Practice DBQ : Nuclear Weapons and Terrorism

July 23, 2011

Help your students prepare for the NY Regents Exam with these document-based question exercises modeled closely on the format used in the exam.

Directions:

Read/view the documents in Part A (Documents 1-7) and answer the question(s) after each. Some of these documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise. As you think about each document, take into account both the source and any point of view that may be presented in it.

Then, in Part B, use information from the documents in Part A and your knowledge of history, geography, and current events to write a well-organized essay in which you:

Compare and contrast the points of view presented regarding how to reduce the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons.
Evaluate the pros and cons of these points of view and discuss which approach you think is most promising for the United States to pursue to reduce the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons.
Historical Context:

The prospect of terrorists obtaining weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, poses a serious threat to people around the world. The readings below present various points of view on how to address this danger.

 


PART A - SHORT ANSWER

Examine each document carefully and then answer the question or questions that follow.

Document 1

"We must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the worldÖ. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

?President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 2002

"Unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. A military must be ready to strike at a moment's notice in any dark corner of the world. And our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive [preventative] action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives."

?Remarks by President Bush at 2002 Graduation Exercise of the United States Military Academy, June 1, 2002, West Point, New York

How does President Bush propose to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction?

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

Document 2

"[The Administration's] policy of preemptively using overwhelming force had no application against a proliferator with a serious military capability, much less a nuclear power. North Korea's conventional capacity alone—it has an army of more than a million men and 11,000 artillery pieces capable of striking South Korea's capital, Seoul—imposed a very high cost; the addition of nuclear arms, in combination with missiles capable of striking not only South Korea but Japan, made it obviously prohibitive. 

Nuclear proliferation is not now and never will be stoppable by military force

The lesson so far? Exactly the opposite of the intended one: If you want to avoid 'regime change' by the United States, build a nuclear arsenal. As Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said, the United States seems to want to teach the world that `if you really want to defend yourself, develop nuclear weapons, because then you get negotiations, and not military action.'"

? Jonathan Schell, "The Case Against the War," The Nation, February 13, 2003
(http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030303&c=1&s=schell)

According to Schell, why can't the spread of nuclear weapons be stopped by military force? What example does Schell use to support his argument?

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

Document 3

"Nuclear attack options that vary in scale, scope and purpose will complement other military capabilities. The combination can provide the range of options needed to pose a credible deterrent to adversaries [opponents such as "rogue nations" and terrorist networks] whose values and calculations of risk and of gain and loss may be very different from and more difficult to discern than those of past adversaries"

?Nuclear Posture Review, released, in part, by the United States Defense Department 3/10/02 (Source: http://globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/dod/npr.htm)

According to the Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review, why are nuclear weapons necessary in countering terrorism?

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

Document 4

[Any serious effort to stop the spread of nuclear weapons requires] "a clear road map for nuclear disarmament....starting with a major reduction in the 30,000 nuclear warheads still in existence and bringing into force the long-awaited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty....We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for securityóand indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use."

?Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, New York Times, 2/12/04

According to the Dr. ElBaradei, what should be the first step in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons?

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

Given his statement, would ElBaradei agree with President Bush that nuclear weapons are necessary in the fight against terrorism? Explain.

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

Document 5

"I propose to expand our efforts to keep weapons from the Cold War and other dangerous materials out of the wrong hands. In 1991, Congress passed the Nunn-Lugar legislation. Senator Lugar had a clear vision, along with Senator Nunn, about what to do with the old Soviet Union. Under this program, we're helping former Soviet states find productive employment for former weapons scientists. We're dismantling, destroying and securing weapons and materials left over from the Soviet WMD [weapons of mass destruction] arsenal. We have more work to do there."

?Remarks by President George W. Bush, Fort Lesley J. McNairóNational Defense University, Washington, D.C., February 11, 2004

What problem does the Nunn-Lugar legislation aim to address?

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

Document 6

"Vulnerable nuclear material anywhere is a threat to everyone, everywhere
Russia still has nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons, and enough nuclear material to produce 50,000 more Hiroshima-sized bombs. We have to make sure that in every nation the stockpiles are safeguarded. If I am president, the United States will lead an alliance to establish and enforce an international standard for the safe custody of nuclear weapons and materials. We will help states meet such standards by expanding the scope of the Nunn-Lugar program passed over a decade ago to deal with the unsecured weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union. For years, the administration has underfunded this vital program. For a fraction of what we have already spent in Iraq, we can ensure that every nuclear weapon, and every pound of potential bomb material will be secured and accounted for."

?Remarks by Senator John Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate, Tuesday, June 1, 2004, West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. Newswire

What does Senator Kerry propose the U.S. do to better secure nuclear weapons and nuclear materials around the world?

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

Document 7

Used by permission, Clay Bennett cartoons, https://www.pulitzer.org/winners/clay-bennett (Scroll through the slideshow to the "Security" cartoon published on 10/11/2001.)

What does this political cartoon imply about the current level of security around nuclear weapons technology?

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 


PART B - ESSAY:

Directions

Using information from the documents in Part A and your knowledge of history, geography, and current events, write a well-organized essay in which you:

Compare and contrast the points of view presented regarding how to reduce the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons.
Evaluate the pros and cons of these points of view and discuss which approach you think is most promising for the United States to pursue in order to reduce the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons.