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Roots of Terrorism
teachers guide

Classroom Activities

Activity 3: Defining an Ally

  • Strategies for Discussion
  • Program Descriptions
  • Credits and Acknowledgments

  • Background
  • Key Events
  • Select Individuals by Program
  • Key Organizations
  • Maps of the Region
  • Country Briefings
  • "Basic Facts About Islam"

  • Classroom Activities
  • Activity 1: Roots of Hatred
  • Activity 2: Defining Terrorism
  • Activity 3: Defining an Ally
  • Activity 4: Views of bin Laden
  • Activity 5: U.N. Simulations
  • Activity 6: Making Connections
  • Activity 7: Media and Perception
  • Activity 8: Debates, Discussion Questions, and Writing Prompts
  • Activity 9: How Are You Being Represented?

  • Resources
    Where to go on the Web for more information

    This activity is especially recommended for use with "Saudi Time Bomb?" It can also be used with "Looking for Answers."

    This activity will provide students with an opportunity to:

    • Examine the factors influencing U.S. foreign policy and whether or not the United States holds all countries to the same standards.

    • Consider what it means for countries to be "allies."

    • Consider what the United States gets from other countries and vice versa.

    • Consider the difference between calls for basic justice and the imposition of Western culture and ideas on other countries.

    • Review the geography of the Middle East.

    • Practice persuasive speaking, forming and defending opinions, and engaging in respectful discussion.


    In his speech to the nation following the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush declared that countries are either "with us or against us." Ask students to define "with" and "against."

    Follow up with any or all of these questions:

    • Look at the map of the region. Which countries does the U.S. support and why? Within each country, who does the U.S. support and why?

    • What does the U.S. expect from an ally? What should the U.S. expect? What is the U.S. getting?

    • Can one be critical of an ally? If so, how? And how do we criticize actions while respecting cultures different from our own?

    • Assess the following as allies:
      President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt
      (or former presidents Anwar el-Sadat and Gamal Abdel Nasser)

      King Fahd in Saudi Arabia

      The Taliban or Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan
    • Looking at the region as a whole, who would you select as an ally and why? What does the U.S. need in the region (consider U.S. energy policy, military sales, and foreign policy in your answer)? What might change our needs? How would those changes influence the allies we choose?

    Related Web Materials

    FRONTLINE: The Roots of Terrorism
    Includes extended interviews, corollary readings, recommended links and resources, and other background materials.

    U.S. State Department
    Includes a large archive of briefings and policy texts related to foreign affairs, as well as transcripts of media interviews with administration officials. It also includes the text of President Bush's address to the nation on Sept. 20.

    Related Curriculum Standards

    14. Understands issues concerning the disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life

    What is the relationship of the United States to other nations and to world affairs?
    22. Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy

    23. Understands the impact of significant political and nonpolitical developments on the United States and other nations

    1. Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographic tools and technologies

    2. Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment

    5. Understands the concept of regions

    6. Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

    Thinking and reasoning
    1. Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument

    2. Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning

    3. Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences

    United States history
    28. Understands domestic policies in the post-World War II period

    30. Understands developments in foreign policy and domestic politics between the Nixon and Clinton presidencies

    World history
    43. Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up

    44. Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world

    45. Understands major global trends since World War II

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