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Author Topic: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection  (Read 23399 times)
stables
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« on: May 16, 2011, 11:38:41 AM »

Thanks to all of the authors who made this the largest slate of topics in recent history. A lot of work went into this topic selection and are all better off for all of their work. I do hope that the community considers these topics as outstanding starting points for future topic research. We have a rich foundation for our future topics.

I would also like to thank all of the fantastic students who ran for the topic committee. Congratulations to Dan Bagwell for being elected from that great class.

Jeff will post the full vote totals today. The topic committee is already working to organize our wording research. We will finalize that plan and post it to help gain community involvement. The biggest change this year is that the wording work will be posted and organized using a wiki. Our hope is that the wiki will make review of these matters much easier, both during the wording meetings and also during the season.

I would also encourage everyone to use and add stories to the public google bookmark list I created for the topic. I have been adding articles over the last few weeks. I hope it helps to jumpstart your research efforts. You can see the bookmarks at https://www.google.com/bookmarks/l#!threadID=GiMgKMewRGk4%2FBDQE3ggoQlra25_Ul

More soon.

Gordon
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 12:07:21 PM by ceda » Logged

Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
cramhelwich
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 02:00:27 PM »

Daily snark (discovered by one of our debaters)

Michael McFaul, professor at Stanford, quoted in CRS Report to Congress, 12—26—07, www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34296.pdf
Currently, there is a scarcity of literature to inform and guide the decisions of senior policymakers....  Every day, literally tens of thousands of people in the democracy promotion business go to work without training manuals or blueprints in hand.  Even published case studies of previous successes are hard to find in the public domain, which means that democracy assistance efforts are often reinventing the wheel or making it up as they go along, as was on vivid display in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Even basic educational materials for students seeking to specialize in democracy promotion do not exist.
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stables
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2011, 02:47:04 PM »

We agree democracy promotion is a large, basically incoherent set of policies.  DemoPromo could include anything such as invading another nation, providing aid, withdrawing support for a government. Just about anything.

Luckily that isn't the topic. The controversy paper specifies democracy assistance which is a smaller and more coherently organized set of policies.

The google shared bookmarks have a number of links about what democracy assistance is and how is evaluated and evolving. I have even created a separate tab for democracy assistance
Those links are up at https://www.google.com/bookmarks/l#!threadID=GiMgKMewRGk4%2FBDQE3ggoQlra25_Ul

 
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
stables
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011, 03:37:28 PM »

A couple of folks have asked to check on the remaining schedule. Here is a repost of what is ahead.

Deadline for submitting wording papers - Friday, June 3rd         

The topic meetings (@University of Michigan) - Saturday June 11th through Monday (morning) June 13th

Release of wording ballot  (tentative) - June 14th

Announcement of 2011 resolution - Friday July 15th (the 3rd Friday in July, as per the CEDA Constitution).           
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
ScottElliott
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2011, 05:04:49 PM »

Democracy Assistance is a fairly specific term of art that specifically excludes certain forms of democracy promotion and certain programs like covert operations:
 From: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/oppd/Page_8/getting_acquainted_web.pdf :
"Democracy assistance – one of the tools of democracy
promotion – can be defined as:
all programmes and projects which are openly adopted, supported and/or (directly or indirectly) implemented by (public or private) foreign actors, (mainly) take place in target countries, in principle with the consent or toleration of these countries’ authorities, and are explicitly designed to directly contribute to the liberalisation, democratisation or consolidation of democracy of the target country.14
Thus, key characteristics of democracy assistance are that it works through programmes or projects which focus on changing behaviours and attitudes, or reforming institutions and processes in target states. Foreign actors can to different degrees be involved in the planning and implementation of activities, but usually bear most of the financial costs. In order to work, and intensively engage with local actors and institutions, democracy assistance is in principle implemented within the target state rather than abroad. The nature of some assistance projects,
such as study visits, may exceptionally involve assistance implemented externally. Democracy assistance
programmes and projects are implemented openly rather than secretly. However, individual aid recipients can at times, for their own protection,
remain unidentified. Secret money transfers may help democratisation processes, but are different
in nature to assistance. Democracy assistance requires, in theory, the consent of or at least toleration
by the target state’s authorities, otherwise it cannot be transparent, nor can it be implemented or reach its potential. Finally, by definition, democracy
assistance exists to facilitate democratisation and excludes activities which might only indirectly affect democratisation, in particular socio-economic assistance."

