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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)

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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