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Student Instructor

Drones in Pakistan

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 international terrorism threaten U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • What diplomatic, reputational, or other costs should the United States be willing to bear to eliminate terrorist leaders? What is the best way to think about the costs and benefits involved?
  • What are the major characteristics of the United States’ relationship with Pakistan? How important is this relationship to U.S. foreign policy goals, including but not limited to counterterrorism?
  • What has been Pakistan’s position on and response to U.S. drone strikes and counterterrorism raids on its territory? How have these events affected U.S. cooperation with Pakistan, and what does that suggest about the implications of different options in this case?
  • What is the effect of various counterterrorism practices on terrorist recruitment, global extremism, and public support for extremist ideologies? Could certain policies fuel the forces they are trying to extinguish?

 

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 international terrorism threaten U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • Is Pakistan a friend, an adversary, or a combination thereof? What does this suggest about the most effective approach to U.S. counterterrorism policy in that country?
  • What diplomatic, reputational, or other costs should the United States be willing to bear to eliminate terrorist leaders? What is the best way to think about the costs and benefits involved?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of the U.S. use of drones for targeted killings? What about raids by special operations forces?
  • What are the major elements of congressional and public opinion about various counterterrorism options?

 

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:

  • What are the major characteristics of the United States’ relationship with Pakistan? How important is this relationship to U.S. foreign policy goals, including but not limited to counterterrorism?
  • What has been Pakistan’s position on and response to U.S. drone strikes and counterterrorism raids on its territory? How have these events affected U.S. cooperation with Pakistan, and what does that suggest about the implications of different options in this case?
  • What are the major components and characteristics of U.S. military and humanitarian assistance to Pakistan? What has been the effect of this assistance, especially in the area of counterterrorism?
  • Is Pakistan a friend, an adversary, or a combination of the two? What does this suggest about the most effective approach to U.S. counterterrorism policy and broader diplomacy in that country?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of involving the Pakistani government in U.S. counterterrorism plans versus proceeding alone?

 

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:

  • What are the principal capabilities, including drones and special operations forces, that the United States could deploy in this case? What are their main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications if U.S. forces involved in a raid were captured or killed?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of the U.S. use of drones for targeted killings? What about raids by special operations forces?
  • What have been the major successes and failures of counterterrorism efforts conducted by the Pakistani government? What does this record suggest about asking Pakistan to pursue specific terrorist leaders?
  • What is the effect of various counterterrorism practices on terrorist recruitment, global extremism, and public support for extremist ideologies? Could certain policies fuel the forces they are trying to extinguish?

 

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:

  • What are the economic dimensions of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship? What are the United States’ principal economic interests in Pakistan?
  • What are the costs of terrorism to the U.S. and global economies? This includes direct costs, such as the cost of recovery from a terrorist attack, and indirect costs, such as the cost of increased security measures, insurance for private interests, and more.
  • How do groups such as al-Qaeda fund themselves, and how have U.S. and international efforts to cut off their financing streams affected their capabilities?
  • What are the major components and characteristics of U.S. military and humanitarian assistance to countries where the United States has conducted drone strikes? What has been the effect of this assistance, especially in the areas of economic development and counterterrorism?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

Created after September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focuses on such issues as terrorism prevention, border security and immigration, disaster response, and cybersecurity. Agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Transportation Security Administration are part of this department. The secretary must help the president and other National Security Council (NSC) members understand any risks to the United States and its citizens that may arise from the situation and possible policy responses.

The secretary of homeland security’s goals are to

  • advise the president on the homeland security dimensions of crises and potential policy responses, including any threats or implications for U.S. border security; and
  • ensure the implementation of steps to protect the country and manage any security risks arising from the issue under consideration. 

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does international terrorism threaten U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications if U.S. forces involved in a raid were captured or killed?
  • How could various policy options affect the security of the U.S. homeland and U.S. citizens and interests abroad, such as through retaliatory efforts by al-Qaeda or other groups?
  • What is the effect of various counterterrorism practices on terrorist recruitment, global extremism, and public support for extremist ideologies? Could certain policies fuel the forces they are trying to extinguish?

