SemesterFall Semester, 2023
DepartmentInterdisciplinary General Education Courses
Course NameThe Big Picture: How Geography, Trade, and Politics Shape Our Troubled World
InstructorWilliam Anthony Stanton
Course TypeSelectively
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule

Week 1: September 14, 2023:

Introductory Lecture:  Lessons Learned as a U.S. Diplomat: 1978 – 2012


Week 2: September 21, 2023:

Geo-Strategic Theories and Geopolitical Analyses: Countries Competing for Power and Influence

Required Reading: 

Mearsheimer, John J., The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, rev. ed. 2014) Introduction, offensive realism, pp. 42-50. 可參考中譯版《大國政治的悲劇》導論。

Suggested Reading:

Mearsheimer, John J., The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, rev. ed. 2014) Introduction, Chapter 10: “Can China Rise Peacefully?”

Haass, Richard, “Ten Lessons from the Return of History,” Project Syndicate, Dec. 13, 2022,

“Fumbling the Crystal Ball: Policymakers Can’t Afford to Spurn the Science of Prediction,” Scoblic, J. Peter and Philip E. Tetlock, Foreign Affairs, December 16, 2022,

Poast, Paul, “A World of Power and Fear: What Critics of Realism Get Wrong,” Foreign Affairs, June 15, 2022,

Leonard, Mark, “The Real End of Pax Americana:  Germany and Japan Are Changing—and So Is the Postwar Order,” Foreign Affairs, June 13, 2022,

Bekkevold, Jo Inge, “Cold War II Is All About Geopolitics: A new book overplays the domestic roots of Sino-U.S. confrontation and underestimates its geopolitical logic,” Foreign Policy, June 3, 2023,


Week 3: September 28, 2023:

Africa and Latin America:  Geographic Limitations and Destructive Colonial Legacies

Required Reading:

Marshall, Tim, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World (New York: Scribner, 2015) Chapter 5: “Africa”; Chapter 9: “Latin America”.  可參考中譯版《用十張地圖看懂全球政經局勢》,第五章及第九章。

Suggested Reading:

Goldstone, Jack A. and John F. May, “The Global Economy’s Future Depends on Africa: As Others Slow, a Youthful Continent Can Drive Growth,” Foreign Affairs, May 18, 2023, -global-economys-future-depends-on-africa/conten.html

Ibrahim, Mo, “Africa’s Past Is Not Its Future: How the Continent Can Chart Its Own Course,” Foreign Affairs, November 1, 2022,

Stearns, Jason K., “Rebels Without a Cause: The New Face of African Warfare,” Foreign Affairs, May /June, 2022,

Oluwatosin Adeshokan, “China is the Biggest Winner from Africa’s New Free Trade Bloc,” Foreign Policy, August 19, 2021,

Guzman, Julio Armando, “China’s Latin American Power Play,” Foreign Affairs, January 16, 2023, https://reader.foreign

Freeman, Will, “Is Latin America Stuck? - Why the Region Could Face a New Lost Decade,”   Foreign Affairs, November 25, 2022,

Castaneda, Jorge G. and Forrest D. Colburn, “Latin America Needs a New Social Contract: The Region Can’t Go Back to the Grim Pre-COVID Status Quo,” Foreign Affairs, October 1, 2021,

Oliver Stuenkel, “Latin American Governments are Caught in the Middle of the U.S.-China Tech War,” Foreign Policy, February 26, 2021,


Week 4: October 5, 2023:

The Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan/India:  More Geographic Limitations and Destructive Colonial Legacies

Required Reading:

Marshall, Tim, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World (New York: Scribner, 2015) Chapter 6: “The Middle East”; Chapter 7: “India and Pakistan.”  可參考中譯版《用十張地圖看懂全球政經局勢》,第六章、第七章。

Suggested Reading:

Oren, Michael, et al., “Can the Two-State Solution Be Saved? Debating Israel’s One-State Reality,” https://reader. foreign

Gause III, F. Gregory, “The Price of Order: Settling for Less in the Middle East,” Foreign Affairs, April 4, 2022,

Lynch, Marc, “The End of the Middle East: How an Old Map Distorts a New Reality,” Foreign Affairs, March/April, 2022,

Hirsch, Michael, “America’s Iran Follies: How two decades of misjudgment by Washington helped lead Tehran to the nuclear brink,” Foreign Policy, June 9, 2022,

Subramanian, Arvind and Felman, John, “Why India Can’t Replace China: The Barriers to New Delhi’s Next Boom,” Foreign Affairs, December 9, 2022,

