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Author Topic: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection  (Read 23430 times)
SCOTUS
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« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2011, 04:50:27 PM »


The literature categorizes nations by what government they're coming from, as much as what stage of democracy transition they're in. We treat people different based on their coming from an autocracy, communist regime, conflict, or otherwise.


Federation of American Scientists in 2007. "Democracy Promotion: Cornerstone of US Foreign Policy?" CRS Research Report for Congress. December 26, 2007. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34296.pdf

The United States provides democracy assistance to many countries in a variety
of circumstances and with mixed degrees of success.  Analysts categorize country
circumstances and affects of assistance in different ways.  Generally, analysts have
viewed U.S. democracy aid as facilitating transitions either from authoritarian or
communist rule, as in Latin America and Central Europe, or from conflict, as in
Bosnia and African nations such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.
38
  The range of U.S.
democracy promotion activities and programs also varies greatly, from assistance for
elections to aid in developing institutions and to funding of civil society groups.
(These types of assistance are discussed below.)  Thus far, there is little agreement
among experts and practitioners on the circumstances in which democracy promotion
success may be achieved; the appropriate emphasis, sequencing, and mix of programs
to achieve it; and the time frame necessary for an enduring democracy to take hold
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japoapst
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« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2011, 05:06:22 PM »

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."

While I am sure that fingerprinting on ballots has some awesome advantage ground (sarcasm) I am not too worried about hitting such an affirmative. These affs probably won't last longer than one round after the team realizes they can be beat rather handidly with generic strategies and a cleverly crafted topicality argument. For example, I am not sure that a plan that edited balloting for  a country that already has balloted elections would be a "substantial" increase in democracy assistance towards that country. Substantial is always a viable topicality argument...negatives simply will need to provide meaning to the word substantial.

Jackie
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stables
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« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2011, 05:09:41 PM »

I was wondering how long it would take for the calls to limit the topic.  The topic committee is already working on trying to assess the items I addressed yesterday. I would encourage folks to contribute ideas and concrete evidence that helps to address any of these items. 

We will make the wiki public soon and the interim, feel free to post anything here or email it to us. We are really hoping the wiki will help to keep the wording research organized.

In terms of the specific calls to limit, let me make a couple of points. I am now talking as the paper’s author, who tried to keep in mind both the educational and competitive pressures that go into a topic.

First, the topic already contains a wording limitation that was included to limit the topic’s mechanisms. As DCH’s post points out, democracy assistance is already selected as a limiting term to the broader democracy promotion. I think as people explore what democracy assistance means you will also be aware it is not an all-powerful foreign policy term. I know some folks have already expressed concern that is it not as broad of mechanism as it may seem. Before we decide that the term has to be parsed down to something ‘smaller’ I would encourage you to do what the topic committee is doing, looking at the literature and then asking if specific modifiers are warranted. We have a long history of accepting topics as forms of assistance alone so I don’t think there should be an expectation that a category of assistance can’t be utilized in the topic.

Second, I strongly encourage people to review the rationale for the topic before embracing ‘uniqueness’ to exclude certain countries. The categories of countries have been organized to reflect countries at each stage of the Arab Spring protests (i.e, countries who have made concessions, countries whose governments have been toppled and countries who are actively fighting the demonstrators). These three sets of countries are the foundation for engaging this topic. We are all interested in providing a stable foundation for both sides, but I am already concerned that folks are identifying Libya and Syria as too unstable. Yes the status quo will change over the course of this topic, but each of the core countries is there because it is an important site of the Arab Spring. It would be folly to decide to debate this topic and to consider the central sites of the topic too unstable to include.

The Afghanistan example has been cited many times today. I would argue that that country lacked a thematic coherence with the idea of constructively engaging the Middle East. This proposal, however, starts with the thematic coherence. I listed ‘important’ countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia as category 3 (a presumption against including) both because I recognized the need for limits and that these countries are not central to the phenomenon of the Arab Spring.

We have time to review all of these items. Before we decide the controversy, like all controversies, is too broad and start attaching limits let’s please look to the paper and literature to inform our wording process. I am not in position to tell you what the committee will do. They are working on help inform these choices and we welcome your input and research.
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Gordon Stables
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« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2011, 05:23:26 PM »

I don't have alot of time, but I'd just like to post this very good evidence that limits "democracy assistance" that I found from Gordon's awesome google bookmark page.

