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TOPIC COMMITTEE => 2011 - 2012 Topic => Topic started by: stables on April 25, 2011, 11:11:16 AM



Title: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: stables on April 25, 2011, 11:11:16 AM
Whit Whitmore was kind enough to revisit the treaties topic and prepared this report.

I am also reposting the link for last year's paper.

Update - the link to the new report has been fixed.



Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: David Arnett on April 25, 2011, 12:00:30 PM
Breaking my moratorium on CEDA Forums posting to say one thing. This topic must include the CTBT. What does it say about the topic process that can produce a nukes and treaties topic that excludes the CTBT? I'll add that treaties 1.0 was largely a great topic because half the debates were about the CTBT. As sweet as the neg ground against the landmines treaty is...

Dave


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Brad Hall on April 25, 2011, 01:23:19 PM
It seems like there is a lot of enthusiasm for the mechanism of treaties and nostalgia for the 2002-3 topic, but that doesn't guarantee a good topic for anything involving treaties. The treaties last time were, for the most part, timely - many of these haven't changed much other than they've occasionally been debated by the Senate. One of the main reasons the last topic was so interesting is because it occurred at a time when US foreign policy was undergoing drastic changes in a way that the topic directly addressed - unilateralism vs. multilateralism.

Very few of the treaties discussed in this paper are controversial in any sense other than the political (and, I'm sure, the biopolitical) nor does the fact that they're "treaties" guarantee a link to a heg DA. I'd encourage people who are generically supportive of a treaties topic to really look at the neg literature for CEDAW or Ottawa and ask how likely it is you're going to hear treaty-specific DAs or if most debates will feature exciting arguments like federalism and the Congressional-Executive Agreement CP.

I'm not against a treaties topic, but it needs to have good treaties to be a good topic.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Malgor on April 25, 2011, 01:38:14 PM
Brad is on-point.  the first treaties topic was awesome because of the treaties.  ICC, CTBT, and Kyoto were all experiencing their "last best push" at US ratification.

The ground based on the mechanism for a treaties topic is poor.  The best arguments will be about the treaties.  The first treaties topic was awesome because of the CTBT and ICC.  Even Kyoto, the most written about environmental policy ever, was not a common affirmative on the topic.

malgor


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Whit on April 25, 2011, 01:56:58 PM
@Arnett (and others):

From the paper...

This section is called “potential treaties,” because it is not intended to be exclusive. The purpose of this section is to give the community some idea of what options exist and highlight some of the more fertile areas for debate. The wording paper stage of the topic process will allow a much more rigorous analysis of treaty viability. The lack of presence in this topic paper should not be interpreted as an attempt to exclude any treaty from consideration. Rather, the goal is to stress the desirability of mechanism itself as a subject for debate in the coming year. To quote Galloway from last year’s topic paper, “It is possible that further exploration in stage two of the process will yield even more treaties that…would allow for areas that debaters wish to discuss…not currently under consideration by our working group.  If treaties wins the controversy vote, I would encourage members of the community to submit papers on other treaties they deem to be pertinent and debatable issues.” Last year’s paper contained an extensive bibliography for a large number of treaties. Rather than replicate all of that work, my goal is to point to the evolution of the topic literature over the past year. Specifically, for the purposes of wording papers, the community could look into treaties that were previously debated on the treaties topic, as well as:

@Brad Hall/Malgor:

"last best push"

Are you joking? Bush was president. He 'unsigned' one of the treaties in the topic (ICC). He was the former governor of the state most known for using the death penalty. He probably doesn't believe in warming. He wouldn't touch the CTBT. SORT got done, but it never should have been in the topic to begin with (Sorry, Calum).

The timeliness issue is addressed in the paper. I'm sure every treaty will receive a thorough vetting by the topic committee for a balance of AFF/NEG literature before making it onto a ballot.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Brad Hall on April 25, 2011, 02:12:43 PM
That was actually just Malgor, and while I'm not sure if it's relevant, he is probably right that for some treaties, advocates knew this was their last chance for a while to get them ratified (the ICC was just being set up, so it was important for the US to participate; the Kyoto cap would have been too much for the US to implement if adopted much later than 2002/3 and Bush was actually a faux environmentalist during the 2000 campaign). What I really meant was that it was a unique intersection of both a broad debate about the direction of US foreign policy (preemption/prevention vs. limiting to specific responses; multilateralism vs. unilateralism) and treaties that actually affected those areas in substantive ways. There's a big difference between a one liner on "rights of the child key to soft power" and the possibility that the ICC could try US troops for war crimes or impose a two state solution in Israel/Palestine.

My basic point is treaty spec: knowing which treaties are likely to be included determines the desirability of the treaties topic - the mechanism alone isn't enough. Not all of the treaties from 02-03 make sense any more: SORT obviously passed; nothing has changed about the death penalty but not sure if that matters; ICC and CTBT both seem fine I guess; and Kyoto is outdated for several reasons. So if it's maybe a couple of those and then some mystery treaties with fair aff/neg division that will emerge during the topic process, voters should be cognizant of that. But absent specifics, I don't know why the mechanism of a treaty is better for debate than the mechanism of, say, a free trade agreement (which would be a good topic too).


