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Links for Learners

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

February 2000

The following Links for Learners resource is offered to those who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger in an educational setting or for further study at home. This resource is prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature one article for further study each month. Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain this resource. Up until December 1998 it was called a teacher's guide or classroom resource. Teachers with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the article for classroom use. We encourage you to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service by sending feedback to

Click here for a complete listing of Links for Learners

Please see our links disclaimer located at the end of this document.

Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:

    • Religion—justice; moral theology; forgiveness
    • Social Studies—war's impact on the civilian population; international relations; the workings of government
Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants

Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:

Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.

Parents will also find this material useful in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home study, at family activities or as preparation for parent/teacher meetings.

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s Article

Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the Links for Learners.

Economic sanctions


Chaldean Church



United Nations


Just-war criteria

Gulf War

National Conference of Catholic Bishops


'I want you to know the suffering of our people'

Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid of the Chaldean Church of Babylon recently traveled to the United States to garner support for stopping the economic sanctions against Iraq.

The patriarch cites the results of the United Nations' nine-year embargo:

  • 1,000,000 Iraqis have died from lack of food and medical care
  • 5,000 children die every month for lack of care
  • revenues to the country's inhabitants have dropped by 90%

The Chaldean Church has a strong presence in the United States, with most of its members centered in the Detroit, Michigan, area. The Chaldean community here shares Patriarch Raphael's concerns for the suffering Iraqi people.

The United Nations, and the United States in particular, view the embargo as a necessary response to Iraq's refusal to cooperate with the conditions of the cease-fire agreement that ended the Gulf War in 1991. Channel One, the news program broadcast to member high schools, offers a summary of the events surrounding the Gulf War in an archived September 1999 story. The United States Department of State explains U.S. policy regarding Iraq, and provides background information on the United Nations position.

Search a major newspaper such as The New York Times for a list of recent articles explaining how Iraq has repeatedly said no to U.N. arms inspectors and rejected new arms inspection plans.

In spite of the United States' firm stance, there are strong voices crying out against the embargo. Many question the policy's failure to stop weapons development in Iraq. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken out against the economic sanctions. Pope John Paul II calls the embargo "pitiless."

Still others contend that the sanctions violate U.N. treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This international human rights treaty, dating from November 20, 1989, outlines just what rights a child is entitled to, no matter where on this earth he or she may live. Read the UNICEF Web site for information on the treaty, for UNICEF's commitment to children's rights and for advice on what you can do to support the treaty. Only two of the world's 191 countries have not ratified the treaty, the United States ironically being one.

Certainly civilians of other nations have suffered from the horrors of war. See The New York Times for information and teacher lesson plans on the role of civilians in armed conflict. The lessons include the results of war in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo and the Persian Gulf.

The Associated Press, in a release of December 16, 1999, offers information on the position taken by this administration on the embargoes the United States presently has in place: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Libya.

Discuss what makes this economic sanction different from what occurred in other countries following the cessation of war. Research, for example, how and why the United States put the Marshall Plan together to assist post-World War II Europe. In spite of the heinous war crimes of the Holocaust, the victorious countries of World War II poured many millions of dollars in aid into helping the aggressor nations get back on their economic feet.

Saddam Hussein is accused of developing and stockpiling chemical and biological weapons unheard of in earlier global conflicts. Does this justify the U.N.'s long and harsh sanctions? Should Iraq's civilian population suffer greatly because of this threat? What are the effects of war as opposed to economic sanctions? Is there any real difference for the civilian population?

Humanitarian Responses

Direct humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq is punishable under law because of the economic sanctions. Saddam Hussein has refused to welcome Pope John Paul to visit Iraq. The United States government has pressured Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York not to go to Iraq. Every other day U. S. and British jets continue to bomb Iraqi targets.

Doctors Without Borders, the Nobel Prize-winning international medical relief organization, reports on the 10 top underreported humanitarian emergencies in the world. Iraq is not one of them. In fact, Iraq is unfortunately not among the 80 countries benefiting from Doctors Without Borders' assistance.

Rendering immediate and direct humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq is nearly impossible at this time. However, working to change government policies is always an option.

At the Web site for Close Up, a Washington, D.C.-based foundation, you can find the names and addresses of your senators and representative. If you believe the embargo is unfairly punishing the population of Iraq, you can argue for dropping the embargo. You can also recommend that the United States ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Raising our voices to support the rights of others can take many forms. UNICEF sponsors an annual International Children's Day of Broadcasting, the next one being December 9, 2001. On this day the world's children call on international leaders to put the rights of children at the center of their work. Children are the producers, reporters and hosts on this day. Find out more about the program at UNICEF. Or put together your own local version, offering children and adults the chance to carry their message to local and regional politicians.

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken out against the Iraqi sanctions. Their Web site offers information supporting their stance.

Discuss other ways to find help for the people of Iraq. You may wish to know more about Voices in the Wilderness (VitW), a U. S. citizen-action group. VitW sponsors prayer vigils, walks for peace and fasts in support of ending the sanctions against Iraq. In spite of the threat of fines and prison, members of the group have made a number of trips to Iraq to deliver medicine and other relief. Voices in the Wilderness considers the economic sanctions to in fact be a form of genocidal violence against the Iraqi people.

Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

Pathfinder - Access site to a number of online news publications
People magazine
The Close Up FoundationWashington, D.C.-based organization

Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

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