Tharoor, Shashi, “Modi’s Big Mistake: How Neutrality on Ukraine Weakens India,” Foreign Affairs, April 27, 2022,

Haqqani, Husain, “Pakistan Reaps What It Sowed:  How the Country’s Support for the Taliban Backfired,” Foreign Affairs, May 23, 2022,

Roger, Cohen, “Russia’s War Could Make It India’s World,” The New York Times, December 31, 2022,

Iyengar, Rishi. “Why India and the U.S. Are Closer Than Ever: Defense deals and tech ties underpin Modi’s visit to Washington,” Foreign Policy, June 15, 2023,


Week 5: October 12, 2023: 

The United States:  Enormous Geo-Strategic Advantages and Daunting Challenges

Required Reading:

Zeihan, Peter, The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder (New York: Twelve/Hatchette Book Group, 2014), Chapter 4: “Enter the Accidental Superpower” pp. 46-77.

Marshall, Tim, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World (New York: Scribner, 2015) Chapter 3: “United States.”  可參考中譯版《用十張地圖看懂全球政經局勢》,第三章。

Suggested Reading:

Beckley, Michael, Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, Cornell University Press, 2018.

Zeihan, Peter, The End of the World is Just Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization, Harper Collins 2022.

Bednar, Jenna and Mariano Florentino Cuellar, “The Fractured Superpower: Federalism is Remaking U.S. Democracy and Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, October 26, 2022,

Rhodes, Ben, “Them and Us: How America Lets Its Enemies Hijack Its Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, September /October 2021,


Boot, Max, “What the Neocons Got Wrong: What the Neocons Got Wrong,” Foreign Affairs, March 10, 2023,


Week 6: October 19, 2023:

China:  Ambitions and Challenges

Required Reading:

Marshall, Tim, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World (New York: Scribner, 2015) Chapter 2: “China.” 可參考中譯版《用十張地圖看懂全球政經局勢》,第二章。

Suggested Reading:

Rudd, Kevin, “The World According to Xi Jinping,”

Nathan, Andrew J., “What exactly is America’s China Policy? :  The United States needs to right-size the China threat to know how to counter it,” Foreign Policy, April 14, 2022,

Singleton, Craig, “China’s Crisis of Confidence: What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?” Foreign Policy, June 12, 2022,

Rogers, Benedict, “Michelle Bachelet’s Failed Xinjiang Trip Has Tainted Her Whole Legacy: The U.N. human rights commissioner ended up whitewashing China’s atrocities,” Foreign Policy, June 13, 2022,  

Ran Mitter and Elsbeth Johnson, “What the West Gets Wrong about China,” Harvard Business Review, May-June 2021,

China Power Team, "Unpacking China’s GDP, " China Power, December 20, 2022. Updated January 12, 2023. Accessed June 14, 2023,

Martínez, Luis R. “How to Spot an Autocrat’s Economic Lies: In China and Elsewhere, Forget the Numbers—Look at the Lights,” Foreign Affairs, May 10, 2023,

Pomfret, John and Pottinger, Matt, “Xi Jinping Says He Is Preparing China for War: The World Should Take Him Seriously,” Foreign Affairs, March 29, 2023,

Suggested Video:

WION, “Gravitas Plus: China is drilling the world's deepest hole: Here's why,” YouTube, June 3, 2023,


Week 7: October 26, 2023:

The South China Sea and Its Threat to East Asian Stability and Prosperity

Required Reading:

Kaplan, Robert D., Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, (New York: Random House, 2014) Chapter 8: “The State of Nature,” pp. 398-405.

Suggested Reading:

Gray, Alexander B., “The Pacific Shouldn’t be a ‘Strategic Surprise’: Why aren’t Beijing’s ambitions in the region obvious to Washington?”, Foreign Policy, January 25, 2022,

Heydarian, Richard Javad, “Will the South China Sea Spark the Next Global Conflict?” The Diplomat, Issue 79, June 2021,

Kaplan, Robert D., Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific. New York: Random House, 2014.  Chapter 1: “The Humanist Dilemma,” pp. 5-31; and the rest of Chapter 8.

