By Annie Schleicher, Associate Editor NewsHour Extra, former
high school teacher
This lesson should take 20 - 30 minutes and may be used to discuss the
following with your students:
- A definition
conditions that are necessary for democracy to flourish
- the current
challenges facing the creation of a democracy in Iraq
will understand that the United States hopes to set up an "interim
authority" in Iraq that will aid the country in establishing self-rule.
On Tuesday the first step in that process was started. A forum meeting,
representing various groups of Iraqi people, both exile and non-exile,
was held in the southern Iraqi city of Ur.
may be used in any social studies class.
Students will need printed copies of the NewsHour
Extra article cited below or computers with Internet access.
with democracy definition and Jefferson
with Rend Rahim Franke's comments
on democracy in Iraq
to National Standards
students read the NewsHour
Extra story on the Iraqi meeting.
as a group have students come up with a definition of democracy. After
students have a usable definition, compare it with the definition below.
(see handout #1)
democracy [Gr.,= rule of the people], term originating in
ancient Greece to designate a government where the people share in directing
the activities of the state, as distinct from governments controlled
by a single class, select group, or autocrat. The definition of democracy
has been expanded, however, to describe a philosophy that insists on
the right and the capacity of a people, acting either directly or through
representatives, to control their institutions for their own purposes.
Such a philosophy places a high value on the equality of individuals
and would free people as far as possible from restraints not self-imposed.
It insists that necessary restraints be imposed only by the consent
of the majority and that they conform to the principle of equality.
the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia)
the student and encyclopedia definition of democracy with the excerpt
from Thomas Jefferson's inaugural address on March 1, 1801. (See handout
#1) Discuss with students:
From Thomas Jefferson's first Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
"During the contest of opinion through which we have passed,
the animation of discussion and of exertions has sometimes worn an
aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and
to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided
by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the
constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will
of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All,
too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will
of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful,
must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights,
which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.
Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind.
Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without
which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let
us reflect that having banished from our land that religious intolerance
under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained
little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked,
and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions."
kind of government (democracy) did Jefferson, author of the Declaration
of Independence and founding father of the United States, envision?
Explain your answer using the text.
Are there aspects of this vision that are uniquely American? Why or
for a complete text of the inaugural address go to: http://www.nv.cc.va.us/home/nvsageh/Hist121/Part3/JeffFirstInaug.html
students consider what conditions are necessary for a democracy to
exist and flourish? (See the non-inclusive list below for some ideas.)
Write conditions on board or large paper. Then discuss the questions
· functioning civil institutions
· free press
· educated middle class
· generally open economy
· increased prosperity
· free elections
· respect for law
· independent judiciary
· rule of law
· freedom from oppression
Which, if any of these conditions exist in Iraq?
What challenges to democracy might Iraq face?
the students' challenges to the comments made by Rend Rahim Franke,
the Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation (see handout #2).
Prospects for Democracy in Iraq
January 25, 2003
By Fend Rahim Franke, Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation
should not underestimate the potential for democracy in Iraq, but
nor should we overestimate the ease with which it will establish itself
in the wake of decades of totalitarian rule
good starting point is the unity of the Iraqi opposition [to Saddam
Hussein] on the goal of democracy. Much has been reported about how
diverse, if not fractious, the opposition is. It includes Sunnis,
Shia's, Kurds and Christians; Islamists, Secular Democrats and Communists.
But what is most remarkable about this diverse umbrella is its unity
of vocabulary: Every faction of the opposition speaks the language
of democracy. There is a broad consensus that a post-Saddam Iraq should
be representative, decentralized and federal, with civilian control
of the military and respect for individual rights and ethnic diversity.
There are still debates about the precise structure of this federal
system, but what is key is the agreement that power in a future Iraq
should be devolved. This is a radical idea in the Middle East.
of the detrimental effects of Saddam's reign is the Iraqi people's
loss of faith in their ability to influence their environment and
effect change. Iraqis barely have control over the details of their
daily lives; the idea that they can be involved in shaping their collective
destiny is inconceivable under Saddam Hussein. We will need to target
Iraqi individuals and teach them to organize and advocate for their
interests in their local communities and at the national level.
the full text go to:
the comments made by historian Margaret MacMillan regarding the British
in Iraq after WWI with the present situation. What do they say about
the task ahead?
the end of World War One, the British set up a monarchy in Iraq under
a mandate from the League of Nations. But as I remember it didn't
say anything about democracy, it said leading them to self-government.
They found a king who did not come from Iraq. It was King Faisal who
had fought with Lawrence of Arabia. There were certainly signs that
it would eventually turn to self-rule.
got a country which didn't have the basic underpinnings of democracy.
It had never really been a country, it had many people who really
didn't like each other. It wasn't a country to begin with and what
happened was increasingly you had the military holding it together.
Although you've got political parties, but they weren't mass parties,
they were elite parties. You've got people grabbing control of the
government and then using patronage. So you didn't get what we see
OF TRINITY COLLEGE AND A PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
of PARIS 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
students research the forming of the new government in Afghanistan.
How is this similar or different to what is occurring in Iraq?
students research the political makeup of various governments in the
Middle East (some examples could include: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan,
Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates,
etc.) Which countries have democratic qualities? Which do not? Compare
ANALYSIS Plan for democracy in Iraq may be folly: Experts also question
U.S. ability to reform entire Middle East
April 13, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Democracy and Rule of Law Project
Council for the Social Studies Thematic
II. Time, Continuity, and Change
Groups, and Institutions
Ideals and Practice
Author Annie Schleicher is the NewsHour Extra
associate editor. She is a former high school English and journalism teacher.
She also taught TEFL in Mongolia as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She has a
BA in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in English
education from Mercyhurst College.
To find out more about opportunities to contribute
to this site, contact Leah Clapman at email@example.com.