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Assess the historical impact of the "shock and awe" campaign

March 22, 2003
Web posted at: 3:26 AM EST (0826 GMT)

After students read "'Shock and awe' campaign underway in Iraq", pose the following questions:

• War Tracker external link
• Special: War on Iraq external link

• Timeline: The first nine hours 
• Gallery: War on Iraq  

• Holt, Rinehart and Winston: Conflict in the Persian Gulf external link

1. When did the U.S. and its allies begin the large-scale aerial attack on Iraq? On what Iraqi cities were coalition attacks launched? Why do you think the military and the media have dubbed the attack "shock and awe"? How might this label also serve as a psychological weapon to Iraq's leaders?

2. According to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, what are the objectives of this attack? What did Rumsfeld indicate was the status of the Iraqi leadership? What advice did Rumsfeld offer to Iraqi military officials?

3. Why have coalition forces launched the attacks on Iraq? What was the objective of U.N. Resolution 1441? To what terms did Iraq agree at the end of the 1991 Gulf War? Did Iraq abide by those terms? Explain.

4. To whom did the framers of the U.S. Constitution give the power to declare war? Who is authorized as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces? What is the War Powers Act? When did President Bush consult with Congress about possible military deployment in Iraq? How did the House and Senate respond?

5. In the Friday afternoon news conference, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld stated that some in the media were comparing the aerial attacks on Baghdad to the bombing attacks during World War II, but he said that any such comparison was "inaccurate." To support his statement, Rumsfeld talked about the degree of precision of the weapons being used by coalition forces in the current conflict. Challenge your students to consult online resources, including the Special Report: War on Iraq in the Resources Box on this page, to learn more about the weapons being used by coalition forces. Have students conduct research to learn more about the weapons used in World War II, and share their findings with the class. Ask students: How is technology playing a role in 21st century warfare? Why do you think Secretary Rumsfeld believes this air campaign is very different from those conducted in World War II?

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