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Student Instructor

Economic Crisis in Europe

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 three subsections that follow. Research and Preparation (3.2) will aid your research for the position memo and provide additional reading to guide your research; the Guide to the 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 below. 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).

Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.GO TO SECTION 4.1

Case Roles

Description of Role:

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

The president’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

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

  • How does the evolving European financial crisis threaten the health of the U.S. economy?
  • What is the nature and extent of the United States’ economic relationship with the European Union, and France as a nation? Why are these relationships important to the U.S. economy? How might a continued crisis affect them?
  • What interests do the United States and its European allies share? How might these interests be affected by an economic downturn in Europe, especially one that disrupts the U.S. economy?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of U.S. responses to past financial crises, such as the 2008 bailout of some financial institutions? What lessons might these responses hold for U.S. policy today?
  • What are the positions and interests of other countries and organizations, such as Germany and the International Monetary Fund, in the evolving financial crisis and its political implications? How are they involved in the crisis?  How might they help resolve it?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States, including bilateral and multilateral responses to the crisis?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response?
  • What negotiations or other matters involving trade and investment are currently on the agenda between the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis affect them?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The vice president’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does the evolving European financial crisis threaten the health of the U.S. economy?
  • What are the attitudes of Congress and the general public toward the evolving European financial crisis, particularly on such topics as U.S. loans to foreign governments, bailouts, and debt restructuring? What if any constituencies in the United States have a particular interest in this issue, or especially strong views? What does all this suggest about the domestic political consequences of various responses?
  • What criticism and praise did the U.S. government’s response to the recent U.S. financial crisis and Great Recession elicit? How might this feedback shape U.S. action in this case?
  • How can the president best articulate a decision and communicate it to the American people and the world?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by various potential policy options in this case?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States, including bilateral and multilateral responses to the crisis?
  • What U.S. values and U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis? What, if any, tensions exist between them?
  • What negotiations or other matters involving trade and investment are currently on the agenda between the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis affect them?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The national security advisor’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What threat does the evolving European financial crisis pose to U.S. banks and to the U.S. economy as a whole?
  • What are the policy options in this case likely to accomplish? What are they likely to cost? In particular, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a bilateral U.S. response and a multilateral one?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by various potential policy options in this case?
  • What are the most important factors for the president to balance when making a decision? What types of analysis would be most useful for other members of the National Security Council to present?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response?
  • Where does the European economic crisis fit in the broader range of national security concerns facing the United States? How should this analysis shape the president’s consideration of policy options in this case?
  • What factors have contributed to the rise of radical political parties in Europe? What kind of threat, if any, do these parties represent to the United States? How, if at all, should the United States work to counter their popularity?
  • Research the performance of past national security advisors and the ways in which they managed the interagency process. Which advisors and policy processes have been considered especially successful or unsuccessful, and why?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The chief of staff’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does the evolving European financial crisis threaten the health of the U.S. economy?
  • What criticism and praise did the U.S. government’s response to the Great Recession elicit? How might this shape U.S. action in this case?
  • What are the attitudes of Congress and the general public toward the evolving European financial crisis, and in particular such topics as U.S. loans to foreign governments, bailouts, and debt restructuring? What if any constituencies in the United States have a particular interest in this issue, or especially strong views? What does all this suggest about the domestic political consequences of various responses?
  • What steps would be required by the U.S. government, including the executive branch and Congress, to implement various policy options in this case? In particular, under what conditions does the president have the authority to grant economic assistance to a foreign country?
  • How can the president best articulate a decision and communicate it to the American people and the world?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States, including bilateral and multilateral responses to the crisis?
  • What negotiations or other matters involving trade and investment are currently on the agenda between the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis affect them?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The secretary of state’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What are the major characteristics of the relationships between the United States and the principal actors in this case, such as France, Germany, and the European Union? How might these countries and organizations help resolve the crisis through various policy steps?
  • How might France’s specific political climate and economic dynamics—and their similarities and differences with those of the United States—affect any potential U.S. action?
  • What interests do the United States and its major European allies share? How might they be affected by an economic downturn in Europe, especially one that disrupts the U.S. economy?
  • What are the positions of relevant governments and multilateral institutions on how to address the economic crisis? In what way might these positions shape the U.S. response?
  • What factors have contributed to the rise of radical political parties in Europe? What kind of threat, if any, do these parties represent to the United States? How, if at all, should the United States work to counter their popularity?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by various potential policy options in this case?
  • What are the costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States, including bilateral and multilateral responses to the crisis?
  • What negotiations or other matters involving trade and investment are currently on the agenda between the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis affect them?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The secretary of the treasury’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What threat does the evolving European financial crisis pose to U.S. banks and to the U.S. economy as a whole?
  • What are the economic dimensions of the U.S.-France and U.S.-European Union relationships? What are the principal U.S. economic interests in France and the European Union?
  • What is the importance of the European Union—and France as a nation—for the U.S. and global economies? What are the possible effects of continued economic crisis on these entities?
  • What is the status of the U.S. Federal Reserve within the U.S. government? How might the Federal Reserve be involved in a response to the European financial crisis?
  • What is the “troika” in the context of the European economic crisis? What is the role of each troika institution in responding to the evolving crisis in Europe? How might these roles come into play in various U.S. policy responses?
  • How have austerity policies shaped the current political and economic climate in Europe? How do U.S. views on austerity policy compare with those of other major actors? How might this shape a potential response to this crisis?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of U.S. responses to past financial crises, such as the 2008 bailout of some financial institutions? What lessons might these responses hold for U.S. policy today?
  • What are the economic costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States, including bilateral and multilateral responses to the crisis?
  • What negotiations or other matters involving trade and investment are currently on the agenda between the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis affect them?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The secretary of defense’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What is the state of military relationships among the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis put these relationships, and European military capabilities, at risk?
  • What security and other interests are at stake in this crisis?
  • What roles do the United States and European Union countries—in particular, France—each play in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and in the maintenance of international peace and security more broadly? How might these roles be affected by the European economic crisis?
  • How might a prolonged economic crisis in Europe affect bilateral and multilateral military cooperation? How might a crisis that spreads to the United States affect the U.S. military and its budget?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by various potential policy options in this case?
  • What are the policy options in this case likely to accomplish and what are they likely to cost? In particular, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a bilateral U.S. response and of a multilateral one?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The director of national intelligence’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What are the positions and interests of other countries and organizations, such as Germany and the International Monetary Fund, in the evolving financial crisis and its political implications? How are they involved in the crisis and how might they help resolve it?
  • How might France’s specific political climate and economic tendencies—and their similarities and differences with those of the United States—affect any potential U.S. action?
  • What are the major characteristics of the relationships between the United States and the principal actors in this case, such as France, Germany, and the European Union? How might these countries and organizations help resolve the crisis through various policy steps?
  • Which countries are likely to feel the effects of the economic crisis most severely? Are there any specific U.S. interests put at risk by this crisis? If so, how might those interests be affected by an economic downturn?
  • What are the primary interests, motivations, and goals of the major actors in this crisis? What factors drive their potential responses to it?
  • What factors have contributed to the rise of radical political parties in Europe? What kind of threat, if any, are these parties to the United States? How, if at all, should the United States work to counter their popularity?
  • What are the policy options in this case likely to accomplish and what are they likely to cost? In particular, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a bilateral U.S. response and a multilateral one?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by various potential policy options in this case?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The National Economic Council (NEC), founded in 1993, is an entity within the Executive Office of the President. Like the National Security Council, the NEC serves as a forum to bring together the heads of various government departments and agencies to coordinate policy formulation and implementation. The NEC focuses on economic matters, whether domestic or international, and its director and staff work to coordinate and carry out the president’s economic policies effectively. The director also holds the title of assistant to the president for economic policy.