Lappin, 10 http://www.cejiss.org/sites/default/files/8.pdf

As such, it is critically important that researchers are cognizant of the breadth of meaning attached to democracy assistance by different people and practice precision in their own usage and definition of the term . Indeed, if we are unable to achieve accuracy in our terminology, the utility of the approach, both in theory and in practice, will ultimately be undermined. Democracy assistance can be most accurately defined as the non-profit transfer of funds, expertise, and material to foster democratic groups, initiatives and institutions that are already working towards a more democratic society (De Zeeuw and Kumar 2006: 20) . These transfers are usually funded through governmental development agencies, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), or the UK’s Department for International Devel- opment (DfID) . The programmes themselves are undertaken by a diverse group of inter-governmental organisations (IGOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and, to a lesser extent, through bilateral agreements . Chief amongst the IGOs are the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU), and the Organisation of American States (OAS) . The most prominent NGOs include the Carter Center, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the Centre for Electoral Promotion and Advice (CAPEL) . In addition, within a given country, there will also be a range of local counterparts who receive democracy funding including electoral commissions, state institutions, civil society groups, media groups and political parties .
In defining democracy assistance, it is paramount that the distinction be- tween democracy assistance and democracy promotion is established . Although democracy promotion is often used interchangeably with democracy assistance, the latter should be recognised as only a small and distinct part of a much broader democracy promotion approach . As the table below illustrates, democracy promotion comprises several instruments, both positive and negative, both explicit and implicit, of which democracy assistance is only one distinct part . On the negative side, there is direct military action, which includes armed intervention to promote democracy and can be either explicit (to install a demo- cratic regime, as in Afghanistan) or implicit (to curb an anti-democratic regime, as in the first Iraq war) . In addition, there is also the explicit tool of negative political conditionality, or ‘naming and shaming’, in which membership from international organisations may be suspended, economic sanctions applied, and embargoes enforced .
On the positive side, there is the implicit instrument of classical develop- ment aid which seeks to foster improved socioeconomic conditions which may consequently lead to democratic developments . Additionally, there is the positive instrument of international interim administrations, as was the case in East Timor, where the democratic transition is directly controlled and managed in its entirety by international actors . There is also the explicit instrument of positive political conditionality, which can include offers of membership in intergovernmental organisations, security guarantees, or economic and trade benefits .
Finally, on the positive side, there is the distinct instrument of democracy assistance . Democracy assistance differs from all other forms of democracy promotion in several important ways . First, it is distinct from military action insofar that it does not ‘enforce’ democracy, and from international interim administration insofar that it does not ‘manage’ democracy . Second, democ- racy assistance is directed primarily and exclusively at fostering democracy, as opposed to classical development aid in which democracy is usually only a secondary concern . Third, democracy assistance is distinct from positive political conditionality insofar that it encompasses direct and active measures, rather than passive tools . Democracy assistance can be further differentiated from political conditionality insofar that it is neither a reward nor a punishment, neither a carrot nor a stick, but rather a ‘booster’ to internal groups already working towards democratisation . Democracy assistance is not concerned with ‘exporting democracy’ (Schraeder 2002) or ‘spreading democracy’ (Hobsbawm 2004) irrespective of the readiness of a given country; rather, democracy assist- ance explicitly recognises that ‘the primary motive force for democratisation is and must be internal to the country in question’ (Burnell 2000c: 9), and that the exclusive intention is ‘to help domestic actors achieve what they have already decided they want for themselves’ (Carothers 2007b: 22) . Democracy assistance is therefore a very precise instrument within a broader democracy promotion paradigm .
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Malgor
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« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2011, 05:59:00 PM »

I was wondering how long it would take for the calls to limit the topic.  The topic committee is already working on trying to assess the items I addressed yesterday. I would encourage folks to contribute ideas and concrete evidence that helps to address any of these items. 

We will make the wiki public soon and the interim, feel free to post anything here or email it to us. We are really hoping the wiki will help to keep the wording research organized.

