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Author Topic: Resolutions for the ballot  (Read 27596 times)
Malgor
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Posts: 220


« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2011, 01:26:17 PM »

my favorite part of your post was when you focused on peer reviewed research as the core of any issue.  please tell me you are teaching 10000000s of high schoolers this every summer.  we need more of that attitude in debate
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ozzy
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Posts: 31


« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2011, 04:10:17 PM »

iran may overshadow other parts of the topic because of the total amount and currently-evolving nature of its lit base compared to the other countries. i think these are good reasons to include iran in the slate and perhaps the final topic. it dominates for a reason. i dont think the debaters who actually researched/ran iran are under the impression that it is a stale or played out conversation. i don't want to speak for everybody but i know many iran debaters feel that there was more than enough variation for it to have been the entire 07/08 topic. how sweet that would have been. we won't run out of iran. anybody that wants to go to war over a lit base can sign right up by reading iran or going deep against iran affs. the other countries are less likely to stay fresh over the course of a debate season. maybe we haven't debated them before. maybe ... so what ..

also thank you to DSDebate for the excellent posts!

i assume this is not a joke, though it sounds like one.  no one thinks we'll run out of things to say-as others have pointed out every issue is so deep innovation is inevitable.  don't have much else to say; you ignored all legitimate reasons to exclude iran and went all in on "it's a shiny toy."  i think other people are approaching it more from a comparison of educational opportunities.  i think debaters will have a lot of shiny objects with the resolutions without iran, but they will be unique educational opportunities, provide more topic coherence, and avoid the slew of issues outlined by DS.

TAKES 1 TO NO 1. i just put in my 2c. you out-debated me enough irl malgor, i think u can give it up now <3
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repko
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« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2011, 10:48:03 PM »

1. Several Iran indicts are as true -- if not more true -- of Palestine and Lebanon

...If you worry about 5th years, recall that the 2008 topic called for security guarantees and-or foreign assistance. To me, foreign assistance is a lot closer to the 2011-12 mechanism than a security guarantee-style Aff.

A fair assessment is that most Iran and Syria Affs (in 2008) were Bargain-style Affs with QPQ's... Way, way more of the Lebanon and Palestine were foreign assistance Affs. And a few of them -- in part because Palestine remains the province of K-land and in part b/c the Lebanon lit has less turnover -- could honestly be wholescale recycled.

That is unthinkable for an Iran Aff on many levels.

2. The non-Iran crowd has to step-up to the plate with some solvency advocates for wordings that don't include Iran

I went to the topic meeting as a non-Iran guy. In some ways, I still wish I was not.

I've been to countless topic meetings, and I have never seen a greater volume of relevant reports or more ev cut by the attendees.

After these reports, I -- like a large percentage of people in the room -- was left longing for solvency advocate from... almost any of the country reports... That drives my concern about non-Iran topics.

The Feith & Weiss ev, the Allen ev, the 2nd Clawson, and the "Beyond Orthodox Approaches" ev all made Iran look like the *only* topic report where one felt like there was a bunch of lit *about the mechanism*. Each of these aff cards is written after the experiences with Harvard's 2008 version of the Aff. In fairness, no report on Egypt was done in Ann Arbor b/c it was on every ballot.

I still believe the Neg will do just fine against Iran -- I just feel those rounds will be about the mechanism and will be less contrived. I think the debate about this particular mechanism as it relates to Morocco, Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain, etc  all stand to be considerably less academic/peer-review-ish.

3. There are plenty of reasons to oppose Iran, but a blind faith that there are a million shiny Affs (that are more than one-hit wonders) is not one of them.

If people vote down Iran b/c it makes for  bigger topic or a less "Arab-Spring-y" topic, then I can get that. We all have different reasons for voting.

... but Malgor has said "Iran bad" and "you probably like it because it is shiny"... he then closes by adding "the star is the shiniest part of the Christmas tree, but the presents underneath is where the real magic happens".

Well, actually, I am not at all wild ecstatic about Iran -- but I think, based on the Committee wall of research, I am comparatively more worried for the Aff in a world without Iran.

...better put, I am open to being persuaded on "Iran bad", but not based on conjecture.. before July 13th, open up your presents and show some of them to the rest of the family...

  -- Will
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Malgor
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Posts: 220


« Reply #33 on: July 01, 2011, 05:31:22 PM »

Will-

I'll keep this short.  I admittedly can't "step up to the plate" and give you a bunch of syria/libya/all the other countries affs.  I agree with your characterization of most topic evidence as "peer reviewish", and it might be difficult to base any core arguments off of peer reviewed scholarly work given how new the Arab Spring.  

I think your use of the topic papers done at the meeting as proof that Iran may be the only aff with evidence, and that other countries are lacking affirmatives, is not helpful and quite inaccurate.  It's never reasonable to expect the committee to map out every aff on a topic, every person in debate has a varying degree of research prowess, and many of those reports were in a time crunch that involved less than a full day's worth of research.  

I also don't agree that the Iran section contains a lot of 'hot ev'.  The only specific affs proposed are exchanges/conferences and affs to give people social networking (though there are great debates to be had over how self absorbed America must be to think that twitter is the key to the rev).  Michael Allen, who writes the best broad defense of why we need to re-focus our policy on democracy assistance, writes about more than just Iran and applies his concepts to other countries.  A quick search turned up an older article where he is outlining the same shortcomings in US policy for other nations.

Journal of Democracy 17.2 (2006) 36-51, The Assault on Democracy Assistance

the faith and weiss card outlines the lack of funding for opposition groups from obama and makes a broad solvency claim that, if opposition groups were powerful, we might curb some iranian adventurism (post-nuclear proliferation).  It is not a solvency claim about specific assistance programs (certainly not that would pass the us key test).  I am quite confident that people write the same generic claims about the benefits of supporting the opposition in countries like libya and syria.  I have to do my ceda posting between labs at camp so excuse me for not stepping up the plate.  The purpose of these links is just to show people that a) the us is doing some things now in other countries in the topic b) some people argue these efforts are inadequate or should increase and c) there are consequences to not supporting the opposition in countries in transition.  These points are consistent with most of the *broad* ideas outlined in many of the cards in the iran paper (save the twitter/facebook/internet/cell phone aff)

i think we can all agree egypt has plenty of affs about civil society reform, hence the lack of a paper done at the meeting

http://www.nimd.org/documents/B/beyond_orthodox_approaches.pdf
that is a paper used in the iran section that also has chapters on morocco and egypt


current congress people are advocating an increase in assistance to Syria opposition groups
http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=1811


http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33487.pdf
good report on Syria-outlines common neg scenarios and has some good scenarios for why there needs to be a democratic transition in Syria.  Outlines efforts of regime to quash civil society and states the case for more civil society-only focuses on historic account of sanctions when it comes to solvency.

US has some programs going on in Syria
http://www.rferl.org/content/syria_/9497613.html
The money reportedly continued to flow under current President Barack Obama despite his administration's efforts to repair ties with Assad. According to the newspaper, it is unclear whether the United States now still funds Syrian opposition groups. The article cites a diplomatic cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time warning that Syrian authorities "would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change." In reaction to the report, the U.S. State Department denied that it has been attempting to undermine Assad's government, but acknowledged it supported civil society groups dedicated to democratic reforms and freedom of expression. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the United States is "working with a variety of civil society actors in Syria with the goal of strengthening freedom of expression."

http://www.cfr.org/syria/washington-institute-battling-lion-syrias-domestic-opposition-asad-regime/p13746

the US is funding political opposition/dissent groups in libya.
http://pomed.org/blog/2011/06/libya-donors-pledge-billions-to-help-opposition.html/

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-04-05/world/libya.us.envoy_1_opposition-spokesman-assistance?_s=PM:WORLD

http://freelibya.org/pressreleases/205-how-to-help-free-libya.html

here's a good article outlining the problems with the administration's lack of support for democratic resistance (section on tunisia is good)
http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/the_united_states_and_the_prospects_for_democracy_in_islamic_countries

anyway, these are searches done in a few minutes. Libya, Syria, tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain all seem to have a lot of people advocating for the US to fund the growth of civil society and legitimate political opposition in those countries.  If you truly think that the only viable arguments were found at the topic meeting, then you are in fact basing your decision on conjecture, and may god be with us in the months ahead.




« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 05:33:03 PM by Malgor » Logged
brubaie
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Posts: 77


« Reply #34 on: July 02, 2011, 06:52:57 PM »

I don't have a horse in this race, but I am interested in learning whether I correctly understand the major arguments at hand. I'm particularly interested in whether I accurately understood and appreciated the excellent work of DAS.