And, I would suggest people read this article regarding the usage of the term and why policymakers should be specific: http://www.cejiss.org/sites/default/files/8.pdf
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stables
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2011, 11:37:12 PM »

As we move into the wording phase of the topic process we will be guided by the controversy paper, even as we explore specific issues that need additional exploration. The controversy paper will serve as he foundation for our work and I encourage anyone interested in the wording process to review the paper at http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2380.0;attach=662

The controversy paper suggests two sets of research assignments. The committee will work on each of these items, but we would certainly appreciate community assistance.

Assignment #1 – Determine how to phrase the type of assistance.

Dave Arnett & Adrienne Brovero will be directing this group. The goal is to consider how and if the phrase ‘democracy assistance’ sufficiently captures the specific policy mechanisms intended to make up the topic. Their goal is to determine the best way to phrase these types of policies, not to look for what might be considered the ‘best’ foreign policy approaches.

Assignment #2 – Select the specific countries

The controversy paper encourages us to consider specific countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are experiencing substantial public opposition to their governments.  It focused on selecting specific countries instead of a geographic reference (such as the ‘Middle East and North Africa’) because individual countries should be selected for their relationship to the popular uprisings, not just geography or geopolitical significance.

The controversy suggests that prospective countries should be grouped into three tiers. Different groups will review each tier. Each tier is developed based on a presumption of how each of those countries should be considered.

When reviewing each country we are fundamentally interested in determining the educational importance and competitive balance of each country’s literature.

Category 1- Generally favor inclusion (i.e., the core):
These countries are the core of the topic proposal. Each has experienced public opposition and are at various stages of revolt. Kathryn Rubino & Eric Morris are leading this group.

Bahrain
Egypt
Jordan
Libya
Oman
Syria
Tunisia
Yemen

Category 2 - Borderline Countries
These countries are similar to the core, but there are reasons why they are less central to the recent uprisings. An initial review of these countries suggested they may not be the most essential countries to the topic, but additional review is probably warranted to confirm that judgment. Mike Davis and Sarah Partlow-Lefevre will lead this group.

Algeria
Kuwait
Lebanon
Mauritania
Morocco
Sudan

Category 3 - Reasons to include and to not include:
Each of these countries is very significant to global geo-politics and to US foreign policy. They occupy a difficult place in the topic construction because they are (generally) not at the forefront of the Arab Spring uprisings, but they are not removed from these issues at all. Iran’s summer protests may be seen as the first step in these recent protests. The Palestinian territories have also been experiencing recent demonstrations.  These countries need to be carefully reviewed because there will be very significant changes in the composition of the topic and the types of arguments available if they are included. These countries will be important parts of the debates, but it is very important to consider if their role is best as negative arguments (such as the Iran influence DA) or as topical actions. The controversy paper expresses caution and reservation about including any of these countries, but additional review is important.  I will be leading this group.

Iraq
Iran
Palestinian Territories
Saudi Arabia


General Notes:

The selection of these items shouldn’t be understood as the only research that should be conducted.  Anyone may submit a wording proposal and submit it by the June 3rd deadline. Just remember that all wording proposals need to be consistent with the controversy paper.

All of the wording work will be produced using the new wiki. We hope that this will make it easier to review all of the reports.   Please let me know if you have any questions.

Remaining Deadlines

Deadline for submitting wording papers - Friday, June 3rd

The topic meetings (@University of Michigan) - Saturday June 11th through Monday (morning) June 13th

Release of wording ballot  (tentative) - June 14th

Announcement of 2011 resolution - Friday July 15th (the 3rd Friday in July, as per the CEDA Constitution).           
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Gordon Stables
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Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Malgor
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« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2011, 12:16:48 PM »

a few thoughts:

democracy assistance might be a viable term, but it cannot be viewed as isolated from the countries in the topic paper.  There may be viable affs under the democracy assistance term of art for one country, but not others.

i think this topic area lends itself to a mechanism that is broad (like democracy assistance), but also includes minimum requirements for the aff.  Example:  the usfg should substantially increase democracy assistance, including XYZ, toward one or more of the following countries: country list.  Maybe the literature doesn't support it, but at this stage it should still be a research area of focus.  These methods haven proven effective at providing affirmative creativity and predictable negative ground.

my biggest concern is the specific countries included.  presumably, the standards for picking those countries will be a) is it educationally unique/important to debate this country? and b) is there plenty of ground on both sides?.  I think perhaps other criterion should be created initially to evaluate the inclusion of a country.  As Gordon has already mentioned, one way to group them in terms of where they are in the process of their democratic transition. 

I contend the most logical way to group countries is based on the US's current foreign policy stance toward them.  It will allow the most consistency in topic uniqueness.  Many people may push to have countries the US has substantially different stances for.  This will certainly increase our educational opportunities initially, but will probably greatly increase the number of structural uniqueness questions for the topic.  I don't know of anyone who thinks that having structural uniqueness problems is a good thing.  In fact, a point of emphasis made in many topic papers is that we need to strive for topics that are substantial changes from status quo approaches to policy.

What worries me is that when we are crafting the list of countries, or court cases etc, there is often a strong push by one or two people who research a country to include it on the ballot, even if it is not entirely consistent with the major negative/affirmative themes of the other countries.  Afghanistan, which was already receiving massive amounts of foreign assistance, comes to mind (ME CE topic).

Most of these countries will have compelling reasons for inclusion in the topic.  More criterion allows more differentiation between them.
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ScottElliott
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« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2011, 01:58:04 PM »

Couple responses to Malgor:

1) I favor the broad term "democracy assistance" without the Topic Committee hamstringing the Affirmative with poor attempts at limiting. I will give you as a perfect example, the TC's attempt to limit the immigration debate by adding specific visas and admissibility, etc. etc., I know in varsity it was different...but I can tell you for a fact, 90% of the JV rounds my teams participated in last year were an Ex-Order Counter-plan and a politics disad. It sucked. Easy wins when we were Affirmative, but the educational value was zero and it was boring as hell. Just have a broadly worded resolution, give the Aff as much room as possible to put out a topical plan. Broad terms means you have better generic links to your counterplans, disads, and Kritiks. ("Are you topical? Then, you link.")

2) Negative Ground on this topic is going to be stable on at least one front using the term "democracy assistance" without any other modifiers---democracy assistance is a subset of democracy promotion and it is the most open representation of the U.S. intervening in another country's politics short of actual occupation. This means that if you are topical, you are going to link to Neo-Imperialism, internal backlash (people within a country oppsed too U.S.-Style democracy, or democracy in general); external backlash (Iran, Venezuela, Isreal and China are all going to be pissed or move to counter-balance); American Exceptionalism, Globalization, and Neoliberalism Kritiks. The Cap K links are spot on, btw. There are plenty of "Let the EU do your plan because they are just better at it and the people of those countries don't hate the EU as much as the U.S.; therefore the EU will solve for backlash better too" articles out there (believe me, I have already read three of them), as well as Consult NATO, Consult the EU, and Consult the U.N. counterplans that are all topic specific and literature based.

I see no reason to try to overlimit the Affirmatives on this topic area. The K, disad, and counter-plan ground, specific to the literature is huge.

3) I am particularly concerned with calls to limit the topic "even if there may not be literature to support it." This is the type of reasoning that always leads to fu------screwed up topics that suck. When we say, "Hey! You do realize that we are already engaged in Afghanistan...and its not even in the Middle East," the TC blows it off, and we end up debating Afghanistan on a Mid-East topic with no disad ground. When we think we are going to debate immigration, we get sidetracked into the the arcane world of visa applications. Do some literature reviews to determine what is viable.

4) I agree with Malgor that the first priority for determing which countries to select is old school inherency (topic uniqueness). The Topic Committee should be able to establish a) the current situation in each country and b) what the current status of democracy assistance is in that country. My reading is that the U.S. already provides democracy assistance to over 60 countries. Additionally, c) are there solvency advocates for doing a topical plan to said country? To me, the biggest nightmare is having a "re-do" of Afghanistan on the Mid-East Topic...there were zero standard disads to run. The current example, I would surmise is Egypt...if the U.S. is pouring millions into Egypt already to bolster its emerging democracy...and the Affirmative team gives an extra million for dark purple thumb-ink (election fraud reduction)...the negative is going to be stuck with an EU counter-plan and a K. Traditional disads will be non-unique. I think a topic sucks when I cannot run a unique disad that is based on topic literature.
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kelly young
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« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2011, 02:04:44 PM »

...and the Affirmative team gives an extra million for dark purple thumb-ink (election fraud reduction)...the negative is going to be stuck with an EU counter-plan and a K. Traditional disads will be non-unique. I think a topic sucks when I cannot run a unique disad that is based on topic literature.

