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(10% of your spring mission grade. Due Thursday of the week before you appear to the mission)



Mission Design Project


For this project, you will design an EIC mission including the plot, mission objectives, character profiles, episodes, and activities.  This project will be published as a web page(s) on your Wix website you created in the previous mission. You can download the details of this project's rubric requirements here .  You have several months to complete this project and can get started today. Remember that it is due the Thursday the week before you appear for your mission


Again, you can start working now months before it is due and email me with any questions you may have.  My email address is 




Fall Semester Homework Assignment Resources

The homework of the fall mission requires in part that you use some of the resources below. When you see and "assessment" hyperlink button, this tells you that you need to go the Mission Assignments page and click the corresponding hyperlink to take the assessment. You should create two tabs in your web browser or open two browser windows side by side so that you can have the Star Quiz assessment open next to the articles and videos as you provide your answers. Watch the videos and re-read the articles more than once if necessary.  You may also read the assessment question and then search for the answers here on this page.  Doing thus, you should make a good grade.


The homework schedule is thus:

Day 1: Logic Problems, Code Avengers

Day 2: Code Avengers, Refugees 

Day 3: Refugees, Syrian Conflict, Who is ISIS

Project: Strategy and Melee Procedures (10% of mission grade)- due Thursday before coming to mission)


Essential Questions

  • What responsibility do individuals have to respond to the needs of refugees? What can an individual do to help? 

  • How can closely examining a troubling moment in history inform our choices today?



There are more people displaced in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II. Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, shared this fact with dozens of New York City students, all immigrants, during a visit to Newcomers High School in May 2016. By discussing the global refugee crisis with them, the ambassador hoped to inspire in the students a sense of responsibility—to bridge the gap between "us" and "them"—and to empower them to take action.


This lesson draws on readings and short videos featuring Ambassador Power in conversation with the young people of Newcomers High School to explain and humanize a crisis that often feels too overwhelming to confront. After surveying the scope and impact of the global refugee crisis, students will come to understand what makes someone a “refugee.” They will then learn how even small ways of seeing the “other” in ourselves can make a difference in our approach to large and complicated problems involving the needs and well-being of people distant from us. The lesson also considers the value of looking critically at historical moments—in particular, the case of the St. Louis, a ship that carried Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution across the Atlantic in 1939—and recognizing in them implications for our choices today.

Learning Goals

  • Students will gain a better understanding of the refugee crisis and what it means to be a refugee.

  • Students will reflect on the implications of the historical episode involving the St. Louis in 1939, particularly in relation to responses to the current refugee crisis.

  • Students will consider the importance of “humanizing” those who otherwise seem distant and different from us. 

  • Students will recognize the power of taking a “small step” when faced with a problem that seems too large to tackle.



There are currently more than 65 million people displaced worldwide—the highest number on record since the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) began collecting statistics. At least 15 conflicts have erupted or reignited around the world since 2010, contributing to this crisis. Half of the world’s refugees have come from only three war-torn countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. In Syria alone, where a brutal civil war has raged since 2011, nearly 5 million have sought to save themselves and their families by fleeing the country, while 8.7 million have been displaced within the country’s borders. Millions of refugees are living, often in overcrowded camps, in Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, and Ethiopia. Millions of others have fled to Europe and other countries around the world.


This lesson asks students to consider how a refugee crisis in the 1930s might help us think about how we respond to today’s refugee crisis. In the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of European Jews were refugees, fleeing persecution from Nazi Germany. One challenge facing these refugees was that very few nations would protect them or take them in. In 1939, over 900 Jewish refugees boarded the ocean liner the St. Louis and set sail for Cuba. Before they left, Cuba had agreed to accept the refugees, but by the time the ship arrived, the Cuban government had changed its mind. The ship then sailed along the Florida coast, hoping the US government would accept the refugees. It passed close enough to Miami for the refugees to see the lights of the city, but they received no assistance. The ship was forced to return to Europe, where the refugees faced a perilous future. The results from a 1939 poll of 5,000 Americans indicated that 53 percent of respondents regarded Jews as different from "real Americans." That, coupled with economic troubles at home, may have accounted for why Americans did not wish to accept a ship full of refugees.

Article 1
  • What have you learned from these sources about refugees and other displaced persons around the world? Why do you think this current situation is considered a crisis?

  • What do these resources suggest about the experiences of individuals and families who have been forced to leave their homes?

  • Why should world leaders care? Why should individuals like us care?

Za'atri Refugee Camp in Jordan

According to the UNHCR, 79,225 people lived in the Za'atri Refugee Camp in Jordan, near the Syrian border. All of them fled from Syria to escape the brutal civil war.

Who is classified as a refugee and why that classification is important?

GENEVA, July 11 (UNHCR) –


With more than 65 million people forcibly displaced globally and boat crossings of the Mediterranean still regularly in the headlines, the terms ‘refugee’ and ‘migrant’ are frequently used interchangeably in media and public discourse. But is there a difference between the two, and does it matter? 


Yes, there is a difference, and it does matter. The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations. Here’s why:

Refugees are persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution. There were 21.3 million of them worldwide at the end of 2015. Their situation is often so perilous and intolerable that they cross national borders to seek safety in nearby countries, and thus become internationally recognized as "refugees" with access to assistance from States, UNHCR, and other organizations. They are so recognized precisely because it is too dangerous for them to return home, and they need sanctuary elsewhere. These are people for whom denial of asylum has potentially deadly consequences.

Refugees are defined and protected in international law. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol as well as other legal texts, such as the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, remain the cornerstone of modern refugee protection. The legal principles they enshrine have permeated into countless other international, regional, and national laws and practices. The 1951 Convention defines who is a refugee and outlines the basic rights which States should afford to refugees. One of the most fundamental principles laid down in international law is that refugees should not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom would be under threat.



The protection of refugees has many aspects. These include safety from being returned to the dangers they have fled; access to asylum procedures that are fair and efficient; and measures to ensure that their basic human rights are respected to allow them to live in dignity and safety while helping them to find a longer-term solution. States bear the primary responsibility for this protection. UNHCR therefore works closely with governments, advising and supporting them as needed to implement their responsibilities.


Migrants choose to move not because of a direct threat of persecution or death, but mainly to improve their lives by finding work, or in some cases for education, family reunion, or other reasons. Unlike refugees who cannot safely return home, migrants face no such impediment to return. If they choose to return home, they will continue to receive the protection of their government.



For individual governments, this distinction is important. Countries deal with migrants under their own immigration laws and processes. Countries deal with refugees through norms of refugee protection and asylum that are defined in both national legislation and international law. Countries have specific responsibilities towards anyone seeking asylum on their territories or at their borders. UNHCR helps countries deal with their asylum and refugee protection responsibilities.



Politics has a way of intervening in such debates. Conflating refugees and migrants can have serious consequences for the lives and safety of refugees. Blurring the two terms takes attention away from the specific legal protections refugees require. It can undermine public support for refugees and the institution of asylum at a time when more refugees need such protection than ever before. We need to treat all human beings with respect and dignity. We need to ensure that the human rights of migrants are respected. At the same time, we also need to provide an appropriate legal response for refugees, because of their particular predicament.

So, back to Europe and the large numbers of people arriving in recent years by boats in Greece, Italy and elsewhere. Which are they? Refugees or migrants?


In fact, they happen to be both. The majority of people arriving in Italy and Greece especially have been from countries mired in war or which otherwise are considered to be ‘refugee-producing’ and for whom international protection is needed. However, a smaller proportion is from elsewhere, and for many of these individuals, the term ‘migrant’ would be correct.



So, at UNHCR we say ‘refugees and migrants’ when referring to movements of people by sea or in other circumstances where we think both groups may be present – boat movements in Southeast Asia are another example. We say ‘refugees’ when we mean people fleeing war or persecution across an international border. And we say ‘migrants’ when we mean people moving for reasons not included in the legal definition of a refugee. We hope that others will give thought to doing the same. Choices about words do matter.

By Adrian Edwards, Geneva

Article 2
Article 3

By 1939, nearly half of the 1933 Jewish population of Germany had left the country. Now, after Kristallnacht, the remaining Jews were desperate to get out. To do so, they needed visas to enter another country. Among those who had the “right papers” were the 937 men, women, and children who boarded a ship, the St. Louis, in Hamburg, Germany, on May 14. Each had paid $150—a significant sum of money in 1939—for written permission to enter Cuba. But only a few people on the ship wanted to stay in Cuba. Most were on a very long waiting list to immigrate to the United States.