Repko/Ozzy say that it's a hard year to be aff. The reason they provide is that the solvency literature is a little half-baked. Therefore, Iran should be part of the topic because it strengthens the number and variety of quality affirmative proposals. To summarize it roughly; although it is different than the rest of the topic, the "Aff ground advantage" o/w the "topic coherence DA"

DAS argues a middle ground, avoiding a conclusive stance against Iran while offering several reasonable cautions that most voters would typically overlook. Iran is radically different from other nations in the Middle East -- politically, culturally and religiously. This would make it difficult to identify a coherent center of the topic. "Democracy assistance" doesn't unify the topic because what that assistance leads to could be radically different. Therefore, the relevant negative literature would require the Negative to defend arguments with meaningful, substantive differences based on the Aff.

Malgor answers Repko/Ozzy by challenging the argument that it is necessarily a hard year to be Aff. The pessimism over the number of available solvency advocates is a hasty generalization (Kansas roots shining through...) based on an examination of the topic that only scratches the surface. He argues that we've debated the issue of Iran recently on the Middle East topic, 5th year debaters in particular. He also argues that Iran will dominate the topic, shifting it away from the topic voters thought they were getting (and subsequently utilizing DAS' arguments to prove people won't be getting what they bargained for).

I apologize if I mischaracterized anyone's arguments. Can the relevant posters please clarify and explain any mistakes I made in summarizing this debate? Thank you in advance!
« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 07:09:28 PM by brubaie » Logged
kearney
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Posts: 23


« Reply #35 on: July 05, 2011, 10:07:51 AM »

I don't have a horse in this race, but I am interested in learning whether I correctly understand the major arguments at hand. I'm particularly interested in whether I accurately understood and appreciated the excellent work of DAS.

Repko/Ozzy say that it's a hard year to be aff. The reason they provide is that the solvency literature is a little half-baked. Therefore, Iran should be part of the topic because it strengthens the number and variety of quality affirmative proposals. To summarize it roughly; although it is different than the rest of the topic, the "Aff ground advantage" o/w the "topic coherence DA"

DAS argues a middle ground, avoiding a conclusive stance against Iran while offering several reasonable cautions that most voters would typically overlook. Iran is radically different from other nations in the Middle East -- politically, culturally and religiously. This would make it difficult to identify a coherent center of the topic. "Democracy assistance" doesn't unify the topic because what that assistance leads to could be radically different. Therefore, the relevant negative literature would require the Negative to defend arguments with meaningful, substantive differences based on the Aff.

Malgor answers Repko/Ozzy by challenging the argument that it is necessarily a hard year to be Aff. The pessimism over the number of available solvency advocates is a hasty generalization (Kansas roots shining through...) based on an examination of the topic that only scratches the surface. He argues that we've debated the issue of Iran recently on the Middle East topic, 5th year debaters in particular. He also argues that Iran will dominate the topic, shifting it away from the topic voters thought they were getting (and subsequently utilizing DAS' arguments to prove people won't be getting what they bargained for).

I apologize if I mischaracterized anyone's arguments. Can the relevant posters please clarify and explain any mistakes I made in summarizing this debate? Thank you in advance!
Rubaie described his opinion on horse racing. He also talked about Ozzy, Repko and Malgor.

Hope I got that right.

Smiley
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louiep
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Posts: 9


« Reply #36 on: July 05, 2011, 10:21:01 AM »

All interesting posts by Malgor, Will, and DAS.  Martin, I enjoyed your humorous plea for Iran and share your longing for a good Iran SG debate.  However, I fear the Iran debates will not be as good as they were in 07/08.  Funding opposition groups in an attempt to overthrow the hardliners or increase democracy/civil society building in Iran does not have the fun or the US key warrants as the SG lit base had.  In all of the post, the part that I find missing, and the part that I have yet to identify from topic the meeting papers or my own research (as bad as it is) are the US key warrants for any of the these topic countries.  Yes there are authors calling for the US to increase DA, but NO defense of why it has to be US action.  Some papers, I think the Libya paper was one on the best, has cards saying the US should act, but I do not think that is the same as a warrant as why the US should act or is the only country that can act.  Maybe I am off base, but I think the US should act evidence would not stand up to most judge scrutiny or neg strats by round 4 at Kentucky.

It would have been sweet to allow the AFF some leverage, but that would have meant writing 1 of the 6 resolutions with the term "democracy promotion" instead of DA.  How dare the topic committee provide the community with options and/or AFF ground.  

