As long as there have been civilizations, there have been wars. Whether justified or not they are always a menace to public health. Disease runs rampant, money is diverted from useful research, and care for veterans is never ending. On our shores actual war has not been a major territorial problem. Most of our wars have been fought in other locations. Yet we still feel the consequences. Most of our wars have been remote. For example, few people are familiar with the Mexican-American War and the bounty we received at its end. The Vietnam War changed that. With nightly television reports, the American public became aware of the goings on in Asia. That war, however, is not familiar to our students. The war that they are most aware of, thanks to the media, is the Persian Gulf War.
“This is Bernie Shaw. Something is happening outside. . . .” “Peter Arnett, join me here. Let’s describe to our viewers what we’re seeing. . . . The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated. . . . We’re seeing bright flashes going off all over the sky.”
America was witnessing live action warfare January 16, 1991. In my paper I will discuss what led to and what happened after the momentous moment that Desert Shield erupted into Desert Storm. Most of our students were old enough to follow the day-to-day developments of this six-week confrontation. This project will enlighten them to the details of the Iraqi-U.N. episode. From Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait to the ceasefire, the intent will be to discuss what transpired and possible options that could have been taken. As an educator, I will present facts and let the students determine whether the U.S. should have become involved in the Persian Gulf War. After weighing information they have gathered and the unit has furnished them, they will take part in a mock trial to determine if the war was necessary. In conjunction with other units related to this topic, the students should be well prepared to put the U.S. on trial for involvement in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I will use Alan Frishman’s class as a jury.
Included in this unit will be a section on war crimes. I will concentrate on U.S. war crimes. Included will be sections on violence, death, hunger, sickness, environmental ruin, and human rights violations. These are not new topics to war, nor were they just committed by the U.S. and U.N. forces. Iraq did its fair share of atrocities. However, for the purpose of brevity the unit will be confined to the above mentioned topic.
Finally, the unit will attempt to understand the Pentagon-denounced Gulf War Syndrome. Discussed, primarily, will be symptoms reports by Persian Gulf War veterans and the possible reasons for these afflictions. I will then have the students compare diseases and unhealthy consequences of World War I, an early 20th century war, and the Persian Gulf War, a later 20th century war. The unit will also have the students determine if chemical warfare is a viable means of combat and what if any controls should be placed on belligerent nations.
As stated previously, this unit will present facts. It will be up to the students to determine for themselves what they feel about a war that was immensely popular in 1991. The unit will consist of three parts, and each part will have specific activities associated with it. The first part will be called “What Led To and What Happened During Desert Storm.” There will be three days devoted to a discussion of the historical background of the war, followed by a test on the fourth day.
The second part will be called “Did the United States Act Correctly in Desert Storm?” There will be six days devoted to that topic, followed by a test on the seventh day.
The third part will be called “The Gulf War Syndrome.” There will be three days devoted to a discussion of whether the health problems of some Gulf War veterans were related to the Gulf War or whether they were present before. Following this discussion will be one day of assigning roles for a mock trial and two days of presenting the mock trial. The jury for the mock trial will consist of students from Alan Frishman’s U.S. History class, who will be expected to explain their verdict.
Finally, my class will sit in as a jury for a debate held by students from Mr. Frishman’s class, and will be expected to explain their verdict as well. In all, the unit will consist of twenty school days. There are three primary teaching objectives.