Journal Entry And English Composition Course Reflection Essay Example

At the moment, before taking the English Composition Course my writing skills are rather intuitive, lacking profound theoretical knowledge. I have always been assured that certain rules and schemes may only disturb writers’ flight of thought and limit their opportunities for the realization of the creative concept. It is very difficult for me to meet all the format and style requirements set for creative work and to express everything I want in the same paper. I enjoy the process of creation and writing, I think this course will include a lot of interesting exercises. I hope it will come up to my expectations, but regardless my enthusiasm at the beginning will be useful for accomplishing the course objectives.

Amazingly, the author of the course uses an individual approach to every writer taking into consideration his/her traits and psychological peculiarities. Working through the inventory exercise, I learned that I am more emotional than rational and my reasoning is often subjective, focused on feelings and values. I think that it is useful for writing opinion essays or critiques but may become an obstacle while formulating arguments and finding logical links. In order to benefit from my emotional type of thinking, I would like to learn how to choose suitable examples from my own experience for supporting the main idea of the work and the right ways of including them in the main body. At the same time I would like to become more objective working at certain types of assignments, to learn how to present weighty arguments, to provide clear introductions and logical conclusions, in other words, to learn better ways for expressing my thoughts.

Rereading what I have written for Journal Entry, I concluded, that by taking the course I managed to improve my writing skills greatly. Though I was assured that the theoretical part is useless and the process of creation should not be limited by strict rules and schemes, when I was writing the first practical assignment, using the graphic organizers and the textbook, I changed my mind. Against my expectations, the textbook includes not strict rules, dos and don’ts, but rather useful hints and step-by-step instructions for successful writing. I can not say that my attitude to writing changed significantly before taking the course, but it helped to form the skills required for successful writing, though at the moment I understand that one must constantly work developing abilities and improving skills. I think that it is this course that has laid the foundation for my further development as a successful writer, but I still need to work hard to achieve perfection, if it is possible to achieve it.

Another point, which will be useful for my further study, is the inventory exercise, which concludes what type of learners I belong to. Taking into consideration the five aspects of my learning style was really useful while taking the course, as it helped to adapt the material to my personal peculiarities and to achieve the best possible results consequently. At the same time bearing in mind my weak points I knew to which assignments and approaches I was to pay more attention to become more flexible and develop my latent abilities. Thus, using my skills of persuasion, characteristic of emotional learners, I was successful at opinion essays and it was easy to improve my skills that were marked before taking the course. Being an independent learner according to the inventory results, I tried to be more active working in groups to develop my social intelligence and discover new ways of receiving information for further writing.

This English Composition Course helped me to become a careful and critical reader. It is very pleasant to admit that now I pay attention to the details in the text which I would have ignored previously. It helps me to find new logical links and choose better examples for supporting my ideas. Now it is much easier for me to analyze texts and to express my own opinion concerning them or some abstract notions. I think that I will use the step-by-step strategies of the course writing researches or creative works in other subjects as well.

The most valuable contributions of this course are its focus on individual learning preferences, practical use of visual aids and useful hints for successful writing. The material must be accessible for those who are not very knowledgeable in theory. Following the step-by-step instructions concerning the writing principles I managed to improve my writing style, form the skills of logical organization of my thoughts. I must admit that at the moment my reasoning seems to be much more objective and concluding became much easier for me. The least understandable part of the course was the detailed description of the rhetorical patterns of development.

In order to improve the course so it better accomplishes its objectives, the author could be offered to prepare practical assignments for every topic of the extensive instruction in reading. Perhaps, every learner could analyze his/her favorite book after learning these instructions. I think that writing an essay concerning the new details that he/she discovered in the book only after taking the course would be useful. It can not be denied that working with the material that is interesting for the students could achieve better results. In general, it is difficult to offer some improvements for the course that helped me to become more successful in writing because it combines a lot of strategies and can be adapted for students of different ages and levels.


McWhorter, Kathleen. Successful College Writing : Skills, Strategies, Learning Styles.Bedford/St.Martin’s. 2009: 1024.

