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January 26, 2003

Newspapers in Education Discussion guide
This guide is designed to help teachers and parents better explore the contents of this special section and use it in discussions regarding the growing conflict in Iraq.

Section I: The Issues:


1. Why did President Bush list Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the countries that make up the "axis of evil"?

2. How long was the Gulf War in 1991?

3. Why did President Clinton order 23 cruise missiles launched against Baghdad in June 1993?

4. Why did the relationship between Iraq and the U.S. deteriorate in the 1980s?

5. Which country has the largest oil deposits? Which uses the most oil? What is the relationship between these two countries? Where do the governments of these two countries stand on a potential war with Iraq?

6. What supporting evidence has the Bush administration given to prove a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida? Using a variety of sources, research this evidence.

7. What evidence that Iraq had programs for the development of weapons of mass destruction did United Nations inspectors find during the 1990s? What evidence have they found in the recent round of inspections?

8. Are the al-Qaida connection and the weapons-inspectors findings enough proof, in your opinion, to justify a war with Iraq?

9. After reading about the various points of conflict between the U.S. and Iraq, what are the top three reasons you feel the Bush administration is looking to topple Saddam Hussein?


1. After reading this section, how would you respond to those people who believe the U.S. is to blame for the conflict with Iraq? What would you say to those who feel the U.S. is justified in taking military action against Iraq? Defend your opinions with specific reasons, facts and details from this and other sources.

2. Former President Bush said that the coalition forces didn’t oust Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Iraqi war because they believed it would have upset a delicate balance among Arab nations and endangered Arab peace talks with Israel. In your opinion, what has changed that now allows the current President Bush to feel it is politically appropriate to overthrow Saddam Hussein? Do you agree with President Bush and his advisors — why or why not?

3. What is a foreign policy? What determines the U.S. foreign policy? Economics, politics, values? What do you think should guide our leaders in determining our foreign policy?

4. According to the article "Muddy mix: oil, politics," oil is a major issue in the current conflict. A variety of countries have a relationship with Iraq and its oil — France, Russia and China. Read the newspaper and search the news archives on to find articles identifying these countries’ positions on the U.S.-Iraq conflict. What issues determine their stance?

Section II: The Crisis: Weapons inspections and the military


1. What are the different types of weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. believes Iraq has?

2. How many United Nations inspectors are in Iraq? Research which countries are represented by the inspectors. What kind of relationship do these countries have with Iraq? With the United States? Do those relationships give Iraq or the U.S. grounds the question the integrity of the inspectors?

3. How is the United Nations team better prepared for the inspections now than in 1998?

4. Who is Hans Blix and why might his role be controversial?

5. How has the U.S. weaponry improved since the 1991 war with Iraq?


1. Weapons of mass destruction are a major concern of the United Nations and the United States. The U.N. would like the U.S. to share sensitive intelligence information regarding Iraq’s presumed weapons of mass destruction. Reportedly, Pentagon officials are hesitant to share this information. Divide into two groups and debate the reasons why the U.S. should or should not share the intelligence information with the U.N. inspectors.

2. How would you defend the United States’ creation and use of weapons of mass destruction in light of the Bush administration’s and U.N.’s stance that Iraq cannot develop and maintain them?

3. Read the articles regarding the U.S. and Iraqi militaries. List how the two differ. How do you feel about the chemical weapons used by Iraq versus the technological war weapons used by the U.S.?

4. Research the names of U.S. weapons that will be used against Iraq if we go to war (drones, Tomahawk, "smart weapons," Predator, etc.). What are the origins of these names? What do you associate with these names? How do you think these names affect how these weapons are perceived in the U.S.? What about in Iraq?

Section III: Turmoil: Iraq’s two decades of wars and sanctions


1. What were Iraq’s reasons for attacking Iran and Kuwait? Do you believe The British Mandate played a part in Iraq’s desire to invade these territories? If so, how? If not, why not?