As the St. Louis neared Cuba, the Cuban government, in response to pressure from Cubans opposed to increased Jewish immigration, suddenly canceled the landing permits of all Jewish passengers. When the ship docked in Havana, only about 30 passengers were allowed ashore (all were non-Jews or Jews with special visas). The rest were forbidden to enter the country. While the ship remained in the harbor, two passengers tried to commit suicide, and one of them succeeded. To prevent other attempts, the crew lowered lifeboats and shone lights on the waters around the ship. Special patrols were added after the captain heard rumors of a mass suicide pact among the passengers.


When news of the first suicide attempt reached the United States, many Americans demanded that their government accept the passengers immediately. Others sent the Cuban government telegrams of protest, but neither nation was willing to reconsider its refusal to admit the St. Louis’s passengers. As a result, the ship was forced to leave Cuban waters on June 2 with all but 30 passengers still on board. Unsure of where to take the remaining passengers, the captain marked time while Jewish organizations tried desperately to find a country willing to accept the refugees. Within two days, every country in Latin America had refused to do so.



As the ship slowly headed north, a number of prominent Canadian citizens asked Prime Minister Mackenzie King to help the St. Louis passengers. He quickly made it clear that he was “emphatically opposed” to allowing them to enter Canada. Immigration Minister Frederick Blair agreed. He pointed out that “if these Jews were to find a home [in Canada] they would likely be followed by other shiploads.” The line, he insisted, “must be drawn somewhere.”


On June 7, the captain had no choice but to return to Germany with most of his passengers still on board. The Nazis turned the incident into propaganda. They claimed that it demonstrated that Jews were universally disliked and distrusted. On June 10, Belgium accepted 200 passengers from the St. Louis. Two days later, the Netherlands promised to take in 194. Britain and France admitted the rest. 



Furious at the role the US government had played in the crisis, a resident of Richmond, Virginia, wrote:

[The] press reported that the ship came close enough to Miami for the refugees to see the lights of the city. The press also reported that the U.S. Coast Guard, under instructions from Washington, followed the ship . . . to prevent any people landing on our shores. And during the days when this horrible tragedy was being enacted right at our doors, our government in Washington made no effort to relieve the desperate situation of these people, but on the contrary gave orders that they be kept out of the country. . . . The failure to take any steps whatsoever to assist these distressed, persecuted Jews in their hour of extremity was one of the most disgraceful things which has happened in American history and leaves a stain and brand of shame upon the record of our nation.



This video is optional but contains nice insights of how new students were treated arriving new to America
Article 4

During WWII, the incorporation of Austria into the Third Reich spelled terror for the 200,000 Jews in that country, as an account in a London newspaper reported:


"It is the heartless, grinning, soberly dressed crowds on the Graben and the Karntnerstrasse [streets in Vienna] . . . fluffy Viennese blondes, fighting to get closer to the elevating spectacle of an ashen-faced Jewish surgeon on his hands and knees before half a dozen young hooligans with Swastika armlets and dog-whips, that sticks in my mind. His delicate fingers, which must have made the swift and confident incisions that had saved the lives of many Viennese, held a scrubbing brush. A storm trooper was pouring some acid solution over the brush—and his fingers. Another sluiced the pavement from a bucket, taking care to drench the surgeon's striped trousers as he did so. And the Viennese—not uniformed Nazis or a raging mob, but the Viennese Little Man and his wife—just grinned approval at the glorious fun.


Foreign journalists in Austria were reporting hundreds of similar antisemitic incidents throughout the nation. Some noted a sharp increase in suicides, as thousands of Jews tried desperately to emigrate only to encounter roadblocks wherever they turned. Their difficulty in leaving “Greater Germany” was not with the Nazis, who, faced with the problem of including an additional 200,000 Jews in the Reich, were eager to see Jews leave the country as long as they left their money and other possessions behind. The problem was with other nations, most of whom had no interest in accepting thousands of penniless Jewish refugees.


Between 1,500 and 3,500 Austrian Jews applied for immigration visas to come to the United States in the days following the Anschluss. President Franklin Roosevelt was sympathetic to their plight but believed he did not have the public’s support to ask Congress to change the quota system under which immigrants were admitted.


A poll published in Fortune magazine in 1938 reveals much about public opinion in the United States.


