College Policy Debate Forums

TOPIC COMMITTEE => 2019-2020 Topic Committee => Topic started by: mgray on April 24, 2019, 04:47:54 PM

Title: Counterterrorism Topic Paper 2019-2020
Post by: mgray on April 24, 2019, 04:47:54 PM
Please see attached.
Title: Re: Counterterrorism Topic Paper 2019-2020
Post by: LQuinn92 on April 24, 2019, 09:48:03 PM
Dear Miles et al.,

This is a very impressive and well-done topic paper. Thank you all for your hard work. This would be a great topic to debate under.

I have a question regarding the scope of your paper that I hope one of ya'll can clarify. No rush. And I hope I'm not being too inappropriate asking here. But I am very curious about ya'll's stance in regards to whether reducing private military contractors are topical or not.

As you are likely aware, PMC's function as our predominate means of presence in the status quo, especially in areas like Somalia and Afghanistan which your topic focuses on. I searched the doc for an answer, and even ctrl+f private and contractor and did not find anything which could help answer my question. I only found a few cards that added to my confusion. So, I am just curious whether ya'll intend affs that end/reduce PMC CT operations in chosen countries would be topical.

Some may say this could be hashed out in the wording process, but I think this is a fairly substantial issue in the CT lit and is kind of a gateway issue for me. And others may be curious.

Warmest regards and great work,
Lee Quinn

Title: Re: Counterterrorism Topic Paper 2019-2020
Post by: mgray on April 24, 2019, 10:23:26 PM
Thanks, Lee!
On the military presence topic, there was a robust legal debate whether PMCs constituted presence. Most thought they did not. However, the CT topic has several wording options which range from withdrawing "its" forces, which likely do not include PMCs, from "removing operations" which is much broader and could be argued by an affirmative to include private corporations. While none of the topical evidence in the paper speaks directly to this concern, like you said, this is easily an issue that could be resolved with a few more searches prior to the committee meeting, especially via submission of wording papers that argue for or against the inclusion of PMCs.

In any case, this topic is sure to engage the core questions of the value of US military CT policies because of the particular salience of the US military being present in a conflict vs a PMC force. If an affirmative could prove that a PMC is conducting CT, rather than merely SSR or COIN activities, then I do not see why that would be untopical. Because this topic places an emphasis on the operational level of counterterrorism, rather than the exact weapons or authority used, whether or not an aff can withdraw PMCs is ultimately reliant on their role in combat, which just forces more of a defense of military counterterrorism, specifically, rather than individual troop or weapon types.

I'll add that I hope PMC usage is not a gateway issue for determining the value of the CT topic. Whether PMCs are an affirmative argument or negative CP/alt cause, there is still plenty of robust debate about overall US presence, the particular salience of US military forces, and direct military cooperation with local governments.

I hope this helps!
Title: Re: Counterterrorism Topic Paper 2019-2020
Post by: LQuinn92 on April 25, 2019, 10:36:07 AM
Dear Miles,

That’s a great answer. Your distinction between troops v operations will be instrumental in clarifying whether PMCs are inside/outside the scope of the topic. I just wanted some sort of understanding where y’all were in regard to the PMC question.

I remember the high school military presence topic very fondly. Evan McCarty and I ran a PMC Aff (and I don’t we lost on t its) but our anecdotal experience may have taken place outside the communal norm regarding PMCs. But there definitely was communal confusion regarding the truth of the matter, and it’s something I hope we do a good job clarifying if we debate this topic (or at least try!) I just wanted to see it initially y’all had some strong proclivity to including/excluding PMCs.

- Lee
Title: Re: Counterterrorism Topic Paper 2019-2020
Post by: mgray on April 25, 2019, 11:32:11 AM
Hi Lee,

I think one potential point of difference will be in "its military presence" versus "its ... personnel," as "personnel" is a narrower term that specifies one component of presence (note: I switched personnel, as the latter is a term used in our topic paper. Sorry for any confusion). In that sense, if "its" denotes ownership or direct management, then that may preclude merely contracting. I remember a lot of this debate playing out on some other (admittedly, high school) topics like oceans, space, and TI. On those, there was a T debate about whether or not contracting was topical, versus direct management. I was a bit young for me to remember now if there was much consensus on that issue on any of the topics (I seem to recall contracting was decisively topical on oceans), but again, "its exploration" is likely more analogous to "its operations" than it is to "its personnel." Had the topic said increase exploration with "its icebreakers," the topicality of private boats that we contracted out becomes much more tenuous. Either way, a debate to be had, and definitely an option to include on the wording ballot should the CT paper win. I apologize for the long metaphor about the high school oceans topic -- just the easiest way for me to think about this in a remotely-communicable way.

I'll spend a bit of time looking into this over the next couple days, but to answer the original question, I don't think any of the writers of the CT paper expressed a strong preference for or against PMC inclusion, especially at this stage in crafting the topic. Based on a quick google search, the term "personnel" means "people employed in an organization or engaged in an organized undertaking such as military service." That to me, seems to suggest those conducting the CT need to be employed by the USfg. Off the top of my head, I am not sure whether or not PMC contracting counts as "employment." This article distinguishes them (, CTRL+F "employee"). I'm sure there's more out there to dig up. Thanks for reading the paper and asking about this's been very helpful to get a dialogue going so early, and crowd-sourcing potential innovations in wordings and areas for debate.