In terms of the specific calls to limit, let me make a couple of points. I am now talking as the paper’s author, who tried to keep in mind both the educational and competitive pressures that go into a topic.

First, the topic already contains a wording limitation that was included to limit the topic’s mechanisms. As DCH’s post points out, democracy assistance is already selected as a limiting term to the broader democracy promotion. I think as people explore what democracy assistance means you will also be aware it is not an all-powerful foreign policy term. I know some folks have already expressed concern that is it not as broad of mechanism as it may seem. Before we decide that the term has to be parsed down to something ‘smaller’ I would encourage you to do what the topic committee is doing, looking at the literature and then asking if specific modifiers are warranted. We have a long history of accepting topics as forms of assistance alone so I don’t think there should be an expectation that a category of assistance can’t be utilized in the topic.

Second, I strongly encourage people to review the rationale for the topic before embracing ‘uniqueness’ to exclude certain countries. The categories of countries have been organized to reflect countries at each stage of the Arab Spring protests (i.e, countries who have made concessions, countries whose governments have been toppled and countries who are actively fighting the demonstrators). These three sets of countries are the foundation for engaging this topic. We are all interested in providing a stable foundation for both sides, but I am already concerned that folks are identifying Libya and Syria as too unstable. Yes the status quo will change over the course of this topic, but each of the core countries is there because it is an important site of the Arab Spring. It would be folly to decide to debate this topic and to consider the central sites of the topic too unstable to include.

The Afghanistan example has been cited many times today. I would argue that that country lacked a thematic coherence with the idea of constructively engaging the Middle East. This proposal, however, starts with the thematic coherence. I listed ‘important’ countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia as category 3 (a presumption against including) both because I recognized the need for limits and that these countries are not central to the phenomenon of the Arab Spring.

We have time to review all of these items. Before we decide the controversy, like all controversies, is too broad and start attaching limits let’s please look to the paper and literature to inform our wording process. I am not in position to tell you what the committee will do. They are working on help inform these choices and we welcome your input and research.


of course there will be calls to limit the topic.  as you pointed out, your paper attempts to limit it out as well.  your second point is really the only thing i take issue with.  First, it may be a rationale in the paper that there are a lot of countries that are part of the arab spring, but you are conflating excluding a country or two because it's too much in flux with abandoning the pedagogical value of the topic. 

this is a false choice, plain and simple.

any exclusion means we aren't understanding all of the central components of a controversy.  For instance, "democracy assistance" is a limiting term gordon came up with in the paper, but it's also an initial limiting of our perspective of the arab spring.  it necessarily excludes other ideas or ways of engaging this issue.

not only is it a false choice, it incorrectly assumes that pedagogy can exist in debate independent from issues of division of ground or quality of ground available to one side of the topic versus another.  topic uniqueness is important because it dictates the viability of the core negative ground on the topic.  to abandon it as a rationale for determining included countries is equivalent to saying "it's important to engage the heart of this issue, but core negative ground is not part of this educational process."

There is a difference between gaining the pedagogical benefits of a topic through research or through in depth deliberation, via debate, over an issue.  ignoring structural uniqueness questions is another way for the committee to not only make the agenda DA the center of the topic, it forces squads who would rather debate the topic DAs have to shift their strategy to politics, or at least limit their strategies against certain affs bc the uniqueness just isn't there, or is too in flux, thus making the increased research burden a tradeoff that is too costly. 

Some countries will not be included no matter what.  We all know that every committee member advocating certain countries will have strong educational reasons for including that area.  That's because it's true with nearly all the countries.  Even some of the countries on the periphery are still unique bc they haven't been debated before.  And as others have pointed out, it's inevitable we'll debate all these countries because change in one place will have ramifications for the entire region.  Basically, the educational value is inevitable, the committee should feel obligated to provide the countries with the best balance of aff and neg ground. 

there is nothing in the vote of the community that requires a diversity of countries in every phase of transition or countries from all sides of US policy stance.  The ballot said:

The USFG should increase democracy assistance to the Middle East and North Africa.

There is nothing in that statement that means we have to include countries who have made concessions, countries whose governments have been toppled and countries who are actively fighting the demonstrators. 

