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Author Topic: 2011-2012 Failed States Topic Paper  (Read 12273 times)
japoapst
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« on: April 25, 2011, 07:54:14 PM »

Hello everyone, here is the submission for the Failed States Topic Paper. Because almost all of the people working on this were students with some major school obligations, we kind of had a time crunch with some of the areas. So, if you have any questions that the paper left unanswered feel free to comment or email me at japoapst@gmail.com

I would like to say thanks here to everyone that contributed; as a newbie to this topic proposal submission process, I definitely could not have done this without you.

Jackie Poapst
(Liberty University Debate)

* Failed States Topic Paper-2011-2012.docx (507.34 KB - downloaded 4790 times.)
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psadow
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2011, 09:06:13 PM »

I find the mechanism/topic area ground distinction to be difficult to navigate/resolve. Presumably, by limiting the resolution to only 1 mechanism that would mean that there is only one topical aff/plan/whatever per country (with x advantages) which means that this topic could potentially be good if we want a very limited resolution in terms of topical affirmatives. This resolution seems to suffer less from the problem of the treaties topic: that of the diversity of topic areas affecting research burden. While I am not suggesting that there is not ample material to research under this topic, it does seem that the topic is more unified in subject matter and research material than the treaties topic might be.

Compared to some of the other topic papers, this proposal seems to benefit from a very focused approach to the controversy but it seems like that focus, while it does afford limits to an otherwise diverse topic, would negatively implicate affirmative creativity. My personal opinion is to err towards topics that allow more creativity in terms of the mechanism to solve the problem even if that may cause a less limited topic. Additionally, creative mechanisms make topicality debates much more fruitful than they otherwise might be.

I feel that last years topic demonstrates this by erring towards diverse mechanisms with which to increase immigration rather than something like comprehensive immigration reform.

Also, wasn't the nukes topic a foreign policy topic?

Peter S.
UMKC
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RGarrett
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2011, 09:11:43 PM »

I wrote the mechanism section, and I agree with your thought that the only mechanism discussed in depth in the paper limits the AFF somewhat and allows diversity through the number of countries.

However, controversy papers are good they should outline broad controversies this was provided to help people have a look at what mechanisms might be specific to the controversy.  Other mechanisms like democracy promotion or foreign assistance (which are conveniently discussed in other papers) should all be considered in phase 2. 

The reason to offer mechanism guidance is to help people envision what a topic might look like, but it would be arrogant to believe we had the only correct answer to the mechanism in a few short weeks of work, if you vote for this topic the mechanism question should be a robust debate in the round 2 papers.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 09:19:43 PM by RGarrett » Logged
Vega
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2011, 09:41:39 PM »

This is the second iteration of the idea that the 2nd ballot will correct or alleviate concerns in a controversy paper.  The first I noticed was on the Treaties topic.  While I do not think that the 2nd round of voting is useless, it is actually fairly constrained by the controversy paper, in my understanding.  We are not voting on failed states as a topic area, but instead on the controversy specified by the paper, which presumably would default to the mechanism in the paper.  Below is a quote from Gordon about the 2nd-vote process from last year when Hester proposed CIR as a wording option to the immigration controversy.  This post is not to bemoan the process, but instead to clarify the parameters.  Would it fit in this process to develop wording papers with new treaties that are not mentioned in the controversy paper?  Would a wholesale change from the mechanism of the failed states paper be considered?  We had several mechanisms to work with last year, but I believe they were all in the controversy paper, I could be wrong.

The biggest issue here is that the controversy paper specifically rejects comprehensive reform. The authors' position is that comprehensive has its own set of issues and that the single direction of reducing a barrier to immigration is preferable.  The committee as such is not looking at these broader options.

This is a big part of the controversy process. The choice is found in the author's decisions and in the community vote. If folks like a subject matter but not the controversy, that is an important part of what you need to consider.

I know there is disagreement about the role of the 2nd vote, but in our short window (3 weeks or less) of time our primary task is to make sure we have solid wording options related to the winning controversy. It is not (and should not be) to produce the single greatest set of choices that are any way related to the original subject matter.

In a specific example, how much attention do you think the specific aspects of reducing restrictions would get in a world where comprehensive reform (which includes more and less restrictive options) was an option? This is how big mistakes get made.

When people ask how we turned "support Native American sovereignty" into "increase federal control" and "China" into "pressure" and how Russia and China were options for the 'rogues' topic the answer is found in having too broad of a mandate for the 2nd part of the process. Because we were following the approach of giving voters the best choices on every aspect of the subject matter we spread ourselves awfully thin. The committee used to have an impossible mandate and we need to appreciate that limiting the scale of the task is the best way to avoid those kinds of problems.

In an ideal world this committee would have months of time to study and a variety of help. In reality, there is a limited window of time and effort. As I have said many times, the best sign of success is if the process seems unexciting in phase 2. The community votes for something it wants to debate in phase 1 and then we fine tune the wording.