Eliminating small affs like the purple thumb ink AFF sounds like a good warrant to specify the broad term "democracy assistance."
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RGarrett
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« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2011, 02:14:06 PM »

Democracy Assistance is a fairly specific term of art that specifically excludes certain forms of democracy promotion and certain programs like covert operations:
 From: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/oppd/Page_8/getting_acquainted_web.pdf :
"Democracy assistance – one of the tools of democracy
promotion – can be defined as:
all programmes and projects which are openly adopted, supported and/or (directly or indirectly) implemented by (public or private) foreign actors, (mainly) take place in target countries, in principle with the consent or toleration of these countries’ authorities, and are explicitly designed to directly contribute to the liberalisation, democratisation or consolidation of democracy of the target country.14
Thus, key characteristics of democracy assistance are that it works through programmes or projects which focus on changing behaviours and attitudes, or reforming institutions and processes in target states. Foreign actors can to different degrees be involved in the planning and implementation of activities, but usually bear most of the financial costs. In order to work, and intensively engage with local actors and institutions, democracy assistance is in principle implemented within the target state rather than abroad. The nature of some assistance projects,
such as study visits, may exceptionally involve assistance implemented externally. Democracy assistance
programmes and projects are implemented openly rather than secretly. However, individual aid recipients can at times, for their own protection,
remain unidentified. Secret money transfers may help democratisation processes, but are different
in nature to assistance. Democracy assistance requires, in theory, the consent of or at least toleration
by the target state’s authorities, otherwise it cannot be transparent, nor can it be implemented or reach its potential. Finally, by definition, democracy
assistance exists to facilitate democratisation and excludes activities which might only indirectly affect democratisation, in particular socio-economic assistance."

And, I would suggest people read this article regarding the usage of the term and why policymakers should be specific: http://www.cejiss.org/sites/default/files/8.pdf

When I look at this definition of democracy assistance and the main definition from the topic paper which in part states "Democracy assistance, which consists of the concessionary and, usually, consensual provision of practical, advisory, technical and financial support through projects and programmes," it seems like both definitions indicate the government the US is assisting must consent to this type of democracy promotion.
Here is a third and original card on this issue:

"Outside providers of democracy assistance can,
with the cooperation of local partners and the acquiescence of regimes, play
a modest but significant role in helping people claim the right to choose
leaders and demand that governments be responsive to their citizens."
http://www.ndi.org/files/Party_Building_MENA_Campbell.pdf


My main question is if this is true how is Syria a core country in relation to democracy assistance, it hardly seems likely Assad will consent to democratic reforms (maybe I'm wrong about that premise which is why they were included), but Libya, if the current regime does not fall, seems to also be excluded.

Also should this type of discussion be happening here, or can I contribute my card to the wiki and if so where can I find the wording wiki?
« Last Edit: May 17, 2011, 02:20:19 PM by RGarrett » Logged
ScottElliott
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Posts: 148


« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2011, 02:20:15 PM »

Try it. See what happens...LOL.

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BrianDeLong
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Posts: 152


« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2011, 02:42:15 PM »

Democracy Assistance is a fairly specific term of art that specifically excludes certain forms of democracy promotion and certain programs like covert operations:
 From: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/oppd/Page_8/getting_acquainted_web.pdf :
"Democracy assistance – one of the tools of democracy
promotion – can be defined as:
all programmes and projects which are openly adopted, supported and/or (directly or indirectly) implemented by (public or private) foreign actors, (mainly) take place in target countries, in principle with the consent or toleration of these countries’ authorities, and are explicitly designed to directly contribute to the liberalisation, democratisation or consolidation of democracy of the target country.14
Thus, key characteristics of democracy assistance are that it works through programmes or projects which focus on changing behaviours and attitudes, or reforming institutions and processes in target states. Foreign actors can to different degrees be involved in the planning and implementation of activities, but usually bear most of the financial costs. In order to work, and intensively engage with local actors and institutions, democracy assistance is in principle implemented within the target state rather than abroad. The nature of some assistance projects,
such as study visits, may exceptionally involve assistance implemented externally. Democracy assistance
programmes and projects are implemented openly rather than secretly. However, individual aid recipients can at times, for their own protection,
remain unidentified. Secret money transfers may help democratisation processes, but are different
in nature to assistance. Democracy assistance requires, in theory, the consent of or at least toleration
by the target state’s authorities, otherwise it cannot be transparent, nor can it be implemented or reach its potential. Finally, by definition, democracy
assistance exists to facilitate democratisation and excludes activities which might only indirectly affect democratisation, in particular socio-economic assistance."

