Iraq: The Surge & Power Struggles

March 12, 2008

Four student readings and an introductory questionnaire expore the effects of the surge and the state of Iraq today. Student activities follow.

To the Teacher:

The main purpose of President Bush's "surge"—which sent 30,000 U.S. soldiers to Iraq, adding to the 130,000 already there—was to reduce violence, giving Iraqi leaders the "breathing space" they needed to achieve national reconciliation on basic issues. Below are four student readings on this subject, beginning with an introductory questionnaire. Two of the readings offer an assessment of the results of the surge 14 months later. Another considers competing views on the status of al Qaeda in Iraq by 2008 presidential candidates Obama and McCain. The final reading provides a snapshot of life and death in Iraq today. Student activities follow.

TeachableMoment.Org has more than two dozen other classroom lessons about the Iraq war.

An introductory "fish bowl"

The Iraq war is now in its sixth year. It has cost many lives, maimed countless bodies and minds, destroyed homes, buildings, power grids, oil pipelines. Its monetary costs are astronomical and climbing. There is no end in sight. President Bush and other supporters of the war argue that the American invasion, whose stated aim was to find and destroy Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction," was justified-even though no such weapons were ever found. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Bush maintains, was dangerous, and now that he has been deposed by U.S. forces, Iraq is on a path toward democracy.

What do students know about the basic facts of the situation in Iraq today? Ask them to respond in their notebooks as best they can to each of the following questions. They are to save these comments and review them later.

1. More than a year ago, President Bush asked Congress to support a surge, an addition, of American troops in Iraq. Why?

2. Has the surge been succeeding? In your answer, whether yes, no or maybe, explain what you mean by "succeeding"?

3. Everyone agrees that political agreements among Iraq's major groups are essential. What is one specific reason why they have been so difficult to reach?

4. About how many Iraqis have been forced to leave their homes? Where have they gone?

A "fish bowl" is a good way to involve the whole class in one small group dialogue. It is especially useful when emotions are strong and when students bring very different perceptions to a controversial topic.

Ask five to seven students who are likely to reflect diverse points of view to begin the conversation. Have them make a circle of chairs in the middle of the room. Ask everyone else to make a circle of chairs around the fish bowl so there will be a smaller circle within a larger circle. Only people in the fish bowl can speak. This helps to make possible sustained, focused listening.

Asks in sequence the above questions, which students have already addressed in their notebooks. Each student in the fish bowl speaks to the question without being interrupted. Designate a set amount of time for clarifying questions and further comments from students in the fish bowl.

After 10 minutes or so, invite students from the larger circle to participate in the fish bowl conversation by tapping a fish bowl student on the shoulder and moving into that student's seat in the fish bowl. After another 5 to 10 minutes do so again.

Take note of what students' responses reveal about what they understand and misunderstand. What do they know? What makes them think so? What are they uncertain about? Why? What are they mistaken about? Why are they mistaken? What do they apparently know little or nothing about? What are their main sources of information?

After all questions have been considered and each student who wanted to has had an opportunity to participate, conclude the fish bowl with an assessment through such questions as the following:

1. Were all points of view heard? Respected?

2. What new ideas, questions, and facts were introduced into the discussion that complicated your thinking about the issue?

3. Did any insights or information shift your thinking during the discussion? How?

(Another approach would be to invite a full class discussion of each of the questions. However, the fish bowl will likely be more involving.)

The following readings deal with the questions students addressed in the fish bowl.

Any account of the situation in Iraq today, including the one provided here, can be examined for factual accuracy. Encourage students as they read to think critically and open-mindedly about the text, to challenge anything they regard as questionable, but also to consider the possibility that what they think or think they know may be wrong. Are opinions—either the writer's or those quoted—supported? Is any significant information omitted?

As students read and discuss, they should understand that such critical questions are also appropriate for a daily newspaper, a TV news report, a blog, or a history book.


Student Reading 1:

Assessing the surge

In his January 10, 2007 State of the Union address President Bush announced his plan for a "surge" to add 30,000 American troops to the 130,000 already in Iraq. Its purpose, he said, was to reduce violence, thus providing "breathing space" to allow Iraqi political leaders from contending religious and ethnic groups to reconcile their differences.

