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Author Topic: Topic 3  (Read 6816 times)
Adam Symonds
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« on: July 06, 2015, 05:01:46 PM »

I think we should be debating topic 3. It's the only topic that allows the aff to actually modify the alliances we have with the various topic countries. This is important because many, if not most, authors in favor of reducing troops deployed to allied countries further advocate altering or even terminating alliances. If we want to give the aff the ability to follow where the solvency literature goes, I think this is a great option. The democracy assistance topic is a stunning example of what happens when we box the aff in at the start of the season and don't allow adaptation to the lit.

Affs that alter the alliance also obviously generate better link arguments to alliances DAs. Generally speaking, this topic is presence plus: presence as defined in the topic paper, but with the "plus" option of the aff being able to die that troop reduction to broader ramifications on the alliance. Affs that want to simply reduce troop presence are able to, because the topic is phrased "by at least."

I know that there is a strong contingent that feels we should have increase presence as an option in the resolution. My question is: why? If the topic is reduce, the negative gets to defend SQ or increased troop presence. We create a coherent, core controversy around reducing presence. The topic committee honestly had a hard time finding a country where increasing troops had a solid defense in the lit. Iraq, Syria, the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Afghanistan were the states where these arguments were clearly present. However, the sentiment was that the best Afghanistan aff did not increase, but simply maintained troop presence. The Iraq and the Baltic States increase affs obviously damage the negative's disad uniqueness pretty substantially. Ukraine and Syria would not appear to be enough to sustain a singular topic - nor do they even appear in a topic together.

Finally, I think the uniqueness point is significant enough to warrant its own point. We should strive to push the aff to make stark changes from the SQ. We all know that the aff will find any way it can to say that the SQ is already attempting the aff (or actions quite similar to the aff). Let's make the educational choice to make the change significant and controversial. And let's make the educational choice to force this reduction yes/no debate in an attempt to foster some critical thinking about the SQ. Regardless of your individual politics, can't we agree that questioning the way things are now fosters greater critical thinking? Increase affs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Baltic States largely codify the SQ, which seems to be a real problem for competitive and educational purposes.

My .02


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Malgor
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2015, 06:35:07 PM »

I know a lot of people are excited about being able to increase military presence to solve cool wars and stuff on the aff, but i don't think a bidirectional topic is ideal.  IMO it gets the least of both camps (increase and decrease).  The prospect of debating countries like Afghanistan scares me- the main rationale given by people present at the topic meeting for those countries to be included in bidirectional topics was that there would likely be massive 180 swings in uniqueness/direction of US foreign policy during the season (so you couldn't depend on them staying unidirectional).  That might seem manageable to a lot of squads, but my guess is many are hesitant to claim they have the resources to deal with such large shifts in the contours of aff/neg ground over the course of the season.  It also ensures that competitive squads with resources to innovate arguments are going to do so at a breakneck speed, and they will have a lot of clever answers to negative uniqueness on top of that.  I can't emphasize enough how these concerns were barely mentioned, much less comprehensively addressed, at the topic meeting.

I'd also reiterate something Adam said, which was a justification for enhance was that the best affs for Afghanistan and Iraq might be more about shifting timetables or restructuring existing forces, not increasing/decreasing them.   This was not vetted in terms of how the negative deals with affirmatives like that.  In fact, the only justification I kept hearing repeated was "it's timely" with no emphasis on how 'enhance' affs that just change timetables etc would effect the negative.

I like three because of the flexibility of aff options, the affs have to be robust (neg ground is great on those topics), and they are unidirectional.  I don't perceive massive wings in our military commitments to Japan of the Persian Gulf in the next year. 

also, it's creative.  An increase aff is nothing new- it's a continuation of the status quo.  The cornerstone of US foreign policy since WW2 has been to increase military presence/ties to deal with geopolitical issues.  Boring.   Why don't we invest the millions of hours of brain power into having the aff think of new approaches to US fopo. 