I must disagree with some of the comparisons made between Afghanistan and the concerns I've outlined.  Afghanistan wasn't just a problem because it wasn't part of constructive engagement to the middle east, it was a problem because of a structural uniqueness problem (the US was already engaging and giving the Afghanis billions of dollars).  No thematic coherence can trump these kinds of uniqueness problems.

I don't have a list of countries to include and exclude because, as gordon said, that happens in the next phase of research.  But I KNOW based on past topics that there will be a push to include countries based on fairly arbitrary "it's important to talk about" claims.  Instead, the committee should focus on the countries that provide robust, fair ground for both sides.  this shouldn't be a controversial or contentious proposition, it should be the mission of the topic committee every year.
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RGarrett
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« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2011, 07:17:07 PM »

We are all interested in providing a stable foundation for both sides, but I am already concerned that folks are identifying Libya and Syria as too unstable. Yes the status quo will change over the course of this topic, but each of the core countries is there because it is an important site of the Arab Spring. It would be folly to decide to debate this topic and to consider the central sites of the topic too unstable to include.

I agree completely that including either Libya or Syria or both is probably very important for this topic.  However, I still am not exactly sure given the evidence I cited how you can give 'democracy assistance' to these countries since it seems to require consent.  Sarah did post another very good definition, it does seem to correspond in the last sentences with the idea that consent of the foreign government is required.  I understand we are in the early stages, but I think it is worth serious investigation if democracy assistance allows good Syria and Libya affirmatives if their current governments remain.  I hope that this question is one that is answered both by the group working on democracy assistance and the country groups. 

I like the fact that democracy assistance is a term of art, but I am not sure if it limits two very core countries out of the topic. 
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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2011, 07:38:36 PM »

RG:  democracy assistance does not necessarily require consent (consent by and from what entities?).  What if you give d. a. to a group outside the govt.?  It is still d. a. under many definitions.  A problem at this stage is to forget that topicality matters and these terms are not as stable as it first seems.  moreover, the fluid notion of "consent" itself speaks against your interpretation.  your argument is not a good reason to question syria or other countries with elements in the govt. that might not respond to certain forms of democracy assistance.  kevin
« Last Edit: May 17, 2011, 07:52:17 PM by kevin kuswa » Logged
ScottElliott
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« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2011, 07:59:21 PM »

RGarrett is unfortunately right. I went back to read the Topic controversy Paper. Its huge on old school Need/Harms and has almost zero, and I mean zero, in terms of solvency advocates for democracy assistance. Folks, there is a difference between cutting a few cards saying "we need to assist these countries in their transitions to democracy," and having a resolution that has the USFG increase democracy assistance to X countries. The literature on this is clear...you will get ZERO "democracy assistance to Syria" solvency advocates unless there is, indeed, an overthrow of the current Syrian government. Why? Becuase Assad will say no. You will get ZERO solvency advocates for Libya unless Qadaffi is overthrown. Now, "Democracy Promotion,".... the use of covert operations, economic and military sanctions, military assistance, arming rebels, etc., would make Syria and Libya topical. Something tells me that people did not think this stuff through when they voted for the Topic Area. They thought..Arab Spring is cool! Let's vote.

Democracy promotion throws the whole game wide open for affirmative plans and target countries. However, democracy assistance is really going to limit the number of viable affirmative plans and target countries. My challenge to the Topic Committee would this: find solvency advocates from 2011 that say "X democracy assistance program directed toward Y Arab country will produce Z advantages." After crying on your keyboard in frustration, you may want to consider addressing the topic area--Arab Spring--using "democracy promotion."  