If that sounds harsh, then please respond with a post that explains what AFF ground with US key warrants looks like and where it can be found.  I understand that I was not at the topic meeting, stupid summer classes and teaching them, but the day the mech was discussed the feed was not working.  I do not think I am the only person sitting around discussing with my friends the following: "what are the US key warrants", "why did the TC act without considering what would be AFF gorund", "did the TC think cell phones and internet connections was quality AFF ground", "did the TC operate under the assumption the debate over international fiat legitimacy was over",  "was the Kuswa paper not considered serious, because it said this might be a problem with DA", "whoa Brovero's T definitions were on spot, and really suck for the AFF".  

Just thought I would sound off before I begin Day 21 of TERRIBLE AFF RESEARCH..  Iran or not Iran, still sucks for US key warrants.

Louie

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brubaie
Jr. Member
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Posts: 77


« Reply #37 on: July 05, 2011, 11:45:42 AM »

I don't have a horse in this race, but I am interested in learning whether I correctly understand the major arguments at hand. I'm particularly interested in whether I accurately understood and appreciated the excellent work of DAS.

Repko/Ozzy say that it's a hard year to be aff. The reason they provide is that the solvency literature is a little half-baked. Therefore, Iran should be part of the topic because it strengthens the number and variety of quality affirmative proposals. To summarize it roughly; although it is different than the rest of the topic, the "Aff ground advantage" o/w the "topic coherence DA"

DAS argues a middle ground, avoiding a conclusive stance against Iran while offering several reasonable cautions that most voters would typically overlook. Iran is radically different from other nations in the Middle East -- politically, culturally and religiously. This would make it difficult to identify a coherent center of the topic. "Democracy assistance" doesn't unify the topic because what that assistance leads to could be radically different. Therefore, the relevant negative literature would require the Negative to defend arguments with meaningful, substantive differences based on the Aff.

Malgor answers Repko/Ozzy by challenging the argument that it is necessarily a hard year to be Aff. The pessimism over the number of available solvency advocates is a hasty generalization (Kansas roots shining through...) based on an examination of the topic that only scratches the surface. He argues that we've debated the issue of Iran recently on the Middle East topic, 5th year debaters in particular. He also argues that Iran will dominate the topic, shifting it away from the topic voters thought they were getting (and subsequently utilizing DAS' arguments to prove people won't be getting what they bargained for).

I apologize if I mischaracterized anyone's arguments. Can the relevant posters please clarify and explain any mistakes I made in summarizing this debate? Thank you in advance!
Rubaie described his opinion on horse racing. He also talked about Ozzy, Repko and Malgor.

Hope I got that right.

Smiley

Give me some love Kearney -- you've worked w me and know not all of us are as quick and good-looking Wink Wish we could run the EKR lab back
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ozzy
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Posts: 31


« Reply #38 on: July 05, 2011, 02:04:23 PM »

Martin, I enjoyed your humorous plea for Iran and share your longing for a good Iran SG debate.  However I fear the Iran debates will not be as good as they were in 07/08.  Funding opposition groups in an attempt to overthrow the hardliners or increase democracy/civil society building in Iran does not have the fun or the US key warrants as the SG lit base had.  In all of the post, the part that I find missing, and the part that I have yet to identify from topic the meeting papers or my own research (as bad as it is) are the US key warrants for any of the these topic countries.  Yes there are authors calling for the US to increase DA, but NO defense of why it has to be US action.  Some papers, I think the Libya paper was one on the best, has cards saying the US should act, but I do not think that is the same as a warrant as why the US should act or is the only country that can act.  Maybe I am off base, but I think the US should act evidence would not stand up to most judge scrutiny or neg strats by round 4 at Kentucky [was awesome]

Louie



<3

lets allow www.google.com to choose the topic for us...

egypt:      About 632,000,000 results (0.11 seconds)
iran:        About 498,000,000 results (0.10 seconds)
lebanon:   About 380,000,000 results (0.14 seconds)*
bahrain:    About 346,000,000 results (0.10 seconds)
yemen:    About 345,000,000 results (0.09 seconds)
morocco:  About 339,000,000 results (0.10 seconds)
tunisia:     About 328,000,000 results (0.10 seconds)
syria:        About 229,000,000 results (0.10 seconds)*
libya:        About 32,900,000 results (0.10 seconds)
wb/ gaza:  About 4,500,000 results (0.25 seconds)

thus, we should pic topic 2

*there are clearly not v many articles about syria on google, but i think it'll mean a lot to seungwon to have it in the topic
*lol yeah right
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DSDebate
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« Reply #39 on: July 05, 2011, 07:55:08 PM »

To address some questions asked about my previous post:

I do not have a dog in the fight - I'm not a director or a full time coach, and in general I have views on most big-picture debate issues that are distinctly out of sync with the community consensus. I'm also not qualified to asses questions about the desirability of big vs. small topics because I don't have a good sense of how the community understands 'small' or 'big' - that's something that we usually establish based on the logistics of research burdens, the kinds of arguments we want to debate and by comparison with recent topics, and I don't know much about any of that.