Choice needs to be meaningful. The community now makes the real choice in phase 1 and the committee can't ignore their will, even when trying to 'help' them have 'better' options. Mike's concern is real - folks basically know what the topic is about now. That, to me, is still a marked improvement over the time when (under the banner of providing choice) the committee considered items that were not what the community anticipated when voting in phase 1. We can do better, more focused work, and the community knows what they are voting for with greater certainty. I stand by the last several years of evidence of how the process develops. There are still plenty of flaws, but the basic theme of the controversy is maintained throughout.

As an aside and now speaking just for myself I agree this makes the 'topic' functionally known very early. I hope we can eventually find a way to push the whole topic process back into the summer.

Thanks. The feedback and conversation is what makes our community so great.

Gordon
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RGarrett
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2011, 09:51:53 PM »

This is the second iteration of the idea that the 2nd ballot will correct or alleviate concerns in a controversy paper.  The first I noticed was on the Treaties topic.  While I do not think that the 2nd round of voting is useless, it is actually fairly constrained by the controversy paper, in my understanding.  We are not voting on failed states as a topic area, but instead on the controversy specified by the paper, which presumably would default to the mechanism in the paper.  Below is a quote from Gordon about the 2nd-vote process from last year when Hester proposed CIR as a wording option to the immigration controversy.  This post is not to bemoan the process, but instead to clarify the parameters.  Would it fit in this process to develop wording papers with new treaties that are not mentioned in the controversy paper?  Would a wholesale change from the mechanism of the failed states paper be considered?  We had several mechanisms to work with last year, but I believe they were all in the controversy paper, I could be wrong.


Yes this exact conversation was in mind when I wrote this section the major difference is our paper explicitly affirms alternate mechanisms and does not narrow to only one mechanism.  I agree controversy authors can ban things from the second round according to the current interpretation.  I disagree that they should be allowed to do so, but that is another conversation. 

It was a gross misrepresentation of the paper to say that we don't want to discuss the difference between foreign assistance/democracy promotion/whole of government/constructive engagement.  These things are mentioned in the topic paper, given more time or more personnel a section on each could have been written, but as we indicate things like foreign assistance and constructive engagement were done before and therefore there is no need to reintroduce them to the debate community in the paper. That is exactly why there are wording papers to better discuss these differences, and revisit if those older and tried and true mechanisms are better than the new approach.

All that being said I do present the opinion that the mechanism offered in the paper is unique to the literature and overall could help balance the breadth of the topic, which is why we spent so much time discussing it. 
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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2011, 09:54:47 AM »

Good research, group!  Exciting to see the collaboration.

If possible, I could use a little more information on the following issues:

--how to eventually select the countries? Is there a term of art in addition to "Failed States" that might stand-in for a list?  In other words, if not geography, what are the variables (within "failing classifications") that might help groupings emerge?   

--"The United States federal government should substantially increase support/stability operations/assistance of one or more of the following states (insert countries) using a whole of government approach."

Is this the main suggestion for a wording in terms of getting a slate together?  Are there others in the paper I missed?  I know this stage is about a controversy and not a wording, but the two inform one another at some level.

--What priority do you have on the "direction/mechanism"--constructive engagement and security assistance are both mentioned (as is financial assistance)?  Is this based on the countries selected?  In other words, what do you think should come first in the next stage--the countries or the particular action from the US/UN/etc.?


Again, good work--just looking for a little more clarification.

Thanks,

Kevin

ps--could have easily missed some of this in the paper--if so, just point me to the right page. Smiley
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RGarrett
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2011, 11:03:51 AM »

I think there are two primary considerations for country selection, first is the degree of failure in the state for example this list actually ranks failed states, others do as well: http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=99&Itemid=140

The second consideration is US historical ties or ability to have a US key warrant.  Mexico is a good example, Somalia might be another, but Ivory Coast has strong historical and current ties to French intervention and therefore might make a poor choice.


I think you have pretty squarely discussed some of the chicken/egg difficulty in relation to the mechanism and countries.  I think the whole of government proposal is best if the community wants to choose a very diverse set of countries because I think it narrows the number of affs per each country by requiring a very large and comprehensive approach to the problem.  However, the list of countries might be united because they all have similar failures or failures that could be addressed in the same way which might allow for a different mechanism. 

To resolve this difficult problem I think first you decide which countries are most debatable and then find the best unifying mechanism for addressing them.  With the range of mechanism options I think that an appropriate one can be found, and the reason the paper introduces the mechanism it does is because it is a good attempt at showing what a unifying mechanism could be if we really want to choose quite different countries.