Glaser, Bonne S. and Gregory Poling, “China’s Power Grab in the South China Sea: How to Build a Coalition to Confront Beijing,” Foreign Affairs, August 20, 2021,

Poling, Gregory, “Beijing’s Upper Hand in the South China Sea: Why Time is Running Out to Secure U.S. Interests,” Foreign Affairs, August 18, 2022,

Suggested Video:

WION. “Gravitas: India-China relations hit an all-time low. Here's why,” YouTube, June 14, 2023,


Week 8: November 2, 2023:

Korea and Japan: Leading Economies, Threatened Nations, Historical Foes, U.S. Allies

Required Reading:

Marshall, Tim, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World (New York: Scribner, 2015) Chapter 8: “Korea and Japan.” 可參考中譯版《用十張地圖看懂全球政經局勢》,第八章。

Suggested Reading:

Eun A Jo, “Japan and South Korea Are Still Haunted by the Past: Confronting a Legacy of Forced—and Failed—Reconciliation,” Foreign Affairs, Nov. 23, 2022.

Govella, Kristi, and Bonnie Glaser, “How to Mend the Rift  Between Japan and South Korea:  Finding Common Ground on the China Threat and the War in Ukraine,” Foreign Affairs, May 17, 2022,


Week 9: April 13, 2023: Mid-Term Exam


Week 10: November 16, 2023:

Russia: Fighting to Reclaim its “Rightful” Place

Required Reading:

Marshall, Tim, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World (New York: Scribner, 2015) Chapter 1: “Russia” 可參考中譯版《用十張地圖看懂全球政經局勢》,第一章。

Zeihan, Peter, The Absent Superpower: The Shale Revolution and a World without America (New York: Twelve/Hatchette Book Group, 2016) Chapter 6: “The Twilight War.”

Suggested Reading:

Maull, Hanns W., “Why China Isn’t Backing Away From Alignment With Russia: The question is not whether China will continue to hang on to its strategic partnership with Russia, but how it will manage it,” The Diplomat, April 15, 2022,

Kendall-Taylor, Andrea and Erica Frantz, “The Beginning of the End for Putin?:  Dictatorships Look Stable – Until They Aren’t,”  Foreign Affairs, March 2. 2022,

Hill, Fiona and Angela Stent, “The World Putin Wants: How Distortions About the Past Feed Delusions about the Future,” Foreign Affairs, October 26, 2022,

Snyder, Timothy, “Ukraine Holds the Future: The War Between Democracy and Nihilism,” Foreign Affairs, October 26, 2022,

Samorukov, Maxim, “Why Putin Will Never Agree to De-escalate: Regardless of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Russia is bracing for a long war,” Foreign Policy, June 23, 2023,

Gessen, Keith, “How Russia Went from Ally to Adversary: The Cold War ended. The United States declared victory. Then things took a turn,” The New Yorker, June 12, 2023,


Week 11: November 23, 2023:

A Divided and Increasingly Troubled Europe

Required Reading: 

Marshall, Tim, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World (New York: Scribner, 2015) Chapter 4: “Western Europe.” 可參考中譯版《用十張地圖看懂全球政經局勢》,第四章。

Zeihan, Peter, The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder (New York: Twelve/Hatchette Book Group, 2014) Chapter 11: “History Returns to Europe,” pp. 222-247.

Suggested Reading:

Ian Johnson, “Has China Lost Europe? How Beijing’s Economic Missteps and Support for Russia Soured European Leaders,” Foreign Affairs, June 10, 2022,

Haass, Richard, “A Ukraine Strategy for the Long Haul--The West Needs a Policy to Manage a War That Will Go On,” Foreign Affairs, June 10, 2022,

McInnis, Kathleen J. and Daniel Fata, “2 Percent Defense Spending Is a Bad Target for NATO: Focusing on military budgets alone hurts the alliance’s relevance,” Foreign Policy, June 10. 2022,     

Michael Hirsh, “Will the United States and Europe Break Up Over China,” Foreign Policy, July 14, 2021.


Week 12:  November 30, 2023:

Trade:  Shared Interests and Cause of Conflicts 

Required Reading:

Foroohar, Rana, “After Neoliberalism: All Economics Is Local,” Foreign Affairs, November 1, 2022,

Lamy, Pascal, and Nicholas Kohler-Suzuki, “Deglobalization Is Not Inevitable: How the World Trade Organization Can Shore Up the Global Economic Order,” Foreign Affairs, June 9, 2022,

Suggested Reading:

Hufbauer, Gary, Megan Hogan, and Yilin Wang, “How Free Trade Can Fight Inflation: More Competition Means Lower Prices,” Foreign Affairs, June 14, 2022,

Felicia Wong, “The New Economics: How the U.S. and Its Allies Are Rewriting the Rules on Spending and Trade,” Foreign Affairs, November 16, 2021.

