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Boko Haram in Nigeria

Students at a Model Diplomacy simulation.
Students at a Model Diplomacy simulation.
Students at a Model Diplomacy simulation.

3.1 Role

Welcome to your role as a participant in the National Security Council (NSC)! You can view your assignment by clicking on the “My Simulations” tab on your account page. You can learn about your role by reading the information provided in your case role, which can be found at the bottom of this page. Your case role description contains three parts: a description of your role, issues for consideration, and research leads. The role description details the position you will portray in the role-play. The issues for consideration will guide your thinking and assist you in approaching the case from the perspective of your assigned role. Research leads provide suggested materials and topics for further research specifically relevant to your assigned role. Review this information thoroughly and often, as your objectives and strategy in the position memo and role-play will be shaped by the institutional perspective of the role you have been assigned (unless you are playing a general advisor). If you have been assigned a customized role, please refer to guidelines set by your instructor.

Whether you have been assigned a specific role as an individual or part of a group, or as a general advisor to the president, we suggest you re-read the decision point and policy options to identify actions that are particularly relevant to the department or agency that you represent that may require further investigation. There are three subsections that follow. Research and Preparation (3.2) will aid your research for the position memo and provide additional reading to guide your research; the Guide to the Memorandum (3.3) provides information about position memos and an example; and the Guide to the Role-Play (3.4) provides more information on the  role-play. After you finish the role-play and subsequent debrief, you will have an opportunity to share your personal thoughts and recommendations on this case in a policy review memo (Section 4, Wrap-up).

All case roles are listed below.

Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.GO TO SECTION 4.1

Case Roles

Description of Role:

The president is the head of state and commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. They preside over National Security Council (NSC) meetings and listens to the advice and information presented by others. The president is not expected to be an expert on any single subject, but instead draws on the expertise of the NSC to analyze options and choose what they feel is the best policy to advance U.S. interests.

The president’s goals are to

  • select one or more policy options after considering the opinions and recommendations of NSC members; and
  • balance and promote U.S. interests, with an eye toward both immediate goals and long-term foreign policy strategy.

 

Issues for Consideration:

These can be used to frame the role-play and encourage debate among fellow NSC members.

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • What is the nature of the U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relationship? How has it changed over time? What do the evolution and current state of the relationship suggest about the potential effect of various U.S. actions in this case?
  • Where does Boko Haram fit into the broader context of national security concerns facing the United States? How should this analysis shape your consideration of policy options in this case?
  • Why might the United States be reluctant to grant Nigeria’s request for equipment? How is the Leahy Amendment relevant in this case?
  • How does Nigeria’s evolving religious makeup facilitate or explain the rise and persistence of Boko Haram? What other factors contribute to Boko Haram’s rise and the Nigerian government’s efforts to prevent it?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by the potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The vice president must be ready at a moment’s notice to assume the presidency if the commander in chief is unable to perform their duties. Vice presidents can play a relatively active role on the National Security Council (NSC), serving as a general advisor and freely advocating their own positions during meetings. In particular, the president may ask the vice president to serve as an independent voice, untethered to any of the agencies represented by other NSC participants. The president may also ask about the interaction between the issue at hand and the domestic political situation, including in Congress.

The vice president’s goals are to

  • provide advice to the president on any topic, including those overlooked by other NSC participants; and
  • understand the range of views in Congress and work to build congressional and public support for the president’s chosen approach.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • Where does Boko Haram fit into the broader context of national security concerns facing the United States? How should this analysis shape your consideration of policy options in this case?
  • Why might the United States be reluctant to grant Nigeria’s request for equipment? How is the Leahy Amendment relevant in this case?
  • What is the range of attitudes in Congress on Boko Haram, the Nigerian security services, U.S.-Nigeria relations, and the Leahy Amendment in general? How might these congressional attitudes influence the U.S. response to Nigeria’s request?
  • If the U.S. president decided to grant Nigeria’s request, how would the White House need to work with Congress to modify or satisfy Leahy Amendment restrictions?
  • How do the media and public opinion affect U.S. policy toward Nigeria and, in particular, toward the actions of the Nigerian security services fighting Boko Haram? Which, if any, constituencies in the United States have a particular interest in or especially strong views about this issue? What does all of this suggest about the domestic political consequences of various responses?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The chief of staff oversees the Executive Office of the President, which provides the president with support to govern effectively. This post has traditionally been home to many of the president’s closest advisors. In National Security Council (NSC) meetings, the chief of staff ensures that the president has the necessary analysis on the full range of factors relevant to the case, including the U.S. political situation. They also guide the process of implementing and communicating presidential decisions.