The president added, "America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has [approve] legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis...spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs...empower local leaders [by holding]...provincial elections later this year...allow more Iraqis to enter their nation's political life by [reforming] de-Baathification laws...establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution."

Thirteen months later at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association (2/25/08), President Bush touted the surge's achievements:

"The surge is succeeding. High-profile attacks are down. Civilian deaths are down. Sectarian killings are down. U.S. and Iraqi forces, who are becoming more capable by the day, have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders—the very same people that would like to hurt America again...The progress in Iraq is enabling this young democracy to begin to make progress under the most modern constitution in the Middle East."

Other observers agreed with Bush's assessment, including the Brookings Institution, which reported decreased violence in Iraq. (, 12/8/07)

Although the surge has contributed to less violence in Iraq, the country remains by normal standards a violent place. In January 2008, 466 Iraqi civilians died violent deaths, in February, 633. There are also reasons other than the surge for reduced violence.

Senator John McCain recently stated that violence was down in 17 of Iraq's 18 provinces (2/26/08). But Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan who specializes in Middle East studies, argued: "There are no U.S. troops in the three northern Kurdish provinces of Iraq and there are none in four southern provinces. There are none in Anbar province and very few in eight provinces that are mostly Shiite. In short, there are very few or no U.S. troops in 16 of 18 provinces. So if violence has declined in 17 of 18 provinces, U.S. policy cannot possibly have anything to with most of that"

Cole maintains that U.S. forces have had "significant successes in Baghdad though at the unfortunate (and unintentional cost) of further turning it into a Shiite city from which most of the Sunnis have been ethnically cleansed." Professor Cole is referring to the decline in violence in Baghdad after Shiites forcibly ejected Sunnis from many of their neighborhoods. (Juan Cole's daily blog focuses on events in Iraq that often go unreported in American media:

Another reason for the decline in violence unrelated to the surge is that Moktada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric whose Mahdi army contributed significantly to the violence, declared a ceasefire last August—and extended that ceasefire in February 2008.

A third important reason for the decline in violence is the decision before the surge by Sunni insurgents in Anbar Province and later in other Sunni areas to turn against al Qaeda fighters. (See Reading 2, item #2.)

Progress on Bush's Stated Benchmarks

In his January 2007 State of the Union address, the president cited "political reconciliation" as the end goal of the surge, and listed several "benchmarks" that would signal progress toward reconciliation.

A year later, it might appear that benchmarks on participation in civic life and local government reform seem about to be met. But while Bush hailed progress in these areas, the progress is less than meets the eye.

The benchmark on "civic life" was approving and acting upon legislation to make it possible for more Iraqis, in particular Sunni Arab members of Saddam Hussein's former Baath Party, to enter the nation's political and civic life.

Soon after the U.S. gained control of Iraq in 2003, U.S. administrator Paul Bremer ordered a purge of senior members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, many of whom then joined the insurgency against the U.S.

The Iraqi legislature recently passed a new law that was supposed to reverse this decision and open up participation in the government to Baath Party members who were not guilty of any crimes. The law seemed to be a significant step toward political reconciliation.

But, according to the Christian Science Monitor, "critics say it is even stricter than the first and offers even fewer chances for thousands of embittered high-ranking Baathists to return to the fold." The law calls for a "complete cleansing" from Baathist Party influence; bans Baathist officials who worked in various security agencies from ever getting jobs in the security forces; and bans many mid-level Baathists from holding jobs in various key ministries. (, 2/22/08)

The benchmark on "fair local government" was setting a date for provincial elections for local leaders to eliminate a political situation that provides Shiites and Kurds with unfair power over Sunni Arabs in some of Iraq's 18 provinces.

The Iraqi legislature passed a fairer electoral law that responded to anger about corrupt and irresponsible local leaders. It opened up a chance to elect better officials. Two weeks later the law was vetoed by Iraq's presidency council. American pressure appears to be responsible for lifting the veto. Following a telephone call from Vice President Cheney and his visit in Iraq to the member of the presidency council whose vote blocked the law, that member withdrew his objections to it. But the possibility of changes remains and the Iraqi Parliament must approve it before it goes into effect.

Iraq has also failed to reach several other benchmarks sited by the president:

  • Passing an oil law ensuring a fair distribution of profits to all Iraqis
  • Spending reconstruction money and delivering essential services fairly
  • Forming a committee to establish necessary changes in the constitution
  • Ensuring that Iraqi security forces provide fair law-enforcement
  • Ensuring that political authorities are not undermining Iraq's security forces

Iraq has partially achieved another major benchmark, reducing sectarian violence & eliminating militia control of local security.

And it has achieved the benchmark of establishing neighborhood security in Baghdad.

For discussion

1. What questions do students have about the reading? How might they be answered?

2. What, if anything, did students learn from the reading that they hadn't known before? What had they been mistaken about? What, if anything, do they challenge in the reading? Why?

3. What were President Bush's purposes in sending more troops to Iraq?

4. Consider the president's remarks to the Republican Governors Association: What evidence is there that at any time during the past five years there were hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders in Iraq? What evidence is there that any of these al Qaeda leaders in Iraq were "the very same people" that had had anything to do with 9/11? If you can't answer either of these questions, how might you find answers?

5. What seem to be reasons for the reduced violence?

6. What are "benchmarks"? How successful has Iraq been in achieving the benchmarks?


Student Reading 2:

Why no national political reconciliation among Iraq's groups?

President Bush, U.S. military chiefs, and critics of the Iraq war all agree on at least one thing: It is not possible for the U.S. to succeed in Iraq through military force alone. Bush administration goals for Iraq include stability, a much sharper reduction in violence and an Iraqi alliance with the United States in "the war on terror" Such goals require national political reconciliation among religious and ethnic groups.

So why, after five years, hasn't reconciliation occurred? Some observers maintain that the leaders of the major groups are more interested in amassing power and taking revenge on their opponents than they are in national unity.

Consider the views and actions of each of the major groups.


Shiites make up 60 percent of the Iraqi population. And yet they never held power in the country until the American occupation. Under the rule of Saddam Hussein (a Sunni), and especially after the Gulf War of 1991, many thousands of Shiites were persecuted, jailed and, during a Shiite revolt, killed. Enmity between the Shiites and the once-dominant Sunnis, many of whom regard the former as heretics, is longstanding.

The largest Shiite faction is the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI). It controls provincial governments in much of southern Iraq, where many of Iraq's oil reserves are located. (Only Saudi Arabia and Iran have greater oil reserves than Iraq.) Much of Iraq's oil is shipped through the Persian Gulf from Basra, a large port city in the south.

The ISCI is unwilling to jeopardize control of southern provincial councils, its power base in an area of great oil wealth. This base allows the ISCI to maintain superiority over rival Shiites loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, who want a strong central government to counter ISCI power.

The struggle for power between Shiite factions helps to explain the conflict in the presidency council over the benchmark on "fair local government." Whether the Iraqi Parliament will approve the law remains to be seen.


Sunnis, with 20 percent of the population, dominated the country after Great Britain established Iraq as a nation after World War I. When the U.S. gained control in 2003, thousands of Sunnis who led and worked in Saddam Hussein's government lost their jobs. They formed the core of an insurgency against the occupation.

Several years of Sunni warfare with American troops, Shiite militias, and Shiite-dominated police and army followed. Some Sunni jihadis called themselves "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia." This insurgent group is apparently a "home-grown Sunni Arab extremist group," according to the New York Times , though "American intelligence agencies have concluded that it is foreign led. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden's network is not clear. Some leaders of the group have sworn allegiance to bin Laden, but the precise links and the extent of affiliation are unknown, and it was created after the American invasion." ( New York Times, 2/28/08

Over time, some Sunnis turned against this fundamentalist religious group. They formed al-Sahwa, "the Awakening," and allied themselves with the Americans. The U.S. now pays some 80,000 Sunnis, many of them insurgents who fought the occupation, $300 a month to continue their fight against al-Qaeda and protect their neighborhoods.

