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Author Topic: 2011-2012 Failed States Topic Paper  (Read 12294 times)
ScottyP
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2011, 01:53:40 PM »

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.

As long as we are listing reasonable assumptions:
Teams that don't want to debate the topic will avoid debating the topic on any topic no matter what it is.
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japoapst
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2011, 02:15:09 PM »


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.

You are just wrong. Considering the direction of this mechanism goes the same way as the Middle East mechanism did...let us look back to that topic (as I was a novice on this topic my memory is rather slim, but anyone can feel free to chime in more):

Palestine: Miller and Schwab's redefining Palestine aff, Binghamton CO's Governmental Recognition aff,
Iran: Islamophobia affs (Cal BJ, Liberty BH), Critical Grand Bargain Affs (see cal BR)
Syria: Critical Golan Heights affs
Lebanon: Depleted Uranium mining affs, critical debt cancellation affs
Afghanistan: There was a slew of critical afghanistan affs that simply dealt with the financial assistance portion of the topic.

The ground is most definitely there for foreign engagement topics. As Ross said before, our current policy towards North Korea has been one of constant force and not engagement...presents a great opportunity for K ground. Haiti affs that provide assistance can most definitely be critical by focusing on the structural violence that is going on in that area. Helping in somalia to give the people more control over what goes on in the government seems like an area for critical literature. The Georgia debate also presents the U.S. with the opportunity to side with the country they did not side with before when conflict was going down (critical arguments about how the U.S. only acts in areas that help them - the aff would change that), etc...I am not going to write more about this here. But seriously, some people inevitably K every resolution...so yes, they will have literature that helps them K this one. But others who want to read a plan text with critical advantages definitely have ground on this topic.

Jackie
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gabemurillo
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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2011, 11:33:05 PM »

I think there are different reasons why different K teams choose to not defend the topic. This is not meant to support either side of the current discussion but instead a suggestion that we realistically understand that some teams will not defend the plan no matter which topic area is picked, but there are teams who would prefer to defend a plan but will find it more strategic not to given a) the resolution or b) the core negative strategies on the topic. So I do think that there is value in discussing which parts of topics may create a *disincentive* for teams to defend the topic. For example on the courts topic we only defended the plan with the aff which we felt had a good answer to the amendment counterplan, all other areas of the topic we did not defend a "literal" interpretation of the plan and in some cases criticized the topic itself. It was a more strategic decision. To totally ignore these "on the fence" K teams in the topic process because other K teams might never defend the topic seems short sighted.

This transitions me to a question I have about the Failed States topic. Before I get to the question, thanks for the work on this topic paper, its a great topic area. The mechanism suggested in the paper is Whole of Government approach. I understand the arguments for this approach but I worry about its viability / desirability for the "on the fence" teams I discussed above, it seems to force a comprehensive approach which forces teams to defend securitization efforts, involvement with the military etc. If I'm wrong about this please correct me. This concern makes me interested in the alternate mechanisms for this topic.  There is a short section on alternate mechanisms, I was wonder if there was any development on those other specific mechanisms? I think it would be helpful to guide where the topic committee might take the alternate mechanisms if the topic was chosen.

all the best
gabe 
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agswanlek
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2011, 08:35:08 AM »

Great topic paper, good read (although its keeping me away from doing a paper I need to finish)!

I love the thought of hearing failed states debates, but I don't think I know what i''d be endorsing.  Your definition of failed states:

"there is general agreement that nations which lack the capacity or will to perform the basic functions of providing essential public services, fostering equitable economic growth, governing legitimately, enforcing the rule of law and providing security for its population meet the criteria1."

This seems vague to me, couldn't the United States even meet this criterion?  The index you suggest has Japan on alert for being a "moderate" warning for becoming a failed state, would that meet the scope, or is it just the 38 countries listed in red?