As excited as I am to read a bunch of cards from think tanks funded by defense contractors about how important it is for the US to build more armaments to deploy, I don't think it has to happen on the aff.  Let the neg say it there if they want. 
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CouldaBeenaContenda
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2015, 07:21:53 PM »

...As excited as I am to read a bunch of cards from think tanks funded by defense contractors about how important it is for the US to build more armaments to deploy,...

Has there ever been a military policy topic that did not get overwhelmed by cards from think tanks funded by defense contractors about how important it is for the US to build more armaments to deploy?

In 1980, my debate coach did some summer topic research (unusual for him) and found lots of fantastic evidence supporting increasing research for radar deadening material to coat airplanes with, and to develop high energy lasers to zap incoming missiles.  What he couldn't have known, of course, is that the United States had already secretly spent billions of dollars developing what came to be called "Stealth" technology, that it was closer to deployment than was known at the start of that debate year, and as the public became more informed of its purported capabilities during that debate season, those affirmative cases had to be hastily rewritten from R&D plans to accelerated implementation and deployment plans.  

Similarly, tens of billions of dollars had already been spent by DARPA on Laser weapon research; in fact, it was discovered during the debate year that we had already likely spent more than the total calculated cost of the affirmative plans for a fully deployed dome of the nature that Ronald Reagan would propose three years later, so while the affirmatives had to revise their cost estimates upwards, administratively they also had to have someone other than DARPA complete the development because the reason that DARPA hadn't finished the job already after spending all that money must have been that it is inept.   One team, in desperation, developed an inherency contention that consisted of just three words: "DARPA is bad".  When I heard it, I wanted to roll up a newspaper and hold it menacingly over DARPA while looking down sternly, and admonish: "Bad, DARPA!  Bad!"  In retrospect, I should have presented that as a counterplan.  But the Laser cases kept winning because, how can you put a price on stopping a nuclear war?

Too bad there was no NDT during World War II.  The affirmatives could have convincingly indicted the status quo for not funding the development of an atom bomb.  I would bet my bottom dollar right now that if a nuclear attack ever seems imminent, we will learn that we have already developed the technology to bring entire countries' electronic communications to heel, like the aliens did in the 1960 Twilight Zone Episode, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street", but since so much military information is classified, debaters can debate apparent military policy incompetence in substantial ignorance while convincingly advocating increasing expenditures to develop such capabilities.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 03:45:20 PM by CouldaBeenaContenda » Logged

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Adri
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Posts: 125


« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2015, 01:39:00 PM »

My thoughts on the topic meeting, etc., in response to Malcolm's recent post:

I know a lot of people are excited about being able to increase military presence to solve cool wars and stuff on the aff, but i don't think a bidirectional topic is ideal.  IMO it gets the least of both camps (increase and decrease).  The prospect of debating countries like Afghanistan scares me- the main rationale given by people present at the topic meeting for those countries to be included in bidirectional topics was that there would likely be massive 180 swings in uniqueness/direction of US foreign policy during the season (so you couldn't depend on them staying unidirectional).  

That “massive 180 swings” was the “main rationale” is not accurate – in fact it was not a rationale *for* including them in any topic. There were multiple rationales offered, and the caricature of those offered here is misleading.
 
Actual rationales presented for including increase options, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan –

• Iraq and Afghanistan have been at the center/forefront of the military presence debate for over a decade now

• They will continue to be at the center of that debate. See:
o Galloway’s work here: http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php/topic,6508.0.html
o My Afghanistan paper here (particularly headers “Timely”, “Significant”, and “Strategic”): http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php/topic,6498.msg14138.html#msg14138

• Uniqueness works for increase (see above papers again, as well as the several papers produced on the Baltic States)

• A lot of work was produced prior to the meeting on options in the increase direction. This is not to say the other countries in the decrease options don’t have military presence issues, but comparatively less evidence was offered that these debates were timely or central components of the contemporary military presence debate. Some also argued that less timely solvency advocates for reductions was proffered at the meeting.

• Attracting interest from novices and support from administrations based on interest in topics that are current events.

