No Good Wars: Teaching the History of Modern American Wars as a Means of Resisting Current Ones By


Table One: Opinions Regarding World War II



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Table One: Opinions Regarding World War II








Control Group

Experimental Group







Pre-test(n=13)

Post-test(n=10)

Pre-test(n=19)

Post-test(n=15)

The United States involvement in World War II was morally just.

5.2

4.8

4.3

3.5

If drafted, I would have been willing to serve the United States in combat during World War II.

3.8

4.0

3.8

2.7

I would have been willing to volunteer to join the United States’ armed services to serve in combat during World War II.

2.9

3.4

3.3

2.6

I would have been willing to attend rallies protesting against the United States’ involvement in World War II.

2.2

2.7

2.9

3.5

I would have been willing to contribute time and/or money to aid the cause of protesting against the United States’ involvement in World War II

2.3

2.4

2.8

3.5



Means

7 point Likert Scale:

strongly disagree = 1

strongly agree = 7

neutral = 4



Table Two: Opinions Regarding the Korean War








Control Group

Experimental Group







Pre-test(n=13)

Post-test(n=10)

Pre-test(n=19)

Post-test(n=15)

The United States involvement in the Korean War was morally just.

3.2

3.3

2.9

2.1

If drafted, I would have been willing to serve the United States in combat during the Korean War.

2.5

2.8

3.0

1.9

I would have been willing to volunteer to join the United States’ armed services to serve in combat during the Korean War.

2.1

2.0

2.0

1.7

I would have been willing to attend rallies protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Korean War.

3.3

3.0

3.9

4.1

I would have been willing to contribute time and/or money to aid the cause of protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Korean War.

2.8

2.7

3.9

4.1



Means

7 point Likert Scale:

strongly disagree =

strongly agree = 7

neutral = 4



Table Three: Opinions Regarding the Vietnam War








Control Group

Experimental Group







Pre-test(n=13)

Post-test(n=10)

Pre-test(n=19)

Post-test(n=15)

The United States involvement in the Vietnam War was morally just.

2.3

2.1

2.2

1.3

If drafted, I would have been willing to serve the United States in combat during the Vietnam War.

2.1

2.6

1.9

1.3

I would have been willing to volunteer to join the United States’ armed services to serve in combat during the Vietnam War.

1.5

1.9

1.9

1.3

I would have been willing to attend rallies protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

4.3

4.2

5.0

5.4

I would have been willing to contribute time and/or money to aid the cause of protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

4.2

4.3

4.7

5.1



Means

7 point Likert Scale:

strongly disagree = 1

strongly agree = 7

neutral = 4



Table Four: Opinions Regarding the Gulf War








Control Group

Experimental Group







Pre-test(n=13)

Post-test(n=10)

Pre-test(n=19)

Post-test(n=15)

The United States involvement in the Gulf War was morally just.

3.1

4.0

3.6

2.4

If drafted, I would have been willing to serve the United States in combat during the Gulf War.

2.2

2.7

3.1

2.1

I would have been willing to volunteer to join the United States’ armed services to serve in combat during the Gulf War.

1.8

1.8

2.7

1.9

I would have been willing to attend rallies protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Gulf War.

2.7

2.8

3.8

4.1

I would have been willing to contribute time and/or money to aid the cause of protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Gulf War.

3.2

2.1

3.8

4.1



Means

7 point Likert Scale:

strongly disagree = 1

strongly agree = 7

neutral = 4



Table Five: Opinions Regarding the Afghanistan War








Control Group

Experimental Group







Pre-test(n=13)

Post-test(n=10)

Pre-test(n=19)

Post-test(n=15)

The United States involvement in the Afghanistan War is morally just.

3.4

3.4

3.3

2.1

If drafted, I am willing to serve the United States in combat during the Afghanistan War.

2.6

3.1

2.9

1.9

I am willing to volunteer to join the United States’ armed services to serve in combat during the Afghanistan War.

2.4

2.6

2.2

1.9

I am willing to attend rallies protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Afghanistan War.

3.7

3.2

4.1

4.4

I am willing to contribute time and/or money to aid the cause of protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Afghanistan War.

3.7

3.0

4.2

4.5



Means

7 point Likert Scale:

strongly disagree = 1

strongly agree = 7

neutral = 4



Table Six: Opinions Regarding the Iraq War








Control Group

Experimental Group







Pre-test(n=13)

Post-test(n=10)

Pre-test(n=19)

Post-test(n=15)

The United States involvement in the Iraq War is morally just.

2.2

2.9

2.2

1.5

If drafted, I am willing to serve the United States in combat during the Iraq War.

2.2

2.8

2.1

1.5

I am willing to volunteer to join the United States’ armed services to serve in combat during the Iraq War.

1.5

2.1

1.9

1.4

I am willing to attend rallies protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Iraq War.