Ross' post above clarify's that it would most likely be a list topic which has some overlap between the countries selected, but at that point is it still a failed states topic (Or could it be considered an African Topic, ME Topic, Democracy Topic, Terrorism Topic... ETC...)?  Here is the list of the top ten countries y'all cite in your paper, and have referenced:

1    Somalia    9.8    9.9    9.7    8.5    7.7    9.5    10.0    9.9    9.9    10.0    10.0    9.8    114.7
2    Zimbabwe    9.8    9.1    9.1    10.0    9.7    10.0    9.8    9.8    9.9    9.7    9.5    7.6    114.0
3    Sudan    9.0    9.8    9.9    9.0    9.6    7.0    9.8    9.5    9.8    9.7    9.5    9.8    112.4
4    Chad    9.3    9.4    9.8    7.8    9.3    8.3    9.8    9.6    9.5    9.9    9.8    9.7    112.2
5    Dem. Rep. of the Congo    9.7    9.6    8.9    8.1    9.3    8.3    8.6    9.2    9.0    9.7    8.7    9.6    108.7
6    Iraq    8.7    8.9    9.7    9.1    8.6    7.6    9.0    8.4    9.3    9.7    9.6    10.0    108.6
7    Afghanistan    9.3    8.9    9.6    7.2    8.4    8.3    9.8    8.9    8.8    9.9    9.1    10.0    108.2
8    Central African Republic    8.9    9.0    8.6    5.7    9.1    8.4    9.3    9.3    8.9    9.6    9.5    9.1    105.4
9    Guinea    8.5    7.1    8.2    8.6    8.9    8.7    9.8    9.2    9.0    9.4    9.2    8.0    104.6
10    Pakistan    8.3    8.6    9

Out of the ten countries in the "failed states" superstar top 10 list.  8 are from Africa, and 2 from the middle east region.  So am I now voting for a fix Africa/ME topic?  

Again, I love the idea of your paper, I just want to know what hypothetical groupings can emerge (if or better yet when the paper gets narrowed down)?  
« Last Edit: April 28, 2011, 08:38:04 AM by agswanlek » Logged
japoapst
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2011, 12:35:08 PM »


Out of the ten countries in the "failed states" superstar top 10 list.  8 are from Africa, and 2 from the middle east region.  So am I now voting for a fix Africa/ME topic?  

Again, I love the idea of your paper, I just want to know what hypothetical groupings can emerge (if or better yet when the paper gets narrowed down)?  

Hey Aaron,

This was definitely a concern that I noticed when we were researching for the topic, which is why we included research about certain countries. Our thought is that the best way to construct this resolution would be a list that includes some of the countries that we included under the Country Research portion of the topic. The reason we included those eight countries are because we found that they had the most potential ground and literature, and were all from varied regions to provide broad failed states education:

Somalia - Africa
Pakistan - Central Asia
Haiti - Caribbean
North Korea - Asia
Georgia - Caucasus
Mexico - Central America
Israel - Middle East
Yemen - Middle East

Notice, with the exception of Israel and Yemen, that all of these countries are from different areas, which ensures that this is a resolution that will provide great education about different U.S. actions toward a variety of nations and regions.

I understand that you have concern about the definition of failed states that was included, because it is rather broad. I agree, which is why we suggested a list topic. I believe that with a foreign engagement topic a list of who you are engaging is necessary, or else the topic becomes too unwieldy and unpredictable.

I hope this answers your question Smiley
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Jessica Kurr
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« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2011, 01:37:13 PM »

Notice, with the exception of Israel and Yemen, that all of these countries are from different areas, which ensures that this is a resolution that will provide great education about different U.S. actions toward a variety of nations and regions.

So, neg teams will need to have arguments ready on stability/relations/elections for Africa, Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia, East Asia, Caribbean, and Central America with the only common negative ground that they all fit this nebulous term of "failed states"? I can't think of any overlap between Mexico v. North Korea v. Georgia v. Somalia v. Pakistan (maybe Pakistan and North Korea).

Is the common negative ground the State Department CP with the dip-cap/politics net benefits or a K of the solvency mechanism? Is this ground a) strong enough to address the fact that affs can claim stability advantages with various impacts from any part of the world and b) even desirable?

It seems this topic is overly biased for large schools (especially ones who do a lot of high school work given the recent HS topics) and affirmative teams.

