Last year’s Alexander Hamilton society foreign policy debate.

In a con­ference com­prised of lec­tures and hands-on expe­rience, stu­dents were able to roleplay as world leaders using infor­mation they learned from a number of talks and dis­cus­sions.

The Alexander Hamilton Society of Hillsdale College hosted their con­ference on Nuclear Crisis: A Foreign Policy Crisis last Sat­urday, Sept. 14. Open to the student body, the day-long event delved into the com­plex­ities of diplomacy in a world with nuclear states. Hosted in the Dow Center, attendees were offered the chance to deepen their knowledge of inter­na­tional affairs and step into the shoes of a world leader. 

Stu­dents began their day with a series of work­shops that dis­cussed and sim­u­lated the com­plex­ities of inter­na­tional diplomacy with the looming threat of nuclear war. The con­ference also offered a series of breakout ses­sions that delved into topics such as United States nuclear policy since the Cold War. 

“Basi­cally, the idea is that we divide the stu­dents up into groups and then we have them argue about these topics in a struc­tured way,” said Brady Helwig, vice pres­ident of the Alexander Hamilton Society. “Through this they gain valuable expe­rience.” 

Each breakout session involved stu­dents role­playing as diplomats and prac­ticing the pol­itics of inter­na­tional affairs. The 2015 Iran deal, nuclear pro­lif­er­ation, and U.S. nuclear policy were among the topics stu­dents dis­cussed. 

Capping off the con­ference was a debate over the con­tro­versial Iran nuclear deal between pro­fessors James Hanley of Adrian College and pro­fessor Matthew Kroenig of Georgetown. The two argued whether or not the Trump Admin­is­tration was correct in with­drawing from the agreement, with Hanley sup­porting the deal and Kroenig arguing the opposite.  Dr. Hanley empha­sized that the deal would require Iran to give up most of its stockpile of enriched uranium, making them severely short of weapons-grade uranium. He also high­lighted the short amount of time the Obama Admin­is­tration had to work with prior to the deal.

“Iran was esti­mated at about two to three months away from ‘break out,’” Hanley said. “That is, if they decided ‘okay we’re ready to pursue nuclear weapons,’ they could do it very quickly.”

Mean­while, Kroenig high­lighted the dif­ference between oper­ating a nuclear reactor for peaceful pur­poses and making fuel for a reactor. Once fuel is made for a nuclear reactor, that fuel can be used for a nuclear bomb.

“The vast majority of coun­tries on earth with peaceful nuclear pro­grams aren’t making their own fuel.” Kroenig said. “They’re getting it shipped in.”

Kroenig pointed to the six United Nations Security Council res­o­lu­tions calling for Iran to shut down its enrichment program and slammed the Obama Admin­is­tration for per­mitting the Ira­nians to operate a limited enrichment program.

“This right here made the Iran Deal a bad deal,” he said. 

The debate wrapped up  more than eight hours of meetings and dis­cus­sions about the future of America’s foreign policy in regards to nuclear warfare. The Alexander Hamilton Society felt opti­mistic about the student expe­rience during the con­ference. 

“The reaction of stu­dents has been over­whelm­ingly pos­itive,” Helwig said. “They really liked the sim­u­lation. We had one student suggest we should do this every semester. We will def­i­nitely do some­thing like this in the future in terms of putting on a diplo­matic sim­u­lation of sorts.”