Stanton, William, “The time is ripe for a U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement,” [Original title: “Why the U.S. Needs a Free Trade Agreement with Taiwan,”] Taiwan News, June 28, 2019,

Capretta, James C. “The New Washington Consensus on Trade Is Wrong: Protectionism will drag everyone down in the end,” Foreign Policy, June 12, 2023,


Week 13: December 7, 2023: 

COVID 19 and the Role of Pandemics in Shaping Our World

Required Reading:

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997), Chapter 11: Lethal Gift of Livestock”

Bateman, Kayleigh, World Economic Forum, “What worries the world in 2022?” Feb. 14, 2022

Suggested Reading:

Balfour, Rosa, Lizza Bomassi, and Marta Martinelli, “Coronavirus and the Widening Global North-South Gap,” Carnegie Europe, April 25, 2022,

History.Com Editors, “Pandemics that Changed History,” Updated, Dec. 21, 2020;


Week 14: May 18, 2023: 

Taiwan:  Geopolitical Challenges and its Future

Required Reading:

Stanton, William, “Learning to Appreciate a Modern Miracle: Taiwan,” Taiwan News, 19/02/2019,

Rigger, Shelly, Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011) Chapter 9: “Why Taiwan Matters to America and the World,” pp. 187-197.

Suggested Reading:

Gitter, David, “Can the US Deter a Taiwan Invasion?” The Diplomat, May 2022, Issue 90.

Birgbauer, Peter, “China and Taiwan: The Geopolitical Crisis Hiding in Plain Sight,” The Diplomat, October 21, 2022,

Green, Brendan Rittenhouse, and Caitlin Talmadge, “The Consequences of Conquest: Why Indo-Pacific Power Hinges on Taiwan,” Foreign Affairs, July/August  2022,

Bolton, John and Derik R. Zitelman, “Why Taiwan Matters to the United States: Washington has strategic, economic, and normative reasons for safeguarding the island from Chinese coercion,” The Diplomat, August 23, 2021,

Gallagher, Mike. “Taiwan Can't Wait: What America Must Do To Prevent a Successful Chinese Invasion,” Foreign Affairs, February 1, 2022,


Week 15:  December 21, 2023: Group Presentations

Week 16:  December 28, 2023: Group Presentations

Week 17:  January 4, 2023: Group Presentations

Week 18:  January  11, 2023: Final Exam

Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant

Office Assistant: Michael Hsu (

Teaching Assistant: Jackson Burns (


1. Class lectures, discussions, and student presentations are all in English.

2. Active Participation: Each class will be divided into three parts:

-- The instructor will deliver a PowerPoint presentation lasting some 90 minutes or more on the key issues of that day’s class.  The Power Point presentation will also be posted the same day on the class website for review.

-- Students will then be invited to offer comments and to ask questions.

-- The third portion of the class will be devoted to class discussion. In advance of each class, the instructor will provide on the course website at least four questions for students to discuss.  Students will be divided into groups, the size of which will be determined by the overall class size. Each group will choose a question to discuss and then offer brief presentations on each group’s conclusions. 

Assigned reading is relatively minimal and a small portion of it is available in Chinese. Therefore, each student is asked to complete all the required reading each week, and to contribute to the class discussions on the basis of the assigned reading and the lecture. For most classes, the instructor will also recommend further reading for students who are interested.

Keep the following questions in mind as you read articles and book chapters listed in the syllabus:

-- What are the central issues?

-- How are these issues similar to or related to issues in other countries and regions?

-- What are the major arguments of the works being studied?

-- How valuable and viable is the argument or idea that each puts forth?

-- How would you make your own argument?

3. A Final Presentation:  Class groups will each make a 20- to 30-minute PowerPoint presentation to the class in the course’s final weeks. This presentation should include both your analysis of the issue chosen by your group and a proposed solution based on your group’s discussion.

4. A Mid-Term (Week 9) and Final Exam (Week 18)



• Class Participation (30%):  Please note that class attendance will usually be taken.

• Mid-term (20%):  Brief essays in answer to one or two questions that will be provided in advance.

• Final Group Presentation (20%)

• Final (30%):  As in the mid-term exam.

Please note that half of the final grade will depend on your class participation and group presentations.



-- In Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997), Jared Diamond wrote: “Because diseases have been the biggest killers of people, they have also been decisive shapers of history.  Until World War II, more victims of war died of war-borne microbes than of battle wounds.  All those military histories glorifying great generals over-simplify the ego-deflating truth: the winners of past wars were not always the armies with the best generals and weapons, but were often those bearing the nastiest germs to transit to their enemies.”   Prepare a presentation on a key example Diamond cites:  the European conquests of the Americas beginning with Columbus’s voyage in 1493.  Or choose another example from history where disease has played a decisive role in determining the future of human societies.