Given the seemingly arbitrary selection of countries as failed states, this lack of common ground seems to pose a problem on how we choose topics. For instance, if a debater wants to debate Failed States because he or she wants to debate North Korea or Mexico or Northern Africa, there is a gamble that the wording committee will include the country he or she wants to debate in a wording and that the community chooses that wording. On the other topics, Democracy, Infrastructure, India, and Corporations for example, if you vote for that topic paper, you know you will get to debate Northern Africa, protection of domestic infrastructure in the U.S., taxing corporations, and India.
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alhiland
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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2011, 04:48:47 PM »

Jeff,

I think you are focusing too much on the countries and not enough on how the aff goes about doing those things.  Depending on the final wording this could change, but if it is based on the notion of a whole government approach it seems like there are a whole bunch of less than whole of government approaches that could be used as the negative position to cut across all nations.

We also hypothesize some other generic counterplans such as U.S. creating coalitions, or U.N creating a seperate body.  So I think the negative has a reasonable breadth of options in terms of generic counterplan options.  If the question is whether these can address the affs on the topic, then I guess that is "up for debate", but until the wording comes out I can't really answer that.

We also are working with the understanding that not all of these nations will necessarily make it into the final topic, but selected these as Jackie said to provide some broad education to the conditions facing failed states.  While that might mean some fairly distinct regions, I don't know that having a diversity of nations being engaged in a resolution so explodes a research burden that it suddenly becomes undebatable.  To reference the North Africa topic, you will probably need a different set of cards to answer each nation, even though they are in a similar region. 

If failed states is not equal to Northern Africa, protection of domestic infrastructure in the U.S., taxing corporations, and India, as a term to define the topic area, then I guess you might have found the fatal flaw.  I don't see why  using a diverse set of regions is distinct from any other diverse collection of topic areas that could fall under any of the other "tag lines".

I also am not sure why we are so balky about learning about the conditions in distinct regions.  It seems as if all of the resolutions excluding prisons perhaps, operate off of a stem with multiple areas that the plan could operate off in.  So I don't see why cutting stability/relations/elections for a region is any different than cutting updates for any other topic area.  As our paper points out, we rarely if ever discuss these areas.  I don't see any way to get to talk about this collection of nations and regions (excluding North Korea maybe) other than writing them into a resolution.
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japoapst
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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2011, 06:25:09 PM »

@Jeff

I hate to sound like the broken record who keeps comparing things to the Middle East topic, but oh well. On that topic, which I think almost everyone can agree was awesome, people didn't rely on generic counterplans to win rounds. You had a country specific cp, which meant having five cp's in your arsenal. Small schools met that challenge on the middle east topic, and they can do the same on this topic. In fact, I believe the whole-of-government engagement mechanism works to ensure that there can be generic assistance counterplans that were not even possible on the Middle East topic. I believe we as a debate community though should begin to embrace topics that force specific engagement. Generic counterplans, while strategic, are not very educational (Commission CP and Politics strategies from this year prove). Yes, that may mean some more in depth research, but I do not think that particularly excludes any size of school. There are many small teams out there who do not rely on generic strategies. I believe much of this debate intersects with the bigger is better topic thread that is happening as well. Sacrificing better education and more creative debate so that we can have a super small topic with easy, unbeatable negative strategies is probably not the best way to go.

Jackie
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psadow
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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2011, 07:11:37 PM »

I would like to reiterate my concern with the whole-of-government mechanism which I identified in my initial post. It seems to force affirmatives to defend a lot at the same time as it limits affirmatives to few topical options, two characteristics which might reduce the overall debatability if that mechanism is chosen.

Since that mechanism is the only mechanism that is discussed in depth in the context of this controversy area, it worries me a little bit that there are not well developed alternatives (other than in other topic papers, I guess, but that isn't particularly consoling to me).

The only response I received was that the wording process would address my concern, but at the same time, based on the topic paper I am unsure how much weight these other mechanisms would be given because the topic paper explicitly assesses that the whole-of-government approach is superior.