2. How has the history of imperialism played a part in the U.S.– Iraq conflict?

3. What are the two sects of Muslims in Iraq? How do their lives differ and why? Does the U.S. government also have different relationships with the various ethnic, religious or socio-economic groups within our borders?

4. What is the name of Saddam Hussein’s political party?

5. Who are the Kurds? What do they want from the Iraqi government?

6. What was to be given to the Kurds following World War I? Did it happen? Why or why not?

7. Where is Halabja and what happened there in 1988? What was Saddam Hussein’s motivation for the 1988 actions against Halabja?

8. When did Saddam Hussein become president of Iraq? How did he get to that position?

9. What are economic sanctions? Who imposed them on Iraq? What is the purpose of these sanctions?

10. Which countries support the economic sanctions against Iraq? Which do not? Compare this list to who supports the war and who does not. Can any assumptions be made from this comparison?


1. Supporters of sanctions argue that the United Nations sanctions against Iraq are not to blame for the hardships endured by the Iraqi people, but rather Saddam Hussein is to blame. What do you think is the cause of the Iraqi hardships discussed in this section? How would another war affect Iraqi lives?

2. Sometimes, government leaders do not act in accordance with the desires of their citizens. How would you make decisions if you were a leader of a country? How would your decision-making method compare to President Bush’s? How about Saddam Hussein’s?

3. Research Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Try to identify their philosophy and how it influences their beliefs, laws, cultural norms and their economical, political and educational systems. How are they the same? How are they different?

4. Research the Gulf War Syndrome symptoms. How do they compare to health problems in Iraq reported by Iraqi doctors since 1991?

Section IV: Who supports the U.S., who’s against and who would lead Iraq?


1. Which countries are ready to support the U.S. with military support?

2. Why does the U.S. need Arab allies? Which Arab countries are more than likely to support the U.S. if we go to war with Iraq? Why?

3. Who is Ahmed Chalabi?

4. What are the different Iraqi-exile political groups? How do they differ and how are they the same?


1. Using a variety of reliable sources, research the political groups found in Iraq. Identify which group you feel would be best suited to replace Saddam Hussein and the Baath party.

2. Do you believe the U.S. can win a war against Iraq? If so, what relationship do you think the U.S. should establish with Iraq after the war? In what ways do you think this potential post-war relationship should shape the way the Bush administration moves forward in this conflict?

Additional Activities:

1. Before reading this section, make a list of issues and information you want to know about the U.S.-Iraq conflict. Read the section and compare it to your list. Then write 10 questions about any issues that you would like to explore further. Use the next few weeks to research the answers.

2. This section provides a timeline of Iraq’s history, predating its existence as a nation, from the "Fertile Crescent" to today. Using the timeline in this section, identify the key events that shaped Iraq’s culture, government, economy, borders and impact on world history.

3. Using the same time period as the Iraq timeline, 8000 B.C.E. to present day, create a timeline of U.S. history. Compare events that shaped the two nations. In what way is our history similar to Iraq’s? How is our history different?

4. A variety of cultural and political accomplishments stem from the area of the world referred to as the Fertile Crescent. What are some of those accomplishments? Today, new "facets of civilization" are being developed. As a group, identify these new facets — technology, language, arts — and research how those countries in the Fertile Crescent-area are shaping our civilization today.


Library of Congress, Portals to the World: Links to electronic resources.

United Nations disarmament news: Leads searcher into information on global terrorism and weapons bans and stockpiling.

MidEastWeb: A site created by Arabs, Jews and others interested in issues of coexistence all over the Middle East. Provides history, maps and articles in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

Iraqi expatriates' views: A site created by Washington, D.C.-based group of expatriates promoting human rights in Iraq.

State Department site: Contains issues leading to conflict between the U.S. and Iraq from the U.S. point of view.

Peace site: Sponsored by Voices in the Wilderness, a Chicago-based group that has sent small groups into Iraq to promote peace and report on human-rights conditions.

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