Egypt---your inherency for Democracy Assistance can be found here...it has been trending down for two years [at page 4] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33003.pdf

However, I sincerely fear that the majority of Affirmative plans will be enacted by the start of September or in the Middle of the year....either gutting inherency for Aff cases or absolutely destroying any uniqueness for Negative disads. See: http://pomed.org/blog/2011/04/new-fy2011-budget-bill-released.html/
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ScottElliott
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« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2011, 08:07:25 PM »

RG:  democracy assistance does not necessarily require consent (consent by and from what entities?).  What if you give d. a. to a group outside the govt.?  It is still d. a. under many definitions.  A problem at this stage is to forget that topicality matters and these terms are not as stable as it first seems.  moreover, the fluid notion of "consent" itself speaks against your interpretation.  your argument is not a good reason to question syria or other countries with elements in the govt. that might not respond to certain forms of democracy assistance.  kevin

I'd love to see the literature base that supports your assertion that the USFG can give "demoncracy assistance" to Syria or Libya by funding. training, or supporting opposition parties. This is, by definition, the exact opposite of everything I have seen that defines the term "democracy assistance." In fact, Kevin, your example would be "democracy promotion,"  and I am cool with that. Giving aid to opposition groups is great---but it ain't democracy assistance. If we truly want to debate the spread of democracy in the Mid-East, then let's just sin boldly and allow Affirmatives to do democracy promotion rather than use the weakest tool in the foreign policy chest.
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RGarrett
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« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2011, 08:10:11 PM »

RG:  democracy assistance does not necessarily require consent (consent by and from what entities?).  What if you give d. a. to a group outside the govt.?  It is still d. a. under many definitions.  A problem at this stage is to forget that topicality matters and these terms are not as stable as it first seems.  moreover, the fluid notion of "consent" itself speaks against your interpretation.  your argument is not a good reason to question syria or other countries with elements in the govt. that might not respond to sertain forms of democracy assistance.  kevin

Is there a citation for this definition?  I agree democracy assistance can go to groups outside a country's government, but that country can still acknowledge and consent to this transaction even if they are not the direct recipient.  I agree that topicality matters, and debates will be had, for instance on constructive engagement there was a very two sided debate about QPQ or not-QPQ--that makes for a really interesting set of debates and makes both affirmative ideas viable.  But out of hand I think it is very dangerous to say debates will determine these things, because the resolution puts a very real limit on the literature available to defend yourself on T.  Therefore, I think it is a very good reason to question if the mechanism of the resolution goes with the countries in the resolution, I think this time is in fact the main time to consider that question.  If we as a community get this one wrong we may vote for say 5 countries only to find out that 1 or 2 of those countries are not debatable because of the words democracy assistance and the baggage those words come with. 

In most T debates I have seen if the neg has a really clear exclusive definition (i.e. one that says democracy assistance MUST INCLUDE consent of the other government) they are in pretty good shape.  If AFFs have just as clean evidence saying democracy assistance CAN'T or SHOULD NOT be defined to include consent that would set the stage for a robust debate.  I have not yet seen evidence supporting the AFF position.  I understand there is still a vast amount of research that will be done, and my position is not that ultimately there will be no literature, but I would like people to answer this question in their wording research.  My framing question would be is there a solvency advocate using the technical definition of democracy assistance for (insert whichever country we are discussing)?
« Last Edit: May 17, 2011, 08:19:52 PM by RGarrett » Logged
stables
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« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2011, 08:44:17 PM »

My post tried to encourage two items:

1) Let's investigate these items
2) Attaching strict limits at an early stage isn't productive to our conversation.

I really appreciate Ross and Scott's work, but I am not sure that you haven't ignored both concerns.

It is almost funny that a thread started with a desire to narrow both the mechanisms and the potential countries is now (potentially) arguing that the topic is too narrow because there aren't solvency cards for consensual approaches to DemAsst. As much as we can argue that a post and a card mean we should change course, we need to be a little more guided in our work. It doesn't do anyone an good to make demands about what cards "they haven't seen" at this point.

The controversy paper attempted to respond to a fast series changing of events by arguing that we should put the debate topic into that dynamic. Unlike Scott's posts, I didn't predict the future with certainty.  It makes it hard to take comments seriously when you say things like "I sincerely fear that the majority of Affirmative plans will be enacted by the start of September or in the Middle of the year." The college community voted for a topic that will change and if you would prefer this to be static I think you will always be disappointed.

When President Obama speaks this week he will unquestionably change policy. The remaining question is that there is room for further increases in democracy assistance. I can provide support for that approach and the paper does so as well. The Egypt and Bahrain example both point to that even after a major revolution, and the eventual US response, there is room for further discussion. I have chosen to share items on the google bookmark links which are compiled after the controversy paper was submitted.