But Sunnis remain resentful about their loss of power. They have contempt for the U.S.-backed Shiite government of Nuri al-Maliki. They are bitter about the Shiite "ethnic cleansing" of Baghdad that turned large numbers of Sunnis into refugees in their own country or exiles to Syria, Jordan and other Arab countries.
Most Sunnis live in central and western Iraq, where no significant oil reserves have been found. They fear they will never receive a fair share of oil revenues from the reserves in the south and the north. Their influence in the national government is negligible. If the U.S. begins to withdraw its troops from Iraq and drops the Awakening allies from its payroll, Sunni insurgents may well reassemble and resume their fight with Shiites.


Kurds, who make up 20 percent of the population, are not ethnically Arab like the Shiites and Sunnis. They, too are Sunnis, but most live in northern Iraq and have their own language and culture. Saddam Hussein regarded them as a threat, fearing they would secede from Iraq and form a separate nation (perhaps with Kurds in neighboring countries, including Turkey). During the last part of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), Hussein ordered Kurdish towns and villages to be gassed and killed thousands. More Kurds were killed when they, like the Shiites, revolted after the Gulf War.

After the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. and Britain enforced a "no-fly" zone over Kurdish northern Iraq, barring Saddam Hussein's planes. This protection gave the Kurds an opportunity to establish much independence under their own democratically elected, secular leaders. They support a secular, weak Iraqi government that will interfere with them as little as possible. Since the American invasion, the north has been relatively peaceful, enabling the Kurds to thrive more than any other group. Northern Iraq has substantial oil reserves.

Kurds have their own militia. No other Iraqi military force can enter their territory without permission. In the absence of any national agreement on oil field development, Kurdish leaders have begun to grant contracts to foreign developers. Shiite and Sunni leaders alike regard this move as a violation of the constitution. Kurds have also claimed oil-rich Tamim Province and its capital, Kirkuk, as part of their semi-independent regional territory.

A significant number of people from other, non-Kurdish religious and ethnic groups live in Tamim—including Turks and Arabs who oppose the Kurds' claim to the area. A referendum to vote on competing claims was scheduled for last year but was put off. The fate of Kirkuk is a key issue in the debate over Iraq's future and will play an important role in whether the nation (as it is currently constructed) has a future.

Many Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups, however, "believe that the U.S. military invasion is the prime root of the violent differences among them and see the departure of (what they call) 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation." (U.S. Army survey of Iraqi opinion, December 2007, as summarized in the Washington Post .)

Note: The population percentages cited for Iraq's three major groups are estimates because there has been no official census.

For discussion

1. What questions do students have about the reading? How might they be answered?

2. What did students learn from the reading that they hadn't known before? What had they been mistaken about? What, if anything, do they challenge in the reading? Why?

3. Why is political reconciliation so important in Iraq? Why have Iraqi politicians not met each of the following benchmarks: a) approving an oil law ensuring a fair division of profits among all Iraqis? b) making it possible for more Sunni Arabs to participate in civic life? c) carrying out provincial elections?

Student Reading 3:

Iraq Election Controversy

The role of al Qaeda in Iraq is controversial. Read carefully the following excerpt from presidential campaign comments by Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Then discuss the questions that follow

Senator Barack Obama has said that as president he would withdraw American combat troops from Iraq. He has also said, repeatedly, that he would act if, after that withdrawal, al Qaeda's presence in Iraq came to represent a threat to the U.S. During a debate with Hillary Clinton, he said, "I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad." (2/26/08)

Senator John McCain responded the next day: "I am told that Senator Obama made the statement that if Al Qaeda came back to Iraq after he withdraws—after the American troops are withdrawn—then he would send military troops back, if Al Qaeda established a military base in Iraq. I have some news. Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It's called 'Al Qaeda in Iraq.' My friends, if we left, they wouldn't be establishing a base. They'd be taking the country, and I'm not going to allow that to happen."

Senator Obama replied: "I've got some news for John McCain. That is, there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade...They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11 and that would be al Qaeda in Afghanistan, that is stronger now than at any time since 9/11."

