Course Syllabus

Partners and Rivals: EU - US relations

DIS Logo

Flags (from top left) of the EU, US, Russian and China.

Semester & Location:

Fall 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Political science, International Relations



Faculty Members:

Martin Cleemann Rasmussen 

Current students please use the canvas inbox for contact

Time & Place:

Monday & Thursday, 11.40 - 13.00, Classroom V10-A32

Description of Course

Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War it was underlined in the EU-US Bonn-Declaration from June 1999 that, “Together we can advance our shared values, our common security and our mutual prosperity more effectively than either of us can alone”. This indicates that the Euro-American relationship ever since the end of WWII has been very special and decisive in developments in world politics, especially in security issues and policies and monetary and trade matters. It has been based on common interests and values such as freedom, human rights and democracy.

It has also been a rather troubled partnership with conflicting interests and deep rooted crises due to different approaches to basic issues in international politics, political leadership, and the use of power – and due to differences in political culture, economic philosophy, and the role of specific social and religious values.

Furthermore, the partnership has been heavily affected by the interaction between internal and external factors in both Europe and the US. The communist threat from the Soviet “empire” during the Cold War, the development of the European integration with the establishment of the European Union, now consisting of 27 member states (after the Brexit resulted in the UK leaving the EU) , the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet “empire”, 9/11 and the war on terrorism, the Iraq war. More recent events have also put the relations to the test.  The Ukrainian War, NATO enlargement, the global economic crisis and the crisis for the € and the $, international trade, climate change, US:EU Trade Wars, a weak and unstable or on the contrary a reemerging Russia and the increasingly more dominant role of China in world politics. 

Thus, the main focus of this course is to discuss, analyze and explore what is, has been, and will be the role of similarities and differences in some basic historical, military, political, economic, social, and cultural factors to the transatlantic relationship?

 What has been the character and basis of the development of the Euro-American relationship up until the present world order, and what will be its role in the future?

Learning Objectives

  • Students should gain an understanding of what has been the basis and background for the character of and development in the Euro-American relationship since the end of World War II. Why has it been such a strong and long-lasting partnership and why has it over time been marked by very serious conflicts and disagreements?
  • Students will study this on the basis of selected readings and class discussion, and especially on a number of manual simulations reflecting key case studies in the US-EU relationship.
  • Focus will be on the impact of differences and similarities in landmarks and trends in history, basic values, political culture and economic ideology, the concept of power and political leadership, political institutions and structures, and the interaction between internal and external factors.
  • Students will increase their ability to analyze and discuss complex political issues.
  • Students will increase their ability to analyze and write analytical papers by studying, simulating and discussing how current political science research is conducted
  • Students will increase their oral as well as presentational skills, when presenting their own presentations to the rest of the class on specific European issues. 


Instructor: Martin Cleemann Rasmussen 

MA (Russian and History, University of Copenhagen 2004, graduated on Civil-Military relations in Russia, 1993-99). Associate professor at the Royal Danish Officer Academy (2011- ) and the Danish Defence College (2018- ), Senior Advisor NordGEN at the Nordic Council of Ministers 2005-2009 on Russia and the CIS, Exchange Student, Odessa (Ukraine), and St. Petersburg (1996-1997), Associate Professor Nordic Council of Ministers Petrazavodsk State University 1998. Various positions as translator and as leader on many visits to Russia by Danish and foreign students and tourist groups as well as on several battle field tours. Lectures to the general public as well as analyst on Russian matters in Danish news media. Also teach classes at DIS on Terrorism and counter-terrorism, espionage during The Cold War and the class Shadow Wars on multidimensional Warfare in theory and practice. With DIS since 2015.


Text Books :

Please pick up the following textbooks during the arrivals workshop

  • Steven McGuire & Michael Smith, The European Union and the United States. Competition and Convergence in the Global Arena, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
  • Steven Hill, Europe’s Promise. Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age, University of California Press, 2010.
  • Thomas L. Ilgen (Ed.), Hard Power, Soft Power and the Future of Transatlantic Relations, Ashgate, 2006.
  • Andreas Staab, The European Union Explained, Indiana University Press, 2008.
  • Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Is the American Century Over?, Polity Press, 2015. E-Textbook found under Modules on Canvas
  • Lanzac & Blain, Weapons of Mass Diplomacy, SelfMadeHero, 2014.

Main articles used: 

  • Mikael Baaz, “Americans were from Venus and Europeans from Mars. Trading Places in International Relations”, pp. 63-112 in Per Cramér & Rutger Lindahl (eds.), Forskning om Europafrågar vid Göteborgs Universitet, Göteborg: CERGU. 2006.
  • Holly Case, “Being European: East and West”, pp. 111-131 in Jeffrey T. Checkel & Peter J. Katzenstein (eds.), European Identity, Cambridge University Press. 2009.
  • Heather A. Conley, “Review article. The end of the West: the once and future Europe”, International Affairs, 87:4, 2011, pp. 975-984.
  • Neil Fligstein, “Who are the European and how does this matter in politics?”, pp. 132-166 in Jeffrey T. Checkel & Peter J. Katzenstein (eds.), European Identity, Cambridge University Press. 2009.
  • Joseph S. Nye Jr,, “The American Colossos”, in The Paradox of American Power: why the world’s only superpower can’t go it alone, Oxford University Press. 2002, pp. 1-40.
  • Jan Zielonka, “The EU as an International Actor: Unique or Ordinary?”, European Foreign Affairs Review, 16, pp. 281-301, 2011.

Field Studies

Can include visits like:

  •  To small to exist? A city walk of the history of the Danish Nation State
  •  The European Nation State in the world - Guided tour of the tapestries on Christiansborg  

Guest Lecturers

  • "Mentality and history in a border-region - The case of Ukraine, Russia and......".  Jacob D. Sørensen, Århus University.  

Approach to Teaching

This course will be a combination of lectures and a discussion-based course using case studies, manual simulations as well as group-work. 

Expectations of the students 

As the course is partly a discussion-based course, case studies and manual simulations as well as presentations, a high degree of student participation, preparation and engagement is required. Throughout the course, you will also have to develop and practice your own critical thinking by analyzing texts, concepts as well as specific cases to understand the complexity of the field of international politics. 

Manual simulations: This class will use a number of manual simulations, which aims to increase the students’ awareness and understanding of issues, dilemmas and decisions involved in EU-US relations. Manual simulations include elements from leadership training, role-playing and crisis management. All students are expected to prepare VERY THOROUGHLY for each of the simulations and it is expected, that students actively engage in all simulations and indulge in the roles assigned. Manual simulations constitute 25% of the overall grade.

Presentations: Each student will present, analyze and discuss a chosen topic related to contemporary European Politics. The presentations will take place in class and are expected to last approximate 10 minutes with a short discussion afterwards. All presentations are to be submitted to Canvas. The grading of the presentation is included in the participation grade. 




Participation - inc. Presentation


 Manual simulations 


 Mid term exam/test


Paper Thesis


Final Paper



Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due