I was trying to flesh out some facts that bear on the functional size of the topic (as opposed to the textual length of the topic), that I didn't think many people in the community were familiar with. In other words, I was trying to lay out the terrain of the controversy, in light of certain facts, not advance a particular vision of a desirable discussion.

I tried to lay out some of the ethnographic issues in the topic countries so that folks could understand that the number of countries listed might not be the best predictor of the functional scope of the topic, or its basic direction. A list of 3 countries where supporting democracy means empowering 3 radically different sets of ethnic or sectarian groups is much bigger than a 4 country topic where the 4 countries share a common demography and/or are all in the same part of the world.

Furthermore, if there are groups that are barred from receiving US assistance in the SQ because their religious or sectarian orientation ties them to Iran, then aiding them constitutes a soft-on-Iran element in the topic whether Iran is named or not. Iran and its sectarian role ought to factor into your evaluations of how you understand the applicability of generic arguments. Democratizing Bahrain, would mean majority rule in a country with a Shi'a majority, and could mean removing a Sunni regime that is a bulwark against Iranian influence (this is evidence-dependent, of course - some top-down reform might help maximize Sunni power in the longer-term, as compared to the alternative trying to quash the protestors with force and Saudi help). Democratizing the Syrian government in a way that removes the Alawites from power (and there might be mechanisms that actually empower the Asad family), would empower the Sunni majority of that country and most likely reduce the significance of the Iranian-Syrian alliance.

I do think that the members of the TSC I spoke with were very focused on making the topic about the Arab Spring. I do not think that Iran as an issue can be excluded from any intelligent discussion of that subject. That, as others have pointed out, is not a reason to make Iran an Affirmative.

That said, I think the factual case for arguing that Iran's internal politics are substantially enmeshed in the Arab Spring is weak.  I don't think that the struggle between the regime and its opponents (inside and outside the system, at home and abroad) fits the rubric of a discussion about the Arab Spring, understood as a series of protest movements that began in Tunisia and have spread across the Middle East and North Africa.

For one thing, the high point of public protest in Iran substantially precedes the revolution in Tunisia. Second, Iran isn't Arab. Third, the contest between the regime and its opponents there is multi-dimensional - it includes voices from within the system that are more Islamist and less populist than the Ahmadinejad administration. Many of the articles I have read about Iran in the last few months have focused on that axis of contention, not the fight between the regime and pro-reform and pro-democracy groups, which has gone relatively quiet. One could reasonably argue that it's too early to determine the scope of the Arab Spring and its consequences for non-Arab states (it might spread to Pakistan or Afghanistan, for example), and that in any case, there are other reasons to include Iran (Will Repko made some arguments along these lines).

I also think I should add that Afghanistan has some similar mis-match issues, which I mentioned previously:
- it's not Arab, ethnically
- most Afghans don't speak Arabic, and the languages that are spoken there are not mutually intelligible for Arabic speakers
- it's not physically within the Arab world - none of the states that border Afghanistan have Arab majorities, or have a big Arabic-speaking population
- the current regime is elected in a multi-party system (albeit one with significant flaws)
- the prospect of regime change that most concerns mainstream political-strategic discussions of Afghanistan is a Taleban resurgence that openly advocates dismantling nascent democratic institutions, not a pro-reform protest movement that unintentionally precipitates state failure or some other adverse development
- there haven't been substantial protest movements mimicking the goals and strategies used in Tunisia and Egypt, or borrowing from their rhetorical strategies