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Whit on April 25, 2011, 02:27:12 PM
Do you have any specific objections to LOST, Ottawa, CEDAW, or the CRC? Please keep in mind that my paper was just to update evolution in the literature over the past year. All of those treaties received a positive stamp of approval in last year's paper, which included an extensive bibliography.

To be honest, I wish I had more time to work on the paper before submitting it. I would have liked to explore the cluster munitions treaty (it seems more relevant today than the landmine treaty). I was also intrigued by the illegal arms trafficking treaty.

Would you object to a wording that included: CTBT, ICC, LOST, CEDAW, Ottawa, and CRC?


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Brad Hall on April 25, 2011, 03:09:45 PM
No specific objections other than I don't know what the good treaty-specific neg ground is against most of those. CTBT is probably still legit, I'll trust Arnett on that one. Plus there's always Kato.

My understanding is that most of the rest only face political and not substantive opposition (other than from the Phyllis Schlaflys of the world and the black helicopter crowd).

If I remember correctly, CEDAW wasn't included last time because it was deemed to be too aff biased. There is definitely a lot of literature on this, but it's not really very good. I did some work on it during treaties because Fullerton (I believe) ran it as an aff. Most of the better neg arguments I found that were only mildly crazy were not really enough not to outweigh the aff or they relied on spilling over to things like Don't Ask Don't Tell which is no longer relevant.

LOST seems like it is more equally divided than the rest, mainly because it's tough to outweigh the Moon DA. So sure, this seems fine.

Ottawa was an aff that a lab of mine wrote once and I wasn't convinced then that the neg had any good arguments - the topic paper from last year  concedes it's an old debate. But there are relevant changes that make it even more aff biased - like the fact that control of landmines in Korea has been transferred to South Korea, so the North Korea DA doesn't make sense anymore. And since 67+ Senators urged Obama to ratify it a year ago, the politics DA goes the other way from the topic paper.

For CRC, the treaty-specific arguments listed in the paper are politics, federalism w/r/t family law, a treaty tradeoff DA that presumes the GOP is about to ratify the CEDAW, treaties bad, and no enforcement.

I honestly am not trying to pick on your paper - or the treaties topic. I loved the last treaties topic and am just worried about the leftovers topic. But I wanted to at least play Zizek's advocate against the idea that any treaties topic is a good topic in the hopes of generating some more specific discussion since this seems likely to be a popular topic. I'm mostly worried that even though there is a lot of literature on some of these treaties, the actual arguments contained therein aren't strong enough to dissuade reliance on process/ubergenerics, which was the main selling point of the last treaties topic.


Title: In Defense of Treaties...and Comparisons...
Post by: Ryan Galloway on April 25, 2011, 03:23:08 PM
I thought I would write something today against treaties.  I have been on a big relevance kick, and assumed that papers like taxes and defense cuts would have more contemporary relevance.

But then I read Whit's paper, and thought he did a great job updating the relevance of the treaties paper.  Whit illustrates a wide variety of good aff's on the topic, something that has been in short supply on topics that primarily speak to the hegemony of negative ground.

I'll also ask people what topic they would like to have instead of treaties.  A frustration in the last round of voting was that treaties became the front-runner, and it seemed people were making the perfect the enemy of the good.  Instead of drawing topic comparisons, treaties became the punching bag because...

Maybe it should say ratify and implement instead of consent to be bound by...
Maybe it would be better if the CTBT was included...
Maybe Ottawa shouldn't make the final cut...
Maybe it's not quite as good this time as it was the first time...

All of these are considerations for wave 2 of the topic.  Remember that every single topic you compare it to is going to have those considerations as well.

Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.  Draw comparisons.  Just because treaties is the alleged front-runner, don't go light on the other topic papers.  Be rigorous, be thorough in your comparisons.  We have an important vote that affects an entire year worth of topics.  We'll have a good slate, but don't let most of our attention go to bashing one paper out of the process at the expense of a careful examination of them all.

Thanks to Gordon, Whit, and all who are putting hard work into this process. 



Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Malgor on April 25, 2011, 03:40:47 PM
i agree that it's always preferable to make comparisons.  you're being a bit dramatic about this enemy of the good stuff. there was discussion on nearly every paper on the forums.  that doesn't mean there was a LOT of discussion, but that is almost always the case.  Hell, a lot of people don't even vote for the topic.  We need more participation in both discussion and voting!



Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: ScottElliott on April 25, 2011, 06:11:43 PM
Whit says, " I'm sure every treaty will receive a thorough vetting by the topic committee for a balance of AFF/NEG literature before making it onto a ballot."