In what way does the whole-of-government approach enable affirmative innovation that is not limited to finding new internal links for random impacts/advantages?

While I do appreciate that there is a lot of literature on the whole-of-government approach, I wonder whether that literature provides a solvency mechanism that can be easily written in the form of a plan text that does not succumb to vagueness. For example, would every plan text look something like: The USFG should adopt a whole-of-government approach towards X?

The other concerning element is in your very first definition of whole-of-government: “an approach that integrates the collaborative efforts of the departments and agencies of the United States Government to achieve unity of effort.” This appears to mandate that to be topical the aff must defend any number of departments, agencies, and branches which were involved in the process.

Although the above post suggests that this topic benefits from being bigger, I would suggest the opposite, because of the incredibly limiting mechanism which is highly preferred in the topic paper this topic is not bigger, but smaller.
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Jessica Kurr
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2011, 09:37:22 PM »

Small schools met that challenge on the middle east topic, and they can do the same on this topic

I'm all for good, non-generic strategies. However, you can't compare the Failed States paper you're proposing to the Middle East topic. On the Middle East topic, every aff except Afghanistan linked to the covert cp plus Israel or Backstopping. There are no similar generic disads between Mexico, North Korea, Haiti, Georgia, etc. That is my concern.

I believe we as a debate community though should begin to embrace topics that force specific engagement. Generic counterplans, while strategic, are not very educational (Commission CP and Politics strategies from this year prove). Yes, that may mean some more in depth research, but I do not think that particularly excludes any size of school.

If you want in-depth research, the MENA topic is better because the countries are clustered, which allows for overlap research. Instead of broadly cover random countries across the globe, you research regions very in depth. That is how the Middle East topic worked, not how the Failed State topic would work.

In fact, I believe the whole-of-government engagement mechanism works to ensure that there can be generic assistance counterplans that were not even possible on the Middle East topic
1) If that counterplan is as good as you say it, you get the bad education you criticize.
2) My criticism isn't of the mechanism, it is of the varied regions. I am highly skeptical there will be research overlap between the countries and regions. Even if there is overlap in the solvency mechanism, that doesn't matter in a world where you have to do relation/stability updates for every continent in order to be prepared to do debate the topic.
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RGarrett
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« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2011, 11:09:54 PM »

This transitions me to a question I have about the Failed States topic. Before I get to the question, thanks for the work on this topic paper, its a great topic area. The mechanism suggested in the paper is Whole of Government approach. I understand the arguments for this approach but I worry about its viability / desirability for the "on the fence" teams I discussed above, it seems to force a comprehensive approach which forces teams to defend securitization efforts, involvement with the military etc. If I'm wrong about this please correct me. This concern makes me interested in the alternate mechanisms for this topic.  There is a short section on alternate mechanisms, I was wonder if there was any development on those other specific mechanisms? I think it would be helpful to guide where the topic committee might take the alternate mechanisms if the topic was chosen.


I agree that other mechanisms deserve a very close look.  I think that my post will likely also answer the other question that has been asked about the whole of government approach.

Essentially the difficult task in the paper is to try and determine a way to limit the number of AFFs given that all these diverse countries people have talked about extensively in the thread can be included.  My approach was to try and find a good specific mechanism that might limit the number of AFFs per country, thereby creating relatively few AFFs for each country so that we could debate all these countries.  So the solution, while not perfect, is that to support a very diverse set of countries I think the AFF should be forced to be a pretty big AFF.  I think that many great debaters and coaches might look at the same problem formulated around the topic and come to other conclusions, like that we should include states that are failed for similar reasons so that there is some unifying whole, or that they be regionally similar to give a unifying whole.

On the specific question related to K ground I think that it is likely the military is certainly engaged in a whole of government approach.  I read (and think I cite) a specific thesis from one of the war colleges.  I think there is a little uncertainty in my mind if the military would be involved if they weren't already in a country or if there were no need for security.  While the AFF would be forced to address the military's role in a country they would be able to use them however they would like, the whole of government approach is to make sure that everyone attempts to follow the same methodology and work toward a common solution toward a country's problem.  I think in this way the AFF is certainly not forced to defend a military intervention.   I also think that since the US military does get involved in a lot of situations it is worth trying to determine how they SHOULD behave and what approach they should take.