Finally, my reference to ethno-sectarian politics that are extremely complex and/or feature small groups (Druze, Christians, Yazidis, etc.) was to point out that there might be more small Affirmatives than a first look at the literature would suggest. It was also designed to point out that because these groups sometimes have in-country factions as well as distinct diasporic communities, and both are topically accessible, that might mean that each time you find a "US should support political factions representing x population" card, it might generate two or even three kinds of topical mechanisms, or one Affirmative and two exclusion CPs - one for in-country groups, and one for diasporic groups, one for both. 
I have not seen an article that advocated providing US democracy assistance to the Lebanese Druze, or the Coptic Christians, or any of the very small ethno-sectarian groups. However, I do think that once you drill down into some of the budget items that are included in the topic mechanism, you might* find that some articles advocate external support for some sub-populations' political agenda or its advocacy groups, and a defense of US engagement with that group, and a T card that says a particular kind of support would be classified as democracy assistance. I suspect the chances of finding a single 'advocacy and T defense' card for any small ethnic group, or a T card and an advocacy card from the same author are not very good (with the possible exceptions of the Kurds, Mujaheedeen e-Khelq [MEK], HAMAS, and some high profile Shi'a parties). 
In my experience, defenses of US action often have to do with advantage internal links and solvency claims about the need to build relations between the targeted group and the US, or pre-existing ties between the recipient group (or its opponents) and the US. This position is entirely speculative, and is subject to all kinds of constraints, including the community's threshold for T/solvency evidence, the need for compelling impacts, and my own unfamiliarity with democracy aid literature.


DAS
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Malgor
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Posts: 220


« Reply #40 on: July 05, 2011, 08:55:07 PM »

to clarify, i have no kansas roots.  i have always had a staunch and unrelenting opposition to kansas.  missouri 4 lyfe homies.  ps the chiefs are in missouri so suck it Smiley
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kevin kuswa
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Posts: 345


« Reply #41 on: July 05, 2011, 09:46:52 PM »

a few quick comments from the road to Cali (via the magnificent yellowstone):

1. DS has amazing posts--just tracing a few of his references will produce as much education as many of us hoped would occur during an entire year of research.  He knows a lot to say the least--soak it up!

2. We will find good affs on all the countries.  The comment that Malgor and others have made about not being able to fully predict the strongest areas for research now could not be more accurate.  The tree will continue to yield presents all year of many different sheens and gleams.

3. Events will change and create new space for exploration.  That's one reason we are taking this area on as a research endeavor/curriculum.

4. The Palestine debates (the West Bank and Gaza from the perspective of the US government at this point) are not just claims to respect basic human rights without policy underpinnings.  I am not going to re-post the topic wording papers on this, but the recent dismissals of the area are just flat wrong.  The US key warrants are abundant, especially if you consider the domestic political implications that will emerge further during the season (connected to the UN, etc.).  The solvency evidence is quite strong, including some very good cards found at the meeting (and in the supplement) cut by Dan Bagwell and Mathew Petersen, not to mention Gordon's original paper.  The evidence should also show a close relationship to the famous laundry detergent known as Arab Spring if that is an important variable for you.  To have a topic in this area without a chance to advocate US action in Palestine would be a shame, would replicate much of the problem in the region itself, and would allow misplaced fears to swamp important and viable debates for the aff.

5. we could be debating the region as a whole--including 30 countries or more.  All of these topics are smaller than that possibility.  Too big is not an argument.

6. Vote for one of the bigger topics--we can handle it.  R: US foreign policy toward one or more African nations should be substantially changed was a great great season.  I still agree with DS's assessment of Iran being unlike some of the other countries in some significant ways and an area that will be debated by both sides regardless of its specific inclusion on the aff, but at least it's not a separate treaty or a separate resolution into itself (harmonization of intellectual property/aid to Greece anyone?).  Just a quick aside here as well--Afghanistan is not on any of the lists.

7. Finally (for now), these discussions themselves prove we are headed for a very animated and eye-opening season of debate no matter what topic gets selected--and that cannot be a bad thing.

Kevin
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jonahfeldman
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Posts: 96


« Reply #42 on: July 06, 2011, 10:21:40 AM »

The worst topics offer a choice of related, but fundamentally distinct, aff's whose common denominator is not the defining characteristic of the debate.  These topics become scattered, distracted, and are ultimately unsatisfying because we end up feeling like we haven't been able to lock down and debate/learn about the central themes of the controversy.

The Europe topic is the best demonstration of this phenomenon.  All the aff's were issues of concern to European countries, but they ended up having nothing to do with each other.  Assistance to Greece-Turkey, Ag subsidies (which became it's own topic independently), Genetic patenting (which ended up having nothing to do with Europe), withdraw from NATO, and remove TNW's.

