The Gulf War and A One Superpower World

Students will analyze U.S. identity before, during, and after the Gulf War and evaluate its implications on U.S. foreign policy.

Historical Background

Throughout this unit, students demonstrate knowledge of how the Cold War and related foreign policy events shaped foreign and domestic policies from 1945 to the present. Students have experience analyzing foreign policy goals and U.S. response to conflicts abroad with focus on Mid East tensions in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Students were introduced to Mid East foreign policy through the analysis of its political, economic and military importance. Emphasis was placed on balancing relations with Israel along with OPEC and other Arab nations in the Mid East. Other themes included the role of oil and the value of military readiness in addressing U.S. foreign policy goals. The Gulf War sets the stage for evaluating U.S. identity in the post Cold War world. Within this context, students will analyze national interests, values and principles as they relate to significant U.S. foreign policy issues.

Students will examine primary source documents including photographs, media clips, and other military and political documents to evaluate the role of the Gulf War on U.S. foreign policy and world identity.

Lesson Objective

Students will analyze and describe the various political, economic military and social factors involved in U.S. participation in the Gulf War.

Students will evaluate and explain the causes and effects of U.S. participation in the Gulf War.

Students will demonstrate understanding of the meaning, implication and impact of historical events and hypothesize how events could have taken other directions.

Students will identify how the Gulf War shaped U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East by completing the activity packet and writing a BCR.



  1. DAY 1
  2. Begin with an activator which asks students to list U.S. foreign policy objectives and examples pertaining to what they’ve previously learned about the Middle East region.
  3. Post two pictures on the board/promethean: “George Bush Announcing the End of War in Iraq” & the picture of the “Highway of Death” (pictures are embedded in activity packet & can also be found at the links provided below).
  4. Use the visual thinking strategy (listed on the activity sheet “What’s going on?” “How do we know?”) and have students analyze the various elements of each picture.
  5. After thorough analysis, students should be instructed to create a title for each photo using only the background knowledge listed at the bottom of the page.
  6. Next, instruct students to complete the primary source reading: “Bush’s Declaration of War”.
  7. Instruct students to use the SOAPS strategy (Identify: Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose & Subject) to evaluate this document and fill in the corresponding information in their activity packets. After students have completed this information on their own, share information out as a class then transition to the next source together.
  8. Watch the “SNL” video clip.
  9. Instruct students to use the SOAPS strategy to evaluate this document and fill in the corresponding information in their activity packets.
  10. After students have completed this section, discuss how the sources support or complicate one another.
  11. DAY 2
  12. Watch the video: “20th Century Battlefields”
  13. Students will analyze the economic, political, social and military importance of this War and its outcome. As students watch the video, they should be instructed to fill in the corresponding charts in their activity packet.
  14. DAY 3
  15. After the video, discuss their charts and come back to the pictures that were originally posted-“Highway of Death” & “Bush Announcing End of War in Iraq”.
  16. Students will record the additional information they now know about each of the pictures evaluated at the beginning of the lesson.
  17. Discuss the issues that were highlighted in the film about the issues of focus in each of the pictures.
  18. Lastly, students will read the primary source document: “Defense Planning Guidance, FY 1994-1999”
  19. Use the following strategy to analyze the document (consider the source/contextualize/close reading & corroboration) by having students complete the document analysis questions in their activity packets.


Have students complete two additional photo analysis of the World Trade Center bombing and the Attack on the USS Cole.

Students will compare the two photos with the previous reading on foreign policy objectives to corroborate sources in their activity packet.

Students will write a BCR that evaluates U.S. world identity following the Gulf War.


Student Activity Packet & Foreign Policy BCR


This lesson was designed for an honors ninth grade U.S. History class. All primary source readings can be cut down and condensed to accommodate lower level readers. Additionally, you can use a sound recording of the Bush speech to modify reading amount. All images and documents can be projected on a promethean as well as given to each individual in order to meet varying student needs.


“Bush’s Declaration of War,” The History Place: Great Speeches Collection,

“Cold Opening: Gore / Bush First Debate,” Saturday Night Live, The National Broadcasating Company (NBC),

“Defense Planning Guidance, FY 1994-1999,” Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, March 17, 1992,

“Documentary: 20th Century Battlefields,” British Broadcasting Corporation, 2007,

“Highway of Death,” Time, May 03, 2012,

History Commons, The Center for Grassroots Oversight,

“On This Day: Car Bomb Explodes Beneath World Trade Center,” Finding Dulcinea: Librarian of the Internet, February 26, 2011,–Car-Bomb-Rocks-Twin-Towers.html

President Bush addresses a Joint Session of Congress regarding the end of the War with Iraq (photograph), The National Archives and Records Administration, March 6, 1991,

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>