According to professor Juan Cole: "The technical definition of al Qaeda is operatives who have sworn fealty to Osama bin Laden. There were only a few hundred of them. I doubt whether more than a handful of such individuals are [now] in Iraq....They have some safe houses and try to take and hold neighborhoods, so far with indifferent success. The idea that this small minority of violent Muslim fundamentalists could take over Iraq is completely crazy….The Shiites would not allow an 'al Qaeda' takeover of Iraq. Neither would the Kurds. Nor would most Sunni Arabs."(, 2/28/08

For discussion

1. Is Senator Obama factually correct in saying that "there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade"?

2. Do you agree with Senator McCain's prediction that "if we left...[al Qaeda] would "be taking the country"? Why or why not?

3. How do you evaluate Professor Cole's comment that "The idea that this small minority of violent Muslim fundamentalists could take over Iraq is completely crazy"?

4. In each case, what is the basis for your judgment? If you do not think you can make an informed judgment, what might you do to answer each question?


Student Reading 4:

Snapshots of Iraq after five years of U.S. occupation

  • "Baghdad is drowning in sewage because of blocked and broken pipes and drains. In one part of the city, the sewage has formed a lake so large that it can be seen 'as a black spot on Google Earth.'" (Patrick Cockburn, quoting Tahseen Sheikhly, civilian spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, 2/15,
  • "In many areas of Baghdad electricity is only available for a couple of hours daily." In the past, disruption of fuel supplies or sabotage was usually blamed. "Now officials are confirming that corruption and intimidation are sometimes factors in who gets electricity in Iraq's capital."(National Public Radio (, 2/25/08)
  • Iraq's economy is propped up by oil. Attacks against oil fields and production plants are dropping fast (down to one a month this year, after averaging 5 to 10 a month previously), allowing modest increases in output." ( New York Times , 3/9/08)
  • "According to the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration in 2007, almost 5 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence in their country. About half of these people are living in other places in Iraq. Of the rest, about 1.5 million are in Syria, the other million in Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and the Gulf States. (
  • Why have so many become refugees? The U.S. disbanded the Iraqi army and fired members of the Baath Party from their positions in the government. These acts contributed both to the Sunni insurgency and to the flight of Iraqis from their country. Bombings, kidnappings, destruction of homes, ethnic cleansing and a daily atmosphere of violence and terror did the rest.
  • Among the refugees are many scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses, architects, teachers, writers, and lawyers. "The flood of managers, professional and technicians out of the country...has been a critical obstacle to any productive reconstruction. Worse yet, the departure of so many crucial figures is probably to a considerable extent irreversible, ensuring a grim near future for the country." (Michael Schwartz, "The Iraqi Brain Drain,", 2/10/08)
  • A report from UNICEF entitled "Little Respite for Iraq's Children in 2007" declared that "around two million Iraqi children suffered this year from a variety of humanitarian ills, including poor nutrition, disease and interrupted education. Roughly 60 percent of children nationwide lacked reliable access to safe drinking water...Hundreds of children were killed or injured by the country's sectarian violence while an average of 25,000 children per month were displaced." ( New York Times , 12/22/07)
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) regularly reports progress on its many projects in Iraq. Since beginning work in 2003, for example, USAID teams have rehabilitated nearly 3,000 schools and provided 20 million textbooks for children; they have vaccinated 3.2 million children under age five and trained 2,500 primary healthcare workers; they have helped to restore marshlands destroyed by Saddam Hussein and strengthened local governments. (
  • "Jobless men pay $500 bribes to join the police," according to the New York Times . "Families build houses illegally on government land, carwashes steal water from public pipes, and nearly everything the government buys or sells can now be found on the black market. Corruption and theft are not new to Iraq, and government officials have promised to address the problem. But...there is a growing sense that, even as security has improved, Iraq has slipped to new depths of lawlessness...
  • "Some American officials estimate that as much as a third of what they spend on Iraqi contracts and grants ends up unaccounted for or stolen, with a portion going to Shiite or Sunni militias. In addition. Iraq's top anticorruption official estimated this fall—before resigning and fleeing the country after 31 of his agency's employees were killed over a three-year period—that $18 billion in Iraqi government money had been lost to various stealing schemes since 2004." ("Nonstop Theft And Bribery Stagger Iraq," New York Times , 12/2/07)
  • Despite a significant decline in violence in Iraq during the past three months, there have been only "minimal advances in the delivery of essential services" (for example, electricity, health care, clean water) to the people of Iraq, "mainly due to sectarian bias in targeting and execution of remedial programs." (Pentagon quarterly assessment of progress in Iraq, 12/18/07)

