There are two assignments for this course: one short paper and one longer paper. The short paper will be on readings in the first third of the class. The longer paper will be on a topic, chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor, related to the War on Terror or the invasion of Iraq. There will be a brief class presentation preceding the longer paper.

First Paper

Write 5-7 double-spaced pages (due two days after Lecture 10) on ONE of the following topics:

  1. Do you agree with William James that there can be a “moral equivalent of war”? Bring other readings into your discussion.
  2. The Ilongot told Renato Rosaldo that Western warfare is immoral compared to their own. Based on the reading you have done for this class, how would you evaluate this statement.
  3. How would you evaluate the sociobiologists’ case that war is genetically programmed into human nature?
  4. How much culpability does the West have for the genocide in Rwanda? What (if anything) could the West have done to prevent it? Be sure to refer in your answer to the Rwandan dynamics of the genocide as well.

Second Paper

Fall 2004

The following are sample paper topics for Fall 2004.

  • Interview someone about Gulf War - vet? peace activist? ROTC cadet? ROTC trainer?
  • Gulf War syndrome
  • Depleted uranium weapons
  • Halliburton
  • Private contractors
  • Iraq’s nuclear bomb program in the 80s
  • Once Were Kings
  • Media treatment of peace movement
  • Kurds
  • Colin Powell’s UN speech
  • Casualties
  • Injury figures
  • Who is the resistance?
  • Opinion polls on the war
  • Was the US motivated by oil?
  • Sistani
  • Moqtadr al-Sadr
  • Track coverage in the Nation or the Weekly Standard
  • Media coverage in major newspaper
  • Foreign media coverage
  • Al-Jazeera
  • Arab-American responses
  • Chatrooms or weblogs (including Iraqi weblogs)
  • Bringing back the draft
  • Responses to Fahrenheit 911
  • PNAC (Project for a New American Century)
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Amnesty International
  • International Red Cross

Fall 2002

The following are sample paper topics for Fall 2002. Please note that this version of the course did not focus specifically on the War in Iraq as was done for the Fall 2004 version of the course.

  • How did the New York Times cover civilian casualties in the Kosovo War (or the first Gulf War, or the recent war in Afghanistan…)?
  • Media coverage of the Rwanda conflict
  • Interview a group of students about their attitudes toward War with Iraq
  • Media coverage of the recent spate of wife-murders by Fort Bragg soldiers
  • The Bloody Sunday incident in Northern Ireland - a comparison of British and American press reports
  • The Zapatistas rebels’ use of the media
  • The success (or not) of the Guatemalan Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • The debate over whether the U.S. should sign the Landmine Convention
  • The debate over whether the U.S. should sign the treaty establishing an international criminal court
  • The extent and nature of the landmine problem today
  • The debate about having ROTC on campus. Look at the debates of the 1960s? Interview MIT students today about the issue?
  • A comparison of American and British reporting on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

notes Lecture Notes
assignment Written Assignments