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NATO Enlargement in 1993

Set in December 1993. Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, many former Soviet states in Central and Eastern Europe express interest in joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


It is January 1994, and the world is dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States’ main adversary. The country has disintegrated into several independent states, many of them dealing with political turmoil and economic challenges. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance formed to defend Western European allies from the Soviet Union, is at a crossroads. Members of the NSC must decide whether NATO should survive, and if so, how its purpose and activities should evolve in this new era. Should NATO retreat into the woodwork, given the Soviet threat is no longer relevant? Or should the alliance expand its membership to include former Soviet countries, setting off a new era of European security?

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The Situation

In the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the role and purpose of NATO increasingly came into question. Some claimed that the organization, formed in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union and its nuclear weapons, was now obsolete. Others argued for a renewed and reinvigorated NATO in a post–Cold War world. Others still fell somewhere in the middle, acknowledging the importance of NATO’s role in European security, but urging caution in dealing with a newly subdued Russia. 

The president has called a meeting of the NSC in advance of an important NATO summit in Brussels. He plans to make an announcement detailing his administration’s views on the prospect of NATO enlargement and has convened NSC members to advise him on the matter. 





  • Post–Cold War expansion of the European Union and NATO, and Russia’s relations with these institutions
  • U.S.-Europe and U.S.-Russia relations 
  • Balance of power in Europe 
  • U.S. support for democratic governance
  • Current and future challenges in NATO and the European Union 
  • Collective defense obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty’s Article 5

Guide Sections
An Introduction to the National Security Council
National Security Council meeting

“The function of the Council shall be to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security...”

– Title I of the National Security Act of 1947

1.1 Overview

The United States plays a critical role in establishing and maintaining international order in an increasingly globalized world. The range of foreign policy issues that require its attention or involvement is vast: from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria to tensions with North Korea and Iran; from long-standing alliances with European and Asian powers to complex, evolving relationships with Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa; from the stability of global finance to the promotion of economic opportunity in low-income countries; and from climate to health to nuclear proliferation to terrorism. There is little around the world in which the United States does not have a vested interest. Further, issues such as immigration, trade, and cybersecurity underscore the fading distinction between domestic and international matters.

U.S. leaders use a range of tools to pursue a foreign policy that they believe will safeguard national security and achieve U.S. goals:

  • diplomatic, such as bilateral or multilateral consultations and negotiations, treaties, defense and security agreements, resolutions at global and regional bodies such as the United Nations, and public diplomacy to promote U.S. views and culture
  • economic, such as trade and investment agreements, tariffs, sanctions, embargoes and boycotts, development assistance, loans for the purchase of U.S.-manufactured products, and sales of arms, equipment, and technology
  • military, such as missile strikes, nuclear deterrence, ground force deployments, ship and submarine patrols, blockades, unilateral or partnered military exercises, foreign military training, and special operations forces
  • unconventional actions, sometimes secret, undertaken by the U.S. government and its proxies, such as training and assisting foreign intelligence services, supporting armed nonstate actors, private security contracting, and cyberwarfare

Effective policymaking requires a deft combination of these tools. To accomplish this, policymakers need to clearly define U.S. interests and gauge the interests, resources, and motivations of foreign governments and nonstate actors. The U.S. intelligence community helps policymakers in their work by collecting and analyzing a vast range of information, including satellite images, communications records, documents, data, and personal observations.

Foreign policy successes and failures are often associated with presidential decisions. Less explored is the decision-making system that helps the president make those critical choices and coordinate their implementation. This guide will help you understand the system through which the United States creates and implements its foreign policy.

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National Security Council meeting
CIA Director George Bush discusses the evacuation of Americans from Beirut

“....I envisioned a special role for the national security advisor, who is the manager of the National Security Council. I needed an honest broker who would objectively present to the president the views of the various cabinet officers across the spectrum.”

— George H.W. Bush, “A World Transformed,” p. 18

1.2 The Interagency Process

Whether it aims to respond to an immediate crisis or to advance a long-term objective, a successful foreign policy–making process starts with a clear articulation of interests and goals. Policymakers and their advisors then formulate policy options to meet those goals and consider each option’s strengths and weaknesses. This process is challenging in the best of times. Information may be unreliable or incomplete, an adversary’s intentions may be unclear, and a decision’s consequences may be unknowable. Leaders often have to choose from a list on which every option is imperfect. Adding to this uncertainty is the complexity of the U.S. government’s foreign policy machinery: numerous agencies—each with its own interests and biases—seek to influence how policy is decided and carried out. In these circumstances, it takes considerable effort to run a process capable of producing sound policy decisions.

The National Security Council (NSC) plays a critical role in this effort. Its mission is to help the president effectively use a variety of instruments—military, diplomatic, or otherwise—to forge policies that advance U.S. national security goals.

The NSC was created by the National Security Act of 1947, which defined it as an interagency body intended to “advise the president with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security.” Following World War II, in an age of expanded American interests and responsibilities, the NSC was expected to provide a place where the heads of federal departments and agencies could cooperate to develop and recommend to the president policies that would advance U.S. aims. The NSC and its staff were also meant to manage the policymaking process so that the president would receive a full range of advice and opinion from the departments and agencies involved in national security.

The NSC has evolved significantly over the years, adapting to the preferences of successive presidents and the challenges they faced. Variables such NSC meeting attendees, the frequency of meetings, the amount and format of information passed to the president, the importance of consensus, and the relative dominance of the NSC over other government institutions have changed over the decades.

During this time, the NSC has evolved to comprise various interagency committees and a large staff to prepare analysis and coordinate policymaking and implementation. The NSC is at the center of the interagency process, one through which relevant government agencies address foreign policy issues and help the president make and execute policy choices.

I. National Security Advisor

The national security advisor (formally assistant to the president for national security affairs), a senior advisor to the president, is at the heart of the NSC structure. Ideally, the national security advisor’s role is twofold: to offer advice to the president and to coordinate and manage policymaking. Because they have direct access to the president and do not represent a cabinet department such as the State Department or Defense Department, national security advisors are in a unique position to drive foreign policy decisions, manage the actors involved, and mitigate conflict throughout the decision-making process.

II. National Security Council Staff

The NSC staff consists of individuals from a collection of agencies that support the president, the vice president, and the administration. NSC staff members are generally organized into directorates that focus on regions or issues. The size and organization of the staff vary with each administration.

The NSC staff provides expertise for the variety of national security policy matters considered by the committees and the president. It manages numerous responsibilities, including preparing speeches, memos, and discussion papers and handling inquiries from Congress on foreign policy issues. Staff members analyze both immediate and long-term issues and help prioritize these issues on the interagency agenda.

III. Committee Structure

Committees are at the core of policy deliberation and policymaking in the NSC. They fall into four categories:

  • The highest-level is the National Security Council itself. Formal NSC meetings are chaired by the president and include individuals named by the National Security Act of 1947 as well as other senior aides the president invites.
  • The principals committee (PC) comprises cabinet-level officials who head major government departments concerned with national security, such as the secretaries of state and defense. The national security advisor traditionally chairs the principals committee.
  • The deputies committee (DC) includes the deputy leaders of the government departments represented on the principals committee and is chaired by the deputy national security advisor.
  • Policy coordination committees (PCCs) cover a range of regional areas and issues. Each committee includes officials who specialize in the relevant area or issue at one of the departments or agencies in the interagency system. PCCs are generally chaired by senior directors on the NSC staff. Much of the day-to-day work needed to formulate and implement foreign policy across the U.S. government happens at the PCC level.

This committee structure tackles both immediate crises such as an outbreak of conflict and enduring issues such as climate change. In the normal course of events, PCCs conduct analysis on an issue, gather views on it and its importance from various departments, formulate and evaluate policy options, and determine what resources and steps would be required to carry out those options. The deputies committee, meanwhile, manages the interagency process up and down. It decides what PCCs to establish and gives them specific assignments. It also considers information submitted by the PCCs, ensuring that it is relevant, complete, and clear, before relaying it to the principals committee or the full NSC.

The principals committee is the highest-level setting, aside from the NSC itself, for debating national security issues. It consists of the heads of the NSC’s component agencies—essentially all the members of the NSC except the president and vice president. Formal NSC meetings, which the president chairs, occur whenever the president sees fit. They consider issues that require the president’s personal attention and a direct presidential decision.

The goal of this committee structure is to foster consensus on policy options or highlight where and why consensus cannot be reached. If officials at one level agree on an issue, it may not need to go to senior officials for a decision. This practice reserves the president’s time, and that of the principals, for the most complicated and sensitive debates.

When a crisis erupts, however, issues may not follow the usual path up from the PCCs. In these cases, NSC staff members and officials in government departments and agencies generally draft papers drawing on their expertise, available intelligence, and any existing contingency plans. Policy options are then debated and decided at the appropriate level, depending on the nature and severity of the crisis. The policymaking process may also deviate from this model based on the preferences of each president.

