06 March 2013

Foreign Policy Wargaming and Undergraduate Students

There an interesting article at Foreign Policy about using a political wargame to explore Iranian nuclear disarmament with college students.

In government, war games and "table top exercises" (for example: this one, this one, and this one) that simulate national security crises have been used for decades to test hypotheses, galvanize attention, understand bureaucratic myopia, see how strategic logic plays out, and hone perceptions of foreign adversaries and allies. The results are often illuminating and terrifying. In 1983, a war game against the Soviet Union called Proud Prophet used actual top secret U.S. war-fighting plans and secretly had Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John W. Vessey, Jr. and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger play themselves. "The result," recounts Paul Bracken, "was a catastrophe that made all the wars of the past five hundred years pale in comparison. A half billion human beings were killed in the initial exchanges and at least that many more would have died from radiation and starvation."

But what if you don't have gray hair, top secret war plans, positions of power, or 20 years of experience in the Beltway? What can undergraduates get out of simulations? I put these questions to my current class, some faculty colleagues, and former students who participated in simulations I conducted at UCLA from 1999-2011. Here are the top three things I found:

Go to the article if you want to see those three things >>

By: Brant

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