The World Turns against IsraelOctober 12, 2009
By Michelle Odhiambo
The rain was pelting down on me with rage as I biked to the UN headquarters on Saturday 10 October. There was a conference going on about the Iran Nuclear program, and I kept wondering if it was worth the trouble. I got there soaking wet when the opening ceremony was just beginning. Ban Ki-Moon did the introductions and opened the floor to various leaders so they could talk on behalf of their countries. The best opening speech was from the UK’s Gordon Brown. His speech caused giggles across the room as he ranted on and on about Britain’s finest celebrities such as the Beatles, David Beckham’s left foot and David Beckham’s right foot (from the “Love Actually” movie). I wish he’d mentioned Anne Robinson–the snobby and arrogant “Weakest Link” host on BBC. Israel’s prime minister started his speech by congratulating Obama for winning the Nobel peace prize; Israel and the U.S have been allies for a long time, but I felt Obama’s speech didn’t show that. As I listened to the heads of state drone on, I knew my bike ride in the rain had been worth the trouble. After the opening speeches, the different nations went to their various rooms for further discussions. I went to Iran, because the conference was about them and I had to hear their side of story.
All this was happening in Webster University and all those heads of states were represented by Webster’s own Graduate students who spoke with eloquence, power, accents and the gestures of the various heads of states they represented. This simulation game, organized by the International Relations (IR) department, was a re-enacting exercise of what happens at the actual UN headquarters. Its purpose is to enable IR students to see what really happens in the real world. By putting themselves in the shoes of heads of states and by making decisions on behalf of their nations, the students were able to learn how to manage national crises. Throughout the day, I saw some nations succumb to pressure and act selfishly. I saw the media being manipulated to send reports to the various nations. I saw nations sending messages to the UN to have Israel checked for nuclear weapons. The most shocking thing I observed, however, was that most of the countries I visited sided with Iran.
The reenactment was real, from the dress code to the speeches. When I went to see what China was doing, I asked which nations they wanted to meet with and why. China said, they did not wish to disclose any information. Webster students took this exercise to heart! When I went to sit in on one of the meetings, they asked me if I was a spy. The students took their roles seriously and didn’t disclose any information at will. I noticed all the nations wanted was to meet with the other nations that would help them. Iran wanted to meet China, Turkey and Russia for economic reasons, as well as for support. They needed allies to side with them during hard times like this. I saw a meeting between Israel and Russia that wasn’t as rosy as the rest: Russia told Israel they (Israel) must agree to be inspected for any nuclear weapons. The theory behind states thinking about themselves is called realism, which Dr. Suransky explained in detail.
At the end of the day, nations wanted Israel checked. Dr.Suransky said these exercises reveal what might happen in the real world in the future. Israel is loved by all, but their keeping mum inevitably will contribute to a falling out of favor among other nations. If Graduate students at Webster can figure that out, it is only a matter of time before the UN figures that out and Israel will be out in the cold.