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The Lost Year in Iraq

About the Film:

In the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, a group of Americans led by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, set off to Baghdad to build a new nation and plant democracy in the Arab Middle East. One year later, Bremer was forced to secretly exit what some have called "the most dangerous place on earth," leaving behind lawlessness, insurgency, economic collapse, death, destruction -- and much of his idealism. Three years later, as America continues to look for an exit strategy, the government they helped create and the infrastructure they designed are being tested. FRONTLINE follows the early efforts and ideals of the reconstruction efforts that tried to seize control and disband the Iraqi police, army, and Baathist government -- and how, along the way, those working on the reconstruction became hardened to the realities of postwar Iraq.

Watching the Film:

For classes in social studies, civics and government, language arts, current events and history; Grade Level 9-12

Teachers can either assign the film for viewing as homework or show the film in class. Suggested discussion questions are provided. The lessons and activities in this guide can be used in the classroom without having viewed the film.

A Note to Teachers:

This lesson has students examine three models for postwar reconstruction: the Teller Amendment, the Marshall Plan, and the Bremer Plan. Each was a reflection of its period and addressed issues unique to that time. While there are similarities and lessons to be learned from each, the circumstances, participants and political climates are different in each of these periods, and application of one plan in part or full does not necessarily suit other contexts.

Discussion Questions:

This guide includes a list of questions for students to discuss after viewing The Lost Year in Iraq.

Featured Lesson Plan:

"Lessons Learned: The Examination Of Three Postwar Reconstruction Plans"

Students will:

Additional Lesson Ideas:

Democracy and Freedom
Students will explore and debate the U.S. policy of exporting democracy to other countries.

Advertising Campaign
Students will develop a campaign to promote the exportation of democracy to other countries.

Creating Cartoons
Students will create their own political cartoons for publication in a school or community newspaper.

Postwar Reconstruction in Bosnia
Students will research postwar reconstruction in Bosnia and look at similarities and differences to postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

Additional Resources:

An annotated list of relevant Web sites, articles and/or books.

Purchasing the Film:

The Lost Year in Iraq can be purchased from Shop PBS for Teachers. Also, teachers and students can watch the film streamed in its entirety on FRONTLINE's Web site:


This teacher's guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Greg Timmons, curriculum writer and educational consultant. Advisers were Ellen Greenblatt, University High School, San Francisco and Debra Plafker Gutt, Stuyvesant High School, New York.