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Author Topic: Restrict Presidential War Powers Controversy Proposal  (Read 28813 times)
kelly young
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« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2013, 12:05:08 PM »

Hi Cameron,

Your concern is a valid one that we considered as we drafted the paper. We think the conventional or non-nuclear issues are rather robust without bringing in all of the nuclear weapon authority issues.

For this reason, we think a list of specific powers would be the best option. Our "List/Limited" and "Passive/Limited" options on page 92 of the paper attempt to specify to exclude areas like nuclear authority. For instance,

USFG List/Limited -- Resolved: That the United States federal government should increase
and/or enact statutory [limitations/restrictions] on the [Commander-in-Chief/presidential war]
powers of the President of the United States to: designate and detain enemy combatants;
conduct covert military operations; use domestic wiretapping; or deploy military forces without
congressional approval.

Passive Voice/Limited - Resolved: That the [Commander-in-Chief/presidential war]powers of
the President of the United States should be substantially [restricted/limited] in one or more of
the following areas: designate and detain enemy combatants; conduct covert military
operations; use domestic wiretapping; or deploy military forces without congressional approval.

Unfortunately with these wording, our intent does not match well with our product. The "Deploy military forces without congressional approval" likely allows for no first use and deploy weapons to X country. I don't think it allows some of the other examples, but I can't say with certainty. As I admitted in the controversy paper, the "deploy military forces without congressional approval" is very loose and needs to be tightened up substantially with wording papers to cover UAVs, OSOs, and other areas without allowing everything in. I'm not very good at specific wording, so this wording was convenient because it captured several areas we highlight in the paper, but admittedly isn't very restrictive.

Something like "conventional military forces" or "non-nuclear military forces" might resolve the concern rather easily.

On the other hand, the broad wording options would allow these affirmatives, unless "conventional" or "non-nuclear" is added before Commander-in-Chief/presidential war powers. That seems more awkward in wording to me, so I would opt for the lists above.

Thanks for the discussion.
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BruceNajor
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2013, 02:18:39 PM »

Just to add briefly on Cameron’s point that these debates would be fun: Congressional oversight on US nuclear weapon policy is one that the literature is, honestly, awesome on.  We considered including a section dedicated to that area, but decided against it because of its relationship with the roles/missions topic 5 years ago.  The paper did identify this as an area the topic committee could choose to include, “However, we want to be clear that … these do not have to be the only presidential war powers that can be included. There are many other issues such as authorization to use nuclear weapons” (Page 91). 

That said, I think if it was included, it would likely be a very different debate than we saw on the roles/missions topic.  If the topic committee does decide to include nuclear weapons policy, I think this is an area where the Executive CP is more of a blessing than a curse*.  Affirmatives that want to re-run this aff will lose rounds to “Have the president make that decision”, and a NB about external constraints on the president.  I agree with Cameron that at the moment it’s hard to think of a net benefit with a large link differential**, but we all know the negative will probably find a way.  That likely will force the affirmative to defend congressional/judicial oversight of nuclear weapon policy, a debate that to my understanding was mostly missing from that topic (and let me assure anyone who thinks such a debate is esoteric and/or not grounded in the literature would be very wrong).  As others have said in this forum, this is an example of how the Executive CP will mold the topic in new, unique, and mostly positive ways.***

However, I can understand hesitation to having those debates this year.  To reiterate what Kelly stated, the wording of the resolution could simply be written in a way that defined “war declaration” in a way that excludes nuclear roles/missions if that is desired.  An already too long topic paper was not the best place, we thought, to get into the semantic debate over how to limit “war declaration”, but potential is there. 

Cameron is right, if we decide to use the phrase “non-nuclear” in this scenario, the negative disads could argue the President would fund and/or use more nuclear forces as a result of the plan, but I would be suspicious of this disad.  It seems on the nuclear topic the negative disad that the plan spurs a conventional shift makes sense for the exact reason this disad would be suspect (would the president really be willing to use nuclear weapons if Congress didn’t approve war?)  If this ends up being one of those disads the community accepts even though the story might be a little extreme, affirmatives would still be able to generate offense with the argument that use = unlikely, and this = stronger deterrence.

Either way, if the community does decide for this topic, we would encourage people both in favor and against including restrains on the executive nuclear policy in the resolution to write wording papers.  As Kelly pointed out, we laid out the potential for both broad and limited wordings, and since the authors of this paper were not monolithic for or against, different authors would probably help craft the different wordings.   

----------------------------------

*I want to expand on the point of the Executive CP in this context:

**Cameron is absolutely correct that if the CP does exactly the same restriction as the aff, it is nearly impossible to think of a NB with a link differential story that makes any sense, and that miniscule link differential would have to be weighed against a rather specific and well-grounded-in-the-literature congressional oversight advantage. 

***I am extremely confused by some peoples assertions that the Executive CP is more likely to lead to bad debates, as opposed to good debates, by forcing the affirmative into the best parts of the literature.  Yes, bad affs that focus on the least strategic advantages will have as hard of a time answering the Executive CP as they do on most topics (it normally does solve all the aff, after all, leaving the aff with perms and rollback arguments), and, when the CP is limited to this role, it is exactly the reason it is helpful (limiting out bad "affs of the week").  Good affs, however, will focus on the most strategic advantages, and will generally have an easier time answering this CP given the specificity of the oversight key topic-specific literature.

So, my understanding after looking into this topic for several months; worst case scenario is the CP is about as good as it is on any topic (maybe a little worse than normal because of “object fiat” objections), best case scenario, the aff is set up to answer the CP, and not in a way that skews the literature in a negative way.

I don’t really want to compare/contrast “hard to answer CPs” on other topics because 1) I like all the topic papers submitted, and think they would be good topics (in different ways), and 2) debaters probably should be good at cost-benefit considerations and don’t need my opinion, so all I will say is I’m unsure why if you’re having doubts about this topic answers to this CP, you would be comfortable with dealing with the constitutional amendment CP on definitions, or “agree to the terms of but not sign” on treaties.  These kinds of CPs get run all the time, regardless of the topic, but I believe this topic may give the affirmative more topic-specific answers than other topics.

Best,

Bruce
« Last Edit: April 28, 2013, 02:24:30 PM by BruceNajor » Logged

Bruce Najor
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« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2013, 09:38:54 AM »

This is a good paper, and thorough
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kelly young
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« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2013, 09:45:42 AM »

This is a good paper, and thorough

Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey.
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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2013, 04:45:19 PM »

Now that the most important observation is out of the way, let me just respond to some general themes.  I wish this was happening in a different forum because I really don't want to derail the definitions discussion, but it seems to be happening here, so here is where I'll post, but I'd wish we'd move it to a more appropriate place.

Kevin is absolutely correct, people will read, and win rounds on, the XO CP... like they do on EVERY topic.  I am not so much confused by that claim, as I am by what seems to be the assertion that this doesn't apply equally to EVERY topic paper, expect maybe democracy.  Definitions is likely to be a USFG agent, so its likely to focus on the Courts (In fact, the topic paper identifies some affs that must be the courts, like campaign finance reform), or Congress.  Courts affs will hear amendment CPs every round, Congress affs will hear Courts CPs every round.  "[T]he federal definitions topic does not include these risks" is a statement I do not understand, and seems to be on-face backwards.  It is a USFG topic, so it will be open to process CPs.

Any topic that uses a USFG agent needs a good defense of the process.  I remember when I wrote affs (not that long ago but it sure seems it) the first thing we decided was "who was going to be our actor, and why".  Defending your actor is important to winning aff rounds, on any topic.  We recognize that the aff will be forced to defend their actor on war powers, we just dont feel, after months of research, that well written and strategic affs will have a particularly hard time, given the strength of the literature that congressional / judicial oversight is necessary.

I think Kelly, and certainly myself, have admitted the XO is in play, so is the Courts CP, Congress CP, so is the de-fund drones CP, the states CP to some affs, international CPs, consult CPs, condition CPs... all in play.  They're also in play on EVERY TOPIC EVER, including EVERY topic paper up for a vote this year (again, except maybe democracy).  What makes war powers potentially unique is the aff answers to XO are topic specific in ways the aff answers to XO weren't on immigration, or subsidies (The impound CP, or whatever that was). 