International Relations Theories: A Foundation For The National Security Policymaking Process


The way the US national strategy changed during the last decades shows changes in the nature of the threats the country is facing, either locally or abroad. In that regard, it can be stated that some of the failures that national security faced since the end of the cold war indicate that there are some doubts in the capability of such national security strategy to respond to the threats in the new era. The latte can be explained through changes in the security environment, which in turn led to new challenges that national security has to face in modern era. The nature of the changes itself is rather contradictory, a fact that can be seen as one of the reasons that “US national security policy and priorities have become complicated, often ambiguous, and even inconsistent—not because of immediate threat of major conventional war but rather the unpredictable, uncertain, and confusing characteristics of the international arena”.1

The changes in the distribution of power after the end of the cold war led to that some of the aspect of the policymaking process became unsuitable to outline national security priorities in the world today. The two aspects that can be seen as challenges to the policymaking process and partly responsible for national security failures are the overwhelming reliance on the realist paradigm in international relations, as well as the blur that occurred between national security and foreign policy. In that regard, the present paper will attempt to provide an analysis of the aforementioned national security issues, stating that pursuing the liberal approach in international relations and differentiating between foreign policy and national security can improve the policymaking process for the latter.

Hypothesis and Purpose Statement

The purpose of this paper is to integrate the theoretical framework of international relations as a foundation for the national security policymaking process. The paper will provide an analysis of the current challenges in the policymaking process, derived from examples of the US policy after 9/11 and linked to the views on US foreign policy that were outlined in the works of Thomas Barnett. This study will argue that liberal paradigm can be more suitable in shaping national security policies. A clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of different agencies will lead to that such policies will be implemented in coordinated efforts.

Theoretical Perspective

The theoretical perspective proposed as a part of the analysis is the realist paradigm in international relations. Despite facing criticism, it can be stated that in such a turbulent era of conflicts, the realist paradigms can be set as a framework that will facilitate solving the challenges that a national security of a state will face. The realist paradigm argues that the system of international relations consists of states-nations, which exist in an anarchic, self-help environment. 2 The anarchy existent in the international system can be seen as the structural constraint that limits “the rational policy options of states to such an extent that they are expected to behave in virtually identical ways when confronted in similar situations”.3 In terms of security, the realist paradigm implies maximizing power, relative to other states, where deterrence is the only reliable mean of aggression. With the changes in the realist though, the privileged aim of the state changed from power in the classical realist paradigm to security and survival in the neorealist tradition. The criticism focusing on the realist paradigm is directly connected to the topic of the research, i.e. the challenges of national security policymaking. In that regard, part of the difficulties in addressing the issues of national security can be seen through adopting some of the hypotheses and postulates of the realist paradigm when shaping the strategy of national security. The criticism of the realist paradigm in the context of the national security can be seen through the following points:

  • In times of a security threat, civil liberties might less likely be supported by the judicial system.
  • Sole reliance on power as the main key driving factor of state behavior. 4
  • The security is an attribute of military deterrence.
  • Contradictions with the system of collective security.5

The liberal paradigm as an opposing framework to the realist paradigm emphasizes institutionalization and networks of exchanges between states and non-states and continuing bargaining between them.6 Despite the emphasis on institutionalization, in which liberal tradition was favored as a foundation of international cooperation, rationality and pragmatism remain as the bases for the decision making process.

It should be noted that the selection of the realist paradigm for analysis was rationalized by the intention of showing the that the deficiencies in the current national security policymaking is largely attributed to the realist paradigm, and at the same time, arguing that many of the paradigm’s foundations are not only connected to international relations. In that regard, it is argued that the liberal paradigm, assumed to be shifting the realist approach, does not have the influence it claims it has, the war in Iraq which was not sanctioned by the UN is a clear example of the latter, i.e. non-acceptance of institutionalization. Furthermore, Michael Mastanduno, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government and Associate Dean of the Social Sciences at Dartmouth College, argues that “U.S foreign policy is still consistent with realist principles, insofar as its actions are still designed to preserve U.S. predominance and to shape a postwar order that advances American interests”.78


