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It's 3 AM and you've just been summoned by the president of the United States to the White House.  Reports show a dramatic explosion in central Israel causing extensive casualties and physical destruction.  Satellite photos show rapid troop mobilization on both sides of the Israeli / Syrian border, suggesting that armed conflict between the two states is imminent.  Syria denies attacking Israel but satellite imagery is inconclusive.

HPIM0305As you arrive at the table, the world's most learned defense experts are counseling the president.  Some say that Syria has launched the attack in retaliation for Israeli oppression of Palestinians.  Terrorism experts point to increased chatter in their networks, suggesting that it was an act of non-state actors inciting fear and hatred.  Nuclear experts offer their feelings that the explosion may be the result of an ill-maintained nuclear reactor.  Phone calls from prominent Jewish leaders are streaming into the White House demanding that the United States come to the aid of its ally in the Middle East.  Regardless the true cause, thousands of soldiers are amassing on the border, and planes are being scrambled.

If the United States offers military support to Israel, the Arab world would rebuke this action and further broaden the East - West divide.  If the United States declined to come to the aid of Israel, the value of its military alliance would immediately be drawn into question, causing states like the United Kingdom and Kuwait, and even Taiwan, to reconsider their relationships with the U.S.  If it's an act of terrorism, there will be global support for intervention, but if not, unilateral action will likely be condemned.

The president turns to you, the newly appointed secretary of defense, and asks what he should do.  What do you say?

While not every decision made by the government or by member states of the United Nations is as intricate and or nuanced as this scenario, every determination causes consequences, both intended and unexpected.  Participating at a Model United Nations or Model Congress conference will expose you to situations that will require your serious consideration.  You will be called upon by your peers to help develop innovative and meaningful solutions to some of today's most pressing problems.  Whether you are considering Social Security reform or debt forgiveness programs for Africa, you will develop an understanding of the complexities of leading a diverse nation or an organization such as the United Nations.  And you will learn how to anticipate the outcomes caused by your decisions.

If this seems like a lot of work, it is.  But it is among the most rewarding work you will ever do.  You will learn about issues that you likely have never considered.  You will develop a perspective of the world that is your own, and did not come from a textbook or from your teacher.  You will meet peers from across the country and around the world, and will develop meaningful friendships that will last for years to come.  Most importantly, you will be the one in charge of your own education.  You will choose the issues most interesting to you, and you will decide how best to prepare for what promises to be a weekend of excitement and enrichment.

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