Based on the results of past topics (Afghanistan stuck in a Mid-East topic; Indian Country; Visas instead of really addressing the core immigration issues facing the Nation; Sex trafficking included in the visas topic), I find the claim that the topic committee will thouroughly vett the balance of Aff and Neg literature for us is highly problematic. The structure of the TC cluster--f, uh, group encounter, virtually gurantees shallow analysis of the topic areas. 1) Everything is crammed into a three or four day session of people poking in random words on google to see if a search term comes up. 2) The focus on making everyone happy or appealing to specific personal poltical agendas leads to horribly worded topics that debaters then have to work around. I thought treaties last year was a good topic area...wrote a section of the topic area defending a specific treaty for inclusion. But, the thought of voting for "treaties...let the Topic Committee figure it out" is not very palatable.

Scott Elliott
 


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: kelly young on April 25, 2011, 06:45:43 PM
The structure of the TC cluster--f, uh, group encounter, virtually gurantees shallow analysis of the topic areas. 1) Everything is crammed into a three or four day session of people poking in random words on google to see if a search term comes up.

Yeah, you know, they should include a gap in time between the topic announcement and the topic meeting to let people write lengthy wording papers that help resolve these issues... [enter heavy eye rolls]

The TC created a number of different immigration topic options - the community voted to narrow it to visas. There was lengthy discussion of why Afghanistan was included in the ME topic, something that the topic authors strongly advocated. So, how are either of these the TC's fault?


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Whit on April 25, 2011, 08:06:12 PM
Whit says, " I'm sure every treaty will receive a thorough vetting by the topic committee for a balance of AFF/NEG literature before making it onto a ballot."

Based on the results of past topics (Afghanistan stuck in a Mid-East topic; Indian Country; Visas instead of really addressing the core immigration issues facing the Nation; Sex trafficking included in the visas topic), I find the claim that the topic committee will thouroughly vett the balance of Aff and Neg literature for us is highly problematic. The structure of the TC cluster--f, uh, group encounter, virtually gurantees shallow analysis of the topic areas. 1) Everything is crammed into a three or four day session of people poking in random words on google to see if a search term comes up. 2) The focus on making everyone happy or appealing to specific personal poltical agendas leads to horribly worded topics that debaters then have to work around. I thought treaties last year was a good topic area...wrote a section of the topic area defending a specific treaty for inclusion. But, the thought of voting for "treaties...let the Topic Committee figure it out" is not very palatable.

Scott Elliott

If you think the TC will CF the Rez, then it's really irrelevant which topic you vote for. No matter what controversy is chosen, there will be wording papers. There is always a second half to the process.

Nevertheless, I disagree with your summary of the topic committee process. Yes it could be longer, but we can't lock up the committee in conclave like they were electing the pope. As long as the wording papers are well written and researched (they are due before the committee ever meets), then the committee isn't forced to do a ton of extra research on them. Also, nothing is ever put on a ballot solely on the basis of "a google search." The members of the committee and numerous volunteers always do an often thankless (at least by you) job of making sure the topic doesn't suck. It includes a lot of spot research and nightly homework assignments. Yes, they try to make everyone happy, or at least include something for everyone. Last time I checked democracy was still good (not an endorsement of the demo promo paper ;) ). Maybe one day they'll make you topic czar, though.

Lastly, it's a little absurd to say that I turned in a topic paper that reads: "Resolved: Treaties...let the TC sort it out, lolz." There are ways to limit the range of treaties. For instance, using Ratify/Accede (should the committee chose it as the stem) would have an effective limit on the topic by preventing treaties that we haven't signed.  Using "consent to be bound," which is a route the committee could take, would allow a different set of treaties. The good thing about it is that you are more than welcome to submit a wording paper in favor of the CBD (wushich I "did a few google searches on" and didn't find much action/literature on over the past year).


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: ScottElliott on April 25, 2011, 09:20:11 PM
Not a slam against you Whit, so don't take the following personal, or in reference to your paper. But you assumption that the wayt he Topic Committee currently does it is the best of all possible worlds is just wrong. Remember, Democracies have produced George Bush I, George Bush II, and Barak Obama....not a big fan of letting the masses make choices on important matters. Plato and Socrates had a point. There is ZERO reason why the topic selection process has to be driven by crisis politics and artificial time constraints. This funky thing called the internet means that the Topic Committee can communicate over a longer period of time. There is no need to stay in a hotel for four days to pound out a piece of garbage that vaguely appeals to everyone's interests. Structural changes need to be made to enable the Topic Committee to engage in more reflective thought.

I have a few suggestions:
1) pick the topic area a year in advance; give the Topic Committee time to think about wording a topic correctly.
2) Adopt a rotational schedule of topic areas similar to Galloway and other's suggestions. Example: Foriegn Policy, Legal, Environmental, Domestic policy, and Miscellanious. This would mean that say, for the Foriegn Policy Topic Year, all of the topic papers would be competing against each other within the realm of foriegn policy.
As it stands now, we have topic papers coming from all fields, it is like comparing apples and oranges.

Sco


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: charrigan on April 25, 2011, 09:52:49 PM
Looking for clarification:

To my understanding, CEA is an alternate way of ratification, not an alternative to ratification. It competes with a process by which the Senate normally ratifies treaties using a super-majority.

Is there an argument why the advocates of treaties think this competes if the plan says (as it will) "ratify" without further specification other than "normal means"?


