Wargame: Iraq—Shows How the Highest Levels of the U.S. Government Prepare for War

November 20, 2002 1:15 pm (EST)

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NBC News and the Council on Foreign Relations Collaborate
on an In-Depth Look Inside the National Security Council,
and How it Could Decide to go to War with Iraq

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New York, November 19, 2002—In a special event, MSNBC presents "Wargame: Iraq," an inside look at how the National Security Council might advise the President on a decision to attack Iraq. "Wargame: Iraq," airing Monday, November 25, 10:00p.m.-12:00a.m. ET, is a dramatic account of simulated meetings of the National Security Council, enacted by veterans of past administrations and experts in foreign policy, as they decide the terms for going to war.

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National Security Council (NSC)

The purpose of the wargame is to educate the public on the considerations and complexities in making decisions on war and peace. To achieve that educational purpose in a two-hour program, events and discussions were necessarily condensed and speeded-up.

NBC News and experts from the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations collaborated to create a scenario based upon current circumstances. The scenario begins with United Nations weapons inspectors on the ground in Baghdad, 50,000 U.S. troops in the region, and a declaration by Saddam Hussein that he does not possess weapons of mass destruction. The United States has ambiguous information to the contrary. In two separate sessions, the mock Council must cope with a series of increasingly difficult fictional developments in Iraq and around the world, and at each turn decide: What are the President’s options? Is Iraq in material breach of its obligations to the United Nations? And should the President proceed with military action?

"’Wargame: Iraq’ provides the viewer with a unique look at how the President’s top advisors may decide whether our nation goes to war," says Mark Lukasiewicz, Executive Producer, "Wargame: Iraq," and Executive Producer, Special Projects, NBC News. "It’s an in-depth look at how the toughest decisions in the world could be made."

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"National Security Council meetings—many of which I attended during my government service— are messy, tough and intense, all of which you get to see in this wargame," says Council President Leslie H. Gelb.

The members of the mock National Security Council are renowned experts in foreign policy and government relations:

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Iraq War

National Security Council (NSC)

  • Secretary of State: played by Ambassador Wendy Sherman, a principal at the Albright Group who served as Counselor of the State Department as well as Ambassador and Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on North Korea.


  • Secretary of Defense: played by James Woolsey, Vice-President at the law firm of Booz Allen Hamilton and former Director of Central Intelligence (1993-1995).



  • Director of Central Intelligence: played by Kenneth Pollack, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies and Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, former Persian Gulf Military Analyst at the CIA and author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq."



  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: played by Susan Rice, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Clinton Administration.



  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: played by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Bernard Trainor, Senior Fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations and an NBC military analyst.



  • Homeland Security Advisor: played by Randy Larsen, director of the ANSER Institute of Homeland Security, and former Homeland Defense Advisor to the Defense Science Board.



  • Secretary of Energy: played by Youssef Ibrahim, Senior Fellow, Middle East and Manager of Strategic Planning, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former vice president, Head of Media, the Americas, at BP Amoco.



  • National Security Advisor: played by Leslie H. Gelb, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political/Military Affairs, and former Director of Policy Planning for the Defense Department.


Council President Leslie H. Gelb discussed the program online on MSNBC.com on Thursday, November 21.

Contact: Lisa Shields, Director of Communications, 212-434-9888


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