Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies


AUTHOR:  Michael Sherwin, Crescent Valley HS
         Corvallis, OR

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:  9-12 / American Government

OVERVIEW:  This activity is a simulation in which students
role play to solve various foreign policy problems.

PURPOSE:  This activity is intended to help students understand
how various elements of the US foreign policy system operate
and to give them practice in conflict resolution.

OBJECTIVES:  To provide an alternative to traditional
teacher-centered or book-centered learning.  To help students
understand how complex foreign policy issues are.  To help
students test techniques of conflict resolution.  To allow
students to put what they have learned into practice.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS:  Reading guide and foreign policy scenarios.
See Appendices 1 and 5.

ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:  Prior to beginning the simulation, we
take five weeks to study the presidency, Congress, the press, and
the Soviet Union to give students some background that will help
them with this task.  We also discuss current events, including
foreign policy, on a regular basis.
  To begin this exercise, I hand out a reading guide for the
chapter in the text on foreign policy.  (Appendix 1) I ask the
students to write down enough information so that the reading
guide will be a useful tool to help them review the material for
this exercise and for the final exam at the end of the semester.
Students have time in class on Monday to work on the reading guide.
  On Wednesday, we begin the simulation.  There are nine different
roles (see Appendix 2) for students to play and I assign two or
three students to each role, depending on the size of the class.
It is essential that the students who take the role fo the press be
gregarious and somewhat bold since they have to ferret out
information that others don't particularly want to give them.  I
tend to put the sneakiest students in the CIA and the most creative
students in the UN or Allies.  The presidents need not be brilliant;
the advisors will tell them what to do.
  Start announcing the roles students are to play and then ask them
to take five minutes to review the text pages which explain their
role to international relations.  (Appendix 3).  Next ask them to
seat themselves around the room according to a chart on the board
so that others can find them during the simulation.  The teachers
desk is the Kremlin. (Appendix 4)
  Hand out a set of three interrelated foreign policy scenarios.
(Appendix 5) These vary from year to year depending on what is
realistic, though extreme, foreign policy problems.  In the past,
problems have concerned the downfall of the Marcos regime, trouble
in the Canal Zone, unrest in Eastern Europe, and communists in
I try to have the three problems somehow interrelated and connected
to the Soviet Union.  I play the Soviet Union so that I can, to
some extent, control the pace of the simulation - they can't solve
all the problems in a quick and simplistic manner because I throw
enough realistic obstacles in their way to keep them thinking.
  Have students read the scenarios, assume that this is what is in
the morning's newspaper, and figure out what they can do to solve
these problems.  Encourage them to discuss the problems first in
their small groups and then to confer with others.  While this is
happening, talk with the press and explain to them that their role
is to gather information for a news broadcast to take place the
last five minutes of the period.  The press may include editorial
commentary in the broadcast as well as reports on the efforts to
solve the foreign policy crises.
  While students are getting started, circulate around the room,
making suggestions where needed, reminding Congress that the
president must confer with them if we are going to spend any money
or introduce troops into a war zone, reminding the allies that
they have their own interests at stake and that they are not simply
pawns of the US.
  After a while, several groups will develop plans of action and
may wish to negotiate with the Soviet Union.  At that point, I
retreat to my desk, put on my Soviet Union hat, and meet with
either the UN, the allies, or the American president.  I refuse
to meet with other groups ans am especially wary of the press
and the CIA.  Usually, I am a tough negotiator because I want
them to have to think carefully about their policies.  (See
Appendix 6 for sample responses to typical student negotiating
overtures.)  In some classes, students have been unrealistic
about what the other side will accept.
  At the end of the first period, we have a five minute news
report on the day's events.  This usually demonstrates clearly
the communications problems that plague complicated negotiations.
  At the beginning of the second class, remind students that they
have not yet solved all the problems and that they have half an
hour to finish.  Then students resume the task of solving the
  With about fifteen minutes left in the second period, stop and
have a second news report.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  Following the second news report, take
the last ten minutes to try to draw some conclusions about what
went well and what didn't.  Also attempt to draw some conclusions
about foreign policy and conflict resolution.  Students generally
have insights about the importance of talking to all parties and
communicating clearly.


  Reading Guide, Chapter 13 (from Richard Remy, Government in the
United States, 1st edition)

US Foreign Policy Goals




President and Foreign Policy
1.  Constitutional Powers
2.  Head of State
3.  Advisors
Congress and Foreign Policy
1.  Constitutional Powers
2.  Congress Weaker Than President
Give one example which illustrates the influence of public on
foreign policy.