I know Scott has found 'the' critical weakness in the paper (that I didn't find solvency cards to anticipate Libya after the no fly zone was instituted) but I return to my opening comments - if we feel these countries are important to the topic it is just a reason to be careful when reviewing the mechanisms. Is anyone really comfortable saying that, even if you believe something is true today, you would be certain that regime change is impossible in these countries between now and April? I don't believe DemAsst is impossible to those nations today and I certainly don't think I can predict the future enough to rule out that very important opportunity. Taking your arguments on face you are just making an argument for making either (or both) the mechanism and country selection broad.

This is why I end with what I began - it is very easy to begin arriving at conclusions at what limits 'need' to be generated. Please, please look at the topic in some broader perspective and investigate with an eye on producing the kind of debates we just voted for. This is a topic that, no matter how much it might unnerve some folks, change is a given. If that means you feel that your view of the topic makes Syria and Libya not as rich for solvency evidence today, consider what we should do that with that judgement. Is that a reason to include other countries in its place? Is it a reason to hedge our bets on these countries? Is it a reason to hold fast on the expanse of democracy promotion?

I am sorry if this tone is confrontational, but I feel like I previewed this inevitable dynamic last night. We are hearing that the topic is both too broad and too narrow in overly dramatic terms. The only answer is to keep working and to accept the uncertainties in our arguments.  I thank everyone for their work and look forward to the future work.



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Gordon Stables
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Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Adam Symonds
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« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2011, 09:02:19 PM »

@Ross:

Under the Bush Administraton we simultaneously isolated the Syrian regime and provided democracy assistance to exiled groups beyond the scope of government consent:

"Another notable difference is between the European
willingness to engage with, and the American preference
to isolate, unpalatable regional actors. For example, the
European Union negotiated a new association agreement
with Syria whereas the United States has pushed
for isolation. Even though the European Union’s agreement
has not been implemented—due to Syria’s alleged
involvement in the Rafik Hariri killing in Lebanon rather
than to Syria’s democratic shortfalls—the European
Union still argues that reform in Syria can best be encouraged
through critical engagement. A key element
of the European approach toward Syrian reform is the
backing of reformists within government through measures
aimed at strengthening the presidential office and
modernizing ministries. European governments have
declined to back exiled opposition groups and failed to
support a 2006 alliance-building efforts among various
Syrian groups in London. By contrast, the United
States has worked resolutely to isolate Syria, subjecting
it to a range of sanctions. American democracy assistance
in Syria has been entirely directed to nongovernmental
activity, unlike the technical training and other
“good governance” assistance it provides elsewhere
in the region. President Bush has also met more than
once with members of Syrian exile opposition groups,
including an opposition coalition that includes the exiled
head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood."

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=14&ved=0CC8QFjADOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fride.org%2Fdownload%2FOP_Europe_USA_Middle_Demo3_ENG_enero09.pdf&rct=j&q=the%20united%20states%20should%20provide%20%22democracy%20assistance%22%20to%20groups%20in%20Syria&ei=gjTTTdjzC43ViALKsdnrCg&usg=AFQjCNGkyRtoPEata9bh8IUIpGal24oJGQ&sig2=qw5OSA4YOijeiheKR-h37A

I don't think that failure to find a card on "they don't have to give consent" means they really have to give consent. The democracy assistance definitions already available clearly indicate NGOs are targets for the purposes of DemAsst.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2011, 09:08:24 PM by Adam Symonds » Logged
kevin kuswa
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« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2011, 09:10:13 PM »

Good point, Gordon, and a great card, Adam.  A few additional comments:

1. there are citations aplenty for these arguments.  They are all over the google bookmarks document that Gordon sent out (which will be quite useful all year), they are in the topic paper, and they are in the definitions that are being posted on CEDA forums.

2. there is no clear line on democracy assistance or democracy promotion and that is a good thing.   we have been playing with these phrases for a few days and now you all think you can pin-point the directions the terms will take and exactly how they play out in each country?  No way.  What does the term ‘democracy” mean in front of assistance?  That is tough to answer and it is good that it becomes a debate.