Identifying the challenges in national security policymaking, a background of US most notable failures as well as the common elements in such failures might be required. In that regard, the classification provided by Thomas Barnett in The Pentagon’s New Map (2004) can be used as the foundation upon which the background of the problem will be built. In that regard, Barnett argued that in terms of direct conflict, the United States will be capable of wining battles almost instantaneously. However, such model was not capable to deal with the outcome of such fast successes, i.e. successfully governing the transitional period that follows. Barnett explained such fact with the absence of “system administrators”, i.e. department that will be dealing with transitional period of the conflict.9 Although the latter can be seen related with warfare and conflicts, rather than issues of national security, it can be stated that it is more interconnected, and directly attached to the policymaking process. Such connection can be seen in that events such as 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan are inputs for the policymaking process, to which policy makers respond through maximizing the interests of national security. 10 The blur between the national security policy and the foreign policy can be seen as one of the challenges of the policymaking process. 11Such blur, in that regard, can be seen the same in the way the military force used to start conflict, but not capable of driving the zone of the conflict into the transition zone.

Translating the latter into real cases, it can be stated that the failure to involve major states into the Iraq war is exemplary of the domination of the realist approach. Such approach can be translated into a policymaking failure, where instead of being a global response to a politically bankrupt regime it turned into a fight of the US against religion. The latter confirms the statement of the realist paradigm that “each state is a rational actor that always acts in accordance with its own self-interest”.12 Following such paradigm led to that a US security dilemma “because increasing one’s own security produces greater instability as opponents build up their forces to balance”.13 The latter was demonstrated in Iraq, where a fast success in invading Iraq, subsequently led to an aggression and a difficult transitional period, which costs were carried by the US alone.

In terms of coordination and differentiation between foreign policy and national security, the blurring difference between the military force and the force in restructuring Iraq can be seen as an example. There are differences in the tasks between Military officers and Foreign Service officers, but nevertheless, due to the lack of domestic support and adequate funding led to that the military conducted partly the tasks of the Foreign Service officers. 14


The information provided in the background can be translated into the statement that policymaking process should be switched toward the liberal paradigm in international relations. National security implies having the capacity not only to be involved in wars and deter attacks, but also protecting any national interests of the state. The definition of national security policy states that it is a policy which is primarily concerned with formulating and implementing national strategy involving the threat or use of force to create a favorable environment for US national interests”.15 This paper argues that the source for policymaking decisions should be represented not by the military conflict as an input, but rather, by the aftermath period, or what Barnett calls, the “everything else”. In that regard, the deficiencies of the realist paradigm can become apparent, when the driver is not the tendency to dominate, but rather to make the environment favorable to national interests, a goal which is embedded within the definition of national security policy.

The deficiencies in the realist approach are reduced to the focus of force and threat. The latter can be seen through the way advisory commissions were formed to aid the policy making process, and the outcomes/responses that were generated. The focus of force and threat can be demonstrated through the pattern of events from the 9/11 attack to the Iraq invasion. The formation of the 9/11 commission was initiated by the 2001 attack. Accordingly, it can be stated that the formation of the commission was driven by the failure to predict the attack. The resulting decisions were made in response to the attack, i.e. a threat. The fear of a following attack from terrorists initiated the Iraq invasion, which was supported by report on weapons of mass destruction. A force was used to invade Iraq, move which was in turn initiated by threat, i.e. intelligence reports. In such pattern, the realist paradigm can be seen through Niebuhr’s arguments, in which he explained over-defensiveness or irrational fear as being caused by the lack of physical security, which in turn lead to conflicts. Pursue of security is viewed as the only legitimate cause of war within the realist paradigm. 16 In that regard, the decision of invading Iraq after the 9/11 attack can be seen as an example of over-defensiveness, which in retrospect is confirmed by the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Threats made everything a matter of national security, an aspect that made the concept of national security meaningless.17 The liberal paradigm, on the other hand, will lead to that cooperation between states will be important stimuli in driving the policymaking process. The liberal approach is based on interdependency between institutions, i.e. different actors across states acting within their domain to design and determine the constraints and opportunities for state power. Such interdependence can be translated into a case that can be described as follows:

