To teach about the Iraq war is, inevitably, to enter a minefield of controversy. But it is also an opportunity to promote a major educational goalóto increase understanding of a vital issue and of the country and the world we live in.
Morningside Center is committed to social responsibility and social justice, to engagement with the lifeblood of education, the great controversial issues of our time. Education means critical inquiry—learning how to ask probing questions and how to pursue intelligent answers. It means opening ourselves to perspectives different from our own as well as scrutinizing and challenging them. It means expressing opinions and listening carefully to those of others in an environment free from student ridicule or teacher condemnation. It also means acting on our understandings and beliefs.
On this website, TeachableMoment, Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility offers multiple sets of materials on the Iraq war that attempt to embody this educational philosophy. The most recent include the following.
- Bloody Iraq and Its Future details about what is going right and what is going wrong in Iraq; proposals of critics for getting out of Iraq; suggestions for "bringing Iraq into the school" and opportunities for student action.
- A series of lessons on Iraq war coverage includes a DBQ on Correspondents as Targets (about the challenges of reporting from Iraq); a reading and DBQ on Reporting Civilian Deaths, and a Background Reading that explores such topics as what it means to be "embedded" and how the media covered the pulling down of Saddam Hussein's statue and the attack on Fallujah.
- American Treatment of Iraqi and Afghan Prisoners: Who Is to Blame? explores official and unofficial inquiries into the issue as well as the question of "war crimes" and offers suggestions for student action
Here is a briefly annotated list of some of the internet materials we have used to compile these activities, including the presentation of competing points of view.
Opinion & Analysis
Alternet (www.alternet.org), Cursor.Org (www.cursor.org) and CommonDreams.Org (www.commondreams.org), are liberal/left sites that initiate as well as reprint articles on Iraq and offer many links to newspapers worldwide and other sources. Lakshmi Chaudhry, a senior editor at Alternet, currently has on its site a lengthy article, "Rethinking Iraq," which is worth pondering, whatever one's views.
The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org). The Heritage Foundation describes itself as "a research and educational institute—'a think tank'—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." It researches, reports on, and offers opinion about Iraq and offers articles by such analysts as Charles Krauthammer and Oliver North. Another conservative organization, the American Enterprise Institute (www.aei.org) also offers materials and analyses on Iraq.
Juan Cole (www.juancole.com). Cole, a professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan, has a daily blog in which he reports and comments on events in Iraq—attacks, mosque sermons, political figures, forces, philosophies, background history. The blog offers links to a number of major sources about Iraq past and present. Cole's current research focus is Shiite Islam in Iraq and Iran and Muslim radicalism. He has lived in the Muslim world for extended periods, speaks Arabic and Persian, and writes extensively about modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. If you have time to read one blog daily on Iraq, try Cole's "Informed Comment."
TomDispatch.Com, a project of The Nation Institute (www.tomdispatch.com). Writer Tom Englehardt gives much attention to Iraq and U.S. policies in dispatches e-mailed two or three times a week to subscribers. He engages issues with feeling and intelligence and frequently includes articles by others. A January 2005 example is "Dahr Jamail in Devastated Iraq" (Jamail is an unembedded reporter who travels widely in Iraq interviewing ordinary Iraqis and describing the horrendous condition of the country.)
The Wall Street Journal's online editorial page (www.opinionjournal.com).The site includes editorials and op-eds from a strongly conservative perspective. (The Journal's editorial page editor, Paul Gigot, now has a Friday night program on PBS.)
US Agency for International Development (www.usaid.gov). This official government website focuses on the progress of Iraqi reconstruction projects. In its monthly summaries it provides statistics and specific details of ongoing work.
The websites of the White House (www.whitehouse.gov), State Department (www.usinfo.state.gov); and Defense Department (www.defenselink.mil) offer regular reports of presidential speeches and press releases, news and official analyses on Iraq.
Aljazeera (http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage). This Arabic news network's TV coverage of the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a significant factor in shaping opinion in the Arab world. Other Middle East journalism sources worth checking are the Cairo-based online edition of Ål-Ahram (http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/), the Middle East Times (www.metimes.com), and Asia Times (www.atimes.com).
The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk). In addition to regular news reports on Iraq, this British newspaper makes available an archive of information, including a chronology of events, key documents, interactive guides, special reports, and links.
Other Useful Websites
American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org). An ACLU lawsuit forced the Bush administration to release documents on Afghan and Iraqi prisoner abuse and torture, details of which are available at this site. Amnesty International (www.amnesty.org) and Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) also report on this issue.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (www.ceip.org). The organization says it is "dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States" whose work is "nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results." Its website's Iraq materials include "WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications," which "distills a massive amount of data into side-by-side comparisons of pre-war intelligence, the official presentation of that intelligence, and what is now known about Iraq's programs."
PBS's NOW (www.pbs.org/now). For years, NOW with Bill Moyers offered a passion for social justice through its critical documentaries and commentaries. Moyers retired from the program in December 2004, but it continues under David Brancaccio The program's website provides an archive of materials on Iraqóinterviews and reviews of evidence (for instance, a damning December program analyzing Condoleezza Rice's comments about Iraq and "the war on terror").
In addition to TeachableMoment:
Rethinking Schools (www.rethinkingschools.org). This magazine, aimed at educators, promotes "equity and the vision that public education is central to the creation of a humane, caring, multiracial democracy." It is an activist publication, addressing key policy issues, including Iraq. The website offers extensive resources for teachers, lesson plans, and lists of teacher groups against the war.
This resource list was compiled for TeachableMoment.Org, a project of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. We welcome your comments. Please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org