For the purposes of Model Diplomacy’s NSC simulation, you will role-play the NSC meeting with the assumption that the committees described have already done their jobs and passed critical information to the highest-level decision-makers.

Presidential Decisions

When the president makes a policy decision, it may take the form of a verbal instruction recorded in a NSC staff document and shared with relevant departments and agencies. The president may also issue formal decisions in documents that lay out the administration’s policy and explain its rationale and goals. These documents have gone by different names under different presidents. President Donald J. Trump issues national security presidential memoranda, which replace the presidential policy directives and presidential study directives that President Barack Obama issued.

The president may also issue an executive order. In the past, presidents have issued executive orders for such purposes as facilitating sanctions against foreign individuals and establishing new offices in government departments to achieve foreign policy aims. For federal agencies, both national security directives and executive orders carry the full force and effect of law, though the president’s authority to issue these kinds of documents is sometimes questioned.

National Security Council meeting
President Bush leads a meeting of the National Security Council.

“These complex times have made clear the power and centrality of America’s indispensable leadership in the world.”

— Obama 2015 National Security Strategy

1.3 Departments and Agencies

Although many executive branch departments and agencies are involved in foreign policy and, depending on the issue, play a role in the NSC process, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community form the core of the foreign policy bureaucracy. The Department of the Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice often play crucial roles as well.

Department of State

The Department of State conducts the United States’ relations with other countries and international organizations. It maintains U.S. diplomatic presence abroad, issues visas for foreigners to enter the country, aids U.S. citizens overseas, and manages cultural exchanges and other programs to promote American interests. As head of the department, the secretary of state is the president’s principal foreign affairs advisor and has a keen understanding of the United States’ international relations, the relationships between foreign countries, and the behavior and interests of their governments.

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense carries out U.S. defense policy and maintains U.S. military forces. It includes the U.S. ArmyNavyMarine Corps, and Air Force, as well as an array of agencies with missions ranging from advanced technological research to defense cooperation with friendly countries. The department employs more than two million military and civilian personnel and operates military bases across the United States and abroad. The secretary of defense, the head of the department and the president’s principal defense policy advisor, stays up-to-date on the security situation in foreign countries and the possibilities and implications of U.S. military involvement. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is the highest-ranking member of the U.S. armed forces and the president’s top military advisor.

Intelligence Community

The U.S. intelligence community consists of seventeen agencies and organizations, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which gather and analyze intelligence to help policymakers formulate and implement U.S. foreign policy. Each of these agencies has its own mission; for example, the NSA focuses on signals intelligence (information gathered from communications and other electronic signals) and the Defense Intelligence Agency on military information. The director of national intelligence, the president’s principal advisor on intelligence issues, oversees this network of agencies with the aim of ensuring that they work together and deliver the best possible information to U.S. policymakers.

Department of the Treasury

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 and is responsible for addressing a range of economic concerns, including growth, trade and investment, and the position of the U.S. dollar. The Treasury’s ten bureaus, which include the U.S. Mint and the Internal Revenue Service, do much of the department’s work, which ranges from collecting tax to printing currency and executing economic sanctions.

Department of Homeland Security

Created soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security works to counter and respond to risks to American security. It focuses on issues such as terrorism prevention, border security and immigration, disaster response, and cybersecurity. Familiar agencies within the department include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which checks travelers and goods coming into the United States; the U.S. Secret Service, which protects the president and investigates financial crimes; and the Transportation Security Administration, which ensures security at airports. The secretary of homeland security oversees the department and advises the president on relevant issues.

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes possible violations of federal law, represents the U.S. government in legal matters, oversees federal prisons, and works more broadly to prevent and respond to crime. Agencies such as the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration are part of the department, as are divisions focusing on particular areas of law, such as national security and civil rights. Leading the department is the attorney general, who offers legal advice to the president and the heads of other departments, including on matters under discussion in the NSC.

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Guide Glossary


alliance:an official partnership between two or more parties based on cooperation in pursuit of a common goal, generally involving security or defense.
attorney general:head of the Department of Justice and chief lawyer of the U.S. government. Among other duties, he or she offers advice on the legal aspects of proposed policies to the president and other department heads.


bilateral:undertaken between two entities, generally countries.
blockade:an act of war wherein a foreign military cuts off access to a specific location, usually a port, to impede deliveries of supplies. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba—calling it a “quarantine” to avoid the implication of declaring war—in response to Soviet missile activity on the island.


Cabinet:the group comprising the vice president of the United States and the heads of all fifteen federal executive departments, such as the secretaries of state, defense, commerce, labor, and education. Other officials may also have cabinet rank, depending on the administration.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS):the highest-ranking member of the U.S. armed forces. The CJCS does not exercise command authority over U.S. troops, but instead works with the leaders of the U.S. military services to fulfill his function as the top military advisor to the president and other senior officials.
chief of staff to the president:a close advisor to the president who is responsible for coordinating the implementation of presidential policy and managing the Executive Office of the President (EOP), which includes the national security staff among many other entities.
cyberwarfare:defensive and offensive actions taken by a government or nonstate actor in the realm of information network systems and digital infrastructure. Specific actions include planting computer viruses, mounting denial-of-service attacks to disrupt internet and network activity, and conducting electronic surveillance.


deputies committee (DC):the intermediate-level setting, below the principals committee, for debating issues in the National Security Council (NSC) system. Chaired by the deputy national security advisor, it comprises the second- and third-ranking leaders of the departments and agencies represented on the National Security Council. It manages the interagency process up and down, answering to the principals committee and assigning and reviewing the work of interagency policy committees.
director of national intelligence:the president’s principal advisor for intelligence-related matters and the head of the intelligence community, a network of seventeen agencies and organizations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), that collect and analyze information to assist policymaking.


executive order (EO):a decision issued by the president that carries the full force and effect of law. An executive order usually instructs government departments and agencies to implement or modify particular policies or procedures.


foreign policy:a country’s attitudes and actions in the international arena. Foreign policy includes two principal elements: goals or interests as the country defines them, such as peace with one’s neighbors, and the means pursued to advance these interests, such as diplomatic negotiations, trade agreements, and military alliances. A country carries out its foreign policy through its dealings with other countries, international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), and nonstate actors such as corporations and advocacy groups.


interagency:involving two or more agencies. The National Security Council (NSC), for example, is an interagency forum, not a forum internal to any one agency.


multilateral:undertaken among three or more entities, usually countries. The term frequently describes organizations such as the United Nations (UN).


National Security Act:a law signed by President Harry S. Truman in 1947 to reorganize the agencies and processes related to intelligence, foreign policy, and the military. Among its reforms, the act established the National Security Council (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
national security advisor (NSA):the so-called honest broker of the national security policy process and the president’s principal advisor on national security issues. The NSA manages the National Security Council (NSC) staff, chairs the principals committee, and coordinates and manages policymaking with the goal of ensuring effective policy development and implementation.
National Security Council (NSC):an interagency body that serves as the forum for the president to discuss and take action on the most critical national security issues facing the United States. Its membership has varied since its creation in 1947, and now includes the president, vice president, national security advisor, secretaries of state and defense, and a variety of other senior officials.
National Security Council (NSC) staff:the president’s national security and foreign policy personnel. The NSC staff receives direction from the president via the national security advisor, provides expertise on issues and regions, and collaborates frequently with employees from other government departments and agencies to carry out the interagency policymaking process.
national security presidential memorandum:a type of presidential directive, or official order from the president, on matters related to national security. Called different names by different administrations, these documents may initiate a review of current policy, reorganize the structure of the national security policy apparatus, or lay out new strategies.
nonstate actors:individuals or groups that do not belong to or act on behalf of a state. This may refer to nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International, media outlets such as the New York Times, or terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.


policy coordination committees (PCCs):the lowest-level setting for debating issues in the National Security Council (NSC) system and the home of much of the day-to-day work needed to formulate and implement U.S. foreign policy. Often chaired by a senior director on the NSC staff, PCCs develop, coordinate, and carry out policy options in distinct regional and functional areas.
principals committee (PC):the highest-level setting, aside from the National Security Council (NSC) itself, for debating issues in the NSC system. Generally chaired by the national security advisor, it comprises cabinet-level officials who head major government departments concerned with national security, such as the secretaries of state, defense, and homeland security, and other senior officials.


sanction:a tool of statecraft, frequently involving economic measures such as asset freezes and trade restrictions, used to exact a certain behavior or outcome from another party. The U.S. and EU sanctions against Russian companies and individuals that aim to encourage Russia to end its interference in Ukraine are an example.
secretary of defense:the principal defense policy advisor to the president and head of the Department of Defense, which oversees the formulation and execution of defense policy and manages U.S. military forces.
secretary of energy:the head of the Department of Energy, which executes U.S. policy on energy, environmental, and nuclear issues and oversees seventeen national scientific research laboratories.
secretary of homeland security:the head of the Department of Homeland Security since its creation after the attacks of September 11, 2001. This department works to protect U.S. security by implementing federal policy concerning terrorism prevention, border security, immigration, disaster response, and cybersecurity.
secretary of state:the president’s chief foreign affairs advisor, the country’s chief diplomat, and the head of the Department of State, which conducts the United States’ relationships with foreign countries and international organizations.
secretary of the treasury:one of the president’s chief economic advisors and head of the department of the treasury, which carries out policy on issues related to the U.S. and global economies and financial systems. The department is home to the U.S. Mint and Internal Revenue Service, among other agencies.
special operations forces:elite U.S. military units, such as Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) teams and Army Special Forces, grouped under U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). They conduct specialized and often sensitive missions that include guerrilla warfare, counterterrorism raids, counterproliferation, and advanced reconnaissance.


tariff:a tax on goods arriving from a foreign country, generally used as a tool of trade and foreign policy to penalize adversaries or favor allies or domestic producers.


U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations (UN):the ambassador-level official who advances U.S. foreign policy interests in the bodies and forums of the UN system.
unilateral:undertaken by only one entity, generally a country.


vice president:the second-highest-ranking official of the U.S. government and first in line to assume the presidency if the president dies, resigns, or becomes unable to serve. Though given only one responsibility in the Constitution—to serve as president of the U.S. Senate, with the power to break ties—the vice presidency has become a visible part of the modern White House. Today’s vice presidents undertake a variety of functions, from serving as an all-purpose presidential advisor to carrying out diplomatic trips abroad. The personality of the individual who occupies this post and his or her relationship with the president define the scope of the role.
Case Notes Sections
NATO Cover image

“I firmly believe that our generation still has a better opportunity than any other generation ever had in the long and bloody history of this century:  to build a peaceful Euro-Atlantic order.” Secretary General Manfred Worner, October 1993

2.1 Introduction

Founded in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has stood for decades as the world’s foremost military alliance. Initially comprising the United States, Canada, and ten European countries, NATO connects the United States with many of its closest allies. It has thus long been a critical instrument of U.S. foreign policy.

NATO was established as the Cold War set in between the Soviet Union and the U.S.-led West. The alliance embodied the concept of collective defense: its members pledged to defend one another from security threats. In particular, given the outsize strength of the U.S. military, NATO membership obligated the United States to defend its European allies from possible Soviet attack. In an extreme case, this defense could include the United States’ using its nuclear weapons, placing the NATO allies under what is called the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

The Soviet Union never attacked a NATO state. It collapsed in 1991, breaking into an array of weak countries in deep economic distress. Even the strongest of them, Russia, posed little threat to the West. But as the Soviet threat dissipated, so did NATO’s original reason for being. NATO leaders had to decide whether the alliance should survive—and if so, how its purpose and activities should evolve in this new era. One critical question, if NATO continued, was about enlargement: whether, when, and how it should admit new countries from Central and Eastern Europe. 

This question sparked intense debate in the U.S. government and beyond. Shortly after President Bill Clinton took office in January 1993, the idea arose for what would become the Partnership for Peace (PfP), a forum for military cooperation between the alliance and countries from the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. This idea gained support among U.S. officials, though they disagreed over whether to go further and outline a clear path for new countries to formally join the alliance in the foreseeable future. At stake was the future of a continent that had been plagued for eighty years by two world wars and a cold war.

North Atlantic Council Meeting

“The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” George Kennan, 1947

2.2 Background and Context

NATO’s Foundation

NATO arose from the political and economic shifts in Europe that followed World War II. Although the Soviet Union had been allied with the United States, France, and the United Kingdom during the war, postwar Europe fell into a stark division between a democratic West friendly to Washington and a communist East that looked to Moscow. The division solidified along ideological lines. Moscow’s assertion of control over Eastern Europe served its ambition to maintain a foothold in Europe and spread communism throughout the world. The Western ideals of free market capitalism and democracy opposed this, and U.S. and west European leaders feared the threat of communism to democracies in Europe and elsewhere. It became clear that the Soviet Union was no longer a partner, as it had been during the war. It was instead a rival.

As tensions between the Soviet Union and the West rose, west European countries became worried about their security. The United States was also prepared to sustain a long-term presence in Europe. These factors drove the United States, Canada, and ten west European countries to establish NATO. The alliance’s founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty, was signed in Washington, DC, on April 4, 1949. In Article 5 of the treaty, the allies “agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” Each also agreed to aid any other that was attacked. This notion of collective defense is the heart of the alliance. Because the United States was at the time the only nuclear-armed state among them, the allies came under the so-called U.S. nuclear umbrella. This security guarantee has always been a critical aspect of NATO’s strategic position. 

By its own account, NATO was formed for three purposes: to deter Soviet expansionism, to prevent violent nationalism from reemerging, and to encourage democratic norms and political cooperation in Europe. These purposes aligned with the views of U.S. and other NATO leaders that a continent of economically vibrant and militarily capable states, firmly linked with one another, could best resist communist expansion. NATO was also a vehicle to keep the United States committed to Europe’s security. NATO’s first secretary-general, Hastings Lionel Ismay of the United Kingdom, memorably put the alliance’s aims succinctly: to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” 

NATO During the Cold War

NATO quickly began to fulfill its mission as both a military alliance and a political anchor of the U.S.-led Western order. One early area of activity was enlargement. Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, followed by what was then West Germany in 1955. 

Eight days after West Germany’s entrance, the Soviet Union and seven of its east European satellite states established the Warsaw Treaty Organization, an alliance better known as the Warsaw Pact. Soviet leaders intended the pact to be a counterweight to NATO and to strengthen Soviet control over the region. Like NATO, the Warsaw Pact was a nuclear alliance; the Soviet Union had tested its first nuclear weapon in 1949. 

Given that any conflict between the Soviet Union and the West could escalate to nuclear war, military doctrine focused heavily on deterrence—the idea of preventing an attack by threatening retaliation. This approach was underscored by the concept of mutually assured destruction, premised on the idea that the United States and the Soviet Union each had nuclear arsenals large and reliable enough to destroy the other.

Throughout the Cold War, NATO retained an important political role. The 1967 NATO report “The Future Tasks of the Alliance” introduced a dual-track policy: the idea of both maintaining adequate defense and promoting political cooperation and dialogue. This line of thinking—broadening the organization’s goals and approach to security—had a lasting effect on NATO’s strategic vision. The report laid the foundation for the negotiation of the Helsinki Final Act, which offered inspiration and a legal foundation for later efforts to bring democracy and human rights to Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, NATO endured as a mechanism to support and maintain democracy in Europe. A newly democratic Spain joined the alliance in 1982, the first addition since West Germany. 


Conclusion of the Cold War

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union began to face growing economic strain and civil discontent. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev responded with two initiatives: perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). The former aimed to reform the Soviet economy and political system by, for example, giving local governments more power and reducing the state’s role in planning and directing companies’ actions. The latter eased the strict social controls that Moscow imposed on Soviet citizens. Even with these reforms, the Soviet Union was far from a free market democracy. It was, however, inching in this direction. 

These transitions took hold outside the Soviet Union as well, and communist rule began to crumble in Warsaw Pact countries. Civil society leaders throughout Eastern Europe had long campaigned, often under severe repression, to free their countries from Soviet domination. Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union emboldened these democratic movements. In the late 1980s, Gorbachev allowed them to break through. In a landmark speech at the United Nations in December 1988, he announced that the Soviet Union would reduce its military presence in Eastern Bloc countries. The following July, he said that he would no longer prop up their communist governments. In other words, the Soviet Union would not use repression and force to impose its will, as it had long done. This so-called Sinatra Doctrine signaled that democracy was coming.

By mid-1990, all the formerly communist states in Eastern Europe had undergone democratic transitions. One of the most dramatic moments came, fittingly, in divided Berlin. On November 9, 1989, the East German government’s spokesman announced, apparently unintentionally, that East German citizens could cross freely into the West. With hammers and picks and within minutes, Berliners started bringing down the wall that had divided their city since 1961.

It took less than a year for Germany to be unified, West Germany absorbing East. Critically, the entire country then became a member of NATO. Taking in the former East German territory in October 1990 was the alliance’s first enlargement into the Eastern Bloc. Soviet leaders resisted this, pushing instead for Germany to have “associate membership” in both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. This initiative failed. Leaders did not view it at the time as the first step in a larger NATO expansion. Instead, they considered Germany a unique case. Either way, this event was a clear sign that NATO’s role in Europe was to endure.

The addition of a unified Germany to NATO was a harbinger of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Shortly after East Germany left the pact in preparation for its unification with the West, other countries, including newly democratic Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, began expressing a desire to withdraw from the organization and escape Soviet control. By July 1991, the Warsaw Pact had ceased to exist

The Soviet Union itself would not exist for much longer. In August 1991, hard-line communists seeking to regain control of the state attempted a coup d’état. Although unsuccessful, the event undermined Gorbachev’s power and strengthened the appeal of Boris Yeltsin, the leader of Russia’s democratic movement. Fall 1991 brought declarations of independence from numerous Soviet republics. On December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned as leader of the Soviet Union, which then dissolved into fifteen separate and struggling states. Yeltsin became president of the main one, formally called the Russian Federation and commonly known as Russia. 

In only a few years, Europe had undergone a radical transformation. The Soviet Union, the main adversary of the United States, had collapsed. Democratic governments were in power throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

Finally free to chart their own course, many newly independent east European countries were eager to cooperate with the West. NATO membership, and the security guarantee that came with it, seemed to be the perfect bulwark against any reassertion of Soviet dominance. In May 1990, President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia had predicted that NATO could “become the seed of a new European security system.” Two years later, Havel, Polish President Lech Walesa, and Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall announced their intention to seek full membership in NATO. 

Clinton stands with Visegrad group leaders

“If NATO is to remain an anchor for European and Atlantic stability, as the President believes it must, its members must commit themselves to updating NATO's role in this new era. Unless NATO is willing over time to assume a broader role, then it will lose public support, and all our nations will lose a vital bond of transatlantic and European security.”

Anthony Lake, September 1993

2.3 U.S. Policy Debate

Once in office, President Bill Clinton prioritized forming a strong relationship with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He encouraged Yeltsin’s efforts to reform Russia’s economy and government, aiming to help the country build a stable democracy. In March 1993, newly appointed Secretary of State Warren Christopher called supporting Russia’s transition to democracy the “greatest security challenge of our time.” Later he would write, “Our assessment was that America’s national interest lay squarely in supporting the process of reform—and that this was the key payoff of the end of the Cold War.”

The Clinton administration’s desire to consolidate the Cold War victory was not limited to Russia, however. On April 21, 1993, Clinton met several central and east European leaders in Washington. Among them were Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa, both giants of the resistance to Soviet rule. At a press conference in June, Clinton recalled, “Every one of those presidents said that their number one priority was to get into NATO.” The encounter, only three months into Clinton’s presidency, left him favorably disposed to enlargement. However, enlargement was far from a sure thing as the Clinton administration settled in.

Opinion on NATO enlargement within the administration was not neatly divided. On one end of the continuum were those, such as National Security Advisor Tony Lake and several State Department officials, who supported enlargement as soon as possible. Those supporting prompt enlargement believed that outlining a timetable and criteria at the Brussels summit was essential to keeping Central and Eastern Europe on the path of democratic reform, even if it took time for new members to fully join the alliance. Others favored enlargement, or at least were open to it, but wanted a slower approach that did not include an early membership plan. This framework would leave time to solidify democratic reforms and address Russian concerns about NATO’s expansion.

Opinions varied even among those unfavorable toward enlargement. Many officials, mostly leading figures in defense, did not want to close NATO’s door forever, but did not want to consider the question anytime soon. Most notable among them were Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili. Aspin and Shalikashvili believed that from a military perspective, expansion would reduce NATO’s effectiveness by making operations more unwieldy and consensus harder to forge. They also thought that extending a security guarantee to central European states did not serve U.S. interests. 

Many opponents of enlargement in the immediate future also feared “jeopardizing the West’s relations with Russia,” as the scholar and former NSC staff member Charles Kupchan puts it. Moscow was too weak to prevent NATO enlargement, but it remained a nuclear power. Maintaining good relations was important. Doing so would advance Clinton’s priority of supporting Russia’s democratic reforms; a Russia angered by NATO expansion would be more likely to resist U.S. advice. Furthermore, some policymakers argued, enlargement would foster nationalism and resentment in Russia that could prove dangerous when the country became stronger down the road. Meanwhile, enlargement could undercut Yeltsin, a reformist leader who was building a warm relationship with Clinton. Finally, some opponents of enlargement said that adding new members to NATO over Russian objections would rebuild the dividing line that afflicted Europe throughout the Cold War. The new line would merely be further east. Proponents of enlargement countered that such a line would at least reflect the contemporary reality, not that of 1945.


Supporters of enlargement did not dismiss the need for constructive U.S.-Russia ties. Rather, they believed the administration could minimize and manage Russian apprehension by reassuring Moscow that NATO expansion was not a threat. As noted, some proponents believed a relatively long timeline for enlargement would help. Some also contended that enlargement would prevent a “security vacuum” from forming in central and eastern Europe, a vacuum both Russia and Western powers could be tempted to fill. By avoiding this competition, NATO enlargement could “in fact benefit Russia’s relationship with the West,” as Kupchan recounts.

Proponents of enlargement also argued that fully integrating former Warsaw Pact states would boost their movement toward democracy and prosperity. The clear prospect of NATO membership could prove an incentive for reforms over time. It would also, in some supporters’ eyes, strengthen the Cold War triumph of American ideals and reinforce Washington’s continued leadership and influence in Europe. 

Amid these competing arguments, an idea called the Partnership for Peace (PfP) became the focus of debate within the Clinton administration. The proposal originated in the Department of Defense, whose leaders supported PfP as a useful initiative that could postpone discussion of NATO’s enlargement. It was a military-to-military program intended to allow NATO countries to build defense ties with the countries of the former Warsaw Pact, including post-Soviet states such as Russia. These ties would operate between NATO and each country, not through the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. PfP would focus on military cooperation, joint exercises, defense reform, and cooperation on science and environmental issues. Many experts saw PfP as a win-win alternative to immediate NATO enlargement. The partnership would not be a military alliance, thus allowing Russia to come into the fold and reassuring it that NATO would not be a threat to its security. Because each relationship would be between an individual partner country and NATO, old enemies such as Hungary and Romania would not have to work together. And, more important, some proponents saw PfP as an eventual path to membership for those countries that did the most to upgrade their militaries, consolidate their democratic institutions, and strengthen their relationships with NATO countries. 

Detractors, however, saw the partnership as a weak attempt to placate Russia. Many, including both U.S. and European politicians, thought it would either be ineffective at establishing peace and security or indicate that the Americans were too weak to stand up to Russia—or both. Despite these arguments, the Clinton administration came to a consensus on PfP over fall 1993. Officials agreed to advance it as part of the U.S. position at the Brussels summit in January 1994. However, doing so did not settle the disagreement within the administration over NATO expansion. Was PfP a substitute for enlargement in the coming years? Or should a clear path to NATO membership exist alongside PfP? As the summit approached, the debate churned on.

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Case Notes Glossary


alliance:an official partnership between two or more parties based on cooperation in pursuit of a common goal, generally involving security or defense.


Berlin Wall:a concrete wall and series of trenches that separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Built by the East German government, it was viewed as a symbol of the Iron Curtain, the division of Europe along ideological lines between Soviet and American spheres. The wall’s aim was to prevent East Berliners, who were under Soviet administration, from reaching West Berlin, which was administered by the United States and its allies. Dozens perished at the hands of border police as they attempted to cross into West Berlin. After a policy change by the East German government, the wall was torn down in 1989, heralding the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990. The collapse of the wall was one of the most consequential events in the final stage of the Cold War.


capitalism:a political ideology and economic system based on private property, market competition, and profit. In this system, prices and the distribution of goods are determined by market forces. Proponents of capitalism emphasize the role of private individuals and corporations in economic decision-making. During the Cold War, the contrast between the capitalist, market-driven economic systems of the United States and its allies and the state-driven, communist economies of Warsaw Pact nations was a central basis of ideological competition.
Cold War:the contest between the United States and the Soviet Union—and, by extension, capitalist democracy and communist dictatorship—that characterized international politics between the post–World War II years and the early 1990s. Deemed a “cold” war because the rivalry never resulted in direct warfare between the two, the contest nevertheless sparked proxy wars in other countries and many close calls, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
collective defense:a security arrangement whereby states or other entities agree to work together on defense, rather than each defending only itself. The principle of collective defense is enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the founding document of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which states, “the Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” The parties also agree to help defend any allies that come under attack.
communism:a political ideology that advocates for public ownership of essential resources such as factories, farms, and mines in a society where wealth is divided equally among citizens. Envisioned by German philosopher Karl Marx in the nineteenth century, communism is seen as an ideological rival to Western capitalism; the contest between these ideologies was a central dynamic of the Cold War and the Korean War. The political ideology also contributed to the division of the Korean peninsula, with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) established in the North with the Soviet Union’s support and the U.S.-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South.


deterrence:a strategy used to discourage an enemy from attacking by instilling a fear of retaliation. Scholars generally consider an effective deterrent to rely on capability and will, that is the means to retaliate and the intention to do so. Deterrence was the foundation of U.S. and NATO strategy toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. One variant is extended deterrence, in which a state threatens retaliation to prevent attacks not on itself but on its allies. The United States has long used extended deterrence to protect NATO members and other allies. In this way, the United States is also offering to these allies what is called a security guarantee.


Eastern Bloc:the Central and East European countries that were members of the Warsaw Pact. Whereas NATO included the United States and its allies, the Warsaw Pact comprised the Soviet Union and countries that operated under Soviet influence.


Federal Republic of Germany:the formal name of both West Germany, a democratic state that was allied to the United States during the Cold War, and the present-day country commonly known as Germany. The federal republic was established in the zones occupied by the United States, France, and the United Kingdom following the partitioning of Germany by victorious powers at the end of World War II. It joined NATO in 1955. In 1990, as the Cold War came to a close, the country reunified with East Germany to form the country that exists today.


German Democratic Republic:a communist state, also known as the GDR or East Germany, that existed from 1949 to 1990. It was established in the zone occupied by the Soviet Union following the partitioning of Germany by victorious powers at the end of World War II. East Germany was a satellite state of the Soviet Union, which maintained military forces on its territory, throughout the Cold War. In 1990, as the Cold War came to a close, the GDR reunited with West Germany, forming the country of Germany that exists today.
glasnost:a policy of transparency, or openness, introduced by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 and characterized by a loosening of restrictions on the media and an increased tolerance of political dissent. Part of a reform program that also included perestroika, or restructuring, this policy is considered to have heralded—and even paved the way for—the Soviet collapse.


Helsinki Final Act:the final document produced at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, held in Finland in 1975. The conference attempted to ease tensions between the Soviet and Western camps of the Cold War by opening channels of communication and promoting cooperation between Eastern and Western Europe. The act committed its signatories to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens and formally recognized the national borders that had solidified in the aftermath of World War II. Although Western allies focused on the human rights provisions, the Soviet Union took the act to be a Western recognition of Soviet control in Eastern Europe.


nationalism:a sense of pride in and loyalty to a national identity, which may or may not correspond to a sovereign state. This identity is often based on common traits such as ethnicity or language.
NATO secretary-general:the civilian leader of NATO. The secretary-general’s responsibilities include managing NATO’s civilian staff, chairing meetings of the North Atlantic Council, and serving as public face of the organization and its political mission. Customarily, this individual is an experienced leader from a European NATO member state.
nuclear umbrella:a form of a security guarantee in which a state that possesses nuclear weapons pledges to protect allied or friendly states that do not. It is intended to deter nuclear attacks on nonnuclear states, thus avoiding the temptation for the latter to develop nuclear weapons themselves.


perestroika:a set of political and economic reforms, or restructuring, that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev instituted during the 1980s. Accompanied by a policy of glasnost, or transparency, the reforms are largely viewed as having unintentionally brought about the end of the Soviet Union. Chief among the reforms was moving away from a centrally planned communist economic system and toward a more decentralized market economy.


security vacuum:a situation in which no single authority is clearly in charge of maintaining security. Such a vacuum can lead to competition among those that want to take charge, whether rebel groups in a civil conflict or outside superpowers (the United States and the Soviet Union) in the Cold War.
Soviet Union:officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the political entity in existence from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to the early 1990s that encompassed modern-day Russia and fifteen neighboring countries. With a communist economy and totalitarian system of government, the Soviet Union grew to be the other major superpower in the post–World War II era. As such, it was the principal antagonist of the United States during the Cold War.


Warsaw Pact:a collective defense agreement signed in 1955 by the Soviet Union and seven East European nations. Created in response to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955, the agreement created a military alliance to prevent the spread of American influence in Europe and maintain a Soviet military presence in participating nations.
Role Play Sections
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 should have received an email with your role assignment, but if you did not, you can view your assignment by clicking on the “My Simulations" tab on your account page. At this point, you should have reviewed essential background information about the NSC, read the case, watched the accompanying videos, and perused some of the additional reading. 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 read the case once again to identify material that is particularly relevant to your role or that requires further investigation. After that, you will conduct independent research as you write your position memo and prepare for the role-play.

There are four 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 Memoranda (3.3) provides information about position memos and an example; and the Guide to the Role-Play (3.4) provides more information on the in-class role-play.

You can learn about your role by reading the information provided on your role sheet, which can be found in the Guide to the Role-Play section (3.4). 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). 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 Four, Wrap-up).

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

3.2 Research and Preparation

Your role sheet 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. Most relevant, however, are the research leads. Going beyond the reports and articles linked to throughout the case and in the reading list, these research leads provide suggested materials and topics for further research specifically relevant to your assigned role. Below are some tips to review as you prepare for the role-play exercise.

Research and Preparation

  • Draw on the case notes, additional case materials, and your own research to familiarize yourself with

    • the goals of the NSC in general and of this NSC meeting in particular;
    • the U.S. interests at stake in the case and their importance to national security;
    • your role and your department or agency, including its purpose and objectives in the government and on the NSC;
    • the aspects of the case most relevant to your role;
    • the elements that a comprehensive policy proposal on the case should contain; and
    • the major debates or conflicts likely to occur during the role-play. You need not resolve these yourself, of course, but you will want to anticipate them in order to articulate and defend your position in the NSC deliberation.
  • Set goals for your research. Know which questions you seek to answer and refer back to the case notes, additional readings, and research leads as needed.
  • Make a list of questions that you feel are not fully answered by the given materials. What do you need to research in greater depth? Can your classmates help you understand these subjects?
  • Using the case materials, additional readings, and discussions with your classmates, weigh the relative importance of the U.S. interests at stake in the case. Determine where trade-offs might be required and think through the potential consequences of several different policy options.
  • Conduct your research from the perspective of your assigned role, but be sure to consider the full range of U.S. interests at stake in the case, whether diplomatic, military, economic, environmental, moral, or otherwise. This will help you strengthen your policy position and anticipate and prepare for debates in the role-play.
  • Consider what questions or challenges the president or other NSC members might raise regarding the options you propose and have responses ready.



  • Consult a wide range of sources to gain a full perspective on the issues raised in the case and on policy options. Seek out sources that you may not normally use, such as publications from the region(s) under discussion, unclassified and declassified government documents, and specialized policy reports and journals.
  • Remember: Wikipedia is not a reliable source, but it can be a reasonable starting point. The citations at the bottom of each entry often contain useful resources. 
  • Just as policymakers tackle issues that are controversial and subject to multiple interpretations, so will you in your preparation for the writing assignments and role-play. For this reason, evaluate your sources carefully. Always ask yourself:
    • When was the information produced? Is it still relevant and accurate?
    • Who is writing or speaking and why? Does the author or speaker have a particular motivation or affiliation that you should take into account?
    • Where is the information published? Determine the political leanings of journals, magazines, and newspapers by reading several articles published by each one.
    • Who is the intended audience?
    • Does the author provide sufficient evidence for his or her analysis or opinion? Does the author cite reliable and impartial sources?
    • Does the information appear one-sided? Does it consider multiple points of view?
    • Is the language measured or inflammatory? Do any of the points appear exaggerated?
  • Take note of and cite your sources correctly. This is important not just for reasons of academic integrity, but so that you can revisit them as needed.
  • Ask your teacher which style he or she prefers you use when citing sources, such as Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago Manual of Style, or Associated Press (AP).

Reading List


2.1 The Issue

“NATO Retools,” Washington Post, July 8, 1990, https://search.proquest.com/docview/140336216?pq-origsite=summon.

Jeffrey Simon, “Does Eastern Europe Belong in NATO?,” Orbis 37, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 21–35, http://fpri.org/article/1993/01/eastern-europe-belong-nato.

 “The World Sends NATO Back to the Drawing Board,” Economist, Dec 25, 1993–January 7, 1994, 61–62, https://search.proquest.com/docview/224146488?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:summon&accountid=37722.


2.2 Background

Ronald D.  Asmus, Richard L. Kugler, and F. Stephen Larrabee, “Building a New NATO,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 1993, 28–40, http://foreignaffairs.com/articles/southeastern-europe/1993-09-01/building-new-nato.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, “The Cold War and Its Aftermath,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 1992, 31–49, https://foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/1992-09-01/cold-war-and-its-aftermath.

Michael Elliot, “‘Don’t Gloat’ Wins the Day,” Newsweek, October 31, 1993, http://newsweek.com/dont-gloat-wins-day-194062.


2.4 Policy Debate

James Chace, “Exit, NATO,” New York Times, June 14, 1993, http://nytimes.com/1993/06/14/opinion/exit-nato.html.

Anthony Lake, “From Containment to Enlargement,” remarks at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, September 21, 1993, http://mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/lakedoc.html.

 “No Larger NATO Now,” New York Times editorial, October 25, 1993, http://nytimes.com/1993/10/25/opinion/no-larger-nato-now.html.