Attitudes toward Allowing German, Austrian, and Other Political Refugees into the United States, July 1938

We should encourage their arrival even if our immigration quotas are raised: 4.9%

We should allow their arrival but not raise our immigration quotas: 18.2%

Given our current conditions, we should keep them out: 67.4%

I don’t know: 9.5%



Acting on his own, Roosevelt did combine the Austrian and German quotas that, together, would allow more than 7,000 Jewish refugees to enter. In addition, Roosevelt called for an international conference to discuss the growing refugee crisis. Many nations were reluctant to attend, even though the Americans assured them that no country would be expected to “receive a greater number of emigrants than is permitted by its existing legislation.”



Canada was among those reluctant nations. Prime Minister Mackenzie King wrote in his diary, “We must . . . seek to keep this part of the Continent free from unrest and from too great an intermixture of foreign strains of blood.” In his view, nothing was to be gained “by creating an internal problem in an effort to meet an international one.”



Nevertheless, in July 1938, delegates from 32 nations, including Canada, met in Evian, France. They were joined by representatives from dozens of relief organizations and other groups, as well as hundreds of reporters. At the conference, each delegate formally expressed sorrow over the growing number of “refugees” and “deportees,” boasted of his nation’s traditional hospitality, and lamented that his nation was unable to do more in the “present situation.” 



The British, noting that many refugees wanted to go to Palestine, which was then under British rule, said they would like to admit more refugees, but in view of the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Jews, it was not a practical solution. The French claimed that their country had already done more than its fair share. The Americans noted that Congress would have to approve any change in the nation’s immigration laws—legislation that set a limit on the number of immigrants the United States would accept from each country each year.



Historians Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman describe the responses of other countries at the conference:

Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama stated that they wanted no traders or intellectuals, code words for Jews. Argentina said it had already accommodated enough immigrants from Central Europe. Canada cited its unemployment problem. Australia said that it had no “racial problems” and did not want to create any by bringing in Jewish refugees. Imperial countries such as Britain, France, and the Netherlands said that their tropical territories offered only limited prospects for European refugees. League of Nations High Commissioner Sir Neill Malcolm was openly hostile to the idea of a new refugee organization . . . The Washington Post headlined one story on the conference, “YES, BUT—.” It noted, “it has been a disappointment, if not altogether a surprise . . . that delegates take the floor to say, We feel sorry for the refugees and potential refugees but—.”



The Dominican Republic was the only country that agreed to accept Jewish immigrants. In 1937, the nation’s leader, Rafael Trujillo, had ordered his soldiers to massacre thousands of Haitians at the Dominican border. Historians believe he hoped that accepting Jewish refugees might repair his image internationally. He also hoped that Jews would marry local inhabitants and “lighten” the population. He granted visas to a thousand Jews who were to live in Sosúa, a special community established for them. 

Only M. J. M. Yepes of Colombia addressed the real issue at the Evian conference. Yepes was a professor who also served as the legal advisor to his country’s permanent delegation to the League of Nations. He told delegates that there were two central questions that they must confront. One was a question of fact that each nation had to answer for itself: How many refugees would it admit? The other question involved a matter of principle: “Can a State, without upsetting the basis of our civilization, and, indeed, of all civilization, arbitrarily withdraw nationality from a whole class of its citizens, thereby making them Stateless Persons whom no country is compelled to receive on its territory?”



Yepes went on to say that as long as that central problem was not decided, the work of the conference would not be lasting and a dangerous example would be set—an example that in his view would make the world “uninhabitable.” But most delegates did not want to deal with either issue.



The Jewish observer from Palestine, Golda Meyerson, who would become prime minister of Israel many years later (as Golda Meir), was not allowed to speak. She wrote:


"I don’t think that anyone who didn’t live through it can understand what I felt at Evian—a mixture of sorrow, rage, frustration, and horror. I wanted to get up and scream at them, “Don’t you know that these so-called numbers are human beings, people who may spend the rest of their lives in concentration camps, or wandering around the world like lepers if you don’t let them in?” Of course, I didn’t know then that not concentration camps but death camps awaited the refugees whom no one wanted."

"[L]ook around the country—look deeply—and you will find so many people who not only support admitting more refugees, but who themselves are making tremendous efforts to welcome them. People like the owners of Wankel’s Hardware Store in New York, where I live, which for decades has been employing recently resettled refugees, including 15 of their 20 current employees. Wankel’s keeps a map on the wall of the store with pins marking the 36 countries from which their refugee employees have come. Many Americans are doing their part and wish to find a way to do more. 


When visiting the International Rescue Committee [IRC] resettlement office—just a 10-minute walk from the UN—recently, I noticed that many of their individual offices seemed to be overflowing with boxes. When I asked whether the folks who worked at IRC were moving in or moving out of the space, I was told that after some U.S. politicians threatened to curb the flow of refugees, the IRC had received a huge, unprecedented surge in donations. And they simply had no other space to store all the clothes, toys, and home furnishings that had come flooding in, just from ordinary people. A similar outpouring occurred inside the U.S. government. When we announced our goal to admit an additional 15,000 refugees this year, many U.S. national security professionals volunteered to take extra trainings and work extra hours in their already long days to help us meet that goal.



These examples abound. The small Vermont town of Rutland has committed to taking in 100 Syrian refugees. The mayor, whose grandfather came to the U.S. after fleeing war in his native Greece, said of the decision, “As much as I want to say it’s for compassionate reasons, I realize that there is not a vibrant, growing, successful community in the country right now that is not embracing new Americans.” Local schools are preparing to support kids who cannot [speak] English, and local businesses in Rutland have said that they will look to hire refugees. One of them is a regional medical center, whose director is the grandson of refugees from Nazi Germany. “I know there is a good-heartedness to this city,” he said. “If you come here and want to make the community better, Rutlanders will welcome you with open arms.” A poll some of you have seen that was released this month by the Brookings Institution suggests that most Americans feel the same way. Asked if they would support the U.S. taking in refugees from the Middle East after they were screened for security risks, 59 percent of Americans said yes. Yes."-

Ambassador Samantha Power’s Remarks on the Global Refugee Crisis (excerpted)
US Institute of Peace, June 29, 2016

Assessment: Refugees

END of Refugees Assignment

Syrian Crisis

Overview of Syrian Refugee Crisis


Click through the slides 
Article 5

Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied that his forces have used so-called "barrel bombs" in the country's bloody civil war. But what is a barrel bomb and why is it such a controversial method of warfare?


Barrel bombs are crudely made and kill indiscriminately

A barrel bomb can refer to any large container packed with gasoline, nails and chunks of steel that is typically thrown out of a helicopter. These improvised explosive devices represent a cheap form of aerial warfare — but their rudimentary and unguided design means they can kill civilians through inaccuracy. Describing their use in Syria, the then State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described barrel bombs in 2012 as "vicious things indiscriminately launched ... at targets without any concern about civilians."


Assad has been widely accused of using barrel bombs

"They're called bombs. We have bombs, missiles and bullets," Assad said during the rare interview with the BBC that aired Tuesday. "There [are] no barrel bombs, we don't have barrels. I haven't heard of the army using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots." Jeremy Bowen, the veteran BBC journalist who interviewed Assad, described this response as "flippant" and said barrel bombs were "the most notorious weapon in the regime's arsenal." This view is shared by the U.S. and its allies, noting that only the Assad regime uses helicopters —the typical method of dropping barrel bombs — in Syria. "Each and every day that the barrel-bombing of Aleppo continues, the Assad regime reminds the world of its true colors," Secretary of State John Kerry said last February.


The U.N. has unsuccessfully demanded the outlaw of barrel bombs in Syria

In a resolution passed unanimously last year, the United Nations Security Council called for a halt to the use of barrel bombs in Syria. The resolution said the bombs "cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering" and called for all parties to "show respect for international humanitarian law." However the activist group Human Rights Watch said in June that the Syrian government had defied this resolution. "By using barrel bombs on densely populated areas, Syrian government forces are using means and methods of warfare that do not distinguish between civilians," it said.


Barrel bombs have killed thousands of people

Some 200,000 people have been killed in the five-year conflict between Assad's government and rebel groups. It is harder to pinpoint the exact number of people killed by barrel bombs, but rebel activists say it is in the thousands. Their use has been particularly prevalent in rebel held areas of Aleppo and Damascus, U.S. special representative to the U.N. Samantha Power told the Security Council last month. The Assad regime has also been dropped "barrel bombs on medical facilities as if they were military encampments," said Terri Robl, U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, in December. 

Reaching for Europe
Article 6

25 September 2015 – Despair at appalling living conditions among the 4 million Syrians who have already fled to neighbouring countries is fuelling the current flood of refugees to Europe as they flee once more, this time from restrictions and under-funded aid programmes that have led to child labour and even ‘survival sex,’ the United Nations said today.


“Refugees face horrible living conditions, and restrictions in the legal regimes for refugees in the countries where they live […] When people don’t have proper shelter and are living on 45 cents a day, of course they want to move,” Amin Awad, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said today.


“Refugees are having to adopt negative survival strategies – like child labour, dropping out of school, begging and survival sex. They need much more support,” he told a press briefing in Geneva. “These are societies that put a high value on education and now they are seeing their children out of school.”


Stressing that the refugees have lost hope for any improvement in Syria which has been torn asunder by more than four years of war in which at least a quarter-million people have been killed and 12 million more forced to flee their homes, he warned that the situation would only end when the fighting ended and the region stabilized.


“Syria is burning; towns are destroyed and that’s why people are on the move, that’s why we have an avalanche, a tsunami of people on the move towards Europe,” he said. “As long as there’s no resolution in Syria and no improved conditions in neighbouring countries, people will move.”


There have now been almost 429,000 Syrian asylum applications in Europe since 2011, but due to the lack of reception facilities many of the most recent arrivals have yet to apply with the flood increasing exponentially.


Based on surveys of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq, Mr. Awad cited seven principal factors behind the latest outflows, first among them loss of hope with no sign of a solution in sight. “Feelings of uncertainty about the future are compounded by miserable conditions, fuelling a sense of despair and desperation,” he noted.


Other factors include the high costs of living in the neighbouring host countries and deepening poverty; limited employment opportunities due to restricted access to work; aid shortfalls with programmes that are 59 per cent underfunded; difficulties in renewing legal residency; lack of education for children; and a feeling of insecurity especially among refugees in Iraq.

Video Guide on Syrian Crisis
United States Extreme Vetting Explained
Escaping Syria



For many Americans, the stories of how their relatives came to the United States is a source of inspiration, hope, and amazement.  As a nation of exiles, we take great pride in how our ancestors survived slavery, persecution, famine, and war, arriving here penniless, as “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” 


Today however, the story of millions of Syrians who are escaping their country’s troubles remind us that every human being is important, that each has dignity, and is worthy of the same happiness that attracted our own families to America.


Escaping the barrel bombs and poison gas of the dictator Bashar al-Assad that have killed over 250 thousand of their countrymen—as well as the barbaric cruelty of the terrorist group ISIS—millions of average, middle-class Syrians now face the decision of a lifetime.


Facing almost certain death if they remain in their country,  should they flee to a neighboring refugee camp in which they might be confined for years?; or, sell their life’s possessions to pay for a smuggler to take them and their family to Europe…

The decision to use smugglers is fraught with danger, trauma, and quite frequently, death. Often paid to take more people then they should, these smuggling rings are incredibly dangerous, crossing the Mediterranean on crowded dinghies and rafts, with over 3,000 people dead or missing this year alone.  


One of those victims was a three-year-old Syrian boy named Ay-lahn Kurdee, whose body washed up on the shore of Turkey after the boat he was on capsized, also killing his mother, and brother. 


To go overland to Europe is equally as challenging, as shown by images of an abandoned smuggler’s truck in Austria that contained over 70 dead Syrians who were hoping to get to Germany.


Given that the situation continues to deteriorate, the United Nations has estimated that over a million refugees are en route towards Europe, with possibly five million more headed that way by the end of the year. 


This means that over 4,000 people are arriving every day, prompting many countries to close off their borders, leaving thousands stranded without hope or a future.  


To make matters worse, according to Nick Kristof of the New York Times, only 41% of the United Nations food requests for these refugees have been funded by governments around the world, with over half of Syrian children unable to go to school.

In some ways, the current situation reminds us of the 1930’s, when thousands of European Jews were attempting to leave Nazi Germany, only to see that the world looked away, leading to the continued suffering and death of millions, known as the Holocaust. 

Refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster—all in order to save their life


Migration: when a group of people move from one section of the world to another, for reasons of safety, freedom, or new opportunities


Migrant: a person who moves to another country for new opportunities


Bashar al-Assad: dictator of Syria


ISIS: the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as the IS = Islamic State


European Union: an association of 28 European nations


Asylum: when a country legally accepts a refugee to live in their country

Article 7
Article 8

END of Syrian Crisis Assignment

Who is ISIS?


Video 18 is optional extra learning video that is not required. It is however, an excellent

comprehensive video that will help you fully understang the situation in Syria.

Video 18 is optional extra learning video that is not required. It is however, an excellent

comprehensive video that will help you fully understang the situation in Syria.


Inside the White House Situation Room


Inside the White House Situation Room:

A Presidential Advisory Meeting about confronting the 

Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS)


Looking at its history, current practices, what can be done to stop it, and how to assist its victims.

Article 9

Text of the National Security Video that you just watched:


Mr. President, As your National Security advisors, it is our responsibility to provide you with up-to-date information about situations in the world that present a risk to the safety of the United States, as well as to the human rights of people around the world. 


Since 2014, a group called ISIS- or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—has grown to become the largest terrorist network in the Middle East.


Starting as a splinter group of Al Qaeda during the Iraq War, ISIS is a well-armed, violent, extremist organization who considers itself at war with all nations who do not adhere to its apocalyptic view of the world.


Practicing a strict form of Islam called Sharia Law, it has become a totalitarian, theocratic state that has professed a hatred of democracy and individual liberty. 


Its signature has been the persecution of religious minorities throughout the region, including Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and Shiite Muslims. 


Beheadings, crucifixions, and other mass killings of innocent civilians have been widespread, with over twenty thousand murdered since 2014—many of whom are Muslim who don’t follow its extreme beliefs.


There is also evidence of widespread human rights abuses, including the oppression of gay men, the destruction of ancient archaeological treasures, and the use of poison gas. 


What is perhaps the most disturbing is ISIS’s treatment of women. Stonings have become common, with at least 3,500 young girls forced into sexual slavery or marriage.  


Exploiting the chaos in the region, ISIS has spread rapidly throughout eastern Syria and Iraq, controlling an area of close to 13,000 square miles, which is roughly the size of Indiana. 


Hoping to create a Caliphate or religious kingdom, it defends a warped view of Islam, hoping to usher in the final days and the end of the world.


Led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the organization has conquered Mosul and other major Iraqi cities, grabbing two billion dollars in cash from looted bank accounts, as well as income from oil and gas fields that amounts to roughly a million dollars a day. 


According to the Huffington Post, it has formed a terrorist army with an estimated 30,000 - 50,000 fighters from over 90 countries and is now armed with tanks and weapons stolen from the Iraqi army. 


Likewise, because of its sophisticated use of social media and propaganda, ISIS has had over 2,000 Westerners join their cause, including over 200 Americans with passports.  


The good news is that American and coalition airstrikes have now contained the group to its original territory and killed thousands of ISIS fighters, recapturing over 40% of the land it controls, including the major Iraqi city of Ramadi. 


Despite those gains, the challenging news is that ISIS still poses a significant risk of conducting further mass killings.


Likewise, any attempt to stop it is unfortunately complicated, involving many moving parts that must be first be understood to be correctly solved.


Mr. President, at this point, we kindly ask that you and the other members of the security team answer the questions on the worksheet that follows. Once everyone is finished, you can open up the floor for discussion and debate.


Your task will be to decide upon two policy options that the United States should follow that will help destroy ISIS and limit its potential for mass murder.


Likewise, you are also encouraged to use this website to learn more about how ISIS operates, how to reach out to assist its victims, and how to take informed action that will help prevent genocide and human rights abuses in our time. 


At this point, please open up the student packet and follow the directions that will help you organize the discussion. Remember that what you do matters—and our time, is now.




A nation’s foreign policy is a government’s strategy dealing with other nations. Reviewing the options below, select three foreign policy options that you feel the President should take in response to ISIS. Take note of your list of 3 options that you think are wisest and use them in your assessment response. Be sure you can articulate your reason(s) for choosing each option on your list



Option A: Use American air power to bomb ISIS training camps, resources, and leaders. 

  • This would include its oil operations and tankers that go to Turkey and other countries. 

  • Doing so would deprive ISIS of roughly one million dollars a day. 

  • Note: Since August of 2014, the U.S. military has said there have been over 9,000 airstrikes that have dropped about 32,000 bombs on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. 

  • Many have credited these strikes for limiting ISIS’s growth and forcing them to hide.


Downsides to this Option: 

  • ISIS is known for hiding its military and command centers near civilian populations, such as hospitals and schools. It is against international law to knowingly target civilians.