Statistics on violent Iraqi civilian deaths during the five years of American invasion and occupation vary widely. Iraq does not produce a reliable official record. The U.S. does not track Iraqi civilian deaths. Groups that do track them do not use the same methods. Iraqi civilian deaths probably number in the hundred thousands. No group counts the numbers of the seriously wounded.

Not long ago there was a huge outcry in the United States over inadequate treatment provided to American soldiers at veterans' hospitals. But Iraqis wounded in every conceivable way must get treatment in a country where hospitals lack equipment, medications, nurses, and doctors.

Four thousand American soldiers have died violently in Iraq. Seven or eight times as many have been seriously wounded. If we use the low figure of 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths and, as an estimate of the seriously wounded, multiply it by seven or eight, the product will soon be 1 million people.

Without a major change of course in Iraq, the eventual costs to the United States of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach $3.5 trillion, most of it for Iraq. "President Bush's formal funding requests for Iraq have already exceeded $600 billion. In addition to that…estimates of the war's 'hidden costs' from its beginning to 2017 [include]: the long-term costs of treating the wounded and disabled; interest and other costs associated with borrowing to finance the war; the money need to repair or replace military equipment; the increased costs of military recruiting and retention; and such difficult to gauge but very real costs of productivity from those who have been killed or wounded." (Bob Herbert, "Now and Forever," New York Times, 12/4/07, discussing a report prepared for the Democratic majority on the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate.)

For discussion

What questions do students have about the reading? How might they be answered?


For small group discussion and writing

Divide the class into groups of four to six students to discuss the following situation:

Imagine that you and your family, with little or no notice, had to abandon most of your possessions and leave your home. Imagine that your family went to live with relatives or friends in another part of the U.S. -or in another country.

Discuss with classmates where you imagine you might go. Keep in mind that you would not be able to take much with you. What problems can you envision that you and other members of your family would face? How do you think each of you might deal with them?

After allowing a reasonable amount of time for group discussions, assign a paper in which each student writes about being displaced from a home. Ask students to imagine they and their family would go, what problems they would probably face, and what they might do to deal with them. Students should keep in mind that their displacement would be indefinite and that they might never be able to return.

For inquiry

Assign students to a subject for further inquiry, to pursue either individually or in a small group. Ask them to frame one or more questions for investigation. Before proceeding, students should discuss their questions and how they intend to proceed with the teacher. See "Thinking Is Questioning" for suggestions on how to help students learn to ask good questions. Some suggested subjects:

1. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
2. Violence in Iraq
3. Iraq-Iran relations
4. Oil in Iraq
5. Shiite-Sunni religious differences
6. A leading Iraqi political figure
7. Origins and background of the Kurdish ethnic group
8. Presidential candidates and Iraq
9. Reconstruction in Iraq
10. Iraqi insurgency against the British after World War I
11. Controversy over the U.S. invasion of Iraq



For discussion, writing and citizenship

Questions about U.S. policy toward Iraq include:

  • Should the U.S. keep troops in Iraq until success is achieved? If so, exactly what should constitute success?
  • Or should the U.S. begin now to withdraw its troops, work through the United Nations and regional groups to settle outstanding issues, and contribute significantly to Iraq's reconstruction? Would such a policy be irresponsible and result in chaos in Iraq? Why or why not?
  • Based on a study of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its many consequences, what do you think U.S. policy should be and why?

You might conduct class and small-group discussions on these subjects, and have students follow up with letters and e-mails to President Bush and lawmakers in the House and Senate.



Notebook review and self-assessment

Have students review their initial responses to questions about Iraq at the beginning of this lesson. Assign a paper in which students assess this and, if necessary, rewrite their responses.


Th is lesson was written for TeachableMoment.Org, a project of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. We welcome your comments. Please email them to: