College Policy Debate Forums

TOPIC COMMITTEE => 2011 - 2012 Topic => Topic started by: stables on May 16, 2011, 11:38:41 AM



Title: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 16, 2011, 11:38:41 AM
Thanks to all of the authors who made this the largest slate of topics in recent history. A lot of work went into this topic selection and are all better off for all of their work. I do hope that the community considers these topics as outstanding starting points for future topic research. We have a rich foundation for our future topics.

I would also like to thank all of the fantastic students who ran for the topic committee. Congratulations to Dan Bagwell for being elected from that great class.

Jeff will post the full vote totals today. The topic committee is already working to organize our wording research. We will finalize that plan and post it to help gain community involvement. The biggest change this year is that the wording work will be posted and organized using a wiki. Our hope is that the wiki will make review of these matters much easier, both during the wording meetings and also during the season.

I would also encourage everyone to use and add stories to the public google bookmark list I created for the topic. I have been adding articles over the last few weeks. I hope it helps to jumpstart your research efforts. You can see the bookmarks at https://www.google.com/bookmarks/l#!threadID=GiMgKMewRGk4%2FBDQE3ggoQlra25_Ul (https://www.google.com/bookmarks/l#!threadID=GiMgKMewRGk4%2FBDQE3ggoQlra25_Ul)

More soon.

Gordon


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: cramhelwich on May 16, 2011, 02:00:27 PM
Daily snark (discovered by one of our debaters)

Michael McFaul, professor at Stanford, quoted in CRS Report to Congress, 12—26—07, www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34296.pdf
Currently, there is a scarcity of literature to inform and guide the decisions of senior policymakers....  Every day, literally tens of thousands of people in the democracy promotion business go to work without training manuals or blueprints in hand.  Even published case studies of previous successes are hard to find in the public domain, which means that democracy assistance efforts are often reinventing the wheel or making it up as they go along, as was on vivid display in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Even basic educational materials for students seeking to specialize in democracy promotion do not exist.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 16, 2011, 02:47:04 PM
We agree democracy promotion is a large, basically incoherent set of policies.  DemoPromo could include anything such as invading another nation, providing aid, withdrawing support for a government. Just about anything.

Luckily that isn't the topic. The controversy paper specifies democracy assistance which is a smaller and more coherently organized set of policies.

The google shared bookmarks have a number of links about what democracy assistance is and how is evaluated and evolving. I have even created a separate tab for democracy assistance
Those links are up at https://www.google.com/bookmarks/l#!threadID=GiMgKMewRGk4%2FBDQE3ggoQlra25_Ul

 


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 16, 2011, 03:37:28 PM
A couple of folks have asked to check on the remaining schedule. Here is a repost of what is ahead.

Deadline for submitting wording papers - Friday, June 3rd         

The topic meetings (@University of Michigan) - Saturday June 11th through Monday (morning) June 13th

Release of wording ballot  (tentative) - June 14th

Announcement of 2011 resolution - Friday July 15th (the 3rd Friday in July, as per the CEDA Constitution).           


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 16, 2011, 05:04:49 PM
Democracy Assistance is a fairly specific term of art that specifically excludes certain forms of democracy promotion and certain programs like covert operations:
 From: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/oppd/Page_8/getting_acquainted_web.pdf :
"Democracy assistance – one of the tools of democracy
promotion – can be defined as:
all programmes and projects which are openly adopted, supported and/or (directly or indirectly) implemented by (public or private) foreign actors, (mainly) take place in target countries, in principle with the consent or toleration of these countries’ authorities, and are explicitly designed to directly contribute to the liberalisation, democratisation or consolidation of democracy of the target country.14
Thus, key characteristics of democracy assistance are that it works through programmes or projects which focus on changing behaviours and attitudes, or reforming institutions and processes in target states. Foreign actors can to different degrees be involved in the planning and implementation of activities, but usually bear most of the financial costs. In order to work, and intensively engage with local actors and institutions, democracy assistance is in principle implemented within the target state rather than abroad. The nature of some assistance projects,
such as study visits, may exceptionally involve assistance implemented externally. Democracy assistance
programmes and projects are implemented openly rather than secretly. However, individual aid recipients can at times, for their own protection,
remain unidentified. Secret money transfers may help democratisation processes, but are different
in nature to assistance. Democracy assistance requires, in theory, the consent of or at least toleration
by the target state’s authorities, otherwise it cannot be transparent, nor can it be implemented or reach its potential. Finally, by definition, democracy
assistance exists to facilitate democratisation and excludes activities which might only indirectly affect democratisation, in particular socio-economic assistance."

And, I would suggest people read this article regarding the usage of the term and why policymakers should be specific: http://www.cejiss.org/sites/default/files/8.pdf


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 16, 2011, 11:37:12 PM
As we move into the wording phase of the topic process we will be guided by the controversy paper, even as we explore specific issues that need additional exploration. The controversy paper will serve as he foundation for our work and I encourage anyone interested in the wording process to review the paper at http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2380.0;attach=662 (http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2380.0;attach=662)

The controversy paper suggests two sets of research assignments. The committee will work on each of these items, but we would certainly appreciate community assistance.

Assignment #1 – Determine how to phrase the type of assistance.

Dave Arnett & Adrienne Brovero will be directing this group. The goal is to consider how and if the phrase ‘democracy assistance’ sufficiently captures the specific policy mechanisms intended to make up the topic. Their goal is to determine the best way to phrase these types of policies, not to look for what might be considered the ‘best’ foreign policy approaches.

Assignment #2 – Select the specific countries

The controversy paper encourages us to consider specific countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are experiencing substantial public opposition to their governments.  It focused on selecting specific countries instead of a geographic reference (such as the ‘Middle East and North Africa’) because individual countries should be selected for their relationship to the popular uprisings, not just geography or geopolitical significance.

The controversy suggests that prospective countries should be grouped into three tiers. Different groups will review each tier. Each tier is developed based on a presumption of how each of those countries should be considered.

When reviewing each country we are fundamentally interested in determining the educational importance and competitive balance of each country’s literature.

Category 1- Generally favor inclusion (i.e., the core):
These countries are the core of the topic proposal. Each has experienced public opposition and are at various stages of revolt. Kathryn Rubino & Eric Morris are leading this group.

Bahrain
Egypt
Jordan
Libya
Oman
Syria
Tunisia
Yemen

Category 2 - Borderline Countries
These countries are similar to the core, but there are reasons why they are less central to the recent uprisings. An initial review of these countries suggested they may not be the most essential countries to the topic, but additional review is probably warranted to confirm that judgment. Mike Davis and Sarah Partlow-Lefevre will lead this group.

Algeria
Kuwait
Lebanon
Mauritania
Morocco
Sudan

Category 3 - Reasons to include and to not include:
Each of these countries is very significant to global geo-politics and to US foreign policy. They occupy a difficult place in the topic construction because they are (generally) not at the forefront of the Arab Spring uprisings, but they are not removed from these issues at all. Iran’s summer protests may be seen as the first step in these recent protests. The Palestinian territories have also been experiencing recent demonstrations.  These countries need to be carefully reviewed because there will be very significant changes in the composition of the topic and the types of arguments available if they are included. These countries will be important parts of the debates, but it is very important to consider if their role is best as negative arguments (such as the Iran influence DA) or as topical actions. The controversy paper expresses caution and reservation about including any of these countries, but additional review is important.  I will be leading this group.

Iraq
Iran
Palestinian Territories
Saudi Arabia


General Notes:

The selection of these items shouldn’t be understood as the only research that should be conducted.  Anyone may submit a wording proposal and submit it by the June 3rd deadline. Just remember that all wording proposals need to be consistent with the controversy paper.

All of the wording work will be produced using the new wiki. We hope that this will make it easier to review all of the reports.   Please let me know if you have any questions.

Remaining Deadlines

Deadline for submitting wording papers - Friday, June 3rd

The topic meetings (@University of Michigan) - Saturday June 11th through Monday (morning) June 13th

Release of wording ballot  (tentative) - June 14th

Announcement of 2011 resolution - Friday July 15th (the 3rd Friday in July, as per the CEDA Constitution).           


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Malgor on May 17, 2011, 12:16:48 PM
a few thoughts:

democracy assistance might be a viable term, but it cannot be viewed as isolated from the countries in the topic paper.  There may be viable affs under the democracy assistance term of art for one country, but not others.

i think this topic area lends itself to a mechanism that is broad (like democracy assistance), but also includes minimum requirements for the aff.  Example:  the usfg should substantially increase democracy assistance, including XYZ, toward one or more of the following countries: country list.  Maybe the literature doesn't support it, but at this stage it should still be a research area of focus.  These methods haven proven effective at providing affirmative creativity and predictable negative ground.

my biggest concern is the specific countries included.  presumably, the standards for picking those countries will be a) is it educationally unique/important to debate this country? and b) is there plenty of ground on both sides?.  I think perhaps other criterion should be created initially to evaluate the inclusion of a country.  As Gordon has already mentioned, one way to group them in terms of where they are in the process of their democratic transition. 

I contend the most logical way to group countries is based on the US's current foreign policy stance toward them.  It will allow the most consistency in topic uniqueness.  Many people may push to have countries the US has substantially different stances for.  This will certainly increase our educational opportunities initially, but will probably greatly increase the number of structural uniqueness questions for the topic.  I don't know of anyone who thinks that having structural uniqueness problems is a good thing.  In fact, a point of emphasis made in many topic papers is that we need to strive for topics that are substantial changes from status quo approaches to policy.

What worries me is that when we are crafting the list of countries, or court cases etc, there is often a strong push by one or two people who research a country to include it on the ballot, even if it is not entirely consistent with the major negative/affirmative themes of the other countries.  Afghanistan, which was already receiving massive amounts of foreign assistance, comes to mind (ME CE topic).

Most of these countries will have compelling reasons for inclusion in the topic.  More criterion allows more differentiation between them.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 17, 2011, 01:58:04 PM
Couple responses to Malgor:

1) I favor the broad term "democracy assistance" without the Topic Committee hamstringing the Affirmative with poor attempts at limiting. I will give you as a perfect example, the TC's attempt to limit the immigration debate by adding specific visas and admissibility, etc. etc., I know in varsity it was different...but I can tell you for a fact, 90% of the JV rounds my teams participated in last year were an Ex-Order Counter-plan and a politics disad. It sucked. Easy wins when we were Affirmative, but the educational value was zero and it was boring as hell. Just have a broadly worded resolution, give the Aff as much room as possible to put out a topical plan. Broad terms means you have better generic links to your counterplans, disads, and Kritiks. ("Are you topical? Then, you link.")

2) Negative Ground on this topic is going to be stable on at least one front using the term "democracy assistance" without any other modifiers---democracy assistance is a subset of democracy promotion and it is the most open representation of the U.S. intervening in another country's politics short of actual occupation. This means that if you are topical, you are going to link to Neo-Imperialism, internal backlash (people within a country oppsed too U.S.-Style democracy, or democracy in general); external backlash (Iran, Venezuela, Isreal and China are all going to be pissed or move to counter-balance); American Exceptionalism, Globalization, and Neoliberalism Kritiks. The Cap K links are spot on, btw. There are plenty of "Let the EU do your plan because they are just better at it and the people of those countries don't hate the EU as much as the U.S.; therefore the EU will solve for backlash better too" articles out there (believe me, I have already read three of them), as well as Consult NATO, Consult the EU, and Consult the U.N. counterplans that are all topic specific and literature based.

I see no reason to try to overlimit the Affirmatives on this topic area. The K, disad, and counter-plan ground, specific to the literature is huge.

3) I am particularly concerned with calls to limit the topic "even if there may not be literature to support it." This is the type of reasoning that always leads to fu------screwed up topics that suck. When we say, "Hey! You do realize that we are already engaged in Afghanistan...and its not even in the Middle East," the TC blows it off, and we end up debating Afghanistan on a Mid-East topic with no disad ground. When we think we are going to debate immigration, we get sidetracked into the the arcane world of visa applications. Do some literature reviews to determine what is viable.

4) I agree with Malgor that the first priority for determing which countries to select is old school inherency (topic uniqueness). The Topic Committee should be able to establish a) the current situation in each country and b) what the current status of democracy assistance is in that country. My reading is that the U.S. already provides democracy assistance to over 60 countries. Additionally, c) are there solvency advocates for doing a topical plan to said country? To me, the biggest nightmare is having a "re-do" of Afghanistan on the Mid-East Topic...there were zero standard disads to run. The current example, I would surmise is Egypt...if the U.S. is pouring millions into Egypt already to bolster its emerging democracy...and the Affirmative team gives an extra million for dark purple thumb-ink (election fraud reduction)...the negative is going to be stuck with an EU counter-plan and a K. Traditional disads will be non-unique. I think a topic sucks when I cannot run a unique disad that is based on topic literature.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kelly young on May 17, 2011, 02:04:44 PM
...and the Affirmative team gives an extra million for dark purple thumb-ink (election fraud reduction)...the negative is going to be stuck with an EU counter-plan and a K. Traditional disads will be non-unique. I think a topic sucks when I cannot run a unique disad that is based on topic literature.

Eliminating small affs like the purple thumb ink AFF sounds like a good warrant to specify the broad term "democracy assistance."


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: RGarrett on May 17, 2011, 02:14:06 PM
Democracy Assistance is a fairly specific term of art that specifically excludes certain forms of democracy promotion and certain programs like covert operations:
 From: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/oppd/Page_8/getting_acquainted_web.pdf :
"Democracy assistance – one of the tools of democracy
promotion – can be defined as:
all programmes and projects which are openly adopted, supported and/or (directly or indirectly) implemented by (public or private) foreign actors, (mainly) take place in target countries, in principle with the consent or toleration of these countries’ authorities, and are explicitly designed to directly contribute to the liberalisation, democratisation or consolidation of democracy of the target country.14
Thus, key characteristics of democracy assistance are that it works through programmes or projects which focus on changing behaviours and attitudes, or reforming institutions and processes in target states. Foreign actors can to different degrees be involved in the planning and implementation of activities, but usually bear most of the financial costs. In order to work, and intensively engage with local actors and institutions, democracy assistance is in principle implemented within the target state rather than abroad. The nature of some assistance projects,
such as study visits, may exceptionally involve assistance implemented externally. Democracy assistance
programmes and projects are implemented openly rather than secretly. However, individual aid recipients can at times, for their own protection,
remain unidentified. Secret money transfers may help democratisation processes, but are different
in nature to assistance. Democracy assistance requires, in theory, the consent of or at least toleration
by the target state’s authorities, otherwise it cannot be transparent, nor can it be implemented or reach its potential. Finally, by definition, democracy
assistance exists to facilitate democratisation and excludes activities which might only indirectly affect democratisation, in particular socio-economic assistance."

And, I would suggest people read this article regarding the usage of the term and why policymakers should be specific: http://www.cejiss.org/sites/default/files/8.pdf

When I look at this definition of democracy assistance and the main definition from the topic paper which in part states "Democracy assistance, which consists of the concessionary and, usually, consensual provision of practical, advisory, technical and financial support through projects and programmes," it seems like both definitions indicate the government the US is assisting must consent to this type of democracy promotion.
Here is a third and original card on this issue:

"Outside providers of democracy assistance can,
with the cooperation of local partners and the acquiescence of regimes, play
a modest but significant role in helping people claim the right to choose
leaders and demand that governments be responsive to their citizens."
http://www.ndi.org/files/Party_Building_MENA_Campbell.pdf


My main question is if this is true how is Syria a core country in relation to democracy assistance, it hardly seems likely Assad will consent to democratic reforms (maybe I'm wrong about that premise which is why they were included), but Libya, if the current regime does not fall, seems to also be excluded.

Also should this type of discussion be happening here, or can I contribute my card to the wiki and if so where can I find the wording wiki?


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 17, 2011, 02:20:15 PM
Try it. See what happens...LOL.



Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: BrianDeLong on May 17, 2011, 02:42:15 PM
Democracy Assistance is a fairly specific term of art that specifically excludes certain forms of democracy promotion and certain programs like covert operations:
 From: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/oppd/Page_8/getting_acquainted_web.pdf :
"Democracy assistance – one of the tools of democracy
promotion – can be defined as:
all programmes and projects which are openly adopted, supported and/or (directly or indirectly) implemented by (public or private) foreign actors, (mainly) take place in target countries, in principle with the consent or toleration of these countries’ authorities, and are explicitly designed to directly contribute to the liberalisation, democratisation or consolidation of democracy of the target country.14
Thus, key characteristics of democracy assistance are that it works through programmes or projects which focus on changing behaviours and attitudes, or reforming institutions and processes in target states. Foreign actors can to different degrees be involved in the planning and implementation of activities, but usually bear most of the financial costs. In order to work, and intensively engage with local actors and institutions, democracy assistance is in principle implemented within the target state rather than abroad. The nature of some assistance projects,
such as study visits, may exceptionally involve assistance implemented externally. Democracy assistance
programmes and projects are implemented openly rather than secretly. However, individual aid recipients can at times, for their own protection,
remain unidentified. Secret money transfers may help democratisation processes, but are different
in nature to assistance. Democracy assistance requires, in theory, the consent of or at least toleration
by the target state’s authorities, otherwise it cannot be transparent, nor can it be implemented or reach its potential. Finally, by definition, democracy
assistance exists to facilitate democratisation and excludes activities which might only indirectly affect democratisation, in particular socio-economic assistance."

And, I would suggest people read this article regarding the usage of the term and why policymakers should be specific: http://www.cejiss.org/sites/default/files/8.pdf

When I look at this definition of democracy assistance and the main definition from the topic paper which in part states "Democracy assistance, which consists of the concessionary and, usually, consensual provision of practical, advisory, technical and financial support through projects and programmes," it seems like both definitions indicate the government the US is assisting must consent to this type of democracy promotion.
Here is a third and original card on this issue:

"Outside providers of democracy assistance can,
with the cooperation of local partners and the acquiescence of regimes, play
a modest but significant role in helping people claim the right to choose
leaders and demand that governments be responsive to their citizens."
http://www.ndi.org/files/Party_Building_MENA_Campbell.pdf


My main question is if this is true how is Syria a core country in relation to democracy assistance, it hardly seems likely Assad will consent to democratic reforms (maybe I'm wrong about that premise which is why they were included), but Libya, if the current regime does not fall, seems to also be excluded.

Also should this type of discussion be happening here, or can I contribute my card to the wiki and if so where can I find the wording wiki?

On the uniqueness question:
I think Ross brings up a decent point about the democracy assistance definition Scott posted. If Dem. Assistance requires a target nation's consent or lack of response, it seems likely affs will be constrained to incremental/small changes. Also, the target countries will have to be nations that desire U.S. involvment. If these nation's want US democracy assistance they may also already be receiving some form of aid.

Furthermore, the definition seems to make it clear that the do the plan in secret CP is competitive. U.S. key plus transparency advantages for each affirmative may prove difficult to find.

-2 cents.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Malgor on May 17, 2011, 02:56:15 PM
who has called to limit the topic 'even if there may not be literature to support it'?  of course there are a lot of other dubious claims in your post, scott, but I try to limit myself to one example for each post.

though i do agree with scott, anyone who wants to limit a topic even if it's not grounded in the literature is not the brightest crayon in the box.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 17, 2011, 03:30:50 PM
To Malgor, You said this: "Example:  the usfg should substantially increase democracy assistance, including XYZ, toward one or more of the following countries: country list.  Maybe the literature doesn't support it, but at this stage it should still be a research area of focus.  These methods haven proven effective at providing affirmative creativity and predictable negative ground."

I say that "maybe the literature does not support it...." a horrible standard. I am saying you have it ass backwards. Rather than worry about Affirmatives and strategic ground in debates, we should start first and foremost with a reading of the topic literature. I think if people spent a little more time reading the literature, they would have a different perspective toward their topic choices in the first place. Example-if you do not like a plan to give Egyptians purple colored ink, then you probably should NOT have voted for Democracy Assistance...because that's EXACTLY what democracy assistance programs do....little shit things like drafting ballots with pretty icons for illiterates in elections. There is little, if anything "substantial" in the field of "democracy assistance." Like last year's immigration topic, what y'all have voted for is NOT what you think you were voting for. I think the collective "y'all" voted for some concept of "Let's help build new democracies and improve human rights in the Arab world." What you have actually gotten is people putting their thumbprints on ballots.

Scott



Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Malgor on May 17, 2011, 03:40:43 PM
ah yes, i see.  once you misinterpret something it comes out with different meaning.

i was saying we should initially try for it, but i'm not sure if the lit supports it.  i was advocating finding out if the lit supporting such a concept.  i was not advocating the concept even if the literature isn't there.  hence the words "maybe" the literature doesn't support it, so we should focus on it "at this stage."

keep it classy

malgor


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: SCOTUS on May 17, 2011, 04:50:27 PM

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


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

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


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: japoapst on May 17, 2011, 05:06:22 PM
Example-if you do not like a plan to give Egyptians purple colored ink, then you probably should NOT have voted for Democracy Assistance...because that's EXACTLY what democracy assistance programs do....little shit things like drafting ballots with pretty icons for illiterates in elections. There is little, if anything "substantial" in the field of "democracy assistance."

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

Jackie


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 17, 2011, 05:09:41 PM
I was wondering how long it would take for the calls to limit the topic.  The topic committee is already working on trying to assess the items I addressed yesterday. I would encourage folks to contribute ideas and concrete evidence that helps to address any of these items. 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: sspring on May 17, 2011, 05:23:26 PM
I don't have alot of time, but I'd just like to post this very good evidence that limits "democracy assistance" that I found from Gordon's awesome google bookmark page.

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

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


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Malgor on May 17, 2011, 05:59:00 PM
I was wondering how long it would take for the calls to limit the topic.  The topic committee is already working on trying to assess the items I addressed yesterday. I would encourage folks to contribute ideas and concrete evidence that helps to address any of these items. 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

this is a false choice, plain and simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: RGarrett on May 17, 2011, 07:17:07 PM
We are all interested in providing a stable foundation for both sides, but I am already concerned that folks are identifying Libya and Syria as too unstable. Yes the status quo will change over the course of this topic, but each of the core countries is there because it is an important site of the Arab Spring. It would be folly to decide to debate this topic and to consider the central sites of the topic too unstable to include.

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

I like the fact that democracy assistance is a term of art, but I am not sure if it limits two very core countries out of the topic. 


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kevin kuswa on May 17, 2011, 07:38:36 PM
RG:  democracy assistance does not necessarily require consent (consent by and from what entities?).  What if you give d. a. to a group outside the govt.?  It is still d. a. under many definitions.  A problem at this stage is to forget that topicality matters and these terms are not as stable as it first seems.  moreover, the fluid notion of "consent" itself speaks against your interpretation.  your argument is not a good reason to question syria or other countries with elements in the govt. that might not respond to certain forms of democracy assistance.  kevin


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 17, 2011, 07:59:21 PM
RGarrett is unfortunately right. I went back to read the Topic controversy Paper. Its huge on old school Need/Harms and has almost zero, and I mean zero, in terms of solvency advocates for democracy assistance. Folks, there is a difference between cutting a few cards saying "we need to assist these countries in their transitions to democracy," and having a resolution that has the USFG increase democracy assistance to X countries. The literature on this is clear...you will get ZERO "democracy assistance to Syria" solvency advocates unless there is, indeed, an overthrow of the current Syrian government. Why? Becuase Assad will say no. You will get ZERO solvency advocates for Libya unless Qadaffi is overthrown. Now, "Democracy Promotion,".... the use of covert operations, economic and military sanctions, military assistance, arming rebels, etc., would make Syria and Libya topical. Something tells me that people did not think this stuff through when they voted for the Topic Area. They thought..Arab Spring is cool! Let's vote.

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

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

However, I sincerely fear that the majority of Affirmative plans will be enacted by the start of September or in the Middle of the year....either gutting inherency for Aff cases or absolutely destroying any uniqueness for Negative disads. See: http://pomed.org/blog/2011/04/new-fy2011-budget-bill-released.html/


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 17, 2011, 08:07:25 PM
RG:  democracy assistance does not necessarily require consent (consent by and from what entities?).  What if you give d. a. to a group outside the govt.?  It is still d. a. under many definitions.  A problem at this stage is to forget that topicality matters and these terms are not as stable as it first seems.  moreover, the fluid notion of "consent" itself speaks against your interpretation.  your argument is not a good reason to question syria or other countries with elements in the govt. that might not respond to certain forms of democracy assistance.  kevin

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


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: RGarrett on May 17, 2011, 08:10:11 PM
RG:  democracy assistance does not necessarily require consent (consent by and from what entities?).  What if you give d. a. to a group outside the govt.?  It is still d. a. under many definitions.  A problem at this stage is to forget that topicality matters and these terms are not as stable as it first seems.  moreover, the fluid notion of "consent" itself speaks against your interpretation.  your argument is not a good reason to question syria or other countries with elements in the govt. that might not respond to sertain forms of democracy assistance.  kevin

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

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


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 17, 2011, 08:44:17 PM
My post tried to encourage two items:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Adam Symonds on May 17, 2011, 09:02:19 PM
@Ross:

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

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

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

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



Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kevin kuswa on May 17, 2011, 09:10:13 PM
Good point, Gordon, and a great card, Adam.  A few additional comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kevin kuswa on May 17, 2011, 09:14:53 PM
@RG: Not only is your request for citations off the mark and the wrong path to emphasize as we open up the research, you have forgotten another part of the equation:  THE PREPOSITION.

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

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

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

kevin


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Hester on May 17, 2011, 09:37:56 PM
reading this evidence, i'm struck by a potential distinction between "democracy assistance TO Syria" vs "democracy assistance IN Syria." the evidence cited uses the latter.

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

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




@Ross:

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

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

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

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




Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kevin kuswa on May 17, 2011, 09:48:24 PM
preposition key.  agreed for sure.  ...and isn't durant even more awesome than anyone thought (even though the mavs will take game #1)?  k


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: RGarrett on May 17, 2011, 10:00:01 PM
I have read Gordon's Kevin's and Hester's responses. I sincerely, apologize for an insult to the researchers, the question I requested to be answered in my mind is a genuine question for the next phase I would sincerely like answered. I think it is important that those of us who will not get to attend the topic meetings ask the questions we would like the topic committee to answer.  I agree largely with Gordon's sentiment that there are many answers to these questions, my problem may not in fact be a problem, this question may cause us to broaden the mechanism, etc.  Given that all of those potential solutions might be very important to the direction of the topic I hope that if there are multiple solutions that each is specifically compared to the others.

I will say one reason I am very skeptical of taking the approach that the resolution will be viewed reasonably by debaters and judges after it is final is that my experience has been different.  Almost every member of the committee thought CTBT should be topical under nuclear weapons, but the community felt very differently about this issue. I think that debate judges can be unreasonable in their demand and expectation for cards in a topicality debate, but I also think if we address head-on some of the potential hard line views that may come about  we could produce a better topic.

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

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

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

I am still not sure I follow you here.  If the resolution said provide Dem Assistance within Syria, if Democracy Assistance requires consent of the government it will still require consent. I might agree the word "to" might require government to government and so that would be an important limiting consideration.  The word within would allow a broader set including government to non-government, but I think the word democracy assistance itself would then limit that set (if it implies government-to-government it does not matter that we chose a broader preposition because something else did the limiting work). If the resolution writers want a way to address this in the resolution it could be, you could say The USFG should provide democracy assistance to/in/for, ----, with or without their government's consent.  That is one option, making an explicit definitional pre-emption in the resolution might be drastic but I think the CTBT example provides some context for why debate judges can be very unreasonable sometimes.


I think Hester that evidence might be useful but here is a piece of context from that article that concerns me:

"In some places, the range of U.S. political aid work
has been broader than that of European donors. For
instance, in the Gulf, U.S. funding has encompassed
projects on political participation, the rule of law, press
freedom, judicial reform, civil society, labor rights, and
political parties, whereas European projects have been
slightly more narrowly focused on women’s rights,
economic governance and media capacities.
27
 But both Europe and the United States hesitate to undertake or
sponsor projects that do not meet with local govern-
ment approval, and will only provide funding to local
organizations as allowed by local laws—a constraint
Arab governments are tightening with alacrity.
28:"



Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 17, 2011, 10:35:32 PM
Ross, Mike, Kevin -

Thanks for pushing this conversation forward. This discussion is exactly the kind of follow-up that we need. I am not sure the analogies always help us, but the specifics of this are helpful. As we research the legal limits (for t) and the practical limits (for solvency) we want to be guided by allowing the affirmative to employ mechanisms that work with the optimal scope of potential actions. My initial concern was about the tendency to want to narrow the potential topic before the full options are considered. If there is a conversation about how the topic mechanism needs to be carefully considered to provide a maximum amount of flexibility for non-governmental assistance that should certainly be carefully considered. The nature of a changing topic requires us as to look carefully at these items. Thanks for the notes and keep the research coming.

FYI - I keep adding the document links to the google bookmarks. Please send anything along that you would like to share.




Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Adam Symonds on May 17, 2011, 10:41:52 PM

"In some places, the range of U.S. political aid work
has been broader than that of European donors. For
instance, in the Gulf, U.S. funding has encompassed
projects on political participation, the rule of law, press
freedom, judicial reform, civil society, labor rights, and
political parties, whereas European projects have been
slightly more narrowly focused on women’s rights,
economic governance and media capacities.
27
 But both Europe and the United States hesitate to undertake or
sponsor projects that do not meet with local govern-
ment approval, and will only provide funding to local
organizations as allowed by local laws—a constraint
Arab governments are tightening with alacrity.
28:"



Even taken at face value, that quotation is a disad to funding them, not a statement that aid is illegal or impossible without consent. Footnote 28 there refers to this article (http://www.ned.org/docs/backlash06.pdf) which concludes that even backsliding regimes grant consent to those local groups. This report also says:

"Responding to local priorities: Local project partners and grantees are, of course, the most vulnerable
to repressive measures. Nevertheless, civil society groups and other groups that engage with U.S.-funded
democracy promotion groups tend to be of such political caliber that they are not readily intimidated
by authorities’ official hostility. “The kinds of groups that openly work with us,” says one democracy
promoter, “are fairly resilient and don’t scare easily.” There is relatively little evidence of current or
prospective grantees declining to accept support from, or otherwise engage with, U.S. democracy
promotion groups, either because of fear of official sanctions or retribution. In some cases, to the
contrary, reports one democracy promotion group, “their fear is that we will capitulate and leave.”

That report also concludes that we should provide democracy assistance to NGOs in repressive regimes:

"Congress should seek to ensure and increase assistance for democratic political parties,
nongovernmental organizations, and independent media in repressive or hybrid regimes
while placing severe restrictions on all forms of U.S. aid to these states and, in appropriate
cases, prohibiting U.S. government agencies from providing loans and investment to the
governments concerned, except on humanitarian grounds."

It's a very good NED report and well worth the read, but it certainly doesn't conclude the US can't ever provide democracy assistance to these groups or that consent is needed.

(I should note this article is a bad example to use in reference to democracy assistance, as they use the term interchangeably with democracy promotion!)



Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 19, 2011, 01:46:07 AM
On Thursday President Obama is scheduled to give a major address updating US policy toward the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring. This is obviously going to be important in explaining the future of our upcoming topic.

I will continue to update the google bookmarks with commentary about the address. Already there are a number of articles suggesting specific courses of action. I think this will be fertile for folks looking to consider potential affirmatives options. You can view or bookmark these links at https://www.google.com/bookmarks/l#!threadID=GiMgKMewRGk4%2FBDQE3ggoQlra25_Ul
Thanks to Kelly Young, Scott Elliott and Justin Stanley for sending along links and evidence.

I also wanted to share a good summary of how to follow the commentary about the speech on twitter. I will retweet some of the material using @gstables and this post provides a much more thorough way to follow the speech.

http://www.demdigest.net/blog/2011/05/didnt-get-an-invite/
Further to the Democracy Digest‘s on-line symposium previewing Obama’s address, you can view the speech via live-streaming from the State Department at WhiteHouse.gov/live and then accept The White House Blog‘s invitation to take to Twitter to continue the conversation:
Immediately afterwards, the live-stream will switch to a follow-up Twitter chat with Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, where anyone will be able to pose questions and reactions via Twitter.
NPR’s Andy Carvin (@acarvin) and Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch (@abuaardvark), two experts who bring both a deep understanding of foreign policy and extensive online networks, will facilitate a world-wide conversation that will include participants from the Middle East and North Africa.  As Andy explains:
Rather than come up with all the questions ourselves, we’d like to invite you to help us craft the questions. If you’re on Twitter and want to submit a question, please post a tweet with your question and include the hashtag #MEspeech in the tweet. You can pose your question before or during the speech. We won’t be able to get to every question, of course, so we encourage everyone to follow the #MEspeech hashtag and join the broader conversation about the speech on Twitter.

Also - the wiki will be up and running soon. Keep sending your cites and evidence along to help frame the topic wordings. Thanks to Justin Stanley for sending this item.

Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 2008 33: 461
“Wilson Victorious? Understanding Democracy Promotion in the Midst of a Backlash”
http://alt.sagepub.com/content/33/4/461.full.pdf  (GS)
 
Democracy, of course, is a notoriously contested concept, and promoters of democracy usually give only the vaguest account of what it is they are promoting.21 The concept of democracy promotion presents similar difficulties. Five core terms may be distinguished:
 • Democracy promotion is an umbrella term that covers various activities aimed at fostering, improving, and sustaining good governance at several political levels. It comprises assistance, consolidation, dissemination, and advocacy.22
 • Democracy assistance is the provision of support (either financial, cultural, or material) to “democratic agents” in the process of democratization, without entailing direct intervention. It seeks to foster the conditions for the rise of a democratic regime, such as NGOs’ patronage or diplomatic pressure, and is thus, as Thomas Carothers put it, “a quiet support for democracy.”23
 • Democracy consolidation is another type of support, more direct and explicit, toward newly formed governments, weak institutions, or systems in decay, with the goal of enforcing the procedural side of the targeted polities, and is aimed at “avoiding democratic breakdown and avoiding democratic erosion” while strengthening preexisting structures.24
 • Democracy dissemination comprises all those activities that seek to advance democratic governance structures by intervening directly in the internal affairs of nondemocratic polities, reshaping authoritarian, fragile, or collapsed states through explicit pressures, or enforcing instruments of international law with democratization goals.
Democracy advocacy is, contrary to the two prior types, a noninterventionist form of promotion, usually involving of massmediarelated activities and nongovernmental organizations like think tanks.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 19, 2011, 10:34:52 AM
The 1NC: "One Off---Inherency....."


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 19, 2011, 11:09:31 AM
Hahahaha...Good thing the major policy initiatives like economic aid and debt relief are not traditionally thought of democracy assistance. Love the glass half empty crowd - congratulations to everyone for having a year to research one of the most timely and important topics. I know we have some loud critics, but this is a great opportunity.

The bookmarks are also being updated with great new links. If you want to follow the NPQ question on twitter, search #MESpeech. A lot of good discussion there with Andrew Carvin.



Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Malgor on May 19, 2011, 12:17:03 PM
please don't lump me in with the rest of these critics.  my post was about the need for the committee to develop good standards for picking a country and for them to be open about it.  I outlined a few criteria that i think we should use.  I did not imply the topic is broken, but I did predict how picking a country for inclusion would play out and i have a feeling these concerns will be ignored.

for instance, including a country in the middle of a civil war in the topic is a disaster and these concerns are being swept to the side with vague claims that we have to debate it because people are talking about it in the news.  that is a poor way to pick a country, see my previous post for reasons why.  this is not something that should be ignored, people should be concerned.  I think the committee gets a lot of unwarranted criticism, this is a good opportunity to have a discussion about the criteria being used to include a country.  



Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kevin kuswa on May 19, 2011, 12:49:18 PM
malgor,

you've been raising good points and i do not think your arguments are at all in the same basket with those who would define words with absolute decree right now or ignore the stage we are in.

we should discuss the criteria for including/excluding countries--exactly.  i think that's what committee members and others are researching.

there are a number of variables in the topic paper for inclusion and I don't think it stops at just "country X is in the news."  palestine is in the news (central to Obama's speech earlier), yet it is not on the list of core countries to include at this point (although I think it should be).

some of the key variables covering countries undergoing change (or lack of change) in the region are:

A) degree of stability
B) current leadership/govt structure (ideology)
C) current leadership/govt structure (allegiance to the US)
D) opposition movement (size and strength)
E) opposition movement (uniformity)
F) opposition movement (allegiance to the US/ideology)
G) US policy in the Squo
H) geography
I) dynamic for change (solvency possibility?)
J) others

Sure, this is a Chinese Encyclopedia to say the least, but something we have to dive into...Gordon's paper provides a good matrix and three layers of countries, but that is not meant to be definitive or overly rigid.  Wording papers could work within that matrix or propose an argument for a different perspective.

malgor, it seems as though your argument is that the degree of stability (is there a civil war right now?) should be a concern in terms of changes that are likely during the year.  This may be a good way to define a list, but there is also an argument that those are the places that are most in need of the discussion.  Either way, something to continue to contemplate and a big variable to consider.

kevin




Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 19, 2011, 01:20:57 PM
A couple of thoughts

I can't repeat this enough times - the absence of discussion on the forums isn't the same as the absence of consideration. The topic committee is now actively researching in order to submit proposals. As I have explained there are two large sets of research  - focusing on the mechanism and focusing on the countries. No one believes the questions of countries are settled. If anything the paper provided a foundation for the next stage to proceed. You will note it tried to avoid late surprises, but it didn't treat anything as a given.

The best way for everyone to help is advance the conversation - If the question is making sure there is uniqueness to Libya, let's have that discussion. I didn't hear anything in the speech this morning that changes the Libya debate, but that doesn't mean there isn't a separate discussion to be had.

I do think the civil war there poses some questions and challenges. At the same time, I have tried to caution folks not to necessarily avoid unstable countries because 1) the topic invites/encourages a discussion of unstable nations and 2) we have no promise that currently stable topic countries won't be unstable during the year. This is why I keep returning to the education aspect. It in no way ignores our job to produce a foundation for good debates, but it is a very honest statement that if you try to word this topic to maximize a very clear unchanging SQ you will 1)fail and 2) not debate the essence of the topic. The alternative is to explore how the changes will happen and how the topic can evolve with it. Case in point, today's speech is a milestone event, but it doesn't reverse much of the topical question. The US is still largely in a similar position with regard to how it works with assisting democracy. As specific nuances of policy develop from this speech, we want to make sure the topic is capable of evolving in that direction.

Back to your explicit point, specific discussion of any country is warranted. Let me perfectly clear - the topic committee would welcome anyone's input on a consideration of any of the topic countries. We just know that these forums are great for discussions, but the amount of discussion here isn't necessarily correlated to the work we are doing. Let's open up a thread about Libya and discuss that in depth. I think the committee would love that help. Just know why I tend to react negatively if the conversation moves to a more global concern about not including any of the unstable countries at the core of this foreign policy question.

Lots of room for help. We have a lot of mechanism work and a lot of country work. I know the committee appreciates when the community uses the forum to help us explore this questions. Thanks for all of your help.




 


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Hester on May 19, 2011, 02:02:54 PM
The 1NC: "One Off---Inherency....."

1998 NDT, Southeast Asia Security Assistance topic, UWG BC is debating MSU CS in the quarters, with the winner set to debate Emory KS in the semis. Emory KS ran a demining affirmative i was very familiar with. in our pre-NDT research, i had found silver bullet inherency evidence indicating the entirety of Emory KS' plan had already been done. if we had won that quarters debate, we were going to read "1 off - inherency" against Emory. alas, we lost a 3-2... damn you Corndog and Sully.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 19, 2011, 03:03:36 PM
Our team won a round at CEDA Nats on inherency debating Afghanistan. We had to spend a couple hours thinking and writing out why inherency should remain a voting issue in modern debate. LOL.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Malgor on May 19, 2011, 03:17:22 PM
A couple of thoughts

I can't repeat this enough times - the absence of discussion on the forums isn't the same as the absence of consideration. The topic committee is now actively researching in order to submit proposals. As I have explained there are two large sets of research  - focusing on the mechanism and focusing on the countries. No one believes the questions of countries are settled. If anything the paper provided a foundation for the next stage to proceed. You will note it tried to avoid late surprises, but it didn't treat anything as a given.

The best way for everyone to help is advance the conversation - If the question is making sure there is uniqueness to Libya, let's have that discussion. I didn't hear anything in the speech this morning that changes the Libya debate, but that doesn't mean there isn't a separate discussion to be had.

I do think the civil war there poses some questions and challenges. At the same time, I have tried to caution folks not to necessarily avoid unstable countries because 1) the topic invites/encourages a discussion of unstable nations and 2) we have no promise that currently stable topic countries won't be unstable during the year. This is why I keep returning to the education aspect. It in no way ignores our job to produce a foundation for good debates, but it is a very honest statement that if you try to word this topic to maximize a very clear unchanging SQ you will 1)fail and 2) not debate the essence of the topic. The alternative is to explore how the changes will happen and how the topic can evolve with it. Case in point, today's speech is a milestone event, but it doesn't reverse much of the topical question. The US is still largely in a similar position with regard to how it works with assisting democracy. As specific nuances of policy develop from this speech, we want to make sure the topic is capable of evolving in that direction.

Back to your explicit point, specific discussion of any country is warranted. Let me perfectly clear - the topic committee would welcome anyone's input on a consideration of any of the topic countries. We just know that these forums are great for discussions, but the amount of discussion here isn't necessarily correlated to the work we are doing. Let's open up a thread about Libya and discuss that in depth. I think the committee would love that help. Just know why I tend to react negatively if the conversation moves to a more global concern about not including any of the unstable countries at the core of this foreign policy question.

Lots of room for help. We have a lot of mechanism work and a lot of country work. I know the committee appreciates when the community uses the forum to help us explore this questions. Thanks for all of your help.




 

I think the main point of miscommunication here is that you believe my concerns are something that can be answered with research, whereas I believe talking about these criteria stands prior to research.  Discussing guidelines and criteria for evaluation provides us with a way to understand the purpose, interpretation, and approach that we should take to research; it answers the question of "what part of this research should concern us."

I have no doubt there is plenty of work being done and that it will be transparent given the wiki and google bookmarks etc etc.  But that doesn't mean we are having a public discussion about what makes a country worth including or necessitates their exclusion from the topic.  Once those standards are created, it's much easier for people to access and understand how topic committee members will interpret their results.


The list of components Kevin outlined is pretty robust, but it begs the question of how much we value those components, and which ones should have priority. 

I presented a case for why "it's an important country" isn't a good enough way to evaluate their inclusion.  I gave a set of standards for evaluation in an earlier post.  No one has offered answers for my concerns, which again are based on standards we can develop prior to the research phase.

I am surprised people can have a predisposition that a country in the midst of a civil war, that will be changing a lot from day-to-day, should be included in the topic.  Gordon is certainly right that any country can erupt into change; the solution to deal with that by including a country we already know is facing the highest amount of instability possible barring a complete collapse of their nation-state, is grossly inadequate.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: stables on May 19, 2011, 03:28:16 PM
"I gave a set of standards for evaluation in an earlier post.  No one has offered answers for my concerns, which again are based on standards we can develop prior to the research phase."

You have written a lot and much of it dealt with the mechanism (or other) questions. Can you just highlight or clarify which standards you are referring to?


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kevin kuswa on May 19, 2011, 03:44:44 PM
variables from the topic paper that should come before the "too unstable to debate" element being applied to Libya:

1. is the govt. that is in power or was recently in power relatively authoritarian/oppressive? 
2. is there an opposition or set of oppositions that is in the midst of organizing for more freedoms?
3. is US democracy assistance limited, unsucessful, or completely absent?

this is just a stab to get some more discussion going here and help the committee, but I would think that a "yes" to the above three questions would argue for inclusion in at least one of the lists on the ballot.  Countries that are experiencing a lot of change would be more likely to have a yes on these three levels, taking the civil war argument in the opposite direction.

the research and the contextualization of the research happen at the same time, but we're looking at the key questions with these variables.  good stuff.

kevin


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: sspring on May 19, 2011, 05:12:24 PM
Quote
I am surprised people can have a predisposition that a country in the midst of a civil war, that will be changing a lot from day-to-day, should be included in the topic.  Gordon is certainly right that any country can erupt into change; the solution to deal with that by including a country we already know is facing the highest amount of instability possible barring a complete collapse of their nation-state, is grossly inadequate.

While I am not sure I understand the entirety of the dispute here, the idea that things might change in a country is what makes it interesting to debate. Change and the uncertainty are what makes research interesting. There is a value to keeping up to date with the world and regions as they evolve and have turmoil. In fact, this could be a pedagogical goal of debate research in teaching how to adapt research, knowledge and arguments given a world that constantly changes.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 19, 2011, 05:41:08 PM
I am so tired of people worrying about affirmatives breaking soemthing new, and negatives not having any "core ground." "Instability in the MENA region means that Northwestern or Emory may break a new 1AC in Quarters at the NDT. Oh My!!! Therefore, we should, by all means work to exclude any meaningful debate on contemporary issues and restrict the topic to some meaningless, hyperspecific, National Debate Tournament out-rounds oriented resolution that has no bearing whatsoever on the world our students are facing."

That thinking worked oh so well on the immigration topic.

Maybe we should start with a primary question: What would be the best debate possible for 99% of the undergraduate debaters in the nation look like if the general subject were "How can the U.S. aid the emergence of democracy in the MENA?" I think that if the Topic Committee would write this on the white board [or blackboard--don't want people to feel excluded], and use this as their mantra, the  final proposed resolutions will be more elegantly written, and would address the core issues.

Any form of democracy assistance is a subsetof democracy promotion. Any U.S. action to promote or assist democracy is going to link to either huge-ass kritiks, or is vulnerable to an EU/consult EU counter-plan. I am in no way concerned about negatvie ground on this topic. Even those that fear an expansion of the topic would legitiamte an "invade Libya" Aff....I say, "bring it on." Stupid 1AC leads to 10 REAL disads and a negative block.

While, I am at it, Northwestern and Emory will ALWAYS break new at the NDT...so get the hell over it and start worrying about crafting something the rest of the debate community can debate, and can provide the most education for our students.


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Hester on May 19, 2011, 06:54:08 PM
i agree with these points made by Sarah and would add another angle in support:

the most likely "bad" scenario for including a country that is too dynamic or unstable (however that is defined) is the we just end up with a dud country on the list. like Sarah implies, i don't think that's how it would shake down - dynamism -> lots of media coverage -> education at minimum, maybe even debate ev. but even if it did become "too unstable/dynamic to debate," that would just mean one less country for the NEG to have to worry significantly about. it wouldn't mean there would suddenly become some "unbeatable aff." as long as we make sure there are plenty of countries to choose from, having a country that is unmanageable won't kill the topic.

but the assumption that a country being so unstable that it would somehow "make debates worse or impossible" is just not supported historically.
my senior year was 1992-1993, South Asia Development Assistance. Afghanistan was one of the listed countries. it was VERY hard to keep up with the research at the level necessary to run that AFF. but a few teams did, and were rewarded with success. one of those teams was an unspectacular team from Trinity (definitely a "small school" at the time) who cleared at the NDT that year. i say "unspectacular" not out of disrespect (Garrett Haines and i were good friends back then), but to highlight that the team succeeded due to hard work and diligence with regard to researching a VERY unstable and dynamic country. two debaters at a small school succeeding by working hard - seems like the kind of thing our community likes to praise.

excluding a country because "events are likely to change a lot" is not very persuasive to me.




While I am not sure I understand the entirety of the dispute here, the idea that things might change in a country is what makes it interesting to debate. Change and the uncertainty are what makes research interesting. There is a value to keeping up to date with the world and regions as they evolve and have turmoil. In fact, this could be a pedagogical goal of debate research in teaching how to adapt research, knowledge and arguments given a world that constantly changes.
[/quote]


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: Malgor on May 24, 2011, 03:56:28 PM
"I gave a set of standards for evaluation in an earlier post.  No one has offered answers for my concerns, which again are based on standards we can develop prior to the research phase."

You have written a lot and much of it dealt with the mechanism (or other) questions. Can you just highlight or clarify which standards you are referring to?

sorry for the delayed response.  I've been on a sports road trip journey the last few days (all events unfortunately ending in losses for mah teams).

1) not including a country that is important is not an egregious disservice to students or a signal that we are abandoning contemporary issues.  there are plenty of countries on this topic that are at the forefront.  to say that we are avoiding the issue by, for instance, debating egypt but not libya, is not true.  the core educational question should be, are we providing students with opportunities to debate contemporary issues that are relevant to the central area?  The standard of "are we providing students with EVERY opportunity"? is probably impossible to achieve and certainly an unreasonable standard for any topic area.

2) another assumption I have here is that generics are largely inevitable on any resolution and people that want to run them well have access to those arguments regardless.  I don't think this is an unreasonable assumption.  Given this belief, the core  criterion for including a country should be whether there is topic specific (ground unique to the mechanism or plans involved) negative ground that is also stable. 

Anyway, here are some standards for evaluating whether or not a country should be included.  please feel free to discuss.  My main point here is that there are a lot of important countries, some will inevitably be excluded, and I think early inertia for some countries will block any critical reflection on how their inclusion effects the topic:

a) are there core, well developed affirmatives for the country?  Duh, nothing controversial here.  but remember democracy assistance is more narrow than demo promo and people should present some tangible policy proposals with ev to give people an idea of what kinds of affs there would be.  Many times the kinds of advantages people envision when they think of a country don't materialize bc the mechanism available doesn't access them as well

b) what is the US current stance toward that country, including what kind of democracy assistance may be presented in the status quo?  most disads will rely on how much the aff diverges from status quo policy (also not a shocking statement).

c) what is the status of that country?  is it in transition, awaiting election, in the midst of war, etc. Some seem to be excited about the prospect of debating a country in constant flux.  I think that's a damn easy thing to get pumped up about in may, while we are all enjoying down time and have few travel commitments.  Many may find it's not as fun as they originally thought when we're traveling every weekend etc

d) finally, what does the answer to a-c do for core topic ground?  I admit research may find that in general the neg will have some problems in this area regardless of country included.  for example, if the best topic DAs are "us supporting opposition angers country X", we may find that obama's new policy means these links have tenuous uniqueness.

these are just a few ideas.  but, it sounds like there is little agreement with my assumptions about what countries would be sufficient to give debaters a year of focusing on contemporary issues in the policy area. 

even using the categories created by the topic paper means we are already, weeks before the meeting, assuming that some countries are more important than others.  we should use some standards first, then decide based on the research which lists would balance educational and competitive concerns. 


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: ScottElliott on May 24, 2011, 11:15:14 PM


Can one write basic advantages for a JV or novice program stemming from the following resolution: “Resolved: the United States Federal Government should substantially increase democracy assistance to Egypt, Tunisia, and/or Yemen?”

 It took three hours, but I have three advantages with cards. These are examples of standard advantages that have actual topical action solvency cards. I did not pursue all the terminal impacts…those are backfile cards that anyone can access.  But here are three advantages pretty much ready to go.

First (1) Third World Feminism/Women’s Empowerment in MENA. Second (2) Elections: Credibility of the new governments of Tunisia and Egypt. The advantage has terminal impacts of terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, new civil wars, and the Palestinian Peace Process. Third (3) Stopping the global rollback of democracy. Impacts are all the reasons why democracy is good.

First, Women’s Empowerment. (The terminal impacts are reductions in overpopulation, poverty reduction, Third World Feminism, feminism turns to kritiks, reductions of war/conflict, increased stability, Islamic Feminism, decreased radical Islam. Here are  solvency cards linked to democracy assistance programs.)


Now is the key time to advance Women’s Rights in MENA (second half of the card is Yemen specific). [http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/Opinions/2011/March/MENA-Protests-Could-Help-Advance-Womens-Rights.aspx ]

As people across the Middle East and North Africa continue to protest for greater freedom and equality under their repressive regimes, we must keep in mind that the struggle for liberty is not just about overthrowing autocratic rulers—it is also about personal freedom, and women in the region stand to gain the most from reform. The unfortunate brutal violence that many of the protesters have had to endure has understandably shifted some of the attention away from the benefits that an opening in political space can bring about. Yet, the steep cost of these cries for freedom are what make it especially important for the fighters —and international actors supporting the stabilization efforts—to acknowledge that they have an unprecedented opportunity to capture some of the newly created political space and ensure gender rights are integrated into political and legal reforms.

This holds particularly true in Yemen where women face some of the greatest challenges of any women in the region, yet research performed by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) demonstrates the majority of both men and women are open to improving the status of women in the country. A prime example is establishing a minimum marriage age for girls, which Yemeni women have been visible in pushing for in the past few years. The current political environment is an ideal time to capitalize on the desire for transformation.


Democracy Assistance can increase the number of women elected into Arab nation’s parliaments (internal solvency for a Third World Feminism Advantage)
http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/News-in-Brief/2011/Feb/~/media/Files/Publications/White%20PaperReport/2010/Hybl_Welborne_Christina_2010.pdf

Ultimately, these empirical results reflect a dramatic instance of gender policy diffusion
spearheaded through foreign aid and multilateral efforts to promote economic development and
democratization via gender empowerment. Here, international influence is modeled using
financial incentives, which arguably have more teeth than legal frameworks. In fact, international
financial incentives promote and directly predict “binding” policy changes such as the adoption
of gender quotas insomuch as depending on the type of quota, they often require amending preexisting legislation or even the constitution. Broadly, these findings also hint that development assistance is less fungible in the context of gender programming efforts, although it is likely extended under a broad “democratization” rubric where gender empowerment appears among the most “innocuous” reforms Arab policymakers envision.

Democracy assistance really empowers women…we can bribe the Mid-East into empowerment. http://www.ifes.org/~/media/Files/Publications/White%20PaperReport/2010/Hybl_Welborne_Christina_2010.pdf

High fertility rates likely
attract development assistance aimed at curbing problematic demographic outcomes—an issue
squarely within the realm of gender empowerment policy. According to this logic, gender quotas
arise as a salient policy response to pressure from the outside world to find coping strategies for
women-specific demographic issues such as infant or maternal mortality. Finally, significant
results for development assistance also hint at the bargaining mechanism underlying gender
quota implementation. Broadly, international pressures can sway countries to modify their legal
infrastructure to promote gender outcomes espoused by the West when financial rewards are
dolled out.


Women’s empowerment via democracy assistance—Yemen Specific [http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/Press-Release/2010/Yemenis-Are-Open-to-Improving-Status-of-Women.aspx ]
This survey, which is a product of IFES, the world’s premiere election-assistance and democracy promotion NGO, along with IWPR, sheds light into the political reality, economic status, and career and educational aspirations of women in Yemen. The survey was previously conducted in Lebanon and Morocco. The Yemeni survey data, which was collected in June 2010, shows that while 61% of Yemeni women say they have voted in the most recent elections, their rate of civic participation remains abysmally low: over 90% of them reported never taking part in any civic activities to express their views on social and political issues. When it comes to labor force participation, there is also a lack of female representation: 61 percent of men work for pay, compared to only 7 percent of women. Additionally, a very high percentage of women (91%) and men (98%) oppose women traveling without a mahram or male escort, highlighting Yemeni society’s significant restriction on women’s freedom of movement. Yet, other SWMENA survey findings are more encouraging. The majority of both women (58%) and men (57%) support the introduction of gender quotas in elected bodies in Yemen to increase women’s political representation. Additionally, sixty-four percent of both men and women each strongly or somewhat support women as political candidates.  Meanwhile, more than 70% of Yemeni women and men expressed their support for a minimum marriage age law set at 17.
U.S. must follow through with its commitment to women’s rights by committing for assistance in Yemen. http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/Opinions/2011/March/MENA-Protests-Could-Help-Advance-Womens-Rights.aspx
As the US and international community assist countries across the region and Yemen in particular in the stabilization process, they should keep in mind that this is a prime opportunity to advocate for women’s rights—one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s areas of focus and signature issues. To seize the opportunity, the U.S. and other international aid and diplomacy actors must insist on gender inclusion in political and legal reforms and ensure Yemeni women advocates are at the table for all discussions. Ignoring women’s issues during the reform process would be a missed opportunity for Yemen and US diplomacy efforts.

Women’s Empowerment, Egypt Specific, [ http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/News-in-Brief/2011/Jan/IFES-Holds-Conference-on-the-Womens-Quota-in-Parliament-in-Egypt.aspx]
The women’s quota reserves 64 seats for female candidates in People’s Assembly elections.  The candidates compete for two seats in each of the 29 governorates, plus an additional two seats for Cairo, Sohag and Daqahliyah. This quota, which was enacted for the first time in Egypt during the 2010 election, has been regarded as a very positive development for democracy and women’s rights in Egypt, yet it has not been without controversy.
One of the conference’s sessions featured the testimonies of four women who were elected to the Assembly. Each female candidate spoke about her personal experience in the nomination process, the support she received and the obstacles she faced. The session was moderated by the first female Egyptian judge Tahani Elgibaly. The main speakers during this session were National Democratic Party PA Member Hayat Abdoun, former Tagamu Party Member Suhair Abdelzahir, who withdrew from the race, Wafd Party PA Member Magda Elnowaishy, and Dr. Azza Kamel of the nongovernmental organization Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development.
Increasing women’s participation improves democracy in MENA. Likewise, improving democracy improves woen’s overall status. http://www.iewy.com/25423-democratic-ideals-must-be-woven-into-social-political-economic-fabric-of-society-secretary-general-tells-round-table-on-gender-equality.html
Second, while women’s political participation improves democracy, the reverse is also true: democracy is an incubator for gender equality. It provides public space for discussion of human rights and women’s empowerment. It enables women’s groups to mobilize. It makes it easier for women to realize their political, civil, economic and social rights. But let us not allow the long-standing democracies to congratulate themselves too readily: even there, women still experience discrimination, inequality and high levels of violence. Third, gender equality must be treated as an explicit goal of democracy-building, not as an “add on”. Experience has taught us that democratic ideals of inclusiveness, accountability and transparency cannot be achieved without laws, policies, measures and practices that address inequalities. Moreover, we must go beyond thinking about this issue mostly at the time of elections. Rather, we must weave these ideals into the social, political and economic fabric of a society, so that girls and women can reach their potential on an equal basis with men, whatever they choose to do.



Second: New Government Legitimacy. The big advantages are (a) risk of civil wars and regional instability (oil shocks, closing Suez, etc.); (2) take over by radical Islamists opposed to the U.S. and Israel (Egypt abrogates its treaty with Israel; Hamas gets more support, including weapons from a radicalized Egyptian government; terrorist training camps increase, etc.).
Inherency: U.S. democracy assistance toward Egypt is decreasing in the status quo and has historically been targeted at only host government approved NGO’s and political groups.(March 2011) [http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33003.pdf  ]

Each year, a portion of USAID-managed economic aid is spent on democracy promotion
programs in Egypt, a policy that has been a lightning rod for controversy over the last seven
years. On principle, the Mubarak government had rejected U.S. assistance for democracy
promotion activities, though it had grudgingly accepted a certain degree of programming. On the
other hand, democracy activists believe that the U.S. government, particularly during the Obama
Administration and before the revolution, had not been aggressive enough in supporting political
reform in Egypt.
The degree of U.S. direct support for civil society groups had been a major issue. The Mubarak
government had staunchly opposed foreign support to independent civic groups that demand
government accountability, as well as civic groups that have not received government approval.
During the Bush Administration, policymakers and members of Congress directed some amounts
of Economic Support Funds toward direct support to Egyptian non-governmental organizations
(NGOs). However, some experts note that only a small proportion of USAID’s democracy and
governance (D&G) funds are spent on independent Egyptian groups and an even smaller
proportion to groups that do not receive approval from the Egyptian government. The vast
majority of USAID D&G assistance goes to Government of Egypt-approved consensual,
government-to-government projects. Most importantly, in FY2005, Congress directed that “democracy and governance activities shall
not be subject to the prior approval of the GoE [government of Egypt],” language which remained
in annual foreign operations appropriations legislation until FY2009 (see below).6 Egypt claims
that U.S. assistance programs must be jointly negotiated and cannot be unilaterally dictated by the
United States. P.L. 111-117, Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2010, contains general
legislative language on the use of U.S. funds to NGOs, stating in section 7034:
With respect to the provision of assistance for democracy, human rights and governance
activities in this Act, the organizations implementing such assistance and the specific nature
of that assistance shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign
country.7
As overall ESF aid to Egypt has decreased, so too has U.S. democracy assistance. For FY2009,
the Bush Administration unilaterally cut overall economic aid to Egypt by more than half,
requesting $200 million in ESF. Therefore, because U.S. economic assistance is divided among
several sectors (health, education, economic development, and democracy promotion), fewer
funds were available in FY2009 for D&G aid ($20 million instead of previous appropriations of
up to $50 million). P.L. 111-117, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2010, provided $25
million in economic aid for democracy promotion (or 10% of total economic aid).
Perhaps in order to ease tension with the Egyptian government, the Obama Administration has
reduced funding for U.S.-based NGOs operating in Egypt while increasing funding for stateapproved
and unregistered Egyptian NGOs (see table below). Since FY2009, the Administration
has used other State Department aid accounts, such as the Middle East Partnership Initiative
(MEPI) and the Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF), to support Egyptian and
international NGOs. In October 2009, USAID’s Inspector General issued an audit of the agency’s
democracy and governance activities in Egypt. Among other findings, the audit concluded that
The impact of USAID/Egypt’s democracy and governance activities has been limited based
on the programs reviewed. In published reports, independent nongovernmental organizations
ranked Egypt unfavorably in indexes of media freedom, corruption, civil liberties, political
rights, and democracy. Egypt’s ranking remained unchanged or declined for the past 2 years,
and the impact of USAID/Egypt’s democracy and governance programs was unnoticeable in
indexes (sic) describing the country’s democratic environment…. The Government of Egypt
signed a bilateral agreement to support democracy and governance activities (page 5), but it
has shown reluctance to support many of USAID’s democracy and governance programs and
has impeded implementers’ activities. Despite the spirit with which the U.S. Congress
espoused the civil society direct grants program, the Government of Egypt’s lack of
cooperation hindered implementers’ efforts to begin projects and activities through delays
and cancellations.8.


More assistance is needed for the run-up to the 2011 Egyptian elections and credibility of the new government. [http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/White-Papers/2011/~/media/Files/Publications/White%20PaperReport/2011/2011_egypt_briefing_paper_II.pdf]
Although it is unrealistic to expect all these goals will be completely achieved ahead of the 2011 elections, it is vital that there is demonstrable progress to ensure a more competitive and open campaign process. This should be complemented by robust participation from an informed electorate and administration and oversight of the electoral process by electoral authorities who are independent, transparent, and accountable. Only with real progress in these areas will Egypt be able to create an enabling environment for credible elections which will earn the confidence and participation of Egyptian voters and citizens, and in the process, move the country forward along a path of meaningful political reform.

Electoral reforms in Egypt must be in place to give the new government legitimacy [http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/White-Papers/2011/~/media/Files/Publications/White%20PaperReport/2011/2011_egypt_briefing_paper.pdf]
Without major changes, public confidence in the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process will remain low and elected bodies will lack the democratic legitimacy they need to act as representatives of the people.
It is possible that one of the legacies of the current unrest will be a new climate in which there is the political will to take some significant steps towards a credible and competitive electoral process. The presidential elections in 2011 will be the first major test of that political will, although a constitutional referendum and statutory amendments beforehand will provide some useful indicators. The overriding objective should be to increase public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. That requires coordinated action on several fronts, including:
• Ending the current emergency law to provide for, amongst other things, greater freedom of assembly
• Removing the ban on religiously-based political parties
• Reintroducing independent judicial or similar supervision of the electoral process at the ballot box level
• Increasing the independence, impartiality, openness and transparency of the PEC, HEC, and PPC
• Allowing the decisions of the PEC to be appealed to the courts
• Ensuring that the MoI and the security forces are clearly accountable to the PEC and HEC in carrying out their electoral responsibilities
• Ensuring that the PEC and HEC enforce the election laws, particularly provisions prohibiting intimidation of voters and candidates
• Establishing timely and effective procedures for receiving and determining electoral complaints and resolving electoral disputes
• Improving the voter registration system, particularly removing voter registration offices from police stations
• Ensuring compliance with election finance laws, especially prohibitions on the use of State resources in election campaigns
• Allowing unfettered domestic and international observation of elections.

 
U.S. democracy assistance to Tunisia is being cut. http://pomed.org/blog/2011/04/new-fy2011-budget-bill-released.html/

The bill requires  a report by Clinton on the progress of Egypt’s political transition and preparations for free and fair elections, but notably shifts this a requirement from Egypt’s foreign military financing, as proposed in the Senate’s version of the FY11 bill in March, to its economic assistance.  Also compared to the March Senate version, the bill omits $5 million in democracy assistance to Tunisia and also prohibits appropriating  foreign military funding to Yemen in addition to Bahrain, unless waived by the Administration


Failure to have credibility in the next round of Tunisian elections will result in post-election violence. http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/White-Papers/2011/Elections-in-Tunisia-Key-Challenges-for-Credible-and-Competitive-Elections.aspx
Assuming that political will for change remains in place, these elections will take place in a very different political climate to any other elections held in the North Africa region.
Domestic and international actors expressed their expectations that the next elections will be both improved and credible. Achieving this will present significant challenges, partly because of the short timeframe and political uncertainty but also because of the flawed electoral framework and questions of the capacity and integrity of those responsible for running the elections. A failure to meet expectations may lead to the risk of political boycotts of the election and possible election-related violence.



Tunisia’s elections will probably be pushed back to October 16, legitimacy of their first election is key to producing stability in Tunisia. Assistance is needed to produce a credible election. http://www.ifes.org/Content/Publications/Comments/2011/IFES-Statement-on-Tunisian-Elections.aspx

The following is a statement by Bill Sweeney, President and CEO of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) regarding a proposal by Tunisia’s Independent Election Commission to postpone the election of a Constituent Assembly from 24 July to 16 October:
“The newly-appointed Independent Election Commission’s first order of business was to make the difficult decision of either moving forward with the ambitious 24 July date and risk the quality of elections, or call for the postponement of the election and risk public objection. We hope the Commission’s recent sensible proposal to postpone the elections to 16 October will be accepted by the transitional government and embraced by the people.
IFES agrees with the Commission that an adequate planning process must be put in place before the election. This includes setting a budget for the overall elections, registering voters, determining the location of polling stations, recruiting and training personnel to ensure a smooth election and identifying the mechanism for casting votes.
So far, no progress has been made in putting together a comprehensive operational structure for voter registration (i.e. the recruitment of registration officers, the establishment of registration offices) and the delays in the adoption of an Electoral Law means there is no effective regulatory framework in place. Also, no budget has been set aside by the Tunisian authorities for the conduct of voter registration, much less for the broader elections.
The Tunisian authorities also face the challenge of immediately determining the number of electoral districts and the number of seats per district; the framework for out-of-country voting, including the number of seats allocated to expatriates; and the rules relating to the registration of candidates. These major steps are unlikely to be taken within the short timeframe ahead of the currently scheduled elections.
Today, 24 May, is the cutoff statutory date for the President to call the elections for 24 July. The Tunisian authorities have a very narrow window to decide if the priority is for the elections to take place on 24 July (and risk the quality of elections) or allow a delay in order for proper preparations to be made (and risk public protest).
IFES believes that every effort should be made to ensure a credible and transparent electoral process that leads to final results that are embraced by the people and accepted as legitimate.”

USAID, through the IFES, is central to the development of credible elections in Tunisia. [http://www.ifes.org/countries/Tunisia.aspx]
In January of 2011, IFES sent an assessment team to Tunisia to examine the challenges the country faces following the historic events that culminated in the resignation of former president Ben Ali. IFES representatives have met with various stakeholders, including local civil society, political parties, and the two main bodies charged with preparing a new electoral law, the Technical Commission on Political Reform (TCPR) and the Sub-Commission on Electoral Reform. IFES currently has funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) , the British Embassy /Tunis, and the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) to support the TCPR and other stakeholders in preparation for Tunisia’s most immediate and crucial challenge: the holding of democratic, credible and timely elections.

Increasing democracy in the MENA reduces violent extremism. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/0610_transcript_carothers_testimony.pdf
A core American principle is that all people should enjoy freedom of speech, expression and
religion and freedom from tyranny, oppression, torture and discrimination. U.S. foreign
policy should reflect and promote those core values. Not only because it implicates
fundamental human freedoms, but also because it serves U.S. national interests.
Violent extremism that threatens U.S. national security flourishes where democratic
governance is weak, justice is uncertain and legal avenues for change are in short supply.
Efforts to reduce poverty and promote broad-based economic growth are more effective
and sustainable in a political environment in which fundamental freedoms and the rule of
law are respected, government institutions are broadly representative, corruption is held to a minimum.


Third Advantage—Global Democracy (U.S. softpower, Counter-balance major Autocratic powers, Russia, China, Iran, Venezueala, decrease war, general human rights, economic growth, environmental sustainability, women rights; the “Diamond card”, that democracy solves all the world problems will have huge context because Professor Diamond is writing extensively on Democracy Assistance to MENA).

Uniqueness. The global Trend is toward DECREASING democracy, MENA revolutions are hiding this fact.

http://www.demdigest.net/blog/2011/05/forget-the-fourth-wave-deal-with-democratic-meltdowns/
What’s so democratic about it, asks Henry Kissinger.  “I don’t think the Arab Spring is necessarily a democratic manifestation, I think it is a populist manifestation,” he says. The regional upsurge has served as “a smokescreen for what is taking place in the world as a whole,” writes Joshua Kurlantzick, a Fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.  “Around the globe, it is democratic meltdowns, not democratic revolutions, that are now the norm,” he argues, citing Freedom House findings that global freedom declined for five successive years, the Bertelsmann Foundation’s research confirminga “gradual qualitative erosion” of democracy and doubling in the number of “highly defective democracies” between 2006-2010; and the stasis afflicting once-emerging democracies that regressed towards an illiberal hybrid state that, according to Journal of Democracy co-editors Marc Plattner and Larry Diamond can no longer be plausibly considered “as a temporary stage in the process of democratic transition.”
Major Countries, committed to autocracy, are actively undermining democratic movements globally. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/11/AR2011031105795.html
The march toward democracy in MENA is already stalling, and risks a total reversal to either military rule, or Islamic fundamentalist rule [http://www.demdigest.net/blog/2011/05/unstoppable-march-to-arab-democracy-stalled/ ]:
Has the forward march of Arab democracy stalled already? Earlier waves of democratic change confronted countervailing forces, writes Larry Diamond. But, he notes, “most of the Arab political openings are closing faster and more harshly than happened in other regions — save for the former Soviet Union, where most new democratic regimes quickly drifted back toward autocracy.”  In Egypt – the region’s most populous and influential state – the military’s officer corps “does not want to facilitate a genuine democratic transition,” and its failure to curtail rising insecurity is perceived “as part of the military’s grand design to undermine democracy before it takes hold.” The call for fresh protests is likely to prompt divisions among democracy advocates. One leading liberal has criticized activists for their ‘prolonged opposition trauma’ or inability to move from the politics of opposition to political organization, while others fear that ordinary citizens’ are frustrated by the current instability.   The prospect of a democratic Egypt is being jeopardized by a badly managed transition process, economic insecurity and the breakdown of law and order, says a likely presidential candidate. There is a real danger of popular disillusion setting in, says Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “People now, after the revolution, think revolution means curse. Right now, socially, we are disintegrating and economically we are not in the best shape,” he said today. “And politically, it’s like a black hole. We do not know where we are heading.” The U.S. and other states can provide “models of how you build up a full-fledged democracy,” but he shares concerns that illiberal forces are taking advantage of the reform process and worries that democratic institutions may be undermined by the weakness of a civic culture characterized by pluralism, tolerance and respect for minority rights. “You try to ensure that there is a majority rule but also a clear protection of the minority rules,” attributing recent sectarian violence to “many, many factors of 60 years of repression and total chaos. “


Egypt on the brink of democratic rollback, leading to a military take over or Islamic fundamentalism. http://cddrl.stanford.edu/news/a_fourth_wave_or_a_false_start_20110523/
If Tunisia still provides grounds for cautious optimism, the Egyptian situation is already deeply worrying. Its senior officer corps, which currently controls the government, does not want to facilitate a genuine democratic transition. It will try to prevent it by generating conditions on the ground that discredit democracy and make Egyptians (and U.S. policymakers) beg for a strong hand again. The ruling officers have turned a blind eye to mounting religious and sectarian strife (and an alarming explosion in crime). The military has spent enormous effort arresting thousands of peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square and trying them in military tribunals over the last two months. (In April, one such detainee, a blogger named Maikel Nabil, was sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting the military establishment.”) Yet it claims that it cannot rein in rising insecurity. Many Egyptians see this as part of the military’s grand design to undermine democracy before it takes hold.
The parliamentary elections slated for September are unlikely to help: New political forces have no chance of being able to build competitive party and campaign structures in time. The Muslim Brotherhood, which initially said it would only contest a third of the parliamentary seats, has now announced its intention to contest half of all seats, forming a new political party (Freedom and Justice) for the purpose. If the electoral system retains its highly majoritarian nature, it might well win a thumping majority of the seats it contests (perhaps 40 percent in all), with most of the rest going to local power brokers and former stalwarts of the Mubarak-era ruling party, the National Democratic Party.
If Egyptian democracy is rolled back, the entire region will rollback to authoritarianism, or worse: http://cddrl.stanford.edu/news/a_fourth_wave_or_a_false_start_20110523/
Finally, given its enormous demographic weight and political influence in the Arab world, as Egypt goes, so will go the region. Engaging Egypt will prove vital to any larger strategy of fostering democratic change in the Arab world. Beyond aid and vigilant monitoring of the political process, the United States must deliver a clear message to the Egyptian military that it will not support a deliberate sabotage of the democratic process, and that a reversion to authoritarianism would have serious consequences for the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship, including for future flows of U.S. military aid. The United States cannot allow the Egyptian military to play the cynical double game that the Pakistani military has, or Egypt may become another Pakistan in two senses: an overbearing military may hide behind the façade of democracy to run the country, and the military may consort with our friends one day and our enemies -- radical Islamists within Egypt and Hamas outside it -- the next, to show it cannot be taken for granted.
This period of change in the Arab world will not be short or neatly circumscribed. Not a continuous thaw or freeze, the coming years will see cycles -- ups and downs in a protracted struggle to define the future political shape of the Arab world. The stakes for the United States are enormous. And the need for steady principles, clear understanding, and long-term strategic thinking has never been more pressing.

Immediate democracy assistance to Egypt  is necessary to prevent democratic rollback. [http://www.demdigest.net/blog/2011/05/unstoppable-march-to-arab-democracy-stalled/ ]
Muscular diplomacy and a reformed approach to democracy assistance are both needed to combat authoritarian actors and revive transition prospects, writes Diamond, the director of Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, and co-editor of the Journal of Democracy: Engaging Egypt will prove vital to any larger strategy of fostering democratic change in the Arab world. Beyond aid and vigilant monitoring of the political process, the United States must deliver a clear message to the Egyptian military that it will not support a deliberate sabotage of the democratic process, and that a reversion to authoritarianism would have serious consequences.  Arab democrats must be given the training and financial assistance they need and seek, he writes, but cautions against simply increasing grant aid to civil society groups which can discredit them or promote corruption. “Aid should be pooled among multiple donors, provide core (rather than project-related) funding for organizations with a proven track record of advancing democratic change, and must be carefully monitored to ensure that it is being used effectively,” he argues.
Egypt must have immediate electoral aid to prevent a return to autocracy. http://cddrl.stanford.edu/news/larry_diamond_transition_traps_20110216/
The military is talking about early presidential and legislative elections, within six months. What could be more democratic than that? But, in fact, after the fall of a longstanding autocracy, it typically takes a lot longer than six months to organize competitive, free, and fair elections. Think of the steps. A neutral and independent electoral administration must be established. This requires not just legal authorization but also new leadership, and recruitment, training, funding, and deployment of new staff and equipment. If Egypt's generals intend to have elections administered by the same Ministry of Interior that shamelessly rigged the vote for Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), that will be a sure sign that they do not intend to deliver democracy-or are too incompetent and cavalier to care. Then, the next step must be to produce a new register of voters. Experts believe only a quarter of eligible Egyptians are registered to vote today. The exclusion was very useful to perpetuating autocracy but could be deadly for an emerging democracy. That will take months, money, and far-reaching organization to do even reasonably well.

Tunisia’s and Egypt’s revolutions are short-term victories are a triumph for Islamic modernism, rejection of Islamic Fundamentalism…but the success can be overwhelmed by Islamic Fundamentalist groups. See: http://iis-db.stanford.edu/evnts/6594/Turn_to_the_Political_and_Islamic_Modernism_Stanford_Paper_version_2-1.pdf
Indeed, the central hypothesis of this paper is that neither the Tunisian nor
the Egyptian Revolutions could have succeeded without the ideological contributions of
Islamic modernism to modern political thought in the Arab world. Accordingly, these
revolutions can be called Islamic revolutions, but only in the very specific sense of being
“modernist” Islamic revolutions.
A crucial feature of modernist Islamic political thought, at least as manifested in
the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, is its insistence that religious teachings, insofar as
they are relevant to building political society, must be interpreted in a manner consistent
with the goals of freedom, national development and democratic decision-making. This
modernist configuration of the theo-political in turn renders political coalitions with non-
Islamic political movements palatable. Indeed, in important respects, Islamic modernists
are more comfortable with secular political movements than they are with other Islamic
modes of the theo-political, whether Sunni Traditionalism or Revolutionary Sunnism. It
was the successful cooperation between modernist Islamic movements and secular
opposition which ultimately guaranteed the success of these two revolutions, and
consolidation of the revolutions’ achievements will require them to continue to cooperate in the future.
Substantial risk the Muslim brotherhood will take over via elections because oppositions parties are so weak. http://iis-db.stanford.edu/evnts/6461/Egypt_Conference_Report.pdf
Existing parties are largely weak and fragmented,14 though the situation is constantly evolving, and new political parties and groups are being formed everyday.15 However, there was general consensus that successfully building a new party and winning a significant share of seats by the September parliamentary elections will be difficult. A notable exception to the weakness of existing parties is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also benefitting from accommodation with the military. Recent polls indicate that most Egyptians are sympathetic to the Brotherhood, though the extent to which this will drive votes, over other concerns, such as economic ones, is unknown.16 The Brotherhood however, is not exempt from fragmentation, and is experiencing generational conflict within its ranks.17 Secular parties are especially rife with fractionalization and conference participants debated whether liberals and leftists should unite or try to focus political contestation on economic issues that differ between them.18 Liberals and secular forces also have had difficulty connecting to the average Egyptian, as seen in the failure to garner much opposition to the constitutional amendments on the March referendum.19 Outside of the more ideological groups, social hierarchies and traditional elites remain. While the old NDP elite secretariat is no longer in power, those who used the party merely as a mechanism to enter politics are expected to continue to be powerful political forces.20

United States democracy assistance offers the best hope toward a true Egyptian transition to democracy because we can signal to the military that we no longer support authoritarianism in Egypt. http://cddrl.stanford.edu/news/larry_diamond_transition_traps_20110216/
The role for the United States and other international actors is not to dictate terms for the transition or structures for the new political order. That is not our place, and Egyptians of every political stripe will resent it. But international actors should offer training to political parties and technical and financial assistance to the new civil society organizations and state institutions needed to make democracy work. For the United States., this will mean millions of dollars in new assistance for democracy in Egypt-but that is a trifle compared to the $68 billion we have invested in dictatorship (even if it was to buy peace). No less importantly, other democracies (including leaders of recent democratic transitions) can encourage Egypt's opposition groups to coalesce and share lessons of the strategies and choices that have led to democratic outcomes. And the Obama administration can make it clear to Egypt's military rulers that nothing less than a real transition to democracy-with broad consultation, serious negotiations, and a new climate of freedom-will return Egypt to stability and a lasting partnership with the United States.
Democratic Egypt is essential for a successful Israel-Palestinian Peace Agreement. http://cddrl.stanford.edu/news/larry_diamond_toppling_of_egypts_regime_will_serve_us_israel_20110214/
Israel as well should be reassured by developments so far. Egypt's new (and hopefully temporary) military junta has quickly reaffirmed the country's treaty obligations. Few protesters are calling for abrogation of Egypt's peace with Israel. Most protesters resent Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and want an independent Palestinian state, but mainly they want to transform their own country politically and economically. They know their aspirations for human dignity and economic opportunity can only be met with far-reaching internal reforms, and that the worn-out theme of anti-Zionism is a divergence from that. Israel and its friends should thus welcome democratic change in Egypt. The only way to guarantee a lasting Middle East peace is to root negotiated agreements in the same democratic legitimacy that undergirds the stability and resilience of Israel's political system. As Thomas Friedman recently observed, it is a better bet to make peace with 82 million people than with one man.
Tunisia on the brink of democratic rollback. It is essentially that Tunsia succeed in a democratic transition for the rest of the region to transition. U.S. support is key.
What will happen next in Tunisia is uncertain. The Tunisian opposition is divided into groups with wildly different agendas, from the Islamists of al-Nahda to the secular reformists of the Congress for the Republic headed by Moncef Marzouki. There is no political figure who can be clearly envisaged to become the next Tunisian president, and the way the balance will tip—will there be democracy, or another authoritarian regime of a merely different kind?—is unpredictable. But the clearest lessons that have emerged from Tunisia so far are that there is a real democratic potential in the Arab world and that authoritarian regimes in the region are not always what they appear to be. Those lessons are important on two fronts: On the foreign policy front, the Tunisian uprising seems to have catalyzed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make the US administration’s boldest verbal statement thus far on the need for reform in the Arab world. Describing the political order of some Arab countries as “stagnant”, Clinton, on a visit to Bahrain on January 13, said that “This is a critical moment and this is a test of leadership for all of us”. The United States is continuously criticized by democracy experts for favoring stability over the risks of democracy in the Arab world, and for backing up authoritarian leaders—whether directly or indirectly—for fear of having to deal with an unfavorable alternative (namely, an Islamist government, as in Egypt or Syria). Tunisia should be a relatively easy case for the United States in this context, a litmus test of putting one’s money where one’s mouth is. But it also shows how applauding stability can make countries like the United States blind to the democratic potential lurking beneath the façade of seemingly impenetrable regimes.
Spread of Democracy in MENA can spillover to global democratic change. http://www.tnr.com/article/world/85143/middle-east-revolt-democratization
It is early to assess the global impact on democracy of this new Arab awakening, but there are four reasons to think that what has happened in the Middle East could have much broader ramifications for democratic progress. The first is that the events in the Middle East offer powerful and, I would argue, conclusive evidence supporting the idea that democracy is a universal value. The Arab Middle East was the only major region of the world that the Third Wave had bypassed completely, leading some commentators to coin the phrase “Arab exceptionalism” to characterize this phenomenon. The Economist magazine, in an article that appeared, ironically, just two weeks before the beginning of the uprising in Tunisia, summarized the various arguments that had been offered to explain the democracy deficit in the Arab world—among them the undemocratic character of Islam and Arab culture, the colonial inheritance of artificial borders and states that weakened a focus on citizen rights, the manipulation by Arab rulers of the conflict with Israel and the fear of the Islamists, and the abundance of oil which both enriched the regimes and freed them from having to serve the needs of tax-paying citizens. All of these are strong arguments, but the fact that they have now been refuted by millions of Arab citizens ready to risk their lives for freedom affirms with remarkable force the message that all people have dignity and should be treated with respect. This message has certainly been heard in countries far beyond the Middle East.
Democracy in the Middle East can spread throughout the world.  http://www.tnr.com/article/world/85143/middle-east-revolt-democratization
Larry Diamond observed last summer that “Public opinion surveys in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the post-communist states, and the Arab states all show majorities of the public within each region prefer democracy as the best form of government. Strikingly, this is true even in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia, and in Arab countries with no direct experience of democracy.” Thus, the demand for democracy that we’ve seen in the Middle East could easily spread to countries in other regions that are still ruled by authoritarian governments.