I haven't researched definitions, so I won't assert that the answers to the amendment CP, or Courts CP, or states CP are generic... they may very well be specific.  But I do know it is quite confusing to assume these debates won't happen, and won't happen a lot, on any USFG topic.  The best we can do is select a topic that ensures the ground will be equal when dealing with those CPs, and hopefully the literature will be specific so we ensure topic specific debates.  I can confidently say both those things are a check for war powers.

Bruce,

We can move the discussion here no problem.  I appreciate the reply and the engagement--I hope you are not being forced to repeat too much.  Great research and work on the paper, by the way.  i just have a few points in an attempt to summarize and move on.  As Kelly has noted, most folks probably already know how they are going to vote.

1. Yes, all of these topics have the potential to be overwhelmed by process arguments.

2. Some of this will depend on wordings.

3. From having coached the Commander-in-Chief topic a few years back, the process arguments on an issue like this can be fairly dominant.  That was some time ago and you have made some compelling arguments that differentiate your controversy from previous resolutions, but it is an empirical example of a topic that is like yours and so the evidence from that year does matter.

4. A lot of this is a question of degree.  Facing a few bad Con-Con CPs every other tournament might be better than dealing with some juiced-up XO debates every other round.  That is more of a personal preference.

5. Finally, forest > trees.  The larger picture here is that we desperately need a resolutional olive branch (or forest) that can allow for the grounding of policy debate yet still acknowledge the changes that are taking place in the community and provide some different kinds of spaces, particularly for affirmative flexibility.  With a War Powers resolution I just do not see as much space for alternative approaches to debate in terms of being able to relate to the topic in substantial ways.  There is some space and your paper works hard on proving that, but I am sure you agree that the opportunity to roam outside the CAFO is less available with your controversy than some of the others.  Of course, as DH and AS are demonstrating, this is a larger debate about whether or not the chance to be topical would actually be accepted by a meaningful number of unorthodox teams, but it is worth a try.  If we want to give a little ground to those arguing for something fresh, I am not sure war powers is the way to go.  Yes, this has been voiced a dozen times and so have the answers back, but the point remains that our topics have been behind our broader theories of advocacy and that can change in some educational ways.





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BruceNajor
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« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2013, 07:17:46 PM »

Anyone who has seen me debate knows I don't mind repeating myself.

"All topics can potentially be overwhelmed by process CPs, wording may solve some of this"


Yes, to an extent.  Even a most benign wording for the affirmative will lead to process / actor CPs. 

Actually, what encourages these CPs in my opinion is when it is hard for the negative to defend the status quo.  That, more than anything else, will likely get you CPs that do the entire plan.

Previous CiC topics prove this will be a big debate

I don't think we ever denied this.  I also coached the HS executive authority topic.  The CP was strong.  Affs still managed to win many debates.  Anecdotal evidence we've gathered from those who debated in the early 90s was that this was an enjoyable topic, and quite frankly the war powers of the president weren't even close to as controversial as they are now. 

Empirical and anecdotal evidence from the Courts topic, however, show that the constitutional amendment CP will not be an "every other tournament" thing, but rather an "every round" thing.  It is my impression that trying to select a topic that best avoids a "process CP debate" is rather impossible, rather, if this is a concern, trying to choose a topic where the literature is best engaging in process choices is a better route.  I think war powers meets this burden in a strong way.

We need a a resolutional olive branch... Not enough personal attachment potential for war powers

I am very suspicious of this claim.  There is a growing literature base that argues because our citizenship flows through the cult of the presidency, we have reduced our active citizenship.  This, in fact, is the academic research interests of at least two of the topic authors. 

So what does that mean?  To me, this means the dismissive "no relation to the topic" claim is either highly suspect, or highly misguided.  That growing literature base would argue if we accept this logic, all politics is likely to stay national focused, and the cult of the presidency is likely to continue to go unchallenged, taking important tools away from any and all social movements.

Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  If that academic research isn't your cup of tea, vote for a different topic.  But the argument that the War Power controversy insufficiently accesses the potential of these debates is, in my opinion, weak.  And teams who choose not to engage the topic and make your argument in framework debates will have to deal with this growing and strong literature base in the form of a very good (in my opinion) topic specific disad.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 07:19:48 PM by BruceNajor » Logged

Bruce Najor
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RW Evans
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« Reply #36 on: May 04, 2013, 09:32:38 PM »

It seems to me that Obama stop doing X (or even better have obama establish a new policy/precedent on X or Y to solve X) (the "XO CP") is the heart of negative ground under this topic and that it gets to the heart of the legal question that makes this topic a legal one.  The question ought to be whether there should be actual constraints on the president's war powers.  The only way to truly test that is to allow the negative to remove all other concerns to focus the question on the precedent and not the policy.  The affirmative should not be allowed to win any debates by simply proving drones are bad or wireless tapping is bad and that's why the XO counterplan is the only way for the negative to narrow the question to the power of the presidency and not the desirability of the policy the president enacts with its powers.  I am not certain the XO CP is object fiat, but I am certain that object fiat is defensible, particularly in this instance.  

So, if you are voting for this topic for the shiny wars, you will be sadly disappointed because this topic is not about about that at all.  If you are voting for this topic because it is a legal topic designed to test the balance of power between the executive and legislative then you will be very happy.  But, if you plan on being affirmative, you won't be happy because you won't ever be able to produce a quantifiable NB to the precedent.  The lack of precedent (1) won't be a solvency deficit to the XO CP vis-a-vis your advantages and (2) can't produce an independent NB that can be weighed against the DAs to the plan.  Impossible to defeat.  

Ultimately, this topic/future resolution could have been:  the USFG should end one or more of the following policies indefinite detention, domestic wiretapping, covert military operations.  But it is not proposed as such because then it wouldn't be a legal topic.  It's actually supposed to be about whether the president should have the flexibility to make these decisions or should be subject to oversight.  How can the negative force that critical question without the XO CP?  

-RW Evans
« Last Edit: May 04, 2013, 09:42:57 PM by Topic Talk » Logged
BruceNajor
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« Reply #37 on: May 05, 2013, 10:17:52 AM »

Actually, I agree with a lot of these premises, but we disagree on what this means rounds will look like on this topic.

The XO CP might limit out "drones bad, ban drones" as much as the XO CP typically limits topics (negs still have to deal with XO rollback args, which are really the only solvency deficit teams typically have against an XO CP until they read their process add-on, and critical teams likely won't be deterred by this CP).

However, I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.  To be completely honest, when Kelly approached me about helping with this topic, My thought process was pretty much exactly what RWE posted... then I researched it.  Turns out, most solvency advocates don't recommend banning drones, or covert strikes, or wiretapping.  They argue that so long as the President is left unrestrained, you get the problems of the status quo (errant uses, tech modeling in ways that will frustrate the US, lack of due process, etc.).  So actually, I think teams that are interested in the shiny war advantages will have plenty of ground to win those, while still maximizing their ground when dealing with the XO.

The issue of the NB to the CP being capable of outweighing the solvency deficit has been addressed earlier, and I really don't have anything new to say there.  I think the NB link differential is minuscule, and if structured strategically the solvency deficit is rather large.  I would be OK with giving these 2ARs.  It's at least a better 2AR than teams normally can give versus the XO CP.

I'm actually surprised more hasn't been made on the object fiat question.  This was a contentious issue among the topic authors.  I was 100% on RWE side (even if its object fiat, it might be a good kind of object fiat), but after reading what Sarah posted, I'm less convinced in my original position.
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Bruce Najor
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Trond Jacobsen
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« Reply #38 on: May 05, 2013, 11:39:49 AM »

About two weeks ago in a short exchange with Derek Domino on NDTCEDA Tradition I made a series of statements about the presidential powers controversy area, and by direct implication its authors and advocates, that were uncalled for and very unfair. Almost immediately I realized I was wrong and in the days since have reflected on my mistakes. I would like to publicly apologize for my careless comments. Several of my comments were flippant and derogatory and have no place in a civil discourse about possible topic areas. Worse I impugned the motives of people I do not know and am not in a position to assess. I was wrong to do so and claim no excuses for having done so. Using the strategy I used in this thread would have been the wiser and fairer choice.