Military security normally competes for attention and priority with these non-security issues. State power and decision-making are parceled among these policy domains. Depending on the issue at hand, rival coalitions of actors coalesce within the state, including counterparts at transnational and domestic levels of action in other states, to press for their favored outcome on a particular issue.18

A practical implementation of the aforementioned, which at the same time will be within the liberal paradigm, is the example provided by Thomas Barnett on the situation in Iraq, where in an ideal case there would be 30,000 to 40,000 peacekeepers each from NATO, Russia, India, and China.19

In addition to the choice of paradigm in national security policy making, the blur between foreign policy and national security policy can be also seen as a major challenge to the policymaking process in the latter. Such challenge was transformed into the current a framework of interagency cooperation and coordination. An indication of tension between different agencies as well as their roles and responsibilities started to emerge during George W. Bush administration, i.e. the period outlined in previous examples, the 9/11 attack (the threat), and the Iraq invasion (the response). A shift was seen in the decision making power from the Department of State to the Department of Defense; “[t]he inattention to functional interdependence was a contributing factor to the ineffectiveness of postwar reconstruction planning for Iraq in 2003”.20

The issue of coordination can be seen as an important focus of Thomas Barnett‘s vision of foreign policy. In such vision, Barnett argued that the distinction between military force and administrative tasks should be an important part of US policy. In that regard, both proposed departments, named by Barnett as the Leviathan force and the system administrators, will work on creating favorable environment for US interests and thus, can be considered as a part of the national security policy. The support for the creation of an administrative force can be seen through the problems associated with post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq, and the subsequent “upsurge of recommendations on how to improve the system”.21

In that regard, it can be stated that the differentiating the tasks and the responsibilities of different agencies can be seen among the first steps in improving the policymaking process. The change in paradigm might imply the switch from the threat and force stimuli in shaping policies toward cooperation and rationality. The latter dopes not imply that states should not seek their self-interests. The main point is that policymakers should acknowledge that it would be more effective and rational to seek those self-interests through cooperation and institutionalization.


The present paper outlined the connection between the challenges in national security policymaking processes and realist and liberal theories of international relations. The paper argued that many of the challenges faced by the United States are caused by the attachment to the realist paradigm. The blur between the goals of foreign policy and national security policy was also attributed to such challenges. The paper outlined that the liberal paradigm can be a more suitable framework for national security decision making. The practical implications can be seen through the creation of administrative forces through institutionalized cooperation with other states. Cooperation and rational decisions should be the stimuli for the creation of national security policies, rather than threat and force.


Barnett, Thomas P. M. The Pentagon’s New Map : War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004.

Barnett, Thomas P. M. Blueprint for Action : A Future Worth Creating. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005.

Bolton, M. Kent. U.S. National Security and Foreign Policymaking after 9/11 : Present at the Re-Creation. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008.

Freyberg-Inan, Annette. What Moves Man : The Realist Theory of International Relations and Its Judgment of Human Nature Suny Series in Global Politics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004.

Kolodziej, Edward A. Security and International Relations Themes in International Relations. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Ray, Aswini K. Western Realism and International Relations : A Non-Western View. New Delhi: Foundation Books, 2004.

Sarkesian, Sam C., John Allen Williams, and Stephen J. Cimbala. Us National Security : Policymakers, Processes, and Politics. 4th ed. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008.

The Government Department at Dartmouth, “Faculty: Michael Matnduno”. Web.

United States Government, “U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues: National Security Policy and Strategy”. Web.