None of the topics on this years ballot will be quite that extreme, but Europe offers a useful guide for what we should be striving for in a topic: focus.

I can't do better than DS on the disconnect between Iran and the Arab spring:

-The high point of public protest in Iran substantially precedes the revolution in Tunisia.
-Iran isn't Arab.
-The contest between the regime and its opponents there is multi-dimensional - it includes voices from within the system that are more Islamist and less populist than the Ahmadinejad administration. Many of the articles I have read about Iran in the last few months have focused on that axis of contention, not the fight between the regime and pro-reform and pro-democracy groups, which has gone relatively quiet.

The West Bank/Gaza is an even greater outlier:

-The struggle for democracy precedes the Arab spring by several decades
-Their problem isn't overthrowing dictatorship; its reconciling Fatah and Hamas, and coping with two disparate geographies.  They don't have a lack of political structure or participation, there are established political parties who represent the views of their constituency.  Palestine actually has much more of a democratic culture than most of the rest of the Arab spring countries.  They vote, we just don't like who they vote for.
-Palestinian protests against Israeli occupation appear to have decreased since the beginning of the spring (The only major protest was an annual one during the anniversary of what Israeli's call independence and Palestinians call the naqba/disaster)

This topic is appealing because it deals with a current, exciting, and dramatic political movement.  If we include Iran and Palestine it's not because they are part of that same movement, it's because they also...have issues...with...democracy...which is a word we have been using to describe the thing we actually voted to talk about.  This is not a good basis for inclusion.

The cool thing about the Arab spring is that it shows that a small action in a country we don't think about very often can have a profound global effect.  A vegetable peddler in Tunisia sets himself on fire and it sparks a series of revolutions throughout the region.  Tunisia and Bahrain may not be the media sensations that Iran and Israel/Palestine are, but important things happen there that we should know about.

The best argument in favor of Iran inclusion seems to be that the strongest literature exists for Iran aff's.  If true, that means that including Iran in the topic will drive aff's towards Iran.  If we debate an Iran aff 70%-80% of the time than will we really feel like we debated an arab spring topic?  We might have to dig a little deeper for aff's about the Arab Spring countries, but we're debaters, we're good at that.  There were lots of solid aff solvency mechanisms on the Europe topic, but it didn't stop it from sucking.

We will talk about Iran and Israel no matter what the topic is.  The same cannot be said for Tunisia, Syria, and Yemen.

Cheers,
---Jonah

« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 10:25:08 AM by jonahfeldman » Logged
kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
****
Posts: 345


« Reply #43 on: July 06, 2011, 11:26:12 PM »

@ jonah feldman

gotta admit that this post is more than...a little shocking....

1. For starters, "talking about Israel on the neg" is NOT the same thing as Palestine being an option for the affs.  Think about that for a second.  To suggest such a thing is a blatant erasure of the struggles going on there.  To equate the arguments about the wisdom of including Iran with the need to debate Palestine may be an even bigger error because, while Iran may suck some oxygen out of the room, Palestine is being suffocated further and further by the day.

2. Palestine is not "an outlier" in this sense--such a claim amounts to a settlement on an issue that is deeply implicated by, and crucial to, the Arab Spring.

3. Read the many topic papers--including the one written by the topic author--Palestine is a very important part of the democracy assistance debate outlined in the topic paper and the larger sense of the Arab Spring.  This is why Hamas and Fatah are working on reconciliation and it is also a place where the US matters.  The Tunisian moment has quickly and powerfully spread to Palestine in the same way it galvanized Egypt, Yemen, and other places.  Moreover, the standard that "democracy movements have taken place prior to Tunisia" is provincial in the sense that these are all ideas and inspirations building on one another.  The "origin" moment seems self-serving at best and the literature concludes that Iran and Palestine are on the continuum.

4. To quickly assert that Egypt and Tunisia are the core without reading the evidence linking Egypt (and the other countries in the topics) to the Palestinian struggle is a misreading of what is happening in the region.  The Arab Spring has profoundly influenced Palestine and will continue to shape the future of democracy there.  Four different topic papers speak directly to this point.

5. The argument that we need focus to have a good topic is not linked to the exclusion of Iran and Palestine.  To take this argument to an extreme, one small aff would be the best topic...and...that...is...absurd.  Europe was bad because it was multiple topics WITH DIFFERENT STEMS.  The current slate of topics has the same stem and will allow outstanding focus even with (Iran and) Palestine.