I apologize to Dr. Kelly Young, John Koch, Bruce Najor, Al Hiland, Jacob Justice, Brad Meloche, and Talya Slaw. Your controversy paper is a major work of debate scholarship that stands on its own merits and reflects considerable and careful efforts that are undeserving of my intemperate and ill-considered remarks. Obviously I am only responsible for my own words and actions.

I will not compound my wrongs by pretending to support the presidential powers controversy area or by denying that I have significant reservations about it, on both competitive and ethical grounds, which are related to how I imagine any topic under that umbrella unfolding.

Trond Jacobsen
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kevin kuswa
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« Reply #39 on: May 05, 2013, 05:29:45 PM »

The issue of the NB to the CP being capable of outweighing the solvency deficit has been addressed earlier, and I really don't have anything new to say there.  I think the NB link differential is minuscule, and if structured strategically the solvency deficit is rather large.  I would be OK with giving these 2ARs.  It's at least a better 2AR than teams normally can give versus the XO CP.

I'm actually surprised more hasn't been made on the object fiat question.  This was a contentious issue among the topic authors.  I was 100% on RWE side (even if its object fiat, it might be a good kind of object fiat), but after reading what Sarah posted, I'm less convinced in my original position.

Bruce, when I saw your initial answer to the XO questions, I thought "that's not a good position for the 2AR to be in at all." It's a place where the neg has gotten out of the squo and solves some of the case and at that point the neg's ability to find a creative NB that avoids the aff's arguments is pretty easy to do.

The "good 2AR" against the XO shifts quite a bit if the neg is creative with their net benefit and makes what you are calling a "deficit" into the link to the NB.  The CP would solve enough of the case to get a convoluted (aren't they all) politics NB plus offense by turning the SOP argument or whatever spin is used to defend legislation.  The neg would actually have a ton of flexibility on what portions of the case to solve and what portions to turn by using "XO is force of law" or reading the "is only temporary, one-time policy" cards as a link to a structural NB.

Yes, it is a debate, but I do not think you have shown that the aff is as far ahead as you think on this.

On the object fiat question, the aff is arguably just as guilty (the Pres has to sign legislation unless specified otherwise as a veto).  If "object fiat bad" is enough to respond to the CP, it probably takes out the aff as well.
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BruceNajor
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« Reply #40 on: May 05, 2013, 06:12:20 PM »

Kevin, your argument that "the neg has gotten out of the squo and solves some of the case" assumes a case that is structured very poorly.  A well constructed aff would likely argue drones (for example) are inevitable, but setting up rules (vis-a-vis something like a congressional drone court), stops errant strikes, and ensures an international model once the drone technology proliferates that the US would find acceptable.  So, What does this mean for the XO CP?

1) The "Stop using drones" CP is obviously a non-starter with no net benefit.

2) The "President will internally set up a drone court with his advisers" CP is available, but a little bit of research will quickly turn up many advocates, as well as opponents, to this option, as well as comparative claims about the congressional role in this process.

3) The NB becomes a lot tougher for the negative to win:

a) I think politics is a rough net benefit, as explained in previous posts

b) the bigger of a "president needs to circumvent Congress sometimes" NB you win, the less of the aff you solve, for obvious reasons.

c) and conversely, the more restraints you put on the president, the less of the NB you have.

Now, besides the solvency deficit outlined above, which I find to be rather large, but you find to be rather small, the aff will always have a built in process net benefits.  I think Kelly and John already posted cards about just how big the precedent impact is (its actually not some lame SOP impact, but a rather specific international credibility one).  So the negative will likely be in the tough spot of simultaneously arguing "we constrain the president just as much" to solve the aff, and then 30 seconds later saying "we also allow president flexibility, and a lot of it, so our NB is big"... that doesn't sound like a very persuasive NB to me, especially when the aff process advantage is a 100% disad to the CP.

Finally, even if you end up being 100% right about everything, I still don't know how this is any different than the hundreds of XO debates that have occurred on non-CiC topics.  The CP does all the aff, and has a presidential powers NB.  The aff has some "rollback" arguments, makes some perms, maybe an "actor CP unfair" theory arg, and, most of the time, a very weak process add-on that isn't particularly topic specific.  Given what you say, you'd think the XO CP would be a historically devastating CP on most topics, but, that hasn't been my experience.