3.7

3.8

4.2

4.7

I am willing to contribute time and/or money to aid the cause of protesting against the United States’ involvement in the Iraq War.

3.6

3.4

4.2

4.6

some affect in the desired direction. Their changes in opinion were most significant on the questions dealing with their estimate of the moral justness of these six wars with the mean response score drop ranging from a drop of 0.7 (for the Iraq War) to 1.2 (for both the first Gulf War and the Afghanistan War). It seems likely that the students knew relatively little about the Gulf and Afghanistan wars, allowing for the biggest changes in opinion, and that their estimates of the morality of the current Iraq War were sufficiently negative at the beginning of the course, that it was hard for them to drop much further. My class’ disinclination to serve the U. S. military also intensified for all of these wars, with the opinion shift magnitudes ranging from 0.3 to 1.1 depending upon the war and question (if drafted or volunteering).

While students completing my course consistently reported increases in willingness to support anti-war protest movements (via participation and contribution of time or money), sadly, it was here that the attitude shifts were least impressive with shifts ranging from 0.2 to 0.7. More worrisome still is that their willingness to protest did not match their moral indignation over these wars. Even by the end of the course, their responses hovered around “neutral” (4.0) except for the Vietnam War (5.4 and 5.1) and the Iraq War (4.7 and 4.6). I knew Saint Joseph College students seemed quiescent but I was surprised how much their responses stayed that way, especially given the magnitude of the negative appraisals of the morality of these wars.

As might be expected, the control group, the World History students, did not shift attitudes as much, or in any consistent direction. What seemed to stand out, however, was a reduction of their anti-war appraisals of the morality of the first Gulf War and the current Iraq War. These wars were not a focal point of their World History course and even their instructor is critical of these wars, so if their was some occasional comment about current event at some juncture, the instructor’s comments were more likely to be negative than positive. It seems most likely that this shift may have reflected a temporary surge in the war’s popularity due to a reduced sense of pessimism as Iraq’s national elections approached. In any event, the overall pattern of control group responses showed no consistent pattern of significant shifts in either the “pro-war” or “anti-war” directions.

In the final analysis, what can I make of my little experiment of teaching a course on the history of modern American wars as a means of encouraging resistance to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Clearly, the course had some effect on my students and they became significantly more likely to be critical of all these wars. At times, many of them appeared to be genuinely stirred up by what they were learning. For example, several students took the initiative, unrelated to any course assignments, to work with some students from outside our class in writing, and sharing with me and with others, a song of anti-war lyrics they set to the music of “God Bless America,” which they called “God Bless the Rest of the World.” However, anecdotes such as this notwithstanding, students’ responses did not reflect much of a spike in their inclinations toward activism of any sort. Maybe that is not surprising. I taught them what was wrong with America’s modern wars. I did not teach them what to do about it. Perhaps I need to offer another course.

Appendix One

SAINT JOSEPH COLLEGE

WEST HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
Political Science 200 Dr. Kenneth Long

History of Modern American Wars Fall 2005

Tuesdays & Thursdays: 12:30 – 1:45 PM Office: Lynch 106; X5766

______________________________________________________________________________
COURSE DESCRIPION

An examination of the history and politics of major American wars since World War II. Major topics will include the political causes and outcomes of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War (I) and the ongoing Afghanistan War and the Iraq War (II).


COURSE OBJECTIVES

By the end of the course, students should be able to succinctly describe the central events of, and reasons for, America’s modern major wars. In addition, students should be able to describe the concepts of Cold War, neo-imperialism, hegemony, and propaganda. Students should also be familiar with popular American conceptions and misconceptions about these wars.


COURSE READINGS

The following required texts are available in the Campus Bookstore:


Roger Burbach & Jim Tarbell, Imperial Overstretch, 2004 (BT).

Guy A. Donaldson, America at War Since 1945, 1996 (D).

Seymour Hersh, Chain of Command, 2005 (H).
COURSE REQUIREMENTS

There will be three short answer examinations and film journal. Both exams will be based upon the lectures, discussions, and readings. The journal will involve renting and viewing several feature films about America at War (beyond what may be shown in class) and analyzing them in terms of the concepts and ideas applied in class and in the readings. Further details about the journal will be provided in class.


Participation in class discussion in essential; therefore, you are expected to keep up with the readings and to bring to class copies of your texts. If there is a student who has special needs because of learning disabilities or other kinds of disabilities, please feel free to discuss this with me and I shall be happy to make any appropriate accommodations.
GRADING

Final grades for this course will be determined as follows:


Exam One 20%

Exam Two 20%

Final 30%

Journal 30%


Any student failing to complete all assignments, or engaging in plagiarism or academic dishonesty in any form will receive a grade of "F".

List of Recommended Films For Journal Assignment:



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