The director of the NEC’s goals are to

  • ensure that the president receives the best possible advice from all relevant departments and agencies on the economic dimensions of the issue under discussion; and
  • articulate how the economic dimensions of any policy options could be effectively implemented to further the president’s goals.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does the evolving European financial crisis threaten the health of the U.S. economy?
  • What is the importance of the European Union—and France as a nation—for the U.S. and global economies? What are the possible effects of continued economic crisis on these entities?
  • What are the economic dimensions of the U.S.-France and U.S.-European Union relationships? What are the principal U.S. economic interests in France and the European Union?
  • What is the “troika” in the context of the European economic crisis? What is the role of each troika institution in responding to the evolving crisis in Europe? How might these roles come into play in various U.S. policy responses?
  • What are the economic costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States, including bilateral and multilateral responses to the crisis?
  • What is the status of the U.S. Federal Reserve within the U.S. government? How might the Federal Reserve be involved in a response to the European financial crisis?
  • What effect might a prolonged economic downturn in Europe—and potentially worldwide—have on U.S. exports and imports? What effect might this downturn have on American workers and consumers?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of U.S. responses to past financial crises, such as the 2008 bailout of some financial institutions? What lessons might these responses hold for U.S. policy today?
  • What negotiations or other matters involving trade and investment are currently on the agenda between the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis affect them?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The Council of Economic Advisers was established as part of the Executive Office of the President in 1946. The council comprises a chair and two members, all appointed by the president, as well as a staff. Its chief role is to provide economic analysis and recommendations to the president based on rigorous data and research. The chair is a purely advisory position and does not manage any government department or agency.