 

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:

  • What danger does international terrorism pose to U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • Is Pakistan a friend, an adversary, or a combination of the two? What does this suggest about the most effective approach to U.S. counterterrorism policy in that country?
  • What diplomatic, reputational, or other costs should the United States be willing to bear to eliminate terrorist leaders? What is the best way to think about the costs and benefits involved?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications if U.S. forces involved in a raid were captured or killed?
  • What is the effect of various counterterrorism practices on terrorist recruitment and global extremism? Could certain policies fuel the forces they are trying to extinguish?

 

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:

  • What danger does international terrorism pose to U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • What are the major characteristics of the United States’ relationship with Pakistan? How important is this relationship to U.S. foreign policy goals, including but not limited to counterterrorism?
  • What diplomatic, reputational, or other costs should the United States be willing to bear to eliminate terrorist leaders? What is the best way to think about the costs and benefits involved?
  • What are the costs of terrorism to the U.S. and global economies? This includes direct costs, such as the cost of recovery from a terrorist attack, and indirect costs, such as the cost of increased security measures, insurance for private interests, and more.
  • What are the attitudes of Congress and the general public toward this issue? What could be the domestic political consequences of a U.S. response perceived as “weak” or “strong”?

 

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 international terrorism threaten U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • What is the effect of various counterterrorism practices on terrorist recruitment and global extremism? Could certain policies fuel the forces they are trying to extinguish?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of involving the Pakistani government in U.S. plans versus proceeding alone?
  • What diplomatic, reputational, or other costs should the United States be willing to bear to eliminate terrorist leaders? What is the best way to think about the costs and benefits involved?
  • Is Pakistan a friend, an adversary, or a combination of the two? What does this suggest about the most effective approach to U.S. counterterrorism policy in that country?

 

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 does U.S. and international law say about the practice of targeted killings, for example via drones? What do these laws say about other policy options, such as raids conducted in another country’s territory?
  • What is the range of opinion among officials of international legal bodies and international law scholars about the U.S. drone program and other counterterrorism tools?
  • To what degree should the United States be bound by international human rights laws and norms in its counterterrorism practices? What are the costs and benefits of adhering to such laws and norms?
  • What are the legal issues surrounding a drone strike or raid resulting in the death of civilians?
  • How do groups such as al-Qaeda fund themselves, and how have U.S. and international efforts to cut off their financing streams affected their capabilities?

 

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 international terrorism threaten U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • What are the principal capabilities—including drones and special operations forces—that the United States could deploy in this case? What are their main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of the U.S. use of drones for targeted killings? What about raids by special operations forces?
  • What have been the major successes and failures of counterterrorism efforts conducted by the Pakistani government? What does this record suggest about asking Pakistan to pursue specific terrorist leaders?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications if U.S. forces involved in a raid were captured or killed?

 

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:

  • How does international terrorism threaten U.S. national security? In particular, how much of a threat to the United States are al-Qaeda leaders?
  • What is the role of the United Nations in combating al-Qaeda and in the debate over drones and other counterterrorism tools?
  • What are the major characteristics of the United States’ relationship with Pakistan? How important is this relationship to U.S. foreign policy goals, including but not limited to counterterrorism?
  • What does U.S. and international law say about the practice of targeted killings, for example via drones? What do these laws say about other policy options, such as raids conducted in another country’s territory?
  • To what degree should the United States be bound by international human rights laws and norms in its counterterrorism practices? What are the costs and benefits of adhering to such laws and norms?

 

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:

  • What are the principal capabilities, including drones and special operations forces, that the United States could deploy in this case? What are their main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the major characteristics of the United States’ relationship with Pakistan? How important is this relationship to U.S. foreign policy goals, including but not limited to counterterrorism?
  • What diplomatic, reputational, or other costs should the United States be willing to bear to eliminate terrorist leaders? What is the best way to think about the costs and benefits involved?
  • What are the immediate security risks of the policy options being considered in this case? For example, what would be the implications if U.S. forces involved in a raid were captured or killed?
  • What are the attitudes of Congress and the general public toward this issue? What could be the domestic political consequences of a U.S. response perceived as “weak” or “strong”?

 

Research Leads:

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

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