Activity 1: Decision to Go to War
Students will understand the decisionmaking process and policy choices made by both the Coalition and by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in going to war in the Gulf to secure their perceived interests.
Program One. Excerpt length: 6:30 minutes. Begins approximately 18:30 minutes from start. In cue: "Waiting in Aspen for the president..." Out cue: "...at Camp David alone with him."
If time permits, have students watch the entire first program which focuses on the decision to go to war.
Facilitate a previewing discussion to provide the context for studying the Gulf War. You can use the Background and Timeline sections of this guide to give students critical background for understanding the war. Suggested questions to pose:
- Why do nations go to war?
- What motivated the Western decision to go to war in the Gulf?
- What motivated Iraq to invade Kuwait?
- Why was oil an important factor in the war? Were other factors involved?
- How do we distinguish between acts of aggression and acts of defense?
- How do we decide what stategy to respond with? (sanctions, force, etc.)
- What role should the United Nations play in conflict situations?
- As a large group, brainstorm what leaders need to consider before going to war. List responses on the chalkboard. Some suggestions might be: strategic goals and purpose; military capability; morale; economic infrastructure; sensibility regarding casualities; domestic politics.
- Divide the class in half: one segment representing Saddam Hussein and the other George Bush. Ask each group to assess the potential strengths and weaknesses of their opponent in the categories you have identified.
- As a large group, compare the answers of the two groups. Look for areas where perceptions are different and ask students to consider what factors contribute to those different perceptions and how each side might have assessed their situation better.
- Ask each student to write an essay presenting and explaining the decision to go to war from the Iraqi and U.S. perspectives as based on class findings.
A previewing discussion can take place in a single class period. The group activity can take one or two class periods.
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