“At East-West Crossroads, Western Europe Hesitates,” New York Times, March 25, 1992, http://nytimes.com/1992/03/25/world/at-east-west-crossroads-western-europe-hesitates.html.

Jack Beatty, “The Exorbitant Anachronism,” Atlantic, June 1989, http://theatlantic.com/past/docs/politics/defense/dpbeatt1.htm

Paul Bracken and Stuart Johnson, “Beyond NATO: Complementary Militaries,” Orbis 37, no. 2 (Spring 1993): 205–222, http://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0030438793902252

Jonathan Clarke, “Replacing NATO,” Foreign Policy, Winter 1993, http://jstor.org/stable/1149018?pq-origsite=summon&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

Roger Cohen, “NATO and Russia Clash on Future Alliances,” New York Times, December 10, 1993, http://nytimes.com/1993/12/10/world/nato-and-russia-clash-on-future-alliances.html.

Ole Diehl, Clive Archer, James Pettifer, and Deepak Tripathi, “Expanding NATO to Eastern Europe?,” World Today, December 1993, http://jstor.org/stable/40396461?seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents.

Steven Erlanger, “Russia Warns NATO on Expanding East,” New York Times, November 25, 1993, http://nytimes.com/1993/11/26/world/russia-warns-nato-on-expanding-east.html.

Thomas L. Friedman, “Soviet Disarray; Yeltsin Says Russia Seeks to Join NATO,” New York Times, December 21, 1991, http://nytimes.com/1991/12/21/world/soviet-disarray-yeltsin-says-russia-seeks-to-join-nato.html.

William T. Johnsen, Thomas Durell-Young, Jeffrey Simon, Daniel N. Nelson, William Bodie, and James McCarthy, “European Security Toward the Year 2000,” National Defense University, McNair Paper no. 20, August 1993.

Henry Kissinger, “Not This Partnership,” Washington Post, November 24, 1993, https://washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1993/11/24/not-this-partnership/4c133f65-5164-4098-a40d-4d22e38ee8d0/?utm_term=.cf18bbe45fb3.

Ira Louis Straus, “Bring Russia and Ukraine into NATO Together,” letter to the editor, New York Times, June 28, 1993, http://nytimes.com/1993/06/28/opinion/l-bring-russia-and-ukraine-into-nato-together-785893.html.

New York Times News Service, “Yeltsin Rips NATO Expansion,” Chicago Tribune, December 10, 1993, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-12-10/news/9312100166_1_nato-membership-warsaw-pact-members-nato-officials.

David B. Ottaway and Peter Maass, “Hungary, NATO Grope Toward New Relationship,” Washington Post, November 17, 1993, http://washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1993/11/17/hungary-nato-grope-toward-new-relationship/cf8b83f4-0a0a-4850-8590-ca75b5abc2ac/?utm_term=.b83bedfebd97.

Alexei Pushkov and Miroslav Polreich, “Building a New NATO at Russia’s Expense,” letter to the editor, Foreign Affairs, January/February 1994, 173,  https://jstor.org/stable/20045901?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

Leonard Silk, “Economic Scene; How Much Aid to Give the East?” New York Times, January 3, 1992, http://nytimes.com/1992/01/03/business/economic-scene-how-much-aid-to-give-the-east.html.

Jeffrey Simon, “Does Eastern Europe Belong in NATO?,” Orbis, Winter 1993, http://fpri.org/article/1993/01/eastern-europe-belong-nato.

“The Future of NATO: Hearing Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,” 101st Cong. (1990), https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000019109596;view=1up;seq=5.

Craig R. Whitney, “The Russian Vote; Russian Vote Stirs Uncertainty for NATO Talks,” New York Times, December 14, 1993, http://nytimes.com/1993/12/15/world/the-russian-vote-russian-vote-stirs-uncertainty-for-nato-talks.html.

“Why NATO?,” Economist,  May 23, 1992, http://search.proquest.com/docview/224170205?pq-origsite=summon.

 “Yeltsin Says Russia Will Take Over the Soviet Union’s Seat in United Nations,” Washington Post, December 24, 1991, http://search.proquest.com/docview/307458023?pq-origsite=summon.


Ronald D. Asmus, “Europe’s Eastern Promise: Rethinking NATO and EU Enlargement,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2008, 95–106, http://foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/2008-01-01/europes-eastern-promise.

Christopher Clark and Kristina Spohr, “Moscow’s Account of NATO Expansion Is a Case of False Memory Syndrome,” Guardian, May 24, 2015, http://theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/24/russia-nato-expansion-memory-grievances.

William J. Clinton, “Remarks to People of Detroit,” October 22, 1996, NATO, transcript, http://nato.int/docu/speech/1996/s961022a.htm.

William J. Clinton, “Remarks to the 49th Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” September 26, 1994, U.S. Department of State, transcript, https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/io/potusunga/207377.htm.

Stephen F. Cohen, “Have 20 Years of NATO Expansion Made Anyone Safer?,” Nation, October 18, 2017, http://thenation.com/article/have-20-years-of-nato-expansion-made-anyone-safer.

James Goldgeier, “Promises Made, Promises Broken? What Yeltsin Was Told About NATO in 1993 and Why It Matters,” War on the Rocks, July 12, 2016, http://warontherocks.com/2016/07/promises-made-promises-broken-what-yeltsin-was-told-about-nato-in-1993-and-why-it-matters.

Edward P. Joseph, “NATO Expansion: The Source of Russia’s Anger?,” National Interest, May 1, 2014, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/nato-expansion-the-source-russias-anger-10344.

Andrew A. Michta, “NATO Enlargement Post-1989: Successful Adaptation or Decline?” Contemporary European History 18, no. 3 (2009): 363–376. http://jstor.org/stable/40542832.

“NATO-Russia Relations: The Facts,” NATO, last updated February 28, 2018, http://nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_111767.htm

Vladimir Putin, “Prepared Remarks at 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy,” February 12, 2007, Washington Post, transcript, http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/12/AR2007021200555.html.

Michael Rühle, “NATO Enlargement and Russia: Myths and Realities,” NATO Review, January 7, 2014, http://nato.int/docu/review/2014/Russia-Ukraine-Nato-crisis/Nato-enlargement-Russia/EN/index.htm

Eugene Rumer, “NATO Expansion: Strategic Genius or Historic Mistake?,” National Interest, August 21, 2014, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/nato-expansion-strategic-genius-or-historic-mistake-11114.

 Mary Elise Sarotte, “A Broken Promise? What The West Really Told Moscow About NATO Expansion,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2014, https://foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2014-08-11/broken-promise.

Richard Sokolsky, “The New NATO-Russia Military Balance: Implications for European Security,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 13, 2017, http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/03/13/new-nato-russia-military-balance-implications-for-european-security-pub-68222.


Quotation Sources


Manfred Worner, “A New NATO for a New Era” (speech), National Press Club, Washington, DC, October 6, 1993, http://nato.int/docu/speech/1993/s931006a.htm.


X (George F. Kennan), “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” Foreign Affairs, July 1947, 566–582, http://foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/1947-07-01/sources-soviet-conduct.


Anthony Lake, “From Containment to Enlargement,” remarks at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, September 21, 1993, http://mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/lakedoc.html.


Margaret Thatcher, NATO Summit press conference, July 6, 1990, http://c-span.org/video/?13077-1/nato-summit.

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

3.3 Guide to the Memoranda

A major goal of the Model Diplomacy program is to strengthen your ability to write concise, articulate, and persuasive documents that busy colleagues can absorb quickly. In completing this section and Section Four, you will write two memoranda, or memos. These assignments will improve your writing skills and give you a taste of how U.S. foreign policy is conceived, coordinated, and executed.

What is a memorandum?

  • A memo is a formal, succinct written message from one person, department, or organization to another. It is an important form of formal, written communication in the workplace. A memo is generally short, to the point, and free of flowery language and extraneous information. A memo is typically informative or decision-oriented and is formatted in a way that helps readers quickly grasp the main points.
  • In the National Security Council (NSC), memos consider, coordinate, and articulate policy options. They help analyze, evaluate, advocate, and channel those policy options and decisions within the bureaucracy.
  • Memos also function as historical record. Many memos related to NSC discussions and presidential decisions are filed in government archives. Some are later declassified and released to help people understand how policy was devised at a given time in U.S. history. You can access historical examples of memos online. One such resource is maintained by the Federation of American Scientists and offers links to memoranda and directives that various U.S. presidents have issued.