6. The substance of the reasons given for Palestine being "an even greater outlier than Iran" (wow) are not substantiated.  Democracy is not perfect there--the majority of Palestinians have problems with the representation offered by both political parties, even if they are "established"--a tricky word given the violent occupation they are under.  The US also has a role in democracy assistance in Palestine--a concern voiced about other countries on the list and an argument not addressed in the "focus best" post.  

7. If need be, there is a choice without Iran and with Palestine--do not let the "No Iran" crowd try to simultaneously exclude the distinct issues represented by Palestine and a set of crucial debates within the orignial topic paper and a wording paper writted by the topic author.

8. Another plea for some further reading: there are "dictatorship" issues in the Palestinian leadership--that evidence is quite strong.

9.  "Lack of protest" is not only wrong, it is a crazy way to define a group living in total occupation.  Protests take many forms, including attempts to provide a viable platform for democracy assistance under US law.  Protests in Syria, for example, are often low-level (and include Palestinian causes/groups).  

10.  A part of your post, I must note, is...simply...sick.  "People vote in Palestine" so it should be excluded from US democracy assistance debates?  Seriously? Even more offensive, occupation is not just a "geographical problem," a characterization that cannot go unchallenged and probably begs for some other criticisms.  If people think that the physical separation between the West Bank and Gaza (not to mention the refusal of the right to return and the inability to enter East Jerusalem) are reasons that democracy is not important to Palestine, than we have a much deeper problem than picking a topic.

Important things happen in small places that we should know about, true, which is exactly why we should not pave over those important things that fit within the topic rubric by creating false distinctions.

signing out from Jackpot, Nevada.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 11:41:48 PM by kevin kuswa » Logged
jonahfeldman
Jr. Member
**
Posts: 96


« Reply #44 on: July 07, 2011, 09:33:23 AM »

Kevin – First let me say how much I appreciate the collegiate and civil tone of your post.  I am especially grateful for the helpful research suggestions you provide as my own research skills are meager and my knowledge of the Israel/Palestine conflict limited.  But still….allow me to retort.

It’s hard to say who comes off as more crazy: the hard core pro-Israel factions who see every criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic or the pro-Palestinian groups who see every perceived slight as an attempt to “silence the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

I am in no way trying to erase the struggles occurring in the West Bank and Gaza.  I would love it if we had a debate topic about Israel/Palestine.  In fact, I would be so ecstatic if we chose an Israel/Palestine topic that I would throw a party that would make Carnival look like Liberty’s end of the year debate party.  But Israel/Palestine should be its own topic, not a piggyback edition to this topic.  The ag subsidies debates that happened during the ag subsidies topic were a lot better than the ag subsidies debates that happened on the Europe topic.

I think you misunderstand many of the arguments made in my original post.  My claim is not that geographic separation means that there is no democracy problem in the West Bank and Gaza, it was one example of how the democracy problems that exist in the Palestinian territories are fundamentally distinct from the democracy problems that exist in the Arab Spring nations. 

This division is not arbitrary – one easy way to think of it is that the core topic countries are transition countries while Palestine and Iran are consolidation countries.  The unifying theme among the countries we include in the topic should not be “is there an issue with democracy,” it should be “is there a democratic transition mobilized by events in Tunisia that sparked new resistance efforts.”  Palestine doesn’t fit the bill because even if there is some renewed momentum for Palestinian democracy post-arab spring, the evidence is very weak that the nature of this 60 year old struggle has dramatically changed in the past year.  They may not have a perfect democracy, but I assure you that Hamas and Fatah gained power and sustained power in a way that involved a lot more elections than Gaddafi.

The stem argument is just outrageously terrible.  Having the same stem does not mean that everything you put on the end of that stem becomes unified.  For example: The United States Federal Government should substantially increase its democracy assistance for one or more of the following: Egypt, England, and South Africa.

The logical extreme of trying to having a topic that is focused is not one case.  I am not suggesting that we throw affirmative diversity completely out the window.  It’s good that there are a bunch of different aff’s, we just need to make sure that all those aff’s are connected to the core of the topic, and not just thrown in there because we are overwhelmed with fervor for the plight of the Palestinian people.

I’ve read your topic papers and find them lacking, and your reading of the original topic paper massively overhypes the importance given to the Palestinian territories.  This seems like a prime example of personal politics clouding judgment about what would make the best debate topic.
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