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Whit on April 25, 2011, 09:58:05 PM
Looking for clarification:

To my understanding, CEA is an alternate way of ratification, not an alternative to ratification. It competes with a process by which the Senate normally ratifies treaties using a super-majority.

Is there an argument why the advocates of treaties think this competes if the plan says (as it will) "ratify" without further specification other than "normal means"?

I'm fairly certain ratification is distinct from a CEA. I believe that is term most teams used to generate competition on the last treaties topic. Although there is some literature that may conflate the two or refer to the approval of a CEA as ratification.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Paul Elliott Johnson on April 25, 2011, 10:01:05 PM
it became hard to win that it was NOT a form of ratification, I think that, along with the ample content-specific strats, explained the waning of that strat after the first couple tournaments


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: sspring on April 25, 2011, 10:15:06 PM
Card on CEA question:

OONA A. HATHAWAY 2008 Associate Professor of Law, Yale Law School. The Yale Law Journal May, 2008 117 Yale L.J. 1236 Treaties' End: The Past, Present, and Future of International Lawmaking in the United States
It is worth pausing to consider whether there are any international legal consequences of ceasing to use treaty ratification through the Treaty Clause for nearly all international agreements. Would changing the way international law is made in the United States mean relinquishing the power to join agreements designated as "treaties" or agreements that require states to "ratify" in order to bind themselves? The answer, in a nutshell, is no.  To begin with, the term "treaty" does not have the same meaning in U.S. and international law. In the United States, the term is generally used to refer to international agreements that are submitted to the Senate for advice and consent. 332 In international law, the term "treaty" means "an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation." 333 Hence all congressional-executive agreements are in fact "treaties" as that term is used in international law.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Whit on April 26, 2011, 11:05:35 AM
Not a slam against you Whit, so don't take the following personal, or in reference to your paper. But you assumption that the wayt he Topic Committee currently does it is the best of all possible worlds is just wrong. Remember, Democracies have produced George Bush I, George Bush II, and Barak Obama....not a big fan of letting the masses make choices on important matters. Plato and Socrates had a point. There is ZERO reason why the topic selection process has to be driven by crisis politics and artificial time constraints. This funky thing called the internet means that the Topic Committee can communicate over a longer period of time. There is no need to stay in a hotel for four days to pound out a piece of garbage that vaguely appeals to everyone's interests. Structural changes need to be made to enable the Topic Committee to engage in more reflective thought.

I have a few suggestions:
1) pick the topic area a year in advance; give the Topic Committee time to think about wording a topic correctly.
2) Adopt a rotational schedule of topic areas similar to Galloway and other's suggestions. Example: Foriegn Policy, Legal, Environmental, Domestic policy, and Miscellanious. This would mean that say, for the Foriegn Policy Topic Year, all of the topic papers would be competing against each other within the realm of foriegn policy.
As it stands now, we have topic papers coming from all fields, it is like comparing apples and oranges.

Sco

Scott,

1). Pick a topic a year in advance - I have no problem with this. We could do a double vote one year or have the second choice be automatically nominated as next year's topic to get it started and it would give more time to write wording papers.
2). I think topic rotation is a great idea. I would probably narrow it to four different types and have two of them be flex-slots. With a mandate that you have to use each flex option once before using one again. So like, you don't have to debate a legal topic every four years, but you do have to have one every eight years.

If you draw up wording to amend the CEDA constitution for either of these proposals, I will encourage people to vote for them.

Another great idea for the Comm. Profs out there. Set up independent studies with your debaters and have them write a topic paper for course credit. They get something out of it, and the community benefits from an entire semester of work.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: DevenC on April 26, 2011, 06:01:59 PM
OH WOW.....of course there wouldn't be an inclusion of the  International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: chundr6 on April 26, 2011, 06:12:13 PM
The United States signed the Convention on September 28, 1966 and ratified it on October 21, 1994.

http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-2&chapter=4&lang=en


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Jessica Kurr on April 26, 2011, 07:32:31 PM
Although the treaty was ratified in 1994. This does raise an interesting issue of RUDs (Reservations, Understandings, Declarations). I'm not sure about other ratified treaties, but a quick google search shows that ICERD was ratified, but a RUD was included requiring implementation legislation by Congress.

Harris 08 -  Executive Director, American University Washington College of Law Center for
Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Hadar, 2008 "RACE  ACROSS  BORDERS: THE U.S. AND ICERD,"  Harvard Blackletter Law Journal, Vol. 24, http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/blj/vol24/Harris.pdf)

The United States ratified the ICERD on October 21, 1994, making it the “supreme law of the land” under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.13 ICERD is one of only three major U.N. human rights treaties ratified by the U.S. Yet despite its ratification, the U.S. used a major loophole for implementation by stating in one of its RUDs (Reservations, Understandings and Declarations) that the treaty would not be self-executing and would thereby require implementing legislation from Congress.14

I can think of two scenarios:

1) If the resolution mechanism says "ratify and implement," then treaties that are ratified aren't topical. But, the negative can ratify with a RUD to make the treaty non-self-executing. That effectively allows the neg to claim a bunch of aff advantage with a implementation based net benefit. I know one of the reasons ICERD wasn't implemented fully was due to immigration quotas. How can affs deal with these type of counterplans especially when the net benefit seems pretty small relative to the size of the treaty?