The chief of staff’s goals are to

  • highlight the domestic implications of U.S. foreign policy choices; and
  • develop strategies to carry out the president’s policy and communicate it to U.S. and international audiences.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • What is the range of attitudes in Congress on Boko Haram, the Nigerian security services, U.S.-Nigeria relations, and the Leahy Amendment in general? How might these congressional attitudes influence the U.S. response to Nigeria’s request?
  • How do the media and public opinion affect U.S. policy toward Nigeria and, in particular, toward the actions of the Nigerian security services fighting Boko Haram? Which, if any, constituencies in the United States have a particular interest in or especially strong views about this issue? What do these factors suggest about the domestic political consequences of various responses?
  • If the U.S. president decided to grant Nigeria’s request, how would the White House need to work with Congress to modify or satisfy Leahy Amendment restrictions?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by the potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The national security advisor (NSA) has a special role in crisis management, serving as the “honest broker” for the national security policy process. Although the president makes final decisions, the NSA is responsible for ensuring that they have all the necessary information, that a full range of viable policy options has been articulated, that the prospects for success and failure have been identified, that any legal issues have been addressed, and that all members of the National Security Council (NSC) have had the opportunity to contribute.

The national security advisor’s goals are to

  • facilitate the president’s consideration of issues by keeping the NSC discussion on track and guiding it toward concrete policy options; and
  • build trust as an honest broker among the other NSC participants.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • Where does Boko Haram fit into the broader context of national security concerns facing the United States? How should this analysis shape your consideration of policy options in this case?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • Why might the United States be reluctant to grant Nigeria’s request for equipment? How is the Leahy Amendment relevant in this case?
  • Have U.S. leaders ever considered any transaction with Nigeria that might involve the Leahy Amendment?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications or consequences of equipment sold to Nigeria by the United States being used to conduct human rights abuses?
  • What are the most important factors for the president to balance when making a decision? What types of analyses would be most useful for other members of the National Security Council to present?
  • Research the performance of past national security advisors and the ways in which they managed the interagency process. Which advisors and policy processes have been considered especially successful or unsuccessful, and why?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The Department of State maintains the U.S. diplomatic presence around the world, conducting foreign relations and using an on-the-ground perspective to generate country-specific knowledge. As head of the department, the secretary draws on this knowledge to present an authoritative view of the United States’ bilateral relationships, the relationships between foreign countries, and the behavior and interests of foreign governments.

The secretary of state’s goals are to

  • serve as the president’s principal foreign policy advisor; and
  • analyze how policy options will affect the interests, reputation, and relationships of the United States.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • What is the nature of the U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relationship? How has it changed over time? What do the evolution and current state of the relationship suggest about the potential effect of various U.S. actions in this case?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • What are the positions and interests of other countries and organizations that have a stake in Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram? How, if at all, might they help resolve, exacerbate, or otherwise shape the current situation?
  • What countries have requested U.S. assistance that prompted deliberations relevant to the Leahy Amendment? How might these examples affect the U.S. decision in this case?
  • How, if at all, do events in Biafra relate to U.S. concerns about stability and security in Nigeria?
  • What kinds of potential effects might various U.S. policy options have on Nigerians? How, if at all, should the president consider these effects when making a policy decision in this case?
  • How is Abuja likely to react if Washington declines to sell it the requested equipment? How might this potential reaction inform the NSC recommendation in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The secretary of defense is the principal defense policy advisor to the president, under whose direction they exercise authority over the Department of Defense. In National Security Council (NSC) meetings, the secretary analyzes the security situation in the relevant region and explains the likely implications of U.S. military involvement, both for the immediate crisis and for the United States’ overall strategic position.