Obviously, reasonable people can disagree on the validity of these rationales. I just wanted to make sure those who were not attending or watching the meeting were aware that the rationales were more nuanced than previously indicated.

Regarding the "180 swing" claim:
An argument was made that the debate in Afghanistan and some of the other countries is evolving (i.e. timely, not stagnant, etc.), as any high profile and salient foreign policy is wont to do. Because there have been shifts in the debate over periods of months that might alter what the terrain looks like, perhaps a wording that was more flexible might be preferable to some people. There have been situations in which major affs have happened during the course of the season (SORT, wind tax credit extension, some democracy assistance) or situations in which changing events have impacted affs (Egypt NGO crackdown). Again, given that salient foreign policy issues evolve, that might be a reason to allow more flexibility for affs teams to adapt to such events by providing a ballot option for such situations.
The attempt was to allow us to debate those timely areas [which some folks might think is good – there would likely be less grumbling about stale and outdated debates with thin (recent and qualified) lit] – in a more flexible fashion.  Do I think 180 swings are likely? No. Are they possible in theory? Yes. However, they are also possible for all of the decrease options.  Again, reasonable people could disagree. If so, the folks that don’t want to accommodate a theoretical swing or are concerned about keeping up on such a topic, should not rank 5 at the top.

That might seem manageable to a lot of squads, but my guess is many are hesitant to claim they have the resources to deal with such large shifts in the contours of aff/neg ground over the course of the season.  It also ensures that competitive squads with resources to innovate arguments are going to do so at a breakneck speed, and they will have a lot of clever answers to negative uniqueness on top of that.  I can't emphasize enough how these concerns were barely mentioned, much less comprehensively addressed, at the topic meeting.

As a card-carrying member of the Small Squad Club, I have faith that small squads can innovate arguments – members of said club do it frequently. Will big squads always be big? Yes. They will also be bigger than us if there is a decrease-only topic. To be honest, my interest in the increase options is based primarily on the more recent lit, the solvency advocates, the timeliness, and my desire to attract more novice students via the current events angle. It is my perception those will benefit *my* small squad. Again, reasonable people may disagree.

I'd also reiterate something Adam said, which was a justification for enhance was that the best affs for Afghanistan and Iraq might be more about shifting timetables or restructuring existing forces, not increasing/decreasing them.   This was not vetted in terms of how the negative deals with affirmatives like that.  In fact, the only justification I kept hearing repeated was "it's timely" with no emphasis on how 'enhance' affs that just change timetables etc would effect the negative.

Disagree.
•   There were advocates for increases and decreases in Afghanistan and Iraq proffered at the meeting.

•   Additionally, I argued increase was okay in the context of Afghanistan because there were solvency advocates for increasing particular types of troops/military missions/military assistance (i.e. either increase or enhance worked in following where the aff lit went). Enhance seemed to win out among voters at the meeting because it avoided the dreaded (?) “increase does not mean prevent future decrease” violation.

•   Additionally, there are definitions of increase/enhance (and reduce for that matter) that allow for qualitative changes. Regardless of whether any enhance options are chosen, qualitative affs are likely. Broader definitions of military presence will allow potential changes without net reduction in troops. And, some net reductions in troop numbers in the floor option (#3) may not be so big link-wise For example, GCC affs in the floor option (#3) will allow a handful of troops be withdrawn and be a “significant” reduction (26 in Oman, anyone?).

•   There are neg args – there are reasons to withdraw (overstretch, strategic focus, pivots) and reasons not to stay longer (indigenous peace and/or reconciliation processes/governance transitions/blowback/internal politics disads, etc. that our presence complicates). There is timely and qualified lit on these issues.

I like three because of the flexibility of aff options, the affs have to be robust (neg ground is great on those topics), and they are unidirectional.  I don't perceive massive wings in our military commitments to Japan of the Persian Gulf in the next year.  

Reasonable people may disagree on neg ground and robustness (there is no modifier on the commitment reduction). See above regarding GCC and uniqueness cards attached (put them there to not crowd the flow of the args here).

also, it's creative.  An increase aff is nothing new- it's a continuation of the status quo.  The cornerstone of US foreign policy since WW2 has been to increase military presence/ties to deal with geopolitical issues.  Boring.   Why don't we invest the millions of hours of brain power into having the aff think of new approaches to US fopo.  

