American Empire?

US Government and Politics

In how many countries are U.S. troops present?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprised are you by this information?

  3. How surprising do you think this information would be to the average American?

  4. What is one reason the U.S. has a military presence in so much of the world?

  5. What is one consequence of the U.S. having a military presence in so much of the world?

  6. Which of the countries where the US has a military presence was most surprising to you?

  7. What would be a good title for this map?

  8. What do you think this map would have looked like 116 years ago?

  9. How do you think this map will look different in 20 years?

  10. In the comments section, explain whether you believe this is good news or bad news?

  11. Who are some members of the U.S. government who make decisions about levels of troop deployment?

  12. Imagine you objected to this level of U.S. Involvement. Describe the most politically efficacious step A U.S. Citizen could take to change this:

Action Extension

Post a copy of this map on social media or show a copy of this map to five of your friends. Ask them to share their reaction with you and then share highlights or an overview of their reactions with your president.

Learning Extension

Read this interesting article about the American Empire.

Visual Extension

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Foreign Aid

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of the federal budget does the US spend on foreign aid?


  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What's the big story here?

  4. Why do you think the U.S. spends such a small portion of its budget on foreign aid?

  5. What is one consequence of spending such a small portion of our budget on foreign aid?

  6. Is this information good news or bad news?

  7. What exactly is foreign aid anyway, and where do you think most of this foreign aid goes?*

  8. What % of our budget do you think the average American thinks we spend on foreign aid?**

  9. Why do you think there's such a huge divide in what Americans think we spend and what we actually spend?

  10. What portion of US GDP do you think we spend on foreign aid?***

  11. If you were emperor/empress/emprex or czar/czarina/czar-x of America what percent of our budget would you spend on foreign aid?

  12. List three members of the US government who play a major role in formulating foreign aid spending and describe their role.

  13. In April, the State Department announced that it was halting all U.S. foreign aid going to the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at the direction of President Donald Trump who said that the countries had done too little for the U.S. How much aid do those countries get?*

  14. In the comments section below, express your opinion of what portion of our budget we should spend on foreign aid: 

  15. Explain the opinion the following would probably have regarding foreign aid:

  • traditional US conservative

  • traditional US liberal

  • Anti-Federalist

  • Staunch Trump supporter

  • Staunch Bernie Sanders supporter

Learning Extension

I've put together an entire fantabulous lesson on foreign aid. Check it out and play our foreign aid party game at home!

Action Extension

Take our foreign aid quiz and then share it with your friends/fans/followers on facebook, Twitter, Myspace (kidding), Snapchat, or Instagram. After your "friends" answer what portion of the US budget they think we spend on foreign aid, share the actual amount and watch them freak out! Share your results in class or online.

Visual Extension*

Infographic: Where U.S. Foreign Aid is Going | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista




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Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothing Extension


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Money in the Tank

Do most Americans think that the amount of money the U.S. spends on defense is too much, too little, or just about right?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Identify one trend from the chart.

  3. Explain the cause of that trend.

  4. What is one consequence of that trend?

  5. If most Americans believe that we spend too much money on Defense, why did Donald Trump just request a nearly 5% increase in U.S. defense spending?

  6. How much money did Donald Trump request for the 2019 defense budget?*

  7. How do you think that compares to what the average American thinks the U.S. spends on the military?

  8. How much do you think partisanship impacts opinion about defense spending? (see below)

  9. Explain your opinion about the appropriate level of American defense spending.

  10. Describe the parts of the government that are involved in setting defense spending budgets.

  11. What does Article II of the U.S. Constitution say about the president’s military role?

  12. What does Article I of the U.S. Constitution say about the role of the Congress in defense?

  13. Explain whether a Federalist or an Anti-Federalist would be more likely to support a strong federal military.

  14. Explain what position the following ideologies would most likely take regarding the 2019 military budget proposal:

  • Socialist

  • Liberal

  • Conservative

  • Libertarian

*$727 billion

Visual Extension

Learning Extension

Read the Gallup report on Americans’ views on defense spending.

Action Extension

Contact your member of congress and let them know what you think about our nation’s current level of defense spending?

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension


Our Totally Random Chart that doesn’t really fit Anywhere Extension

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Hey Big Military Spender

What percent of the world's military spending belongs to the United States?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells about U.S. military spending?

