International Studies Club President Parshva Bavishi recently won the title of Outstanding Delegate at the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference. His reactions to the conference as part of an article for the Spring 2009 Newsletter are printed below.

From Russia, With Love by Parshva Bavishi

This past February 12th-15th, I had the distinct pleasure of representing The College of New Jersey at the Harvard Model United Nations Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. The College Of New Jersey Model United Nations Team consisted of 16 members with 14 students representing the nation of Colombia in various committees. A fellow colleague and I were accepted into the Joint Crisis Cabinet Simulation that focused on the future of Iran. With a few key compromises, some patience, and persuasion, The College of New Jersey was vaulted into closing ceremonies with its first award in the collegiate circuit.

A crisis agency in a Model United Nations conference consists of some of the top delegates around the world taking on specific roles as cabinet members of various governments throughout history. Some of the agencies at this conference included the Serbian Cabinet, Security Council, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Sierra Leone. The unique feature of a crisis simulation is that there are only a few members in the cabinet which allows for a more productive debate session yet a more intense atmosphere that would put an OPEC meeting to shame. Each debate session is littered with constant threats of global conflicts that occur every half hour or so by press releases from foreign governments or military directives issued by enemies. On the other hand, this is not reality so there is great leeway with the outcome of many of these problems which makes me wonder, how is any foreign policy established?

After my application for the Soviet Presidium was processed in December 2008, I was handed the role of Nikolai Alexandrovich Bulganin, Minister of Defense, in the Soviet Presidium, 1953. Since it was a Joint Crisis Committee, we would be interacting with the U.S. and Iranian cabinets. The background guide I was provided with recapped Soviet History and addressed some of the key issues our cabinet would be focusing on such as the domestic agricultural situation, Iran, and Western Ideologies expanding into Europe and Asia. The one thing I have gathered from being in various Crisis Simulations is that pouring over books that recount historical tales of Communist ideologies would only hinder my ability to shift history in debate. Crisis Debate is about staying on policy, negotiating when necessary, and having a constant thirst for pushing your personal agenda which can be at the expense of productivity.

March 1953: Comrade Stalin has just passed away and the Iranian government is dealing with pressure from capitalists in the United States while the Communist Tudeh Party is slowly growing in numbers in Iran. The possibility of having a democracy that replicates the ideals of the United States in Iran is a threat to the U.S.S.R and must be stopped at all costs. This was an interesting perspective I had to embody since not everyday a United States Citizen gets to portray a historic Soviet Premier with the intentions of expanding communism into Iran while defending his own nation. Along with this information, my portfolio as the Minister of Defense let me access vital information on security of the United States, internal weapons programs, and how to effectively supply a revolution in Iran without engaging in direct war.

Ironically, domestic problems were neglected as the Presidium decided to focus our efforts on sponsoring a Tudeh Party Communist Revolution in Iran by supplying them with weapons while having a formal negotiation with the Iranians concerning oil. As the U.S. found out about these negotiations, their cabinet tried to cause a world wide panic as they tested their nuclear bomb and accused the Soviets of a possible preemptive strike. With all this going on, the Crisis Staff continued to update us with press releases from the other cabinets and the Presidium was continually debriefed on weapons programs as well as diplomatic measures and channels we could possibly explore.

My specific tasks included the issuance of military directives, as well as debate with other cabinet officials on which course of action would be most beneficial to the Presidium. Some members wanted to focus more on domestic issues where others pushed for a diplomatic approach to the Iranian conflict and potentially creating a treaty with the U.S. I refused that course of action, since our weapons program was far inferior to the nuclear program that the U.S. had already enacted. On the third session, the Presidium was shown a clip of the U.S. testing the first hydrogen bomb. Although this should have been alarming to the Presidium, the majority of the members wanted to solve the crisis diplomatically. This meant a few backhanded jobs were in order. Issuing internal directives and planting propaganda against opposing comrades was a must in order for me to mobilize small portions of troops and move small naval fleets around without much notice.

Yet the secret directives and backhanded politics returned to haunt me on the last session Saturday night. The previous day, a military operative had debriefed us that the United Kingdom had a naval blockade that would deny Soviet fleet access to the Suez Canal. The Presidium, however, was bogged down with issues in North Korea, Iranian negotiations with oil agreements, and countering U.S. press battles; which blinded the cabinet members on the important issue. That issue to me was dominating strategic locations, which in this case was the Suez Canal. I wrote up a private directive that sent a small fleet into the Mediterranean to assess the situation of the U.K. blockade and report back with any pertinent information without alerting any of the Cabinet members. The report that returned was not a secret report but rather a New York Times article that screamed "Soviet Fleet Spotted!" and was passed out to the entire Presidium. To my dismay, I was arrested and thrown out of the Presidium (literally) for trying to take power away from the Presidium and act without their consent.

After I was given a new role on the last day as a Deputy Minister of Defense, I realized that total war had already begun and my selfish move in the Mediterranean had only benefitted the cabinet in the end. After all sessions were done, all three cabinets came to a joint meeting to discuss and go over all the details of debate and enjoy a few laughs as we all found out who were the traitors and who was behind what plan. It was an enriching experience to debate and change history with various delegations. In the end, this experience not only led me to great contacts for the future, but an award at closing ceremonies as Outstanding Delegate.

That atmosphere at closing ceremonies could be compared with the Olympic Closing Ceremonies as the various medals are distributed to athletes from their respective countries. Flags and banners that represented the vast amount of participants from far off countries and schools hung down from the balconies in the Imperial Ballroom in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel which made it feel like the dining hall at Hogwarts. As the TCNJ team filtered in to a ballroom that seated close to 3,000 delegates, we found ourselves seated on the side stairs due to the sheer amount of delegations. It felt as if we were the underdogs in a game played by thousands. Just as the Jamaican Bobsledding team overcame their struggles and debuted at 1988 Winter Olympics, The College of New Jersey debuted at the 2009 Harvard National Model United Nations Conference with its first award.