And, I would suggest people read this article regarding the usage of the term and why policymakers should be specific: http://www.cejiss.org/sites/default/files/8.pdf

When I look at this definition of democracy assistance and the main definition from the topic paper which in part states "Democracy assistance, which consists of the concessionary and, usually, consensual provision of practical, advisory, technical and financial support through projects and programmes," it seems like both definitions indicate the government the US is assisting must consent to this type of democracy promotion.
Here is a third and original card on this issue:

"Outside providers of democracy assistance can,
with the cooperation of local partners and the acquiescence of regimes, play
a modest but significant role in helping people claim the right to choose
leaders and demand that governments be responsive to their citizens."
http://www.ndi.org/files/Party_Building_MENA_Campbell.pdf


My main question is if this is true how is Syria a core country in relation to democracy assistance, it hardly seems likely Assad will consent to democratic reforms (maybe I'm wrong about that premise which is why they were included), but Libya, if the current regime does not fall, seems to also be excluded.

Also should this type of discussion be happening here, or can I contribute my card to the wiki and if so where can I find the wording wiki?

On the uniqueness question:
I think Ross brings up a decent point about the democracy assistance definition Scott posted. If Dem. Assistance requires a target nation's consent or lack of response, it seems likely affs will be constrained to incremental/small changes. Also, the target countries will have to be nations that desire U.S. involvment. If these nation's want US democracy assistance they may also already be receiving some form of aid.

Furthermore, the definition seems to make it clear that the do the plan in secret CP is competitive. U.S. key plus transparency advantages for each affirmative may prove difficult to find.

-2 cents.
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Malgor
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2011, 02:56:15 PM »

who has called to limit the topic 'even if there may not be literature to support it'?  of course there are a lot of other dubious claims in your post, scott, but I try to limit myself to one example for each post.

though i do agree with scott, anyone who wants to limit a topic even if it's not grounded in the literature is not the brightest crayon in the box.
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ScottElliott
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Posts: 148


« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2011, 03:30:50 PM »

To Malgor, You said this: "Example:  the usfg should substantially increase democracy assistance, including XYZ, toward one or more of the following countries: country list.  Maybe the literature doesn't support it, but at this stage it should still be a research area of focus.  These methods haven proven effective at providing affirmative creativity and predictable negative ground."

I say that "maybe the literature does not support it...." a horrible standard. I am saying you have it ass backwards. Rather than worry about Affirmatives and strategic ground in debates, we should start first and foremost with a reading of the topic literature. I think if people spent a little more time reading the literature, they would have a different perspective toward their topic choices in the first place. Example-if you do not like a plan to give Egyptians purple colored ink, then you probably should NOT have voted for Democracy Assistance...because that's EXACTLY what democracy assistance programs do....little shit things like drafting ballots with pretty icons for illiterates in elections. There is little, if anything "substantial" in the field of "democracy assistance." Like last year's immigration topic, what y'all have voted for is NOT what you think you were voting for. I think the collective "y'all" voted for some concept of "Let's help build new democracies and improve human rights in the Arab world." What you have actually gotten is people putting their thumbprints on ballots.

Scott

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Malgor
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« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2011, 03:40:43 PM »

ah yes, i see.  once you misinterpret something it comes out with different meaning.

i was saying we should initially try for it, but i'm not sure if the lit supports it.  i was advocating finding out if the lit supporting such a concept.  i was not advocating the concept even if the literature isn't there.  hence the words "maybe" the literature doesn't support it, so we should focus on it "at this stage."

keep it classy

malgor
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