  4. Is that a good thing/Happy Story?

  5. Why do you think we spend so much on the military?

  6. What is one consequence of America's military budget?

  7. Based on the data in the chart, How many of the top military spending nations are our allies?

  8. What question would you like answered about the chart?

  9. Imagine that you were the head of the Office of Management and Budget, (You down with OMB?) responsible for formulating the President’s overall budget. What information that is NOT provided in the chart would you like to know to help you make better budgeting decisions?

  10. Military spending has increased under POTUS Trump. Explain the connection between the base of POTUS Trump's electoral coalition and this increase in military spending.

  11. What branches of government are involved in setting the budget?

  12. What specific departments, agencies, and offices in the US government would be involved in making recommendations on military spending.

  13. Imagine a scenario in which POTUS Trump decides to slash military spending by 10%. Describe the methods that pro-military interest groups could use to try to counter his decision.

  14. According to the U.S. Constitution What specific military powers does the POTUS have?

  15. When you look at military spending as a portion of GDP how does the US compare to other countries?

  16. When you look at projected Military spending (below*), what conclusions can you draw about America's future role as world superpower?

  17. How likely is it that the United States will use its military might against Venezuela?

Visual Extension*

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Learning Extension

Check out this wicked cool global military data from data daddy himself, Max Roser. ANd check out his interactive military spending chart below.

Action Extension.

Think about how you could best influence American budget priorities and spending and then check out this ACTION page from the National Priorities Project. Whatever your opinion is regarding military spending, share your idea of the most efficacious way to influence American military spending in class and online.

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 Really Random extension

Foreign Policy First

What is the number one foreign policy priority for Americans?

  1. How accurate was your silly prediction? Or - How silly was your accurate prediction?

  2. What story does this chart tell about American foreign policy priorities?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is a consequence of this?

  5. What story does this chart tell about political polarization in America?

  6. Why is there such a high level of political polarization in the US?

  7. What is one consequence of this high level of political polarization on U.S. foreign policy?

  8. In general, do you think Americans worry more about domestic or foreign policy?

  9. In general, do you think American politicians worry more about domestic or foreign policy?

  10. If you were the president and you saw this huge gap in what foreign policy issues are important to Democrats and Republicans what would you do about it? How would you lead?

  11. Can you think of a time inAmerican hisotry where people, regarddless of their party afiliation, agreed on foreign policy priorites? I can…what time can you think of?

  12. You may have noticed the President Obama undid many of the George W. Bush foreign policies that Democrats found most unsettling (Guantanamo). You may have also noticed that Donald Trump undid many of the Obama foreign policies that Republicans most disliked (Iran treaty). What do you predict will happen in terms of undoing foreign policy when Joe Biden/Nikki Haley/Dwayne “The POTUS” Johnson/__________ becomes our next president?

  13. What does this general undoing of the predecessor’s policy do for the coherence of American foreign policy and for the global strength of America.

  14. Does this ping-pong undoing of American foreign policy empower or disempower the people who actually carry out that policy in the US government?

  15. Who are some of the top presidential advisors or members of cabinet who play a role in shaping and executing foreign policy?

  16. Claim: foreign policy making is a non-democratic process. Respond to this claim with at least two pieces of evidence or reasons to support your answer.

  17. Why do you think Democrats are so concerned about climate change, and why are Republicans so worried about illegal immigration? And if we could prove that illegal immigrants were causing climate change, would that be something we could all agree on?

  18. According to the chart, what foreign policy issues do Democrats and Republicans most agree on and what do they most disagree on?

  19. Imagine that you thought the American government was making huge mistakes in creating and implementing foreign policy. What would be an effective way for a young citizen to try to influence American foreign policy?

  20. Describe what power the U.S. Congress has in terms of foreign policy making.

  21. If you were asked to list the ten most important foreign policy issues to America, what would your list look like?

  22. How does age impact foreign policy priorities?*

Visual Extension*

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Learning Extension

Quick, before we elect a new president/foreign policy, take a look at this Pew story on foreign policy priorities.

Action Extension

Family time! Ask ten folks to rank the biggest foreign threats to America. Share the results of your survey in class or online.

Extended Therapy Pet Extension

This must be photoshopped !!!!!! Nope.

This must be photoshopped !!!!!! Nope.