State Department - Functions
Defense Department
1.  Civilian Control of the Military
2.  JCS
Means to Achieve Foreign Policy Goals
1.  Alliances and Pacts
2.  Foreign Aid
3.  Economic Sanctions
4.  Military Force
5.  United Nations

1.  isolationism
2.  Monroe Doctrine
3.  Cold War
4.  containment
5.  collective security
6.  deterrence
7.  detente



Presidential Advisors
Defense Department and JCS
State Department 
United Nations
US Allies (Western Europe and Japan)
The Press
The Soviet Union (played by the instructor)


Foreign Policy Readings (from Richard Remy, Government in the
United States, 1st edition)

Review the following pages in the text to help you determine
what actions your group might take.

President        204 - 206, 313 - 316
Presidential Advisors  224 - 225, 315
CIA          241, 315
Dept. of Defense, JCS  321 - 324, 328
Dept. of State      319 - 321, 328
Congress        139, 316 - 318
American Allies    324 - 327
Mass Media      576 - 579
United Nations      328 - 331





ADVISORS                            ALLIES*

CIA                CONGRESS         UNITED

*  Can meet directly with the Soviet Union



THE SOVIET UNION - Mikhail Gorbachev has been removed from
office after a coup by Kremlin hardliners.  The new president
and Communist party general Yegor Ligachev has ordered Soviet
troops to crack down on Lithuania, Georgia, and other breakaway
republics.  In violence reminiscent of that in Czechoslovakia
in 1968 and Hungary in 1956 Soviet troops massacre thousands of
people who demonstrate for freedom.  Lithuanian president
Landsbergis escapes to the American embassy where he applies
for political asylum.  The Soviets threaten further reprisals
against Lithuania if Landsbergis is not turned over to them,
charging that he has committed crimes against the state by
heading an illegal independence movement.

WESTERN EUROPE - Following the coup to remove Gorbachev from
office, Ligachev has ordered Soviet arms control negotiators
to take a hardline position in talks with Americans.  Despite
the fact that some Soviet troops have been removed from
Eastern Europe, the CIA reports suspicious troops movements
in the former Warsaw Pact countries.  And, in what the Soviets
refer to as "normal naval exercises" large numbers of ships
and submarines are detected on the coasts off NATO countries.
Meanwhile, the Soviets complain that the US has not followed
its pledge to halt production of chemical and biological
weapons and is continuing to produce chemical weapons at what
the US refers to as a "fertilizer plant" in Dubuque.

MIDDLE EAST - Following the collapse of the Middle East peace
conference, Israel decides not to allow a Palestinian state
on the West Bank and, with the approval of the US, uses harsher
measures (rumored to include chemical and biological weapons)
to break down the Palestinian uprising.  In response, Arab
states threaten an oil boycott of the US (which is already
suffering since a second tanker accident completely blocked
the flow of oil from Alaska).  The Soviet Union is aiding the
boycott by purchasing oil from the Arabs.  It is reported that,
in return for this help, the United Arab Emirates will allow
the Soviet Union to construct a major naval base on the Straits
of Hormuz, giving the Soviets control of the Persian Gulf, the
source of much of the world's oil.



UN:  We'd like to talk to you about the unrest in the Baltics.

USSR:  You know that we are a peace-loving nation.  We seek
freedom, prosperity, and happiness for all peoples of the world.

UN:  But you are killing people in the Baltics.

USSR:  That is an internal affair of the Soviet Union.  Do I go
to the United States and tell them that they are wrong to allow
homeless people on the street or to discriminate against blacks?
No!  So how dare you tell me what to do in my own country?

UN:  But you say you are for freedom and the Lithuanians want to
be free.

USSR:  Wouldn't you agree that Abraham Lincoln was a great man?
And what was he trying to do?  Simply preserve the Union.  I
regret that there has been some minor loss of life in Lithuania,
but I, too, like Abraham Lincoln, am simply trying to keep our
union together.  Those radicals in the Baltics are trying to
break our country apart.


Allies:  We are very concerned about the ships and submarines
massing off our coasts.

USSR:  Why?  They are doing nothing.

Allies:  But this seems to be a threatening move.  Get them out
of there!

USSR:  Listen.  You know that international waters start twelve
miles off shore.  My ships are staying in international waters.
They have a right to be there.  Don't tell me what to do.

Allies:  But couldn't they be somewhere else?

USSR:  Do I demand that the American submarines which ring my
country be removed from international waters?  No!  I simply
request the same treatment and consideration which other
countries receive.


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