The Sit Room: Executing US Strategy

From the basement of the White House at Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., American diplomats, armed forces and economic resources are directed in response to emerging crises and broader challenges in many parts of the world.

In this surprisingly small office space grand ideas are confronted with crass realities, intellectual principles clash with professional competence and personal experience, and political aspirations are held back through inflexible budget limitations. The purpose of this course is to examine US foreign and defence policy from the vantage point of practitioners via an exceptionally consequential decision making arena, the Situation Room (or ‘Sit Room’ for short) in the White House.

The course begins with students acquainting themselves with this arena and the public servants who – besides the president and his/her closest advisors – exert influence there. Subsequently we try and place ourselves in two types of crisis situations where US strategic guidelines are to be implemented in relation to a concrete, acute security problematic.

Themes that recur during the course are:

  • goal and value conflicts,
  • issues of temporal sequencing,
  • as well as local versus global repercussions of US action or inaction.


Prof. Kjell Engelbrekt is Professor of Political Science at the Swedish Defence University, Visiting Professor at Stockholm University, Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and lifetime member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences.

His research focusses on great power diplomacy, foreign and security policy, democratic political institutions and intellectual history. In the past five years he published High Table Diplomacy: The Reshaping of International Security Institutions (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2016) and
Bulgarian Democratic Institutions at Thirty: A Balance Sheet (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020), the latter with Petia Kostadinova.


Kjell Engelbrekt

Dekan, Professor, Högskoleledning

Kjell.Engelbrekt@fhs.se +46 8-55342745