-- Faced with the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, the PRC and others appear to have been slow to react and prevent its spread.  Why have some countries, like Taiwan, been more successful in countering this disease than others? What should the international community do to address more effectively the next outbreak of a new and deadly disease? 

-- During the course we have considered a number of threats to the security and stability of our world.  Prepare a presentation on what you see as the greatest threat to world peace, explain why it is so dangerous, and offer suggestions on what we can do to counter this threat without war.

-- We have also discussed a number of global economic and social problems, such as unequal distributions of wealth, persistent poverty in some countries and regions, protectionism, unfair trade practices, and demographic changes. Prepare a presentation on your assessment of the one or more of the greatest economic or social challenges and propose ideas for how best to address them.

-- Prepare a presentation on what specific policies you would adopt if you were the President of Taiwan to try to improve the cross-Strait relationship short of capitulating to a PRC demand for unification?   Please also address how you would handle the so-called '92 consensus and the “One Country-Two Systems” formula for reunification.

-- The Freedom in the World 2022 report found that “Global freedom faces a dire threat. Around the world, the enemies of liberal democracy—a form of self-government in which human rights are recognized and every individual is entitled to equal treatment under law—are accelerating their attacks…. The present threat to democracy is the product of 16 consecutive years of decline in global freedom. A total of 60 countries suffered declines over the past year, while only 25 improved. As of today, some 38 percent of the global population live in Not Free countries, the highest proportion since 1997. Only about 20 percent now live in Free countries.

Prepare a presentation on this anti-democratic trend, the reasons for it, and what – if anything – can be done to reverse it.

Textbook & Reference

As suggested in course schedule.

Urls about Course
If you are interested, you can find the following commentaries by Bill Stanton published in Taiwan News on current issues related to Taiwan, the PRC, and the U.S.: 07/10/22: “A PRC in decline: A multitude of difficult challenges” 06/03/22 "US President’s Policy on Taiwan Has Confused Some but It’s Actually Clear" 05/03/22: “What Does Ukraine Mean for Taiwan” 03/27/22: “Taiwan is clearly worthy of diplomatic recognition” 01/13/22: “Giving Thanks for the Past Year in Taiwan and Best Wishes for the New Year” 11/18/21 “The Biden-Xi Summit: There is Really No Point Talking to the PRC” 10/22/21 "US needs to take more concrete steps to defend Taiwan" 09/06/21 "The fall of Kabul is not the main event; the PRC threat is" 07/26/21 “My reflections on visiting San Francisco: Former AIT director” 05/25/21 “In a time of danger, US should help its family and friends first,” 04/10/21 “US leaders have often best served China's interests,” 04/09/21 “Agents of influence acting on behalf of China,” 02/19/21 “Personal Reflections on the Secretary of State I Admire Most” 01/27/21 “Initial Biden steps give Taiwan reason for optimism” 12/29/20 “A New Year’s Taiwan wish list for President Biden” 11/28/2020 “How to stop China winning without war,” A review of Political Warfare: Strategies for Combating China’s Plan to ‘Win Without Fighting” by Kerry K. Kershaneck 07/07/2020 1. “The Trump conundrum — A Taiwan-centric perspective” 07/08/2020 2. “Trump and Biden's mixed records on China and Taiwan" 05/05/2020. “Wuhan virus finally alters global perceptions of the PRC” 04/01/2020 “US relations with PRC and Taiwan in a time of 'plague'” 2/24/20 “Continuing PRC Efforts to Intimidate Taiwan and Its Friends,” 01/11/20: “The 2020 Taiwan Presidential Elections: A Laowai’s Perspective” 12/31/19: “’Island Nation’: Then and Now: Reflections on the Story of Taiwan’s Success” 10/13/19 “Arrival of Flagship in Taiwan Significant for US-Taiwan Relations” 9/10/2019: “Why China’s Wealthy Elite are Losing Faith In their Country’s Future” 7/27/2019: “Only China Can Untie Its Own Knot in US Relations” 06/28/19: The Time Is Ripe for a U.S-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement” (Original Title: “The U.S. Needs a Free Trade Agreement with Taiwan”) 05/28/19: “Time to Bury AIT Washington” 04/29/19: “Time for Washington to Change How It Talks about Taiwan 02/19/19 “Learning to Appreciate a Modern Miracle”

2024 Spring Semester_Big Picture Syllabus .pdf