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.”