04 March 2014

IB Global Politics: reviewing policy options to address Iran's nuclear program

As we head into the final stretch of our coverage of the politics of nuclear proliferation, the Year 1 students were asked to review and evaluate the policy options available to the US and the rest of the international community with respect to Iran's nuclear program. Based on our readings and discussion, as well as all of the content from the CFR's Iran: Crisis Guide, students rank ordered their preferences for US action towards Iran: Covert Action, Diplomacy, Opposition Support, Preventative Strike, Public Diplomacy, and Sanctions. 

As you can see from the charts above, there is strong preferences amongst the Year 1 students for pursuing diplomacy, traditional and public. Interestingly, while there is generally opposition to both covert action and using force in a preventative strike, although roughly 1 in 4 students support the use of force, there is also general support for ending economic sanctions against Iran as well. These preferences shouldn't simply be interpreted as the naiveté of young minds; a review of the assigned readings and content in the bibliography below is worthy (in my humble opinion) of belonging in a university setting. Rather, I interpret the student's preference for diplomacy over other policy options towards Iran as stemming from a shrewd consideration of the available costs and benefits of all policy options available to the US, given the dynamics of the current geopolitical environment. 

As with the Year 2 students work last year, we'll wrap up this unit by simulating a crisis decision-making situation with the Truman National Security Project's simulation, Tell Me How This Ends. This simulation gives students the opportunity to manage their own US administration through a simulated strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The debrief on this simulation is always interesting and informative. This year will be no different as I am collecting data for my doctoral dissertation, via student survey responses, as to the degree to which they perceive Tell Me How This Ends as an engaging activity towards learning the prescribed concepts and learning outcomes in our IB Global Politics course.   

As always, special thanks to the folks at the Council on Foreign Relations, the CFR's Academic Initiative, the Truman National Security Project, and of course the International Baccalaureate for supporting the work of high school students and their study of international politics. 

You can see all of the related blog posts and evidence of work in class here. The complete bibliography for this section of the course is below. 

Allison, G. (2010, January/February). Nuclear disorder: Surveying atomic threats. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Bruno, G. (2010, March 10). Iran's nuclear program. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from 

Council on Foreign Relations. (2009). Nuclear energy guide. Retrieved from

Council on Foreign Relations. (2012). Crisis guide: Iran. Retrieved from  

Council on Foreign Relations. (2013). Nuclear proliferation. Global Governance Monitor. Retrieved from!/nuclear-proliferation 

Council on Foreign Relations. (2013, June 25). The global nuclear nonproliferation regime. Retrieved from 

Director General, International Atomic Energy Association. (2012, February 24). Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Rep.). Retrieved 

Donaldson, R. (Director). (2000). Thirteen days [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: New Line Cinema.

Gordon, M. R., & Schmitt, E. (2014, January 12). Negotiators put final touches on Iran accord. New York Times. Retrieved from 

Iran nuclear deal: key points. (2014, January 20). BBC News. Retrieved from

Kahl, C. (2012). Not time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Kahl, C. H. (2014, January 7). Still not time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Kegley, C. W., & Raymond, G. A. (2012). Foreign policy decision making. In The global future: A brief introduction to world politics (5th ed., pp. 55-79). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. (link)

Kroenig, M. (2012). Time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Kroenig, M. (2014, January 7). Still time to attack Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Q&A: Iran nuclear crisis. (2014, January 20). BBC News. Retrieved from

Rezaian, J. (2014, February 4). In Iran, opponents of a nuclear deal speak up. Washington Post. Retrieved from 

Rouhani: Iran is getting nuclear deal benefit. (2014, February 6). Al Jazeera. Retrieved from

Sagan, S. D. (2006). How to keep the bomb from Iran. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from 

Waltz, K. N. (2012). Why Iran should get the bomb. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from  

Zengerle, P., & Mohammed, A. (2014, February 04). Iran nuclear deal 'not perfect' but buys time, top U.S. official. Reuters. Retrieved from 

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