  1. Sam C. Sarkesian, John Allen Williams, and Stephen J. Cimbala, Us National Security : Policymakers, Processes, and Politics, 4th ed. (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008), 3.
  2. Annette Freyberg-Inan, What Moves Man : The Realist Theory of International Relations and Its Judgment of Human Nature, Suny Series in Global Politics (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004), 64.
  3. Ibid., 64.
  4. Edward A. Kolodziej, Security and International Relations, Themes in International Relations (Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 129.
  5. Aswini K. Ray, Western Realism and International Relations : A Non-Western View (New Delhi: Foundation Books, 2004), 5.
  6. Kolodziej.
  7. The Government Department at Dartmouth, “Faculty: Michael Matnduno”. Web.
  8. Freyberg-Inan, 66.
  9. Thomas P. M. Barnett, The Pentagon’s New Map : War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004).
  10. M. Kent Bolton, U.S. National Security and Foreign Policymaking after 9/11 : Present at the Re-Creation (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008), 169.
  11. Sarkesian, Williams, and Cimbala.
  12. United States Government, “U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues: National Security Policy and Strategy”. Web.
  13. Ibid., 130.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Sarkesian, Williams, and Cimbala.
  16. Freyberg-Inan, 69.
  17. Sarkesian, Williams, and Cimbala.
  18. Kolodziej, 155.
  19. Thomas P. M. Barnett, Blueprint for Action : A Future Worth Creating (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005), 17.
  20. United States Government.
  21. Ibid.

Race To The Top Program In Development Of Leadership

Successful funding can bring significant changes not only to the external state of the educational system but also to student results. The main idea behind the funding initiative Race to the Top, which was implemented in 2009 by the United States Department of Education, is to encourage the improvement of student and teacher achievements in schools on a state level. The creation of this initiative brought many changes to how the state leaders perceive the regulations connected to the school structure. Although this funding program is not enforced, many states see it as an opportunity to improve their education system. The purpose of this paper is to explore the Race to the Top financial initiative and its possible application in schools.

The Development of Leadership Roles

There are many application criteria that have to be followed in order to participate in the Race to the Top grant. These standards encourage schools to change their educational systems and adopt new assessments in order to concentrate the attention on students’ ability to receive a higher education and succeed in life (“Race to the Top,” 2017). One of the criteria focuses on teachers and principals, placing the priority on their effectiveness (Dragoset et al., 2016). This measure of efficiency encourages teachers to make sure that every student’s performance is at the highest level. By concentrating the attention on the accomplishments of students, this initiative sets a higher bar for teachers, making them more driven. Teacher’s approach plays an important role in the success of students, and if an educator becomes a motivated leader, who wants to see students prevail, this may significantly impact not only grades but also overall performance during and after school (Dragoset et al., 2015).

The Use of Funding for Educational Media

However, strong leadership is not the only key to a better education. The materials used during lessons play a significant role as well. With the right funding, educational media can transform student’s ability to understand and memorize information. For example, access to a bigger library and new editions of books on a variety of topics give the students an opportunity to broaden their horizons and learn about new concepts and ideas. Furthermore, the use of interactive media in a classroom can create a better environment for younger students. It can also affect their view of the other cultures. For some students, access to library media can help celebrate their culture and promote diversity. Students with disabilities, for example, can acquire new information easier through books or audio files. These actions will support the Standard of Ethics, Equity, and Diversity of the NBTS for Library Media. Receiving more information in a comprehensible and entertaining way can positively affect students of all ages and backgrounds.


The Race to the Top funding requires many states to reevaluate the established educational system and create more rigorous evaluation procedures. All in all, the Race to the Top financial initiative can bring a plethora of positive changes to the school structure, leadership skills of the teachers, and media accessibility and quality. Right levels of incentive from the government may result in a better performance of every school, and by participating the state receives an opportunity to invest more funds in education and encourage schools to adhere to a higher standard. As a result, these funds will return in the form of passionate teachers and qualified workers.


Dragoset, L., James-Burdumy, S., Hallgren, K., Perez-Johnson, I., Herrmann, M., Tuttle, C.,… Graczewski, C. (2015). Usage of policies and practices promoted by Race to the Top. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Dragoset, L., Thomas, J., Herrmann, M., Deke, J., James-Burdumy, S., Graczewski, C.,… Upton, R. (2016). Race to the Top: Implementation and 22 relationship to student outcomes. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Race to the Top fund. (2017). Web.

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