The secretary of defense’s goals are to

  • understand the options for and feasibility of any military action, as well as its possible outcomes; and
  • identify ways to prevent the deterioration of a crisis to the point where it mandates U.S. military intervention.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • Where does Boko Haram fit into the broader context of national security concerns facing the United States? How should this analysis shape your consideration of policy options in this case?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications or consequences of equipment sold to Nigeria by the United States being used to conduct human rights abuses?
  • What is the state of military relationships among the United States and other countries involved in this case, which include Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Benin, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and others? How might a U.S. acceptance or refusal of Nigeria’s equipment request affect these relationships?
  • Why might the United States be reluctant to grant Nigeria’s request for equipment? How is the Leahy Amendment relevant in this case?
  • What military capabilities does Nigeria currently use in the fight against Boko Haram? Why might Nigeria request attack helicopters and other military materiel from the United States?
  • How have past efforts by Nigerian security services to fight Boko Haram, including by rescuing hostages, played out? What do these results mean for the U.S. policy response in this case?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The Department of the Treasury carries out policy on issues related to the U.S. and global economies and financial systems. The secretary of the treasury, as head of this department, serves as one of the president’s chief economic advisors. In National Security Council (NSC) meetings, they analyze the economic dimensions of foreign policy issues and weighs the potential impact of policy options on U.S. economic concerns, including growth, trade and investment, and the position of the U.S. dollar.

The secretary of the treasury’s goals are to

  • serve as a senior presidential advisor on economic policy; and
  • determine how foreign policy options might affect the U.S. economy and financial system, the global economy, and economic relations between the United States and others.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case, and Boko Haram specifically, threaten the U.S. economy and the economies of U.S. allies?
  • What are the chief characteristics of Nigeria’s economy? What economic goals are Nigeria’s leaders pursuing today?
  • What role does oil play in Nigeria’s economy? How, if at all, do Boko Haram activity and other elements of Nigerian instability affect the oil industry in Nigeria and therefore, Nigeria’s economy?
  • What interests does the United States have in the economic stability and growth of Nigeria and its neighbors? What, if anything, do these interests suggest about the policy options in this case?
  • Does the United States import oil from Nigeria? Do any U.S. allies? More broadly, how do Nigerian exports (and any disruptions to them) affect international oil markets and, in turn, the U.S. economy?
  • How do Boko Haram’s attacks affect Nigeria’s economy? For example, what is the role of local markets in Nigeria’s society and economy? What are the effects of their closures?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by the potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is the highest-ranking member of the U.S. military and the principal military advisor to the president, the secretary of defense, the National Security Council (NSC), and the Homeland Security Council. The CJCS does not exercise command authority over U.S. troops. Instead, they work with the heads of the U.S. military services to provide advice to the president and other senior leaders.

The CJCS’s goals are to

  • serve as the president’s military advisor on the NSC; and
  • advise the president on specific military options and the corresponding risks, benefits, and implications.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • Where does Boko Haram fit into the broader context of national security concerns facing the United States? How should this analysis shape your consideration of policy options in this case?
  • What is the state of military relationships among the United States and other countries involved in this case, which include Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Benin, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and others? How might a U.S. acceptance or refusal of Nigeria’s equipment request affect these relationships?
  • What military capabilities does Nigeria currently use in the fight against Boko Haram? Why might Nigeria request attack helicopters and other military materiel from the United States?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications or consequences of equipment sold to Nigeria by the United States being used to conduct human rights abuses?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by the potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The role of the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) is to advance U.S. foreign policy interests in the bodies and forums of the UN system. Reporting to the secretary of state, the permanent representative helps formulate and articulate the U.S. position on all political and security matters under discussion at the UN. At National Security Council (NSC) meetings, they outline policy steps available to the United States at the UN and advises NSC participants on the positions and actions of other UN member states.

The U.S. permanent representative to the UN’s goals are to

  • advise the president and secretary of state on the diplomatic actions the United States can or should take at the UN; and
  • promote the United States’ interests and values at the UN.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What is the nature of the U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relationship? How has it changed over time? What do the evolution and current state of the relationship suggest about the potential effect of various U.S. actions in this case?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • What position do UN member states, particularly those on the UN Security Council, take on Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram? How are these governments likely to react to various policy responses by the United States? How, if at all, should the United States take these views into account when deliberating its policy options?
  • What has been the role of the United Nations and its component parts in the fight against Boko Haram? What has this role been in dealing with human rights abuses by UN member governments? What role could or should the United Nations play in addressing the current crisis?
  • What countries have requested U.S. assistance that prompted deliberations relevant to the Leahy Amendment? How might these examples affect the U.S. decision in this case?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by the potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The attorney general is the head of the Department of Justice and the chief lawyer of the U.S. government. The department represents the United States in legal matters, including by prosecuting violations of federal law. In National Security Council (NSC) meetings, the attorney general gives the president advice and opinions on the legal aspects of policies under consideration.