2) If the resolution mechanism says "ratify and/or implement," then treaties that are ratified with RUDs become topical. However, this allows for affs like ratify but don't implement. That seems pretty bad.

Given these two scenarios, I think Cameron has a point with using "consent to be bound by." That allows for affs to implement ratified treaties that have RUDs attached AND it allows affs to ratify and implement new treaties. Thoughts?


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Adam Symonds on April 28, 2011, 12:41:56 PM
As this thread has evolved, it appears this topic would be either (a) tons of CTBT debates and thus a retread of the nuclear weapons topic or (b) without CTBT there will be very few treaties with enough literature to sustain a year of debate. Neither option sounds particularly satisfying at this point.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Malgor on April 28, 2011, 01:04:48 PM
(b) without CTBT there will be very few treaties with enough literature to sustain a year of debate

This point has only been "established" by vehement assertion.  If you go back to the original controversy paper from last year, all of the people who wrote sections on the specific treaties (read: the people who actually explored the literature) do a good job at identifying the negative ground (lots of thanks to Whit for resubmitting and updating the proposal).

I think even without the CTBT (which did not have its internal merits *truly* debated on the nukes topic), a treaties topic could certainly sustain a year of debate, given that each of the agreements gets discussed by numerous think tanks, law reviews, and the vast sea of stuff in the internet tubes that Casey pointed out.

it's not just vehement assertion, it's been asking people to reference us to the substantive arguments against each treaty.  even the specific list provided of the most mainstream treaties doesn't contain a comprehensive list. remember, the big benefit is case neg.  Also, people who have made the claim that CTBT would dominate are speaking from history.  the last treaties topic had some of the most debated treaties at the time at its core: kyoto, ICC, CTBT, and SORT were all being debated a lot in the literature.  CTBT still dominated.  So even if you produce a topic that has treaties each with plenty of ground on each treaty, CTBT is likely to dominate.  it's about missiles and wars and dangerous foreigners, which people LOVE to discuss.  

i agree with others, it would be a shame to debate a nuclear weapons policy topic and a treaties topic without discussing CTBT.  BUT, given that CTBT is a complete retread of all the nuclear weapons topic, and adds very little extra, i'm skeptical it should be added.  

Treaties just isn't the best topic proposed.  



Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Ermo on April 28, 2011, 02:14:24 PM
I think even without the CTBT (which did not have its internal merits *truly* debated on the nukes topic), a treaties topic could certainly sustain a year of debate, given that each of the agreements gets discussed by numerous think tanks, law reviews, and the vast sea of stuff in the internet tubes that Casey pointed out.

I think the treaties topic is strong with CTBT included. We decided against reading it on the nuclear weapons topic based on topicality concerns (not just losing on T, but also 2ac time allocation given the credibility of the T argument. Many, many other teams made the same calculation. Although it certainly accesses some of the same impacts as some affirmatives from that year, it's status as a global treaty makes it quite distinct from unilateral policies plans or even the Start DA.

I also think inclusion of the Law of the Sea will make up for some of the space left open by the loss of SORT and Kyoto from the original topic. It was one of the major affirmatives on the CEDA oceans topic in the 1990s. Although the death penalty was an important topic, it was poorly accessed via the treaty mechanism (teams running it were grasping at straws, imo, against the Customary Intl Law CP). LOST, CTBT, and ICC means there are three affirmatives with a track record of supporting deep policy debates. Although all three have critical potential, we probably want to have more included, and perhaps select which ones based on the possibilities for critical aff's.

I don't disagree with others that we have several excellent topic areas this spring. I'm a topic optimist, in that I've found nearly every topic to be acceptable. A lot of the claims about the relative merits of topics do reflect personal preferences - which is FINE. I do think, however, that treaties has a track record of generating debates with great quality and depth. Other mechanisms may do so as well, but may not have the sort of year long record that the treaty mechanism had. 


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Seth Gannon on April 28, 2011, 02:18:37 PM
I took Cameron's advice and quickly returned to last year's treaties topic paper--which I agree is very well-written--to find the disadvantages suggested for the negative against each treaty.

While CTBT was not in last year's paper, here's what the paper says for the other five treaties Whit suggested, provided here primarily for easy reference:

CRC
- Politics
- Federalism
- Treaty Tradeoff, specifically CEDAW

Ottawa:
- Korean DMZ*
- Modeling impact turns (Israeli, Iranian, Chinese, and Indian landmines are good)
- Civil-Military Relations
- Politics

* Brad notes above that this DA no longer exists.

CEDAW
- Politics
- Federalism
- International Law Bad
- Spillover (Prostitution, Family Problems, and Elimination of Mother's Day)
- Movements (ratification eliminates the motive for domestic reform)

LOST
- Business Confidence (linked to Deep Sea Mining)
- Politics
- Proliferation Security Initiative (searching boats for WMD)
- Moon Development

ICC
- Politics
- Readiness (linked to troop morale and fear of prosecution)
- Civil Military Relations
- Isolating Israel in the eyes of the international community
- Violation of the U.S. Constitution


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Malgor on April 28, 2011, 10:56:16 PM
Seth

thanks for consolidating the neg args into a list. 