I also want to reiterate one point.  I actually was pretty skeptical of how the answers to the XO CP would look... until I did the research.  I don't blame, and totally understand, your reaction to how this CP would work.  I had the same one.  But the research actually spells out something very different.  Congress/Judicial oversight is an important part of the literature.  I am not trying to sell the community a lemon.  If I didn't believe it I wouldn't say it, my teams have to go aff too.

I don't, however, want to give the impression that it won't be a debate.  If this topic wins, the XO CP will be run, and it will likely win some rounds.  Probably, the one Wayne State team that will defend a topical plan will lose a few rounds on it.  I'm just not convinced that we shouldn't debate the cult of the presidency because an actor CP will be run.  I mean, honestly, I would bet someone figures out some more convoluted process mechanism that "PIC's" out of the certainty of the plan, but solves more of the aff and has a bigger NB than the XO CP.  I bet people figure this out on every topic.  I am not convinced we have stumbled across a unique reason to disengage from debates about the presidency.

On the object fiat question, I might agree, I'd have to think about it more.  What if the aff didn't require a presidential signature (Courts)?
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Bruce Najor
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« Reply #41 on: May 05, 2013, 09:02:45 PM »

Bruce, just quickly--if the XO NB is the specific international credibility argument you are talking about as the advantage except as a disadvantage (where the neg argues that it would be bad to have expanded international credibility through the plan and the CP avoids it) all your arguments are flipped in favor of the neg.  On the object fiat question, if the plan specifies the Court, the aff would not be guilty fiatting the object, but that aff would be open to a number of other process arguments.
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BruceNajor
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« Reply #42 on: May 05, 2013, 10:11:36 PM »

Sorry in advanced at the length of this answer to your short question.  I think there still may be room for explanation here, and I've never been much for efficiency.

Quick clarification at the outset; there is a difference in the literature between international credibility and international precedent, and I may have been using both of these terms without explaining what I meant.

To use drones as an example, the scenario for international credibility would likely be something like "Our current drone policy encourages 'signature strikes', these drain international credibility, or cause instability, and something like a drone court would limit these strikes." The CP to have the President "ban" signature strikes is probably lacking a NB (this is the 'more it solves the advantage, the less it has a link differential discussion), and the evidence that only Congressional oversight effectively prevents profiling, and results in better targeting, is pretty decent.

If your example is the negative could admit "we don't solve the international credibility, we're impact turning it" and flip the ground back to their side, you are right the net benefit is stronger, but at the cost of not solving the affirmative advantage.

But that wouldn't be the only problem for the negative.  There is also the "international precedent" advantage.  Many drone affs would likely argue that drone proliferation is inevitable, and we need to set a model on how to use them for other countries, otherwise this "no rules" approach advanced in the status quo is likely to hurt the US geopolitically.  There is good evidence that the congressional drone court is an example of a type of policy that would get modeled.  Again, the negative could admit they don't solve this advantage, because they don't set up an external check, and say "international precedent bad", but once again, they would have to eat an entire (and persuasive, in my opinion), aff advantage.  And the more the negative says the XO CP is the affirmative as far as creating a drone court that would set up an international precedent, the less of a net benefit I think they have.

So I agree with you, the negative could gain a bigger NB, but only by impact turning one of these advantages, and at that point, since you are implicitly impact turning the general thesis of the aff, you probably don't need the CP.  I mean, if you can win international credibility bad, you probably should be able to win the round anyway.  In my experience the marketplace of arguments has been pretty hostile to this strategy.

And on top of that all, the specificity of the "process key" evidence advanced by the affirmative (Congressional oversight on drones key to solve any of this) is strong enough that the aff will press a solvency deficit to weigh against the net benefit regardless of how much the negative tries to duplicate the plan.
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Bruce Najor
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kelly young
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« Reply #43 on: May 08, 2013, 04:19:12 PM »

For Lincoln Garrett:

[Insert typically over aggressive or flippant Kelly Young response to a post about prez powers paper. Safely assume it includes some mockery of Kevin Kuswa's fascination with soft power bad arguments]
 
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