Position Memo 


  • The first memo everyone (except the president) writes is called a position memo. It is written from the perspective of your assigned role. It presents a set of policy options for consideration by the NSC and recommends one of them to the president. The recommendation, or position, outlined in this memo is the one you will present during the role-play. (Keep in mind you may change your position as a result of the role-play discussion.)
  • The position memo will help your fellow NSC members consider the issue efficiently and facilitate decision-making by the president. Equally important, it will help you clarify your understanding of the case by forcing you to identify the essential facts and viable policy options.
  • If you have been assigned a specific role, remember that you are writing from the point of view of the department, agency, or office you represent. Using your institutional position as a lens, you will outline a set of options to address the crisis. Make sure you take into account the pros, cons, and ramifications of each option as it pertains to your role and as it is informed by your reading of the case materials and further research. Also, anticipate critiques of your proposed policy and incorporate your response into the memo. Doing so will help you prepare for the role-play.

Note: If you are assigned the role of president, you will not write a position memo. Instead, you will write a two-page presidential directive, or PD, at the conclusion of the role-play. You will address the PD, which will follow a memo format, to the NSC members and inform them of your final decision regarding the policy option or options to be implemented (see below).

If your teacher has chosen to assign everyone the role of general advisor to the president, you will not need to write the position memo from a particular institutional position. Instead, you will have the flexibility to approach the issue from your own perspective, incorporating a comprehensive assessment of the crisis into your argument.


Position Memo Guidelines

Total length: approximately one thousand words

  • Subject and background (two short paragraphs): Summarize in the first paragraph the significance of the issue in the context of U.S. foreign policy and national security. Identify in the second the central policy question or questions to be decided. Provide just enough information about the crisis so that the reader understands your memo’s purpose and importance; do not attempt to discuss the case in any depth.
  • Objectives (bullet points): Succinctly state your department’s objectives in the current crisis. These can be general national security objectives (such as preventing war) or more specific goals tied to your department’s mission (such as protecting U.S. citizens). They should be important to U.S. national security, directly tied to the case, and feasible. These objectives should guide the policy analysis and recommendation that make up the rest of your memo.
  • Options and analysis (one paragraph for each option): Present and analyze several options for U.S. policy. Discuss their costs, benefits, and resource needs where possible. To illuminate the trade-offs inherent in complex policy decisions, be sure to acknowledge the weaknesses or disadvantages of each proposed option. No option is likely to be perfect.
  • Recommendation and justification (several paragraphs): Identify your preferred policy option or options and describe how you think it or they could be carried out. Explain your reasoning, keeping in mind that you aim to convince the president to follow your recommendation. Addressing the weaknesses or disadvantages you identified in the options and analysis section can help strengthen your argument.

Click here to see a sample position memo.

Presidential Directive


The format of the presidential directive is simpler than that of a position memo. A directive contains a record of the policy option or options that the president has chosen as well as the accompanying orders to various parts of the government with details on how to carry out these decisions.

  • Start with a short paragraph describing the purpose of the memo. Everyone you are writing to was in the NSC meeting, so only brief context is needed.
  • Explain in numbered paragraphs the decisions you have made, why you have made them, and any details regarding how you want the decisions carried out.
  • Explain the communications strategy for the decision, considering both relevant foreign governments and the public. Also, consider that you may wish to keep certain elements of the decision secret from the public.
  • Include any additional details before you sign.
  • Be sure to include all the information necessary for NSC members to understand and carry out your intentions.

Click here  to see a sample presidential directive.

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

3.4 Guide to the Role-play

During the simulated NSC meeting, you will meet to debate and discuss U.S. policy options in response to the issues outlined in the case. Consistent with the NSC’s mission to advise the president, you should raise the issues that are most important for the president to consider. This will enable him or her to make the most informed decision on policy options. Though you may or may not agree with this decision, your responsibility as an NSC member is to provide the best possible analysis and advice from the perspective of your role.

Role-play Guidelines

  1. Stay in your role at all times.
  2. Follow the general protocol for speaking.
    1. Signaling to Speak

      1. The National Security Advisor (NSA) will administer the meeting and should decide on a speaking order. Wait to be called on by the NSA.
      2. If you would like to speak out of turn, signal to the NSA, perhaps by raising a hand or a placard, and wait until the NSA calls on you.
    2. Form of Speech
      1. Address the president as Mr. or Madam President and your fellow NSC members in the same fashion (for example, Madam Secretary).
      2. Do not exceed predetermined time limits. If you exceed these limits, the NSA will cut you off.
      3. Frame your comments with a purpose and stay on topic. Remember that you must advise the president so that he or she can reach a decision on a precise policy question.
    3. Listening
      1. Take notes while others are speaking.
      2. Refrain from whispering or conducting side conversations.
      3. Applause and booing are not appropriate. Your words will be the most effective tool to indicate agreement or disagreement.


Role-play Tips

  • There is no right or wrong way to participate in a role-play, but the better prepared you are, the more likely you will be able to advance a position effectively, and the more you and your classmates will get out of the experience.
  • Be patient during the role-play. Do not hold back from sharing your perspective, but be sure to give others a chance to do the same.
  • Where there are competing interests, make the judgment calls that you would make if you were a government official, as informed by your earlier consideration of potential trade-offs. Ensure that the consequences of various decisions are carefully weighed.
  • Where appropriate, find common ground with other members of the NSC during the role-play. With whom might you work in advocating your proposed policies? You may find that combining several policy ideas into a new proposal with broader support is an effective strategy if the debate is at an impasse.
  • Think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of your approach as the discussion continues. It is important to subject your own arguments to the same scrutiny that you apply to those of your fellow students. Rethink your arguments as appropriate to take into account the feedback and counterarguments that other NSC members present.
  • You cannot win or lose the role-play. Instead, you should aim to offer a well-reasoned articulation of your position while making concessions and adjustments where you believe they are warranted.
Line Item
2 to 3 minutes per participant
  1. Present initial positions to the president.
  2. Investigate the nuances of the positions through questioning.
  3. Clarify the central questions to be debated.
Procedural Notes

Each participant presents his or her position statement. If time permits, the president may ask questions to understand each NSC member’s position and bring out the essential questions he or she wishes to debate.

30 to 60 seconds per participant
  1. Clarify the obstacles, risks, opportunities, and threats.
  2. Evaluate the various positions on their merits.
Procedural Notes

This is the debate portion of the role-play, when participants can defend their recommendations against others’ and identify potential areas of compromise or agreement.

30 to 60 seconds per participant
  1. Narrow the options to a few comprehensive and well- focused strategies that the president prefers.
  2. Provide the president with clear recommendations (from NSC members), perhaps as a consensus or through a vote.
  3. Arrive at a final presidential decision 
Procedural Notes

This round should start with the president’s stating one to three preferred options to be fleshed out.

Wrap Up Sections
Obama, Xi Jinping, and Ban Ki Moon.
The UN Security Council

4.1 The Debrief

After the debate and deliberation close, the president will announce his or her decision, to be later finalized in the form of a written presidential directive (PD). If time permits, you will participate in a debrief following the president’s announcement.

Be active in this debrief. The role-play might seem to be the most challenging part of the experience, but the debrief is equally important. It will reinforce what you learned during the role-play exercise and refine your analytical skills. It will also force you to step out of your role and to view the case from a personal perspective. You will have the opportunity to discuss any challenges you encountered and how you felt about the final presidential decision. The debrief will close with a reflection on the complexities and challenges of crafting foreign policy. This should help clarify your understanding of what you learned and answer any lingering questions. This exercise will also assist you in completing your final assignment, the policy review memo.  

Obama, Xi Jinping, and Ban Ki Moon.
The UN Security Council

4.2 What Actually Happened

On January 10, 1994, President Bill Clinton made a speech at a North Atlantic Council summit in Brussels, Belgium. He announced the creation of the Partnership for Peace, based on military cooperation, defense reform, and information-sharing, between European members and nonmembers of the North Atlantic Treaty Oganization (NATO). The partnership, conceptualized by U.S. military officials, was envisaged as a way to increase cooperation between former Soviet states and NATO.

More important, Clinton said the partnership would set in motion “a process that leads to the enlargement of NATO.” At a speech in Prague two days later, Clinton went further, saying that “the question is no longer whether NATO will take on new members but when and how.” With these statements, he affirmed that NATO would extend membership to former Eastern Bloc states, settling a question that had preoccupied NATO and U.S. officials since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Unlike the Warsaw Pact, which had been dissolved in 1991, NATO would carve a place for itself in post–Cold War Europe. 

Yet the pace of enlargement was slow. The Clinton administration thought that moving too quickly would jeopardize the development of a cooperative relationship with Moscow and undercut U.S. support for reform in Russia. This in mind, Clinton avoided announcing an explicit timeline and plan for enlargement. In May 1997, NATO and Russian leaders met in Paris to sign the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation, and Security, which was meant to serve as a road map for future NATO-Russia cooperation. Under the agreement, which noted that the two parties did “not consider each other as adversaries,” the parties agreed to establish a joint council “to build increasing levels of trust, unity of purpose, and habits of consultation and cooperation between NATO and Russia.”

In July 1997, three years after Clinton’s landmark speech in Brussels, NATO formally invited the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to join the alliance. Almost two years later, after the accession of the three countries was ratified by each NATO member’s parliament, the countries formally became members of NATO. On March 16, 1999, their flags were raised at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. 

