What follows are three examples of lesson plans derived from the strategies section above. The first lesson should be taught first when the class is studying one of the wars which is covered in this unit. In most cases this will be World War II, but the other two will work just as well. What is important is that students be thinking about the nature of modern war and its effects.
Lesson Plan: Student Generated Rules of War
Students will identify basic ethical principles upon which the rules of war should be based and use these to develop a list of basic rules. Students will also articulate the essential principles of just war theory.
Begin with an introduction to the basic structure of Just War theory by defining the Latin terms
jus ad bellum
jus in bello
and explaining the distinction between them. Briefly discuss the reasons for the distinction as well. Students should then be divided into small groups of three to four students to brainstorm as many rules in each category. Prompts such as “list circumstances that would justify a nation going to war” and “identify rules that define whom soldiers can kill in war and who should be immune from attack.” will help the groups to get started. It may also be necessary to introduce the concept of discrimination to narrow the focus of the
jus in bello
rules. As each group reports back to the class, the most coherent and essential rules should be listed on the board. These should be listed in the form of a web type graphic organizer with
jus ad bellum
in the center of one web and
jus in bello
in the center of the other. Ideally, by the end of the lesson the class has reached a kind of teacher-guided consensus on the most basic just war principles. Below is an example of how you might begin the graphic organizer as you begin to take suggestions from students:
(figure available in print form)
Upon completion of the graphic organizer students should write a short essay (300-500 words) on the rules of just war.
Lesson Plan: “Area Bombing” in World War II
Students will apply just war concepts to the example of strategic bombing in World War II and develop reasoned opinions on the morality of such a strategy.
After covering the basic facts on World War II in a textbook, students should be assigned the chapter on strategic bombing from John Keegan’s book,
The Second World War
(Chapter 22, see resource list below). If there is time the class should also view the video entitled,
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Was Truman’s Decision to Use the Bomb Justified?
Students should then be assigned the task of preparing for a debate on the following resolution: The prohibition against the targeting of civilians in war time should not be violated under any circumstances. The class can be divided into two groups or into multiple smaller groups. Allow each group to discuss which position they support. Assign positions only if no group appears to take one side.
In preparation for the debate, students should be asked to consider the following questions:
What element of the war convention is violated by the “area bombing’’ of cities?
Answers should refer to the doctrine of discrimination.
According to the war convention, is there a difference between the killing of civilians as a result of the bombing of factories and the killing of civilians in “area bombing”? Explain your answer.
Answers should include some judgment on the role of factories in supporting military capability. The principle of proportionality and the doctrine of double effect allows for some civilian deaths as long as the target is important enough to justify those deaths and they are kept to a minimum.
Would the targeting of civilians in cities be legitimate if it were the only way to forestall defeat or to save lives (possibly on both sides) by ending the war sooner?
Answers will vary, but should attempt to define the specifics that would decide the issue one way or the other. The use of the atom bomb on Japan could be used as a specific example to support either answer.
The debate should be structured to give each side the chance to make an opening statement, a rebuttal, and a counter rebuttal.
Assessment of student performance should be based on both performance in the debate and on a persuasive essay of 300-500 words. The essay can focus on a particular example such as the use of the atomic bomb or on the overall issue.
Lesson Plan: Role Play of Decision Making in Korea
Students will evaluate the elements of U.S. decision making on Korea in 1950 and develop a critical assessment of those decisions in the context of just war theory.
The class should be divided into three groups and each assigned a different moral/political identity. The profiles below should be copied and handed to each group. It might be interesting to keep each group from knowing the identities and motivations of the other two groups.
Realists: You believe that U.S. policy in Korea should be strictly defined by U.S. interests. In your opinion, the United States cannot afford to go on a moral crusade against evil or take on the task of protecting small nations around the world which play little or no role in the concerns of the American people. If military action is necessary to protect the United States or its allies from attack or to avoid circumstances which may lead to attacks then in your opinion it is justified. You are also willing to fight to protect U.S. economic interests such as vital raw materials or significant financial investments by American companies. In situations that do not involve those conditions, you believe that military action is a waste of American lives and resources.
Anti-Communist Ideologues: You believe that Communism is the greatest evil the world has ever seen and must eventually be eradicated. If it is not eradicated it will seek always to grow through the conquest of more territory. Therefore any opportunity to roll back Communist gains must be taken. You believe that the lesson of World War II is that appeasement will only encourage further aggression. Any consideration of half measures will only be seen as a sign of weakness.
Just War Purists: You believe that above all else the rules of just war must be followed and that the United States must have just cause before making war. You believe that any military action must be proportional and limited only to righting the wrong that has been committed. In your opinion the only reason to go to war is to achieve a better state of peace.
Along with the identities each group should be provided with the two situation reports below. Students should already have a general understanding of the events that lead up to the war from readings in their textbooks.
June 26, 1950: North Korean forces have crossed the border with South Korea in a general offensive. The North Korean army has 130 tanks, 110 planes, and heavy artillery. South Korea’s army is smaller and has no tanks and little artillery.32 The invading force has broken through South Korea’s lines and is advancing southward. Seoul, the capital of South Korea is expected to fall within days. You may choose from the following policy options. You may choose more than one or even develop your own. You must also state what the goal of U.S. policy in Korea should be. Be prepared to defend your choice and explain your goals in debate with the other groups of advisors.
Demand that the Soviet Union force North Korea to withdraw its forces. Threaten to use nuclear weapons it they refuse.
Send U.S. forces into Korea as quickly as possible to defend the South. Limit all military action to Korea. Avoid direct conflict with the Soviet Union or with China.
Go to the United Nations Security Council and request that the United Nations authorize military action in defense of South Korea.
Protest the invasion in the United Nations and request severe economic sanctions (such as an embargo on trade) on North Korea without taking military action. Mobilize naval forces to enforce the sanctions.
Threaten North Korea with nuclear weapons unless they withdraw. Set a firm deadline.
Protest the attack in the United Nations and through diplomatic channels but take no other action.
Plan an invasion of North Korea to be carried out even if North Korean forces complete their conquest of the South.
September 27, 1950: After a successful amphibious assault behind enemy lines at Inchon, U.S. forces (under the U.N. flag) have forced the North Korean army into full retreat. The enemy has been thoroughly routed and there is little to stop U.S. forces from advancing into North Korea. China has threatened intervention if North Korea is invaded.
What should the United States do in this situation? As explained above you may choose from the list below and you must make the goal of your policy choice clear.
Send forces into North Korea with the purpose of uniting the country under the South Korean government.
Send forces into North Korea only for the purpose of the pursuit and destruction of enemy forces. After that is accomplished U.S. forces should withdraw south of the 38
Move forces up to the 38
parallel but not beyond. Request an immediate armistice and the start of negotiations to bring the conflict to an end.
Warn China that the United States will initiate attacks on the Chinese mainland if they intervene. Nuclear weapons will be used if necessary.
Before students make their choices in both these scenarios, guide the class through a discussion of the basic “issues to consider” described above. Students need to understand the implications of the stands they take on each of those issues. After completion of the role play students should watch the episode on the Korean War from the CNN documentary series,
The Cold War.
Students should be assigned an essay in which they analyze the pros and cons of the different options presented in each scenario.