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America Responds to Terrorism

Resources designed to help teachers and students understand the tragedy of September 11 and the events unfolding in America, Iraq, the Middle East, and around the world.

Firestorms The Bombing of Civilians
Firestorms: The Bombing of Civilians in World War II

Before World War II, most nations condemned targeting civilians in bombing raids. As the war went on, the nations at war expanded their bombing targets from military to industrial ones, then to workers' houses, and finally to entire cities and their civilian populations.

In the late afternoon of April 26, 1937, German bombers and other warplanes attacked Guernica, a town of about 7,000 persons in northern Spain. This raid was part of the Spanish Civil War, fought just before World War II. The Spanish Republic was battling rebels led by Spanish General Francisco Franco. Hitler had sent a special air force unit to Spain to aid Franco, and Hitler used the civil war to test new military aircraft and bombing tactics.

Permanenet International Criminal Court
Do We Need a Permanenet International Criminal Court?

According to witnesses, Dusan Tadic raped at least one woman, beat more than a dozen people to death, and made his victims drink mud and motor oil. If this were a typical criminal case, Tadic would be charged with rape, murder, mayhem, and assault and battery. But Tadic's case was not a typical criminal trial. The victims were prisoners of war. The alleged incidents took place in a concentration camp in Bosnia—a country fractured by a violent civil war when it split from the former Yugoslavia in 1992. Tadic's trial took place in The Hague, Netherlands, before a special international tribunal (court) established by the United Nations. Dusan Tadic was the first individual prosecuted before an international court since the famous Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes trials following World War II.

United Nations Fifty Years
The United Nations: Fifty Years of Keeping the Peace

In 1995, representatives from 185 countries gathered at the United Nations in New York to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding. Fifty years earlier, much of the world lay in ruins. Millions of people (including 406,000 Americans) had lost their lives in the most destructive war in human history. The hope for an international organization to effectively enforce the peace in the postwar world was mainly an American idea. President Franklin D. Roosevelt believed the peace could be kept by the major allied powers of the war, the "Big Five"—the United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and China. In Roosevelt's vision, they would become the world's "policemen."

Blasphemy Salman Rushdie

Novelist Salman Rushie's book The Satanic Verses angered many Muslims. They accused Rushdie of blasphemy--insulting their sacred religion. The government of Iran offered a reward to anyone who killed Rushdie. Many people in Western nations viewed Iran's action as an assault on freedom of expression. They see blasphemy as an outdated notion. But the crime of blasphemy still exists in some Western nations. In the United States, prosecutions for blasphemy, though always rare, did not officially end until the early 1970s.

Blasphemy! Salman Rushdie and Freedom of Expression
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