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Learning Activity: Democracy in Iraq


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

(CNN Student News) -- Your students will learn about the concept of democracy and examine President Bush's recent statements about the status of democracy in Iraq.


Ask students: What is a "democracy"? How does a democracy compare with other forms of government? (A democracy can be defined as "a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodically held free elections" dictionary.comexternal link.)

Following the discussion, point out that in a direct democracy, all citizens participate in making public decisions without the use of elected or appointed officials as intermediaries. Therefore, in this strict interpretation of the word, democracies rarely exist in modern society. "Representative democracies," in which citizens elect or appoint officials to make political decisions, are more common. While there are differences among modern democratic republics around the world, there are some principles and practices that differentiate democracies from other forms of government. Using print and online resources, have students generate a list of democracy indicators, such as rule of law or freedom of speech.

Next, direct students to multimedia resources, including the Web sites provided, to collect information about Iraq, including its people, government and the transition of power in this country. Then, instruct students to read the transcript of the speech that President Bush delivered yesterday at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, in which he spoke about the formation of democracy in Iraq. Using their list of democratic indicators as a guide, have students identify in Bush's speech the areas where democracy is evident in Iraq and the areas where reforms are needed for it take hold.

After students share their findings in class discussion, ask: What political, economic, social or religious factors may encourage or discourage progress towards democracy in Iraq? If your were in the audience, what questions would you have wanted to ask the president?

Curriculum Connections

U.S. History Standards

Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)

STANDARD 1: Recent developments in foreign policy and domestic politics. Standard 1C: The student understands major foreign policy initiatives. 9-12 Examine the U.S. role in political struggles in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

World History Standards

Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes

STANDARD 2: The search for community, stability and peace in an interdependent world.

Standard 2C: The student understands how liberal democracy, market economies, and human rights movements have reshaped political and social life. 9-12 Assess the success of democratic reform movements in challenging authoritarian governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

STANDARD 3: Major global trends since World War II. Standard 3A: The student understands major global trends since World War II. 5-12 Assess the degree to which both human rights and democratic ideals and practices have been advanced in the world during the 20th century.

The National Standards for History ( link) are published by the National Center for History in the Schools ( link).


Iraq, democracy, reform, elections, President George W. Bush, Pennsylvania, speech

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