For me, this only proves that some of the treaties don't have good substantive case neg.  A treaty where the ground is politics, 'international law bad', and a movements DA; a treaty where the ground is a 'treaty tradeoff da.'  These just don't do it for me.

But, on quality ground, the args have been presented a lot for both sides, so whatevs-agree to disagree.

One last thing I think should be discussed at this stage of the process is the CTBT.  The paper from last year did not recommend CTBT be in the topic.  CTBT is also the aff many would most look forward to. 

i don't see how we can justify putting it in there....but I also see how hard it is NOT to be drawn to it.  To me it's another deal breaker on treaties. 

People have already presented the case for why it converges with the nuclear weapons topic.  One other thing people should think about is how Obama policies changed the nukes topic.  The best DA against CTBT is deterrence/allied prolif, and in multiple different topic threads people have mentioned that a big phenomenon on the nuclear weapons topic was that the deterrence disad (and other 'nuclear reliance good' DAs) became very hard to defend because of all the uniqueness problems.

Does CTBT side step these issues?


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: RGarrett on April 28, 2011, 11:56:16 PM
CTBT was not debated on the nukes topic, as one of the teams running it latest in the season I can assure you most teams case negs were exactly the same (although there was more than the India DA to CTBT). 

The CTBT does access advantages like the NPT/Prolif that were extensively read on the nuclear weapons topic.  Some people may not really want to have these debates again and that is understandable.  The CTBT also access a wealth of literature on the International Monitoring System (like Earthquake detection which I bet there are a lot better cards about now). 

I think that nuclear DAs may still be non-unique because of Obama, I'm not really sure.  I am pretty sure that precluding any future modernization (which is what opponents say about the treaty) would still allow for a debate about modernization.  Additionally negatives could uniqueness CP anything they wanted the USFG to do.  If you want to debate deterrence good/bad the uniqueness CP certainly solves that problem.

 I think there is other negative ground anyway.  There are lots of countries who aren't members who have relations DAs (India, Israel and China are all quite good of the top of my head).  Additionally Egypt is not a ratifier and that would be a pretty fluid area of the CTBT debate (because if Egypt ratifies that might put Israel on notice and there is already talk of cancelling some treaties with Israel).  These are just relations based components.

I would probably have to think about other negative arguments but there was a lot of CTBT literature.  I hadn't scratched the surface and I debated it for a semester. 


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Malgor on April 29, 2011, 12:06:01 AM
no one disputes there is a lot of literature but am honestly surprised when people insist that it isn't largely a rehash of key aff/neg case and DA debates from the topic 2 years ago. even the authors of the paper last year recommended against CTBT


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Ermo on April 29, 2011, 07:50:23 AM
The recommendation against the CTBT in the 2010 topic paper was related to likelihood of passage given the nuclear topic, not concerns about the ability of the CTBT to sustain a year. Some viewed the treaties proposal as even more appealing if the CTBT were included. I am sure programs vary in their opinions about "recycling" - some object to bringing back a mechanism from nearly a decade ago, while others are happy to run a "slightly modified" version of the arguments they read in the previous year. The level of debater turnover is surely over 25% per year (the number of 1-2 year competitors being larger than the number of 5th years) , so probably fewer than half of the debaters in 2011-12 will have even debated the nuclear topic.

That said, CTBT is distinct from common nuclear topic affs in a few ways: a very deep lit base particular to its mechanism, the legacy of Senate rejection in 1999, the size of the neg links (the purpose is to check development of next generation weapons), the unique implications of a multi-lateral mechanism, the relevance of the CTBTO and monitoring policy, the implications of resisting states beyond the USA for the treaty, and relations/domestic political consequences for nearly every nuclear or aspiring state. There were lots of nuclear topic cases that were smaller than the expected Obama revisions in the NPR process, which created much of the link uniqueness complexity. Even the big cases had decent uniqueness shields with the NPR in the front windshield instead of the read windshield.

That said, affirmatives will find uniqueness defense on most topics, so if that criteria is important to your primary concern, every topic should be scrutinized by the same standard. My primary concern is having large affirmatives with deep literature that can find good answers to common disads and counterplans. Having a wide range of possible advantages with a small number of predictable plans seems ideal to me. That said, this phrase of the process is more about what people WANT to debate; the next phase is about trying to make the resolution as good as it can be.

We have a LOT of great topic proposals, and our balloting process means that squads should consider every possible dyad of two topics to ask which they would prefer in order to make sure their rankings represent them well in runoff balloting. Any topic that has lots of #1 votes will stick around the runoffs for a few rounds, but the eventual topic will be the one that the majority ranked higher than the runner up.

If you would enjoy a year of debates that include it, rank it high; if you would hate that, rank it lower. If you think it would be better than some topics, but not your favorite topic, rank it in the middle.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Ryan Galloway on April 29, 2011, 08:01:41 AM
Ermo is correct that the recommendation against CTBT was because of the fact that the community had just debated the nuclear weapons topic.  I think it is an open question a year removed as to whether or not the CTBT should be included now that the nuclear weapons topic is two years away, and that the community interpretation of the topic largely did not include the CTBT. 

From the section of the topic paper I wrote:

"Second, this question is not a nuclear weapons topic.  As much as it pains me, the CTBT (which certainly fits under question one), should not be debated under this topic.  The reason is sheer pragmatics:  some teams ran the CTBT last year, but even more pertinent to the question, the core issues of US nuclear policy related to international non-proliferation and US leadership on nuclear weapons were thoroughly debated last year.  If the committee decided that the CTBT could be taken on for this year, the treaty certainly fits the broader rubric.  However, as this topic is currently formulated, the CTBT would not be included."

RG


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Whit on April 29, 2011, 08:19:13 AM
Thanks Seth for providing a quick reference to the topic paper.

For me, this only proves that some of the treaties don't have good substantive case neg.  A treaty where the ground is politics, 'international law bad', and a movements DA; a treaty where the ground is a 'treaty tradeoff da.'  These just don't do it for me.

I realize we won't agree on this, but we should keep in mind that the topic papers don't provide "THE GROUND" against certain affs, just an overview.  Otherwise, I'm pretty sure "the ground" against a lot of affs in other proposals is the good 'ol spending DA (yikes).
For instance, anyone who has researched LOST good/bad before can attest to the multiple DA arguments beyond those outlined in the topic paper. 

I also know with CEDAW, there is a healthy debate with both offensive and defensive arguments on its ability to solve issues like women's rights. As I foresee this aff as featuring more critical impacts, this seems like a very important debate to have.


I think sparking a discussion about the CTBT is a very helpful move.  I have no strong opinions

I'm also limited in the amount I can post/discuss because of TOC commitment, but there is an argument here that Cameron makes that I want to stress more.

It's not about how good the neg ground is. It's about how good the neg ground is in relation to the aff advantages. While people have correctly pointed out that there is not an in depth posting of negative arguments to the fourth and fifth best case on the treaties topic, I would ask is that true of any topic paper? The truth is that people are holding treaties to some higher standard for some absurd reason. Why aren't you demanding an extensive case list and 4-5 case specific neg strategies against the rest of the topic papers?

Look, a lot of people have said there aren't great args against cedaw. First, that's not true. There are args that will come out when you start doing research (see Harrigan's post about research skill). Second, there weren't great neg args against the Death Penalty. The crime deterrence DA? Terrible. But neg's managed, because of the domestic cp and a lack of strong ratification warrants. This pushed most affs into a critical direction. I see this happening again with cedaw.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Paul Elliott Johnson on April 29, 2011, 09:00:56 AM
Quick note: Can we stop calling the CEDAW exclusively a "K aff", as though somehow only the critical teams are interested in women's rights? Seems to be if the disads against it are so bad and it has such a good advantage, more than just critical teams will probably end up running it. The idea that discrimination is not a problem for policymakers, I find somewhat troubling, and I can't tell you how much this mirrors any thousands of framework debates where the supposedly "K" team is like "our so-called critical impacts have real consequences" and the judge agrees, and the policy team is sad.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Malgor on April 29, 2011, 09:06:41 AM
The recommendation against the CTBT in the 2010 topic paper was related to likelihood of passage given the nuclear topic, not concerns about the ability of the CTBT to sustain a year. Some viewed the treaties proposal as even more appealing if the CTBT were included. I am sure programs vary in their opinions about "recycling" - some object to bringing back a mechanism from nearly a decade ago, while others are happy to run a "slightly modified" version of the arguments they read in the previous year. The level of debater turnover is surely over 25% per year (the number of 1-2 year competitors being larger than the number of 5th years) , so probably fewer than half of the debaters in 2011-12 will have even debated the nuclear topic.

That said, CTBT is distinct from common nuclear topic affs in a few ways: a very deep lit base particular to its mechanism, the legacy of Senate rejection in 1999, the size of the neg links (the purpose is to check development of next generation weapons), the unique implications of a multi-lateral mechanism, the relevance of the CTBTO and monitoring policy, the implications of resisting states beyond the USA for the treaty, and relations/domestic political consequences for nearly every nuclear or aspiring state. There were lots of nuclear topic cases that were smaller than the expected Obama revisions in the NPR process, which created much of the link uniqueness complexity. Even the big cases had decent uniqueness shields with the NPR in the front windshield instead of the read windshield.

That said, affirmatives will find uniqueness defense on most topics, so if that criteria is important to your primary concern, every topic should be scrutinized by the same standard. My primary concern is having large affirmatives with deep literature that can find good answers to common disads and counterplans. Having a wide range of possible advantages with a small number of predictable plans seems ideal to me. That said, this phrase of the process is more about what people WANT to debate; the next phase is about trying to make the resolution as good as it can be.

We have a LOT of great topic proposals, and our balloting process means that squads should consider every possible dyad of two topics to ask which they would prefer in order to make sure their rankings represent them well in runoff balloting. Any topic that has lots of #1 votes will stick around the runoffs for a few rounds, but the eventual topic will be the one that the majority ranked higher than the runner up.

If you would enjoy a year of debates that include it, rank it high; if you would hate that, rank it lower. If you think it would be better than some topics, but not your favorite topic, rank it in the middle.

i haven't heard anyone claim that CTBT is a treaty that would not sustain a year of debates.  Most of ermo's distinctions between CTBT and the nuclear weapons topics are still not very different at all.  even galloway's quote admits that the core issues of CTBT were debate thoroughly on the nuclear weapons topic.  I don't see how two years makes it 'up for debate' that we should have another year of nuclear weapons policy debates.  i admit that impact overlap is inevitable, but CTBT converges on much more than impacts.  the neg args are the same.  even the prestigious mr galloway originally wrote that it's a rehash, and it's a rehash we all admit would likely be the most popular aff on a treaties topic.  



Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Whit on April 29, 2011, 09:48:30 AM
My point was not that only critical teams care about discrimination. The argument was that the ratification key warrants for those types of advantages are weaker and therefore more susceptible to the implement but don't ratify cp that was discussed in the topic paper.

That fact, I think, makes it imperative for the aff to get offense in different ways, which usually means critiquing the net benefit or competition or making method based arguments.



Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: cramhelwich on April 29, 2011, 11:28:18 AM
I'm not sure where treaties ranks in my topic choices for this year, but the claim that there is no "substantive" negative ground on CRC, CEDAW, or other "soft" treaties is inaccurate. These treaties posit substantive rights (right to reproductive care, right to education, right to political participation, etc.) that the USFG would become obligated to fulfill/protect. That means major policy changes.

For CEDAW, what Seth lists as "spillover" disads included a few impacts to having having the U.S. radically change both how it measures gender discrimination and the policies it should use to address gender discrimination. Implementing the treaty would shift (largely to the left) U.S. policy on political participation, reproductive health, employment discrimination, domestic relations law, social services, etc. The wingnut right HATES the treaty (ends Mother's Day, plus a bunch of objections that have impacts), and there are also a lot of left leaning scholars who have serious reservations about it (the treaty is pretty second wave--those Piccard cards in the paper are good).



Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: kelly young on April 29, 2011, 06:33:27 PM
I realize we won't agree on this, but we should keep in mind that the topic papers don't provide "THE GROUND" against certain affs, just an overview.  Otherwise, I'm pretty sure "the ground" against a lot of affs in other proposals is the good 'ol spending DA (yikes).

As much as I agree that the assertions that there is little ground on many of these treaties unfounded and unfair, this comment is just as bad. The other papers outline much more than just the "good ol' spending DA (yikes)" as ground. More importantly, when spending is discussed, it's usually as an internal link to another argument or as a tradeoff argument. Let's be fair to all the topic papers rather than response to assertions with more assertions.


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: SherryHall on April 30, 2011, 09:04:31 AM
I just had a radical idea about this topic area.  Instead of listing some treaties that the U.S. should ratify, how about a topic that had the affirmative defend treaty commitments that the U.S. should cease to follow?  Under this version of the topic, I don't think it would be necessary to name the treaties, because negative ground would be pretty well defined. You might want to add a time limit to keep teams from finding some obscure 18th century treaty -- treaties ratified by the U.S. since 1950 for example. This would ensure that the treaty chosen implicated some policy question that had current relevance.  There are quite a few people who make compelling arguments that the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 should be either unilaterally reinterpreted or abrogated altogether by the U.S.  Similarly, many people argue that the NPT has outlived its usefulness.  We would have to give some thought to wording because I don't think the aff should be stuck with just the negative action of ending current treaty commitments --the aff should be allowed to advocate at least some process that might seek to develop an alternative. 

These are the two treaties that immediately come to mind.  I suspect that there are other arms control treaties that were entered into during the Cold War that scholars argue are no longer relevant given current international alignments.

Anyway, I think it would be a fresh way to address an area that we admittedly like, but have already debated recently.

Sherry


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: Kathryn Rubino on May 03, 2011, 12:28:03 PM
While I don't speak for the entire topic committee, I will say that if Treaties were to win the first round of balloting I would vote against  a wording paper that was along the lines of what Sherry proposes on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the original controversy.
 
This isn't to say the idea isn't a good one, but as the direction of the original topic paper is to increase the United States' treaty obligations I would feel bound to only include wordings that were faithful to that interpretation.

-Kathryn


Title: Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
Post by: stables on May 03, 2011, 12:47:02 PM
Sorry to have missed this note originally.

I very much agree with Kathryn. The goal of the two-tiered process is designed to narrow the range of appropriate questions so we can allow for closer review. There is already ample debate about the type of negative arguments available on this topic and inverting the ratification process is clearly not an extension of the original papers.

Sherry does, however, have a very innovative way to approach the subject of treaties and I would encourage anyone who is interested in this area to write a future controversy paper.

Gordon