U.S. Democracy assistance to Egypt and Tunisia are essential to spreading democracy globally. http://www.tnr.com/article/world/85143/middle-east-revolt-democratization
So what can we do to ensure that autocracies do not snuff out this democratic chain reaction? The first and most important priority will be to assist in every way we can the transitions that are underway, or may soon be underway, in the Middle East—and to do so in a manner that is responsive to the local actors, informed by the accumulated knowledge of democratic transitions that is now available, and clearly focused on the long-term goal of achieving stable democracy under the rule of law. We shouldn’t forget that Portugal is seen in retrospect to have initiated the Third Wave only because its Carnation Revolution was followed by a successful democratic transition and not a Communist takeover, which Kissinger at the time believed was inevitable. The transitions in the Middle East will be even harder to accomplish because these countries lack democratic experience and natural founding leaders like Mario Soares, Vaclav Havel, and Nelson Mandela, though they do possess the youthful energy of an emerging civil society, untapped reserves of local talent, and a new sense of pride and identity that can be built on in the period ahead.
The Middle East transitions will vary from one country to another, depending on local circumstances. Until now, most of the attention has been focused on Tunisia and Egypt where dictators were overthrown. But it may well be that the transitions there will be more difficult than in countries like Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen and Morocco if the leaders in these countries recognize that reform must be accelerated and deepened and, without delay, enter into serious dialogue and negotiation with opposition forces, many of which actually prefer this approach to regime change.
If these transitions are to succeed and not be blocked by the former ruling elite or captured by a new authoritarian movement, the experience of earlier transitions in Latin America, Southern and Central Europe and Asia tell us that a number of key steps need to be taken. The first is the creation of an interim civilian authority that can work with the political opposition and civic groups to determine the rules, design and timetable of the transition. The organization of an inclusive national dialogue or roundtable negotiation has been very helpful in earlier transitions. An immediate task is the removal of elements inherited from the old system, such as laws restricting the freedom of expression and political organization, which stand in the way of a fair and inclusive way of choosing a new government and drafting a new constitution. While elections need to be held relatively soon, it is best that they be sequenced in a way that allows them to be well organized and fairly administered, gives new political forces that were stifled under the old system time to organize, and are conducted under an electoral law will allow all significant elements of the society to be fairly represented in a new parliament, which might also serve as a constituent assembly. Designing such an electoral law is an exceedingly complex task, which is why it’s probably best to proceed first with the election of an interim president, whose tenure should be limited to the time it will take to draft a new constitution and hold elections for a new government. Whatever process is determined for drafting the constitution, it’s essential that it have broad public participation and buy-in. International groups should be prepared to provide whatever assistance is needed and desired by local actors. Areas of support would include party development and election administration and monitoring, strengthening civil society and independent media, and making available the expertise of specialists in such fields as constitutionalism and electoral law as well as the experience of participants in earlier transitions…
[major ellipses]
… The United States has a great stake in the success of these transitions and should use its influence with the different governments, which is some cases is quite significant, to encourage them reach out to opposition parties and civic groups and negotiate in good faith. Only a failed or aborted transition will create the conditions of instability that could enable anti-democratic forces, Islamist or secular, to obtain a dominant position. If the transition process is open and fair; if new political forces are given time to organize; if the electoral law is crafted to encourage inclusive representation; and if elections are free and fair and become routine, it is unlikely that even a group as well organized as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt could achieve a hegemonic position…
[major ellipses]
… If Egypt and the other countries undergoing transition commit themselves to a plan for real political and economic reform, the United States should be prepared to mobilize support for a program of international assistance of historic proportions—involving our own and other governments, the private sector, universities and other private institutions—to help these transitions succeed, leading to a new era of democracy in the Middle East.




Democracy solves a bunch of stuff.
Democracy prevents nuclear warfare, ecosystem collapse, and extinction

Diamond 95, a professor, lecturer, adviser, and author on foreign policy, foreign aid, and democracy.

[Larry Diamond, �Promoting Democracy in the 1990s: Actors and instruments, issues and imperatives : a report to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict�, December 1995, http://wwics.si.edu/...pubs/di/di.htm]


This hardly exhausts the lists of threats to our security and well-being in the coming years and decades. In the former Yugoslavia nationalist aggression tears at the stability of Europe and could easily spread. The flow of illegal drugs intensifies through increasingly powerful international crime syndicates that have made common cause with authoritarian regimes and have utterly corrupted the institutions of tenuous, democratic ones. Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons continue to proliferate. The very source of life on Earth, the global ecosystem, appears increasingly endangered. Most of these new and unconventional threats to security are associated with or aggravated by the weakness or absence of democracy, with its provisions for legality, accountability, popular sovereignty, and openness.





Democratic governance is key to international stability � prevents terrorism, genocide, and environmental destruction

Diamond 95, a professor, lecturer, adviser, and author on foreign policy, foreign aid, and democracy.

[Larry Diamond, �Promoting Democracy in the 1990s: Actors and instruments, issues and imperatives : a report to the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict�, December 1995, http://wwics.si.edu/...pubs/di/di.htm]


The experience of this century offers important lessons. Countries that govern themselves in a truly democratic fashion do not go to war with one another. They do not aggress against their neighbors to aggrandize themselves or glorify their leaders. Democratic governments do not ethnically "cleanse" their own populations, and they are much less likely to face ethnic insurgency. Democracies do not sponsor terrorism against one another. They do not build weapons of mass destruction to use on or to threaten one another. Democratic countries form more reliable, open, and enduring trading partnerships. In the long run they offer better and more stable climates for investment. They are more environmentally responsible because they must answer to their own citizens, who organize to protest the destruction of their environments. They are better bets to honor international treaties since they value legal obligations and because their openness makes it much more difficult to breach agreements in secret. Precisely because, within their own borders, they respect competition, civil liberties, property rights, and the rule of law, democracies are the only reliable foundation on which a new world order of international security and prosperity can be built.





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Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kilakevthekevdogkilionare on May 30, 2011, 08:45:21 PM
variables from the topic paper that should come before the "too unstable to debate" element being applied to Libya:

1. is the govt. that is in power or was recently in power relatively authoritarian/oppressive? 
2. is there an opposition or set of oppositions that is in the midst of organizing for more freedoms?
3. is US democracy assistance limited, unsucessful, or completely absent?

this is just a stab to get some more discussion going here and help the committee, but I would think that a "yes" to the above three questions would argue for inclusion in at least one of the lists on the ballot.  Countries that are experiencing a lot of change would be more likely to have a yes on these three levels, taking the civil war argument in the opposite direction.

the research and the contextualization of the research happen at the same time, but we're looking at the key questions with these variables.  good stuff.

kevin

I think a simple answer to that would be to (in the resolution) say the National Transitional Council in the Libyan Republic.  Its an actual government that can recieve Demo assistance funds and can build up a Demo + Civil Society.  Civil Society i think would be a very good target on this Aff as the economic is in bad shape and it is up to the people to sustain basic services for the econ + Gov.  Also the question of using "in" and "to" for democracy assistance to a country could be a problem.  I would suggest just having in because it would solve for the Syria issue we had earlier, would specify the geographical region as the areas controlled by the rebels (so t Libya = you don't send Demo Assistance to all of Libya, would be be an issue), and would solve for any argument saying the USAID does not go to countries it does not recognize (only a limited number of countries recognize this country).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Transitional_Council


Title: Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
Post by: kilakevthekevdogkilionare on May 31, 2011, 05:13:15 PM

1. is the govt. that is in power or was recently in power relatively authoritarian/oppressive? 
Quote

It looks as though the Libyan Republic is structured Democratically, any specific evidence saying they are not democratic beyond the bare structure of the gov. can be debated out. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Transitional_Council#Aims_and_objectives_of_the_national_council
Transitional National Council (legislative body)
The Transitional National Council is a 31 member body that claims to be the "only legitimate body representing the people of Libya and the Libyan state".[29]
Al Jazeera English reported that each city or town under opposition control will be given five seats on the new council and that contact will be established with new cities that come under opposition control to allow them to join the council. The identities of members of the council were not disclosed at the launch conference. What is known is that human rights lawyer Hafiz Ghoga is the spokesperson for the new council. An Al Jazeera English journalist in Benghazi stated that Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil still had a leadership role within the new council.[20]The Council declared that Jeleil is the head of the council.[4] The council met formally for the first time on 5 March 2011[4] when it was announced that the council has 31 members.[30] The names of some of the members are being kept secret to prevent threats to their families that are still in Government held areas of Libya.[31]
[edit]Membership of the council
The council has 31 members; the identities of several members has not been made public to protect their own safety.
The members of the council include:[32]
   Mustafa Abdul Jalil - Chairman of the Council
   Abdul Hafiz Ghoga - Vice Chairman of the Council and Spokesman
   Fatih Turbel - Youth
   Zubeir Ahmed El-Sharif - Political Prisoners
   Jalal el-Digheily - Military Affairs[33]
   Fatih Mohammed Baja - Political Affairs and City of Benghazi
   Salwa Fawzi El-Deghali - Legal Affairs and Women
   Abdullah Moussa Al-Mayhoub - City of Qubba
   Ahmed Al-Abbar - Economics and City of Benghazi
   Ashour Bourashed - City of Derna
   Uthman Megrahi - City of Batnan
   Suleiman Al-Fortia - City of Misurata
   Mohamed Al-Muntasir - City of Misurata
[edit]Interim government (executive body)
On 5 March 2011, a crisis committee was set up to act as the executive arm of the council. A transitional government was announced on 23 March 2011.[34][35]
The executive body consisted of:[36]
   Mahmoud Jebril – Interim Prime Minister
   Omar El-Hariri – Minister of Military Affairs
   Ali al-Essawi – Minister of Foreign Affairs
   Ali Tarhouni – Minister of Finance[37]
   Jumma El-Osta – Minister of Infrastructure
   Mahmoud Shamman – Minister of Information
   Muhammad El-Alagi – Minister of Justice [38]
Other ministers are yet to be announced.[39
   




2. is there an opposition or set of oppositions that is in the midst of organizing for more freedoms?
Quote

Apparently non though the people in the council are chosen from the populous in each town/city


3. is US democracy assistance limited, unsucessful, or completely absent?
Quote

So far I can't find any  proof, also its doubtful b/c the USFG doesn't recognize the TNC as a gov.