  • Any bombs must be used with utmost precision; as any unnecessary civilian deaths will be used by ISIS to make the United States look bad. 

  • To quote a senior military official in a December 20th New York Times article, ‘We want to kill terrorists, but not in a way that will help create new generations of them.”  


Option B: Send in American ground troops to fight ISIS directly  

  • Military officials have estimated that this would require 10,000-25,000 troops. 

  • Note: There are currently @5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq already fighting ISIS.


Downsides to this Option:  

  • Seeing that this fight could take a generation, America should be careful about committing itself too extensively. 

  • An invasion would be an expensive, costing several billion dollars, as well as the lives of roughly 100 American soldiers a month with 500 wounded—which is near the death count of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (David Ignatius, Washington Post). 

  • Some have also argued that this option is exactly what ISIS wants, using it as a recruitment tool to attract new members. 

  • The Doomsday Dam Factor: Several commentators have warned that seeing that ISIS controls several dams in the region, if cornered, they may blow them up as a final act of defiance, triggering massive floods and electrical shortages that would set the region back for a generation.  (Wall Street Journal, January 20th, 2016)



Option C: Arm rebels and troops in the area who hate ISIS 

  • This would mean spending money to send ammunition, machine guns, and other equipment to rebel groups in the region, including 25,000 Kurdish forces and 5,000 tribal fighters. 

  • Note: Seeing that these Kurds are fighting for their lives and land, they have been very effective, taking back more than 500 towns.

  • This would include training the Iraqi army to better fight ISIS in their country.


Downsides to this option: 

  • While the Kurds are doing great things, they ultimately want to create their own country, which would share a border with Turkey, who sees them as a threat to its territory. Because the United States uses and needs Turkish air bases, it is dependent on its good will and may not want to anger its government by helping the Kurds too much.



Option D: Use more American Special Operations Forces

  • Currently, the U.S. has over 250 of these commandos who train local rebels in secret, keeping America out of an official “war”.


Downside to this Option: While these Special Ops troops may be successful, they may not be enough to take over the larger cities that ISIS controls. More ground troops will be needed. 



Option E: Establish an alliance of European and Middle Eastern nations to fight ISIS

  • This would include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States to create a military coalition that the United States would play a supporting role in. 


Downside to this Option:  Getting everyone together is very difficult--action is needed now.



Option F: Provide Humanitarian Assistance to the victims of ISIS

  • Air drop humanitarian assistance such as food, blankets, medicine, to the groups that are being threatened, like the Yezidi. 


Downsides to this Option: Very few, but force will be necessary to take back its territory.



Option G: Take economic action against the money ISIS controls

  • Freeze its access to international banks, which would limit its access to money and weapons. 

  • Every effort should be made to block it from selling its oil to Syria, Turkey, and other partners. 

  • Countries who buy oil from ISIS should be exposed and penalized by the world community.


Downsides to this option: Very few—but while important, these actions would not kill ISIS fighters—or, take back the land it controls. Military force will eventually be necessary.


Option H: Declare cyber war against ISIS 

  • This would include having our military hack into their websites that deal with recruitment, criminal activity for profit, as well as their command and control. 

  • Encourage Apple, Google, Twitter, and other social media companies to shut down terrorist accounts so that they are not used to plan, provoke or celebrate violence. 


Downsides to this Option: There are a number of encryption Apps that can be downloaded by ISIS to “get around” any cyber actions.



Option I: Setting up a No-Fly Zone in northern Syria 

  • This would have American planes prevent attacks on civilians, creating a safe space to allow humanitarian assistance and greater security. 

  • Doing so would also cut the supply routes of illegal oil, arms, and supplies going to and from Turkey to ISIS,


Downsides to this Option: Doing so will be complicated and expensive to run, would further involve us in the conflict and cost roughly $1 billion a month. American planes could strike those of Russia’s, creating an international incident. 



Option J: Monitor, watch, and do as little as possible

  • Seeing that the situation presents too many risks and complications, it may be best to be very careful with any options.

  • Downside to this Option:  Doing nothing allows ISIS to grow and hurts the reputation of the U.S. as a world leader, allowing Russia to have more of an influence, as well as other countries in the region.  History often shows that if aggressive parties aren’t fought, they often spread overseas, such as the case of 9-11.


Using the above information and your list of 3 options, answer this assessment


Assessment: Inside the White House Situation Room
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