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Iraq: How did we get here?


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Is Democracy Possible in Iraq?


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» Previewing Lesson Plan

Iraq: How did we get here?

This lesson is divided into three steps. [Note: Each step can be completed independently.]

  • Step One "Understanding the Department of Defense" requires 22-30 minutes.
  • Step Two "Introducing the Key Decision Makers" requires 50-60 minutes.
  • Step Three "What is the United Nations?" requires 50-60 minutes.

» Materials Needed:

Students will need Internet access, writing materials and student handouts.

» Lesson Objectives:

In this lesson students will:

  • Evaluate their understanding of the Defense Department.
  • Investigate how the U.S. government decides to go to war.
  • Analyze the key decision makers.
  • Explore the role of United Nations as peacekeeper.


Step One "Understanding the Department of Defense"

» Procedure:

To determine what the students know about the Defense Department and how decisions to go to war are made, have the students take this pre-test. Next have the students check their knowledge by completing the handout called Understanding the Department of Defense.

» Method of Assessment

Students should turn in both their pre-test and the answers from the student handout.

Media Literacy Note: Students need to be aware that Web sites sometimes present only one view of an issue. They should be encouraged to interrogate Web sites even as they are reading. Guiding questions as they work through these activities should be: What did you learn from this site? What didn't you learn from this site? Who sponsors this source? What bias might the sponsor have?


Step Two: "Introducing the Key Decision Makers"

» Procedure:

The Time Magazine article "First Stop, Iraq" traces the present Iraq conflict back to a Feb. 27, 1991 meeting where the first President Bush declared "the political objectives from Gulf War I have been achieved and hostilities will cease at midnight." It provides a brief history of how many of the key decision makers in Gulf War I are now key decision makers in Gulf War II. The article identifies such key figures as: President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Students should read and take notes on "First Stop, Iraq" to learn more about the roles of these key individuals. The article can be found at:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/03/24/timep.saddam.tm/

Teachers should then:

  • Divide the class into four groups.
  • Assign each group a key decision maker. The group should record the actions of that person.
  • The group should compare their individual notes taken while reading the article and develop a summary sheet on the impact of their decision maker in the buildup to war.

» Method of Assessment

  • Each group should select a speaker to present their findings to the class.
  • Copies of the summary sheets should be duplicated and given to all of the students.
  • Groups should turn in their individual notes and their summary sheet.
  • As an additional activity, students could be assigned a one- to two-page paper as homework that evaluates the following statement: Gulf War II is really just an extension of Gulf War I.

» Extending The Lesson:

Students may want to learn more about these individuals. Short biographies can be found at the following sites:

President Bush's Cabinet
The White House Web site provides the biographies of President Bush's Cabinet and offers links to the Web sites of each member's respective department.

The Bush Administration: Corporate Connections
Biographies on this Web site, from the Center for Responsive Politics, detail the ties of Cabinet members and presidential advisers to various corporations.

Media Literacy Note: Students need to be aware that Web sites sometimes present only one view of an issue. They should be encouraged to interrogate Web sites even as they are reading. Guiding questions as they work through these activities should be: What did you learn from this site? What didn't you learn from this site? Who sponsors this source? What bias might the sponsor have? How did the biographies differ on the various sites? What accounts for these differences?


Step Three "What is the United Nations?"

» Procedure:

Ask students to read the handout and answer the study questions using the U.N. Web site listed on the handout. Conclude this exercise with the following:

  • In a small group discussion have the students answer the question: What factors might limit the effectiveness of the United Nations? Ask students to list four things they think could cause problems, using information from their reading and their prior knowledge.

  • Conduct a large group discussion which considers the following:
    The U.N. goal, as stated in its charter, was "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." What recommendations would students make to help the U.N. achieve this goal?

» Method of Assessment:

Have students turn in their reading and discussion notes.

» Extending the Lesson: Weapons of Mass Destruction

Students may want to know more about the U.N.'s role in the debate over Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Here are links with further information:

Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East
This Web site from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies offers overviews of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, as well as a chronology of their use in the Middle East. This page also has profiles of Middle Eastern countries that include each country's WMD capabilities. [Note: The Iraq country profile was produced in September 2001.]

The United Nations and Threats from Weapons of Mass Destruction
This is an online lesson plan from the PBS series "Washington Week." It is designed for students to learn more about various weapons of mass destruction, and the U.N.'s options to reduce or eliminate the threat. (Should take 2-3 class periods)

Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq
For a shorter lesson on weapons of mass destruction, this online lesson plan offered by "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer" is designed to explore what weapons Saddam Hussein was accused of having, why the international community determined he should not have them, and how this debate played out in the buildup to war. (This lesson takes 20-30 minutes.)

Media Literacy Note: Students need to be aware that Web sites sometimes present only one view of an issue. They should be encouraged to interrogate Web sites even as they are reading. Guiding questions as they work through these activities should be: What did you learn from this site? What didn't you learn from this site? Who sponsors this source? What bias might the sponsor have?

For a different perspective on weapons of mass destruction, students could look at some Middle Eastern online newspapers:

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