How was the decision made? 

Many important figures in the Clinton administration pushed for enlargement. The strongest support came from National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, who would become Secretary of State in 1997. They believed that enlargement was necessary to provide stability to Europe and ensure the consolidation of democracy and free market economies in Eastern Europe. The outbreak of ethnic conflict in the Balkans following the collapse of the Soviet Union also gave enlargement a sense of urgency: many policymakers felt the need to fill the security vacuum in Eastern Europe and prevent any backsliding to authoritarianism or animosity towards the West. 

Outside the halls of the West Wing, both domestic and international actors supported enlargement. Domestic public opinion of enlargement was strongly favorable, particularly in critical electoral districts in the midwest. There, large numbers of Americans of Eastern European descent, particularly from Poland, supported NATO enlargement The European member states of NATO, particularly Germany, were also strong proponents of enlargement, which they saw as a way to push NATO’s eastern border—and thus their buffer against invasion—further east. 

Skepticism about enlargement mainly came from U.S. military leaders, who did not want to overcommit U.S. military resources to the defense of Central and Eastern Europe out of concern that it would dilute NATO’s effectiveness. Other critics, including former diplomats such as George Kennan, argued against enlargement for other reasons, including that it would jeopardize the West’s relations with Russia. Their arguments, however, were ultimately outweighed by the overwhelming support for enlargement elsewhere in the government.

What did the decision mean?

The decision to enlarge NATO sent ripples through domestic and international politics. In particular, NATO enlargement has had the most effect in three crucial areas: NATO membership, its strategic orientation, and its relations with Russia. 

1. NATO Membership 

The accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to NATO heralded a number of future expansion rounds. Shortly after they joined the alliance, a Membership Action Plan (MAP) was created, which provided a structured approach and specific guidelines for new countries wishing to join the alliance.

In 2004 seven new countries, including the three Baltic states, joined NATO, marking the first accession to NATO by former Soviet Republics. A third round of expansion added two new countries, Albania and Croatia, in 2009. In 2017, Montenegro became the most recent addition to the alliance. Today, NATO has twenty-nine members, covering almost one billion citizens. It has recognized four aspiring countries—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Georgia, and Ukraine—that are currently pursuing membership. 

2. NATO’s Strategic Orientation

The decision to enlarge NATO after the disintegration of the Soviet threat was a harbinger of a new strategic orientation for the alliance. In a continuation of its dual-track policy, launched in the 1960s, NATO refocused its mission and expanded its political aims to ensuring European cooperation and democratic stability in its member states. Hans Jochen Peters, a German diplomat, argues that enlargement was a crucial component of this reorientation, by signaling that NATO was “adapting . . . to the new international strategic environment.” 

3. NATO-Russia Relations 

In the two decades following NATO's decision to expand membership, Russia’s relations with the West have been marked by disagreement, tension and mistrust. But scholars hotly debate whether NATO enlargement caused this deterioration in relations—and if so, to what extent. 

Some scholars argue that upon enlarging NATO, the alliance isolated Russia from the rest of Europe, framing the country as an outsider and adversary. George Kennan, author of the famous “X Article,” famously called NATO enlargement policy “the beginning of a new cold war.” Vladimir Putin has called NATO enlargement a “direct threat” to Russia’s security and has often used it to partially justify Russia’s aggressive foreign policy. Putin’s strategy has been very effective, argues Charles Kupchan: “Putin essentially creates a political legitimacy that is grounded on standing up to the West.”

On the other hand, some scholars argue that it was not NATO enlargement itself that damaged U.S.-Russia relations but something else along the way. Celeste Wallander, president of the U.S. Russia Foundation, argues that the state of the relationship is due to “the Russian leadership, under Putin, [rejecting] the entire project of integration, of globalization, of transparency.” Proponents of this viewpoint emphasize the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, in which both parties declared their commitment to a non-adversarial relationship, and the subsequent periods of relative cooperation that occurred before the 2008 Russian intervention in Georgia. (Russian leaders argue that NATO violated the Founding Act when it deployed troops to Central and Eastern Europe in 2016.)

Was it a good idea? 

Even less agreement exists on whether NATO enlargement was the correct policy decision. Some think it was the right decision; others think it was the right decision but executed incorrectly; yet others think it was a disastrous mistake. 

The late Ronald D. Asmus, who had served as deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs, contended that NATO enlargement achieved its goals of stabilizing Europe and even argued that it was “partially successful in dealing with Russia.” Kupchan, conversely, argues that in the end the costs of enlargement far outweighed the benefits, ultimately jeopardizing Russia’s relationship with the West. Somewhere in the middle, Wallander claims that while NATO enlargement achieved its objectives of stabilization and democratization, a strategic mistake was made in discounting how Russia would react to the policy.

Ultimately, the decision to expand NATO membership resists a clear-cut assessment. Whether NATO enlargement was the right choice—whether it irrevocably damaged the West’s relations with Russia or stabilized the European security environment or achieved something in between—it will fall to future generations to navigate NATO-Russia relations and set the course for NATO’s future.

Obama, Xi Jinping, and Ban Ki Moon.
The UN Security Council

4.3 Reflecting on the Experience

The following questions are proposed to guide the discussion in the in-class debrief. This is not an exhaustive list and may vary depending on how your role-play exercise unfolded.  If your class does not hold a debrief, these questions will nonetheless help you reflect on the role-play and write your policy review memo: 

  • Which issues received adequate attention during the role-play? Which, if any, received excessive attention or were left unresolved?
  • Did the group consider long-term strategic concerns, or was it able to focus only on the immediate issue and the short-term implications of policy options?
  • Which U.S. interests did the group or the president prioritize in the PD and why? Were you comfortable with this prioritization?
  • Did time constraints affect the discussion and influence the policymaking process?
  • Compare the events and ultimate policy decision in the role-play to the events as they occurred in the past. How accurately did the simulation replicate the past? How did it differ, and why?
  • Can you apply the lessons from this case study to current events in international affairs? If so, how?
  • Knowing what we do now about the historical events that followed the Decision Point, do you think the policy decision selected by the group was a good choice? What techniques did you use to convince others that your policy position was the best option? What were successful strategies employed by others?
  • What were the most significant challenges to your position? Did any make you rethink or adjust your position?
  • Did your points cause anyone else to change his or her arguments or position?
  • Were your position and points affected by what you knew about historical events as they actually occurred? If so, how?
  • What political, economic, and other issues arose that you had not previously considered?
  • How did the simulation change your perspective on foreign policy decision-making?
  • Did the simulation change your perspective on this historical issue? If so, how?
  • If you could go back, what would you have done differently in presenting and advocating your point of view?
Obama, Xi Jinping, and Ban Ki Moon.
The UN Security Council

4.4 Policy Review Memo

The policy review memo is your final assignment in the Model Diplomacy simulation. In the debrief discussion after the role-play, you and your classmates went beyond the role you played and thought about the issue from a variety of perspectives. Now that the National Security Council discussion and debrief are behind you, you can consider whether you personally support your recommended policy given the full spectrum of arguments and considerations that arose. Shedding your institutional role and writing from a personal point of view, you will craft a policy review memo that outlines and reflects on the policy options discussed, incorporating and critiquing the president’s decision where appropriate.

If you played the role of president in the simulation, your memo should still reflect your personal opinion. You can comment on the course of action you ordered as president, further justify it, write more extensively on the options you dismissed, or suggest and support alternate options.

No matter which role you played originally, take into account all you have learned. Your instructor will want to see whether and how your understanding of the issue and of the policymaking process has evolved from that expressed in your position memo.

As for the position memo, a sample policy review memo is provided for your reference.

Policy Review Memo Guidelines

  • Subject (one short paragraph): Offer a brief statement about the significance of the issue as it relates to U.S. foreign policy and national security. Provide just enough information about the crisis so that the reader can understand the purpose and importance of your memo. Be sure to include an initial statement of whether you agree or disagree with the president’s decision.
  • Options and analysis (one paragraph per option): Present and analyze the options discussed during the debate, deliberation, or debrief. Discuss their drawbacks, benefits, and resource needs. Be sure to acknowledge any weaknesses or disadvantages of the proposed options.
  • Recommendation and justification (several paragraphs): Identify and explain your preferred policy option or options in more detail. Here, you can explain why you personally favor one or more of the recommendations that you initially presented or the president chose, or different options entirely. If you choose to support the options you presented in your position memo, make sure to justify why you feel yours is still the best position.
  • Reflection (one to two paragraphs): Discuss how your position and the presidential directive are similar; if they are not, discuss how they are different. Use this section to give your thoughts on what the president should have included in his directive, or what you would have done differently. Remember, this is from your point of view; you are no longer advocating on behalf of a department or agency.

Click here to see a full example of a policy review memo.