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Case Western Model United Nations: Cuban Missile Crisis

In 1959, Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement overthrew the corrupt, oppressive U.S.-backed president of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, and formed a new state with strong communist ties. The threat of communist revolutions spreading throughout Latin America, the antagonistic stance taken by Castro's government towards the United States, and the development of a strong diplomatic link between Cuba and the Soviet Union led the United States to led to sever diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1960. In 1961, the U.S. orchestrated an invasion force of CIA agents and Cuban exiles, which landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba and was defeated by Cuban military forces. This failed invasion dramatically increased Castro's popularity and distrust of the United States in Latin America, and led Castro to pursue an alliance with the Soviet Union in order to protect Cuba from future U.S. attacks and himself from frequent CIA assassination attempts.

The United States, while at a considerable disadvantage in ground forces, had a massive advantage over the Soviet Union in terms of the number and range of nuclear missiles in its arsenal. The United States also had several dozen PGM-19 Jupiter missiles deployed in Italy and Turkey and pointed towards the Soviet Union. In order to counter the United States' nuclear advantage, to protect Cuba, and due to a belief that a weak President Kennedy would make considerable strategic concessions in the subsequent negotations, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev persuaded Castro to allow the Soviet Union to deploy nuclear missiles capable of attacking the continental United States to Cuba.

In September 1962, the United States began receiving reports from Cubans on the island and their family members that large trucks carrying enormous missile-shaped objects had been driving through Cuban villages at night. American naval aircraft photographed a Soviet Ship with suspiciously large boxes aboard headed towards Cuba. On October 14, a risky U-2 flight over Cuba filmed construction sites, Soviet bombers and medium-range ballistic missiles on Cuba. President Kennedy was briefed on October 16, and formed the group later named the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM), composed of members of the National Security Council along with other important or useful figures, to handle the crisis.

This simulation convenes on October 16, 1962. Soviet ships are headed towards Cuba with more equipment for missiles, although missiles are already on the island and the infrastructure to make them operational is being quickly constructed. We do not know whether or not there are any operational nuclear weapons in Cuba at this time. The Soviet Union is, as far as we know, not aware that we have knowledge of their nuclear buildup in Cuba. While the American nuclear dominance over the Soviet Union lends credibility to the belief that we could win a nuclear war, there would be massive civilian casualties on both sides. An attack on Cuba carries a heavy risk of military retaliation, either on the mainland United States or on the strategically critical West Berlin. Also at stake in any scenario is the political credibility of the United States government both at home and abroad, which would be dramatically weakened if the Soviet Union were allowed to place missiles in Cuba with impunity.

"I want to say, and this is very important, at the end, we lucked out! It was luck that prevented nuclear war! We came that close to nuclear war at the end, rational individuals! Kennedy was rational, Khrushchev was rational, Castro was rational. Rational individuals came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today." -Robert McNamara, 2003

came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today." -Robert McNamara,
came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today." -Robert McNamara,
came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today." -Robert McNamara,

Rules and Procedures

Basic Introduction In a Model U.N. Crisis simulation, each person represents an individual pertinent to the situation at hand. As time goes by, different elements will be introduced and individuals outside the room (such as Nikita Khrushchev) may take actions that affect the crisis committee. It is up to you to use your powers as a committee to guide the United States through this conflict. The room will be in a continuous cycle of thirty-second speeches. In order to speak, raise your placard, and if you are called on you will go to the front of the room to give an improvised speech (giving an extemporaneous speech in this manner is frightening but also one of the most valuable skills you can learn from participating in Model U.N.). When not speaking, you may write documents or pass notes to try and gain support for your position and make decisions. Points and motions may be made between speeches. In order to make a motion, raise your placard when the chair asks for points or motions. A point may be made by shouting out i.e. “Point of Personal Privilege.”

General Committee Rules As EXCOMM, you have the capability to make use of all the powers available to the government of the United States. This includes military action, press releases, suggesting legislation to Congress, ratification of treaties, communication with foreign dignitaries, etc. The committee may also request a visit by anyone in the world in order to ask questions. EXCOMM decisions must be made by writing the decision on a sheet of paper, gathering four signatories (asking people to sign your document -- a signatory does not support something, but does think it is worth debating), introducing it to the floor (pass it up to President Kennedy and it will be automatically introduced) and then, after debate, receiving a majority of the votes in the room. Such actions are the central way that anything will get done. Individuals also have personal “portfolio powers” that come with their office. For instance, the ambassador to the Soviet Union may meet privately with Soviet officials. In order to use portfolio powers, write what you would like to do on a piece of paper and send it, secretly, to President Kennedy. You will receive the results of your actions in similar fashion. You can pass secret notes to other members or to President Kennedy. If appropriate, you may also use your portfolio powers to send secret notes to anyone in the world.

Decorum Please maintain a high level of respect and order while debating. Refrain from interrupting other members, speaking outside of your speaking time, or breaking the fourth wall.

Debate This committee will participate in a continuous moderated caucus of thirty second speaking time, although this can be changed with a motion to set the speaking time. The chair will select members of the council as they request to speak. A request is made by raising your placard. Motions for a moderated caucus may be made in between speeches in order to constrain debate to a specific topic.

Parliamentary Procedure Point of Inquiry: Asking for clarification on things, or questions for the chair. Point of Personal Privilege: Something bothering you as a person, not as a character. Point of Order: When the rules are not being properly used. Don’t do this in a crisis sim (here). Right of Reply: If you feel personally offended and want to talk about it. Motion for a Moderated Caucus: To talk about a specific topic. Motion for an Unmoderated Caucus: To suspend debate, basically to take a break. Motion to introduce a document Motion to move a document into voting procedure Motion to table document: Get rid of it if it’s been introduced. Motion for a question and answer: Ask questions of the people who wrote a document.