Some would argue creativity is possible with vibrant and timely lit. It could also be argued that the cornerstone of our policy in more recent times has been to leave without finishing what we’ve started or not stop Russia from invading Ukraine…but I digress. Or reasonable people...something something.


As excited as I am to read a bunch of cards from think tanks funded by defense contractors about how important it is for the US to build more armaments to deploy, I don't think it has to happen on the aff.  Let the neg say it there if they want.  

Doesn’t have to happen on the neg. Increase/decrease resolution options allow both sides to get to say what they want when they’re aff.

Thanks for reading,
Adri

* Decrease Not As Unique as Neg Wants.docx (50.89 KB - downloaded 209 times.)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2015, 01:50:08 PM by Adri » Logged
Malgor
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Posts: 220


« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2015, 08:51:59 AM »

yeah, i didn't mean to say that swings in direction were the primary rationale for having those countries in A topic, but it was a rationale for why they needed to be in a bi-directional topic.  People were saying it needed to be bidirectional because of the reasonable expectation that there could be swings in direction throughout the course of the year.    your characterization of the other reasons is accurate. 

I have 100% faith that you can lead a small squad through just about any resolution, regardless of timeliness or size- don't think many people would disagree with me on that point!

I think the other place where we split is on the quality of the cards in the galloway document.  I don't see as much there that assures me.  Some of the cards are lacking warrants/explanation, and some even say in the un-underlined portions that the status quo is already going in the direction of staying longer (it's a proposal being actively debated in the military right now)- to me that's a risk of timeliness = uniqueness nightmare, but yeah- some people like that.

One thing I'll say about the uniqueness doc for presence being decreased now- I don't think that hurts the neg much at all.  First, the best decrease affs are going to do more than minor troop removals.  Small troop removals are usually better for shift or pivot advantages which the neg can easily CP out of. 

Second, even affs that DO small troop removals won't be able to swarm the alliance good DA with non uq arguments-  the neg will have many nuanced arguments they can make about why that uniqueness isn't relevant (previous reductions were cooperative, involved consultation, previous reductions didn't accompany reductions in security guarantees, previous reductions were necessary, but took us to the floor limit on presence). Best part is that the MIC ensures that people write those cards for the negative with frequency.

AND, when the neg is running an alliance DA, they can always CP to get out of uq problems.

i'm starting to think the biggest DA to a decrease only resolution is the skepticism policy judges will approach the aff with.....some ppl seem to think it's the crazy bad idea and increase is the only game in town.  Yikes.

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Adam Symonds
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Posts: 349


« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2015, 04:06:40 PM »

I would also like to highlight that topics 1 and 5 largely don't make real world sense. Our military presence is defined through regional theatres of operation, not individual countries. Topics 3 and 4 take account of the regional approach that the military uses. 2 is not explicitly regional, but the proximity of the countries might still allow the aff. I could post a bunch of cards here, but a 10 second conversation with my father who was an admiral confirms this is entirely the case.

Why is this relevant? For one thing, if we are going to debate military presence, we should be encouraging accurate education, not debate-mythologized versions of these policies. Many of our students leave this activity and enter think tanks, poli sci programs, and political jobs. In all of these situations, we are setting them up to fail. See Branson's edebate post on this: http://osdir.com/ml/education.region.usa.edebate/2007-06/msg00001.html

Competitively, we're interjecting a PMN in the topic - the US will simply stage its troops in a different country in the region, still providing access to the target country of the aff. We're also putting the aff at a solvency disadvantage - they will be able to defend only the removal of troops from the single country they choose, they will not be able to alter broader military strategy based on our regional military presence. Affs won't be able to follow where the literature leads them - they'll have to selectively highlight only the "boots on the ground" portions of their cards, often eviscerating the key mechanisms that the author(s) are leaning on for solvency claims.
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