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gabemurillo
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« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2011, 11:41:06 PM »

Thanks for the response, it leads me to a development in my question. Under the WoG approach is it topical to reduce involvement in one area (for example remove military presence) and increase in another (for example foreign assistance)? Or does the WoG approach simply mean that the aff must increase the integration / cooperation between our different avenues of assistance? This would create an interesting dilemma in some ways, but I think it might really make this mechanism more viable for the "on the fence" teams I discussed earlier because it makes all of the K style affs listed in Jackie's post seem to be a more viable. However, if the answer is that the mechanism would force integration / cooperation between these forms of assistance I am not sure that the list of aff's given are particularly relevant or analogous to the mechanism of this topic.

thanks again!
gabe
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RGarrett
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« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2011, 12:19:09 AM »

Here is about as concise a description as I can find on this issue

"a civilian-led whole-of-government plan, properly resourced civilian capabilities and the U.S. military in a support role. The Department of Defense has been among the strongest champions of this new approach." http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/entires/government_approach_stability/

Basically whole of government is led by an agency within the state department called the  Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, and the goal is to coordinate all these efforts going to a country.  It is civilian led, and the military does provide a 'support role' but I am not sure that mandates military intervention, from my reading the military is only involved if security is needed.  And the whole point of the approach is that there is not some separate military operation but rather they would go into the country in direct support of the civilian created plan.  I think the mechanism can give flexibility so that AFFs who need a military component to solve can, but can probably allow AFFs the flexibility to define the military's role in a country. 

For instance a lot of these countries have military or CIA operations either overtly or covertly I think the mechanism allows you to create a unified approach that is civilian led, and therefore address those current operations.  Others may read the same evidence and conclude that because there is a 'military support role' that requires you to use military personnel, I still don't think that requires you to have an intervention and you can probably define the military's role as part of your approach.

It is a complex issue, but that is the truly fascinating part about this topic, these are countries where there aren't easy answers or simple fixes.  Unfortunately, that makes it difficult to translate this literature into debate and I realize given my youth I may not have gotten it perfect.  I think ultimately I wanted this particular mechanism discussed because it is a sort of comprehensive approach, it may be concluded that forcing comprehensive approaches is good but this term is not the best.  For instance, technically you can have 'whole of government' approaches to HIV in a country where all US agencies dealing with disease like the CDC, parts of the state department, department of health, etc. all coordinate what we should do about HIV in a country.  While whole of government does always demand comprehensiveness there is a debate to be had about whether it can truly fit to force affirmatives to 'be big'.
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japoapst
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« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2011, 01:29:50 AM »

@ Peter S.

Read your post, and think your questions definitely need to be discussed. Studying ferociously for a final right now, but I should be able to get back to you by tomorrow night.
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alhiland
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« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2011, 11:51:25 AM »

@ Jeff,

If your argument is that the negative needs a generic disad across all the topical countries then you may have something of a point if politics/econ are not sufficient for the "we will cut one disad" team.  I think Jackie's point, and I agree, is that when the topic provides decent ways to engage the affirmative even small schools can cut a reasonably good disad to the five or six affirmatives that will exist on the topic.

That said, I do think some of these disads exist.  I think unilateralism bad DA's will probably be one such disad that could be coupled with a counterplan that uses a different mechanism to solve the aff (UN commission is one that comes to mind).  I also forsee disads that are based on the whole of government approach.  I'm not deep on the literature like the other topic authors are, but I can't imagine that no one has come up with disadvantages to that particular approach besides the Unilateralism disad mentioned above. 

I can also see where the "clusters" argument is coming from, but I'm not convinced that significantly decreases the research burden.  The neg still needs to cut updates specific to each country to win uniqueness debates.  Saying regional stability high is generally not a winner against stability in X country is low.  So while there may be some overlap, the utility of it is so low as to be insignificant. 
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