America at a Crossroads America at a Crossroads
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The Experience of American Troops

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Question #1
What is your reaction to Lt. Matt Sumrall’s explanation for going back out on patrol even after being ambushed where he states that if he didn’t go, his fellow servicemen would think less of him and he would rather die than let that happen? Put yourself in the situation experienced by U.S. troops in this conflict. How might you have reacted if you had been there? How is this type of combat different from that in previous wars?

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Question #2
The combat in Iraq seems fraught with political as well as military dilemmas even for troops on the ground. What is the dilemma facing Lt. Maloney and the other troops as they question a man and his wife at the checkpoint? How do they straddle the fine line between protecting their safety and honoring Iraqi religious and social customs? Discuss whether U.S. troops should honor such customs at the risk of their own lives and what the consequences are to U.S. troops and to Iraqis if these customs are ignored?

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Question #3
What is the dilemma facing the U.S. soldier in 1st Lt. Sangjoon Han’s story “Aftermath”? How does such an experience blur the lines between right and wrong?

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Question #4
Discuss the ways in which war is an activity exclusive to human beings. Besides the obvious aspect of death, explain how engaging in war provides experiences unattainable in any other human activity.

Question #5
Imagine you are an Iraqi civilian living in one of the country’s more troubled and violent provinces. What are the costs and benefits of this war for you and your family? What would be your response and overall attitude when confronted by the military occupation? What would you want the U.S. government to do for you?


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