The attorney general’s goals are to

  • consider the legal elements and implications of U.S. foreign policy options; and
  • ensure that any policies decided by the NSC are in compliance with domestic and international law.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • Have U.S. leaders ever considered any transaction with Nigeria that might involve the Leahy Amendment?
  • What countries have requested U.S. assistance that prompted deliberations relevant to the Leahy Amendment? How might these examples affect the U.S. decision in this case?
  • Why might the United States be reluctant to grant Nigeria’s request for equipment? How is the Leahy Amendment relevant in this case?
  • If the U.S. president decided to grant Nigeria’s request, how would the White House need to work with Congress to modify or satisfy Leahy Amendment restrictions?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by the potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The U.S. intelligence community consists of seventeen agencies and organizations that gather and analyze intelligence to help policymakers formulate and implement U.S. foreign policy. The director of national intelligence oversees this network of agencies. They focus on providing the latest relevant information to National Security Council (NSC) members and articulating the capabilities and interests of the intelligence community.

The director of national intelligence’s goals are to

  • provide complete, accurate, and up-to-date information to the NSC on the situation under discussion; and
  • serve as the principal advisor to the president and the NSC on intelligence matters.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • Where does Boko Haram fit into the broader context of national security concerns facing the United States? How should this analysis shape your consideration of policy options in this case?
  • Why might the United States be reluctant to grant Nigeria’s request for equipment? How is the Leahy Amendment relevant in this case?
  • How does Nigeria’s evolving religious makeup facilitate or explain the rise and persistence of Boko Haram? What other factors contribute to Boko Haram’s rise and the Nigerian government’s efforts to prevent it?
  • What are the primary interests, motivations, and goals of the major actors in this crisis? What factors drive potential responses to it?
  • How, if at all, do events in Biafra relate to U.S. concerns about stability and security in Nigeria?
  • How have past efforts by Nigerian security services to fight Boko Haram, including by rescuing hostages, played out? What are the implications for the U.S. policy response in this case?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications or consequences of equipment sold to Nigeria by the United States being used to conduct human rights abuses?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The secretary of energy leads the Department of Energy, which carries out U.S. policy on energy, environmental, and nuclear issues. In National Security Council (NSC) meetings, the secretary must consider the energy-related dimensions of foreign policy issues, any energy-related tools that might form part of the U.S. response, and the implications of policy decisions for the American energy supply and environment.

The secretary of energy’s goals are to 

  • formulate and evaluate energy-related measures as part of policy options; and
  • gauge the implications of foreign policy decisions on U.S. energy security and environmental concerns. 

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • What is the nature of the U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relationship? How has it changed over time? What do the evolution and current state of the relationship suggest about the potential effect of various U.S. actions in this case?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • What role does oil play in Nigeria’s economy? How, if at all, do Boko Haram activity and other elements of Nigerian instability affect the oil industry in Nigeria and, therefore, Nigeria’s economy?
  • Does the United States import oil from Nigeria? Do any U.S. allies? More broadly, how do Nigerian exports (and any disruptions to them) affect international oil markets and, in turn, the U.S. economy?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by the potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The general advisor offers analysis and recommendations that are unconstrained by the interests of any department or agency. They are tasked with providing a comprehensive assessment of the situation at hand and ideas for policy options that serve U.S. interests.

The general advisor’s goals are to

  • understand the breadth of the issue and outline its stakes for the United States; and
  • advise the president on the range of policy options proposed by all NSC members.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does Boko Haram, and the situation in Nigeria as presented in this case more generally, threaten U.S. national security?
  • What is the nature of the U.S.-Nigeria bilateral relationship? How has it changed over time? What do the evolution and current state of the relationship suggest about the potential effect of various U.S. actions in this case?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis and in the U.S. relationship with Nigeria generally? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response? How should they be prioritized?
  • What are the positions and interests of other countries and organizations that have a stake in Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram? How, if at all, might they help resolve, exacerbate, or otherwise shape the current situation?
  • What is the range of attitudes in Congress on Boko Haram, the Nigerian security services, U.S.-Nigeria relations, and the Leahy Amendment in general? How might these congressional attitudes influence the U.S. response to Nigeria’s request?
  • Why might the United States be reluctant to grant Nigeria’s request for equipment? How is the Leahy Amendment relevant in this case?
  • If the U.S. president decided to grant Nigeria’s request, how would the White House need to work with Congress to modify or satisfy Leahy Amendment restrictions?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States?

 

Research Leads:

This is a customized role created by the instructor. Please see your instructor for your role description.

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