West. The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq. New York: Random House, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4000-6701-5
Ahmed Rashid. Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. New York: Penguin Books, 2008. ISBN 978-0-14-311557-1
David Kilcullen. The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-536834-5

b. Web links


Book selections for war in Afghanistan

Best Iraq and Afghanistan War books (Goodreads)

Popular Afghanistan War books (Goodreads)

US Naval War College LibGuide: Afghanistan

WWW Virtual Library: International Affairs Resources
Article about it:
The library webpage itself:

LibGuide: Afghanistan (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor)

Afghanistan web resources (University of Virginia)


Military Book Club
Best selections for war in Iraq

10 years of the Iraq War: 10 great books (Washington Post)

Best Iraq and Afghanistan War books (Goodreads)

Vets pick the best books about Iraq

WWW Virtual Library: International Affairs Resources Article about it:
The library webpage itself:

LibGuides from the American University of Iraq Country profiles of Iraq
News topic pages and RSS feeds [this is good]
Research on Iraq

LibGuide US Government documents on Iraq (Bert Chapman, Purdue University)

LibGuide (University of Houston, Clear Lake) HIST 5236 and HUMN 5236: Iraq War in Film Course guide
for Barbara Hales "Iraq War in Film" course

LibGuide: Iraq (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor)

New York Times: At War
New York Times: Afghanistan
New York Times: Middle East
New York Times: Pakistan
Washington Post: Middle East
Checkpoint Kabul (McClatchy)
Danger Room
Small Wars Journal
Foreign Policy magazine: AfPak Channel
Thomas Ricks: Best Defense
Long War Journal: Threat Matrix
USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center

Acknowledgement of Receipt by Student:

I have received a copy of the syllabus for (course name). I have read the syllabus and have been offered an opportunity to ask questions about it. I understand and agree to the requirements of this syllabus.
Date: _



All essays must be typed, double-spaced, with standard margins, on 8 ½” x 11” white paper. All citations must follow the format recommended by Kate Turabian or The Chicago Manual of Style.


Superior (Grade: A)
  • Addresses a well-defined, significant, thoughtfully selected topic or question.
  • Addresses the question fully and explores the issues thoughtfully.
  • Shows substantial depth, fullness, and complexity of thought. Goes beyond the obvious. Offers illuminating insights.
  • Demonstrates clear, focused, unified, and coherent organization.
  • Is fully developed and detailed.
  • Evidences superior control of diction, syntactic variety, and transition. May have a few minor flaws.
  • Flawless footnotes.

Strong (Grade: B)
  • Addresses a well-defined, significant topic or question.
  • Clearly addresses the question and explores the issues.
  • Shows some depth and complexity of thought. Demonstrates recognition of important ideas.
  • Is effectively organized.
  • Is well-developed, with supporting detail and good citation technique.
  • Demonstrates control of diction, syntactic variety, and transition. May have a few flaws.

Competent (Grade: C)
  • Addresses a clearly defined topic or question.
  • Adequately addresses the question and explores the issues.
  • Shows clarity of thought but may lack complexity. May tend to rely on the obvious and the cliché.
  • Is organized.
  • Is adequately developed, with some detail.
  • Demonstrates competent writing. May have some flaws.
  • Minor flaws in footnotes.

Weak (Grade: D)
  • Addresses an ill-defined or ill chosen topic or question.
  • May distort or neglect parts of the question.
  • May be simplistic or stereotyped in thought. May be essentially uninformative.
  • May demonstrate problems in organization. May be aimless.
  • May have generalizations without supporting detail or detail without generalizations. May be undeveloped.
  • May show patterns of flaws in language, syntax, mechanics, and citation.

Incompetent (Grade: F)
  • Failed attempts to begin discussing the topic.
  • Deliberately off-topic papers. Failure to understand the topic.
  • Papers so incompletely developed as to suggest or demonstrate incompetence.
  • Papers wholly incompetent mechanically.
  • Seriously flawed or absent footnotes.