3. aiding opposition can occur within democracy assistance in many instances—and it may be what the point of the assistance is.  The topic paper defends this in a number of ways:

a) it is a spectrum of power.  Read the evidence about the spectrum between extremely soft diplomatic pressure and coercive/military action.  Along this spectrum are conditions, sanctions, incentives, and a mix of things that would often constitute aiding opposition groups.

b) there is no clear line in every instance between the government and the forces that would change the government (some from within and some from external platforms).  It is the height of Western arrogance to make these projections and not afford some flexibility.  How does change take place in the first instance?

c) the differences between political (narrow) conceptions and developmental (abstract and principled) conceptions of democracy assistance would speak to a number of defensible interpretations that include actions against a particular government.

The paper talks about Syria, Libya, and others (Jordan) as core to the controversy—a rigid and inaccurate interpretation of democracy assistance from RG and SE does not overwhelm that portion of the paper.

We have to go case-by-case—that means thinking about democracy assistance in different ways.  It may not be the same as promotion or support, but those two might overlap or conflate in a lot of meaningful ways and that is why it is a good debate.

Kevin
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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2011, 09:14:53 PM »

@RG: Not only is your request for citations off the mark and the wrong path to emphasize as we open up the research, you have forgotten another part of the equation:  THE PREPOSITION.

Democracy assistance "to" vs. "in" vs. "for" vs. "within."

This variable will change your hasty attempts to slap a bad "govt.-to-govt." T argument on a much more nuanced and vibrant phrase.

Re-read Gordon's section on how we cannot simplify this debate about democracy assistance and that the complexities of each country speak against imperial generalizations.

kevin
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Hester
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« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2011, 09:37:56 PM »

reading this evidence, i'm struck by a potential distinction between "democracy assistance TO Syria" vs "democracy assistance IN Syria." the evidence cited uses the latter.

i can imagine a T arg explaining that "to" before "Syria" is referencing Syria as a political entity (government), whereas "in" before "Syria" references Syria as a geographical space.

i'm thinking of this while watching Dirk goes nuts on the Thunder, so please don't jump me for what is an extemporaneous thought. but it does seem like the preposition we choose could be more important than some may assume. "in" may make plans that provide assistance to NGOs more topical than they might be evaluated if the resolution used "to" instead.




@Ross:

Under the Bush Administraton we simultaneously isolated the Syrian regime and provided democracy assistance to exiled groups beyond the scope of government consent:

"Another notable difference is between the European
willingness to engage with, and the American preference
to isolate, unpalatable regional actors. For example, the
European Union negotiated a new association agreement
with Syria whereas the United States has pushed
for isolation. Even though the European Union’s agreement
has not been implemented—due to Syria’s alleged
involvement in the Rafik Hariri killing in Lebanon rather
than to Syria’s democratic shortfalls—the European
Union still argues that reform in Syria can best be encouraged
through critical engagement. A key element
of the European approach toward Syrian reform is the
backing of reformists within government through measures
aimed at strengthening the presidential office and
modernizing ministries. European governments have
declined to back exiled opposition groups and failed to
support a 2006 alliance-building efforts among various
Syrian groups in London. By contrast, the United
States has worked resolutely to isolate Syria, subjecting
it to a range of sanctions. American democracy assistance
in Syria has been entirely directed to nongovernmental
activity, unlike the technical training and other
“good governance” assistance it provides elsewhere
in the region. President Bush has also met more than
once with members of Syrian exile opposition groups,
including an opposition coalition that includes the exiled
head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood."

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=14&ved=0CC8QFjADOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fride.org%2Fdownload%2FOP_Europe_USA_Middle_Demo3_ENG_enero09.pdf&rct=j&q=the%20united%20states%20should%20provide%20%22democracy%20assistance%22%20to%20groups%20in%20Syria&ei=gjTTTdjzC43ViALKsdnrCg&usg=AFQjCNGkyRtoPEata9bh8IUIpGal24oJGQ&sig2=qw5OSA4YOijeiheKR-h37A

I don't think that failure to find a card on "they don't have to give consent" means they really have to give consent. The democracy assistance definitions already available clearly indicate NGOs are targets for the purposes of DemAsst.


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