The chair’s goals are to

  • offer authoritative information, based on research, about economic conditions and trends relevant to the issue under discussion; and
  • advise the president on the potential economic impact of various policy options and recommend those likely to best advance the economic interests of the United States.

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does the evolving European financial crisis threaten the health of the U.S. economy?
  • How have austerity policies shaped the current political and economic climate in Europe? How do the U.S. views on austerity policy compare with those of other major actors? How might this shape a potential response to this crisis?
  • What is the importance of the European Union—and France as a nation—for the U.S. and global economies? What are the possible effects of continued economic crisis on these entities?
  • What is the status of the U.S. Federal Reserve within the U.S. government, and how might the Federal Reserve be involved in a response to the European financial crisis?
  • What effect might a prolonged economic downturn in Europe—and potentially worldwide—have on U.S. exports and imports? What effect might this downturn have on American workers and consumers?
  • What do scholars and officials suggest may be the consequences of France or another country exiting the eurozone or the European Union?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of U.S. responses to past financial crises, such as the 2008 bailout of some financial institutions? What lessons might these responses hold for U.S. policy today?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is responsible for overall U.S. policy on trade and investment and for negotiations on these matters with foreign countries. The office is part of the Executive Office of the President. The U.S. trade representative, who leads the office, functions as the president’s main advisor on trade policy and as the lead U.S. negotiator for trade and investment agreements.

The U.S. trade representative’s goals are to

  • advise the president on issues surrounding U.S. trade with and investment in other countries; and
  • improve market access for U.S. businesses and consumers, protect U.S. trade rights, and advance trade policies that facilitate international development. 

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • How does the evolving European financial crisis threaten the health of the U.S. economy?
  • What is the importance of the European Union—and France as a nation—for the U.S. and global economies? What are the possible effects of continued economic crisis on these entities?
  • What are the major characteristics of the trade and investment relationships between the United States and France and between the United States and the European Union? What are the possible effects of the evolving European financial crisis on these relationships, and on sectors such as U.S. exports and imports? What effect might this crisis have on American workers and consumers?
  • What negotiations or other matters involving trade and investment are currently on the agenda between the United States and its European partners? How might the economic crisis affect them?
  • What might be the economic implications—in the United States and abroad—of various policy options in this case?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by various potential policy options in this case?
  • What are the economic costs, benefits, and risks that accompany each policy option open to the United States, including bilateral and multilateral responses to the crisis?

 

Research Leads:

Description of Role:

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

The general advisor’s goals are to

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

 

Issues for Consideration:

  • What are the policy options in this case likely to accomplish and what are they likely to cost? In particular, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a bilateral U.S. response and a multilateral one?
  • What are the trade-offs raised by various potential policy options in this case?
  • What are the major characteristics of the relationships between the United States and the principal actors in this case, such as France, Germany, and the European Union? How might these countries and organizations help resolve the crisis through various policy steps?
  • How does the evolving European financial crisis threaten the health of the U.S. economy?
  • What U.S. interests are at stake in this crisis? How should these various interests influence a U.S. response?
  • What are the economic dimensions of the U.S.-France and U.S.-European Union relationships? What are the principal U.S. economic interests in France and the European Union?
  • What have been the successes, drawbacks, and overall effects of U.S. responses to past financial crises, such as the 2008 bailout of some financial institutions, and what lessons might these responses hold for U.S. policy today?
  • What are the attitudes of Congress and the general public toward the evolving European financial crisis, and in particular such topics as U.S. loans to foreign governments, bailouts, and debt restructuring? What if any constituencies in the United States have a particular interest in this issue, or especially strong views? What does all this suggest about the domestic political consequences of various responses?

 

Research Leads:

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