The American Vision Modern Times © 2010
A Changing Society, 1968-present
Historical Thinking Activities
Assignment: Identifying Patterns in Foreign Policy
For the past forty years, the Middle East has been a major focus of American foreign policy. After the events of September 11, 2001, the region became even more important. Since the 1970s, American policy has been shaped by four important developments in the region: the conflict and peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the 1979 revolution in Iran, military aggression by the nation of Iraq, and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent rise of the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
Follow the steps below to locate primary and secondary sources describing American foreign policy in the Middle East. Select one of the following countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, or Israel and use the sources to prepare a timeline of major events in American foreign policy in that region of the Middle East since the 1970s.
Assignment Task List
Step 1: Review the material on American policy in the Middle East on pages 723, 751, 764-765, 787, and 808-819 of your textbook. Make a list of key dates and make notes as to what important event happened on each date. You may find it useful to sort the list of dates by country, with a separate list for Israel, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
Step 2: Review how to analyze primary sources. See "Analyzing Primary Sources" on page R19 of the Skills Handbook. Review how to sequence events. See "Sequencing Events" on page R17 of the Skills Handbook.
Step 3: Read government documents related to the region of the Middle East you are studying. Make notes about major decisions and changes in American policy in the Middle East between 1970 and the present.
State Department Background Notes: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/
Library of Congress Country Studies: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html
State Department Documents on the Middle East peace process:
Congressional Research Report: Palestinians and Middle East Peace:
Congressional Research Report: Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses:
Congressional Research Report: Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy:
President Bush's Address to Congress, September 20, 2001:
President Bush's Address to the United Nations, September 12, 2002:
Step 4: Analyze the notes you have taken. Arrange events in a chronological sequence. Discard those events that you think are less important or do not show the development of American policy. Write a brief summary statement about each event suitable for including on a timeline or in a chronology.
Step 5: Create your timeline or chronology for the nation you have selected. Prepare a brief summary to accompany the timeline or chronology. The summary should explain whether American policy toward the nation you are examining has been consistent over time. If there is continuity in American policy, summarize the long term goals of the United States has pursued regarding that nation. If there have been major changes in American policy over time toward the nation, identify the major turning points.
Step 6: Review your work against the checklist below. Revise your timeline and summary as needed.
|An effective timeline and summary will:|
|•||Begin in the 1970s and include events down to the present|
|•||Identify major developments in United States foreign policy|
|•||Include events from each president's term of office|
|•||Include major turning points in American relations with the nation being studied|
|•||Place events in the correct chronological order|
|•||Demonstrate cause and effect relationships by including earlier events that helped to cause later events listed on the timeline|
|•||Include events that are important from the American perspective and events that are important from the perspective of the nation you have chosen to study|
|•||Use accurate dates and correct spellings for names and places.|