I also want to add that the country first approach is supported by the idea of the paper which is that many of these nations have never been discussed in debate in any capacity, and many of them are ignored by US foreign policy.  I think the democracy promotion paper is a more mechanism driven paper while this is a more country driven approach.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 11:06:57 AM by RGarrett » Logged
misslindsayv
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 12:56:47 PM »

Is there any way somebody could post this paper as a doc or a pdf? my computer doesn't handle docxs so well Sad
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nryan
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WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2011, 01:07:54 PM »

Is there any way somebody could post this paper as a doc or a pdf? my computer doesn't handle docxs so well Sad

Attached is a pdf version

* Failed States Topic Paper-2011-2012.pdf (895.7 KB - downloaded 1004 times.)
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tnielson
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2011, 02:19:20 PM »

Although it may not need to be said, failed state is a great term of art to K when you are neg and will encourage K debaters when aff to mostly K the resolution.
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japoapst
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2011, 02:56:28 PM »

@Toni:

Not really sure if the comment is meant to be a negative to the topic or a positive, so I will reply to the idea that failed states would be bad because people would K the res:

It's pretty inevitable. USFG action provides K teams with reasons to K the resolution. At least a topic with in depth critical literature about this representation allows for in depth discussion on both sides, with new education outside of the repetitive USFG bad/debate bad for generic reasons K debates that often happen...

Jackie
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RGarrett
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2011, 03:00:14 PM »

Although it may not need to be said, failed state is a great term of art to K when you are neg and will encourage K debaters when aff to mostly K the resolution.

The term 'failed states' will probably not appear in the resolution, I assume it will be a list of countries.  Just like the Middle East topic didn't use the term Middle East.  I do, however, agree that cards will use the term and there will probably be an extensive discussion of this literature on the topic.  I disagree that the AFF will necessarily be forced to defend the term either via the resolution or their plan text.
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Jessica Kurr
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2011, 07:42:13 PM »

I think the critical neg ground Toni is talking about is more of the form that aff's make the assumption that the U.S. needs to help these nations because they are "failing" because the U.S. can "save" them. Or, if the advantages are based on benefitting the U.S., you get K ground with regards to the fact the U.S. is only helping other nations because it benefits the U.S. That is pretty good neg K ground that turns most aff advantages as a result of backlash.

The critical aff ground that is "topical" would probably be based on a squirrelly way to interpret the resolution mechanism. For example, if Burma was included, you could arguably remove sanction waivers for child soldiers and claim child soldier endorsement hurts assistance efforts or something. That's not the best of examples, but the idea is that you increase U.S. "assistance" to nations by eliminating interventionist policies.
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RGarrett
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2011, 08:02:36 PM »

I think the critical neg ground Toni is talking about is more of the form that aff's make the assumption that the U.S. needs to help these nations because they are "failing" because the U.S. can "save" them. Or, if the advantages are based on benefitting the U.S., you get K ground with regards to the fact the U.S. is only helping other nations because it benefits the U.S. That is pretty good neg K ground that turns most aff advantages as a result of backlash.

The critical aff ground that is "topical" would probably be based on a squirrelly way to interpret the resolution mechanism. For example, if Burma was included, you could arguably remove sanction waivers for child soldiers and claim child soldier endorsement hurts assistance efforts or something. That's not the best of examples, but the idea is that you increase U.S. "assistance" to nations by eliminating interventionist policies.

I was originally responding to the idea of failed states as a "term of art" as was originally said, but Toni can continue that discussion if she would like to.

For your point you identify two pieces of critical ground that you say would be very good for the negative.  I think that a K of the idea that intervention is self serving or uses the US as savior is certainly a position with literature.  However, these particular debates have occurred on past topics like the Middle East topic and the negative literature is not so overwhelming as to automatically turn all advantages. There are lots of people who think the US has a duty to try and help.  In particular because the states in this topic  are usually ignored because they are seen as having little geo-strategic interest AFFs might actually be able to employ a different set of arguments about the US intervening simply to help the civilians of these countries.

Also, I think to make some comparisons to other topics I believe all the other 'country' topics certainly will have versions of this literature.  I also agree with Toni that there is some very good specific literature related to failed states that I think can make some of these universal foreign policy Ks have pretty topic specific links and literature.


Finally you say that the critical AFF ground would be squirrelly.  I will first say that because the topic forces US engagement with a foreign country some K teams usually are uncomfortable taking that action.  However, I don't think that you can always write in 'negative' action.  I do not think this means there aren't good potential critical affirmatives.  For instance on the Middle East topic several K teams gave assistance to Palestine because there was a lot of good literature about our prohibition on aid toward them.  If we include a country like North Korea a very similar situation could play out.  Any country on the list that we currently 'shun' is ripe ground for this genre of affirmative, and that is just one genre of critical literature.

« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 08:06:58 PM by RGarrett » Logged
tnielson
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2011, 01:00:28 PM »

I think this is a reasonable assumption:

This topic is really going to be about foreign aid (doubtful too big a term), foreign assistance (same problem), constructive engagement (the return), security assistance (also the return), development assistance (the return), reconstruction (an Iraq like mech for debate).

The failed states part is only about how super sad the countries are (I guess) since it won't be in the resolution. It will obviously be a base assumption of the large part of the literature.

I was just noting this is critical neg jubilation, but critical aff avoidance. I wouldn't put it on par with Indian Country. And this may not be a concern of the people in favor of this topic, it's just a note about what will happen inevitably so you can get your framework blocks ready now.
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