Author Topic: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore  (Read 34093 times)

Ryan Galloway

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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #30 on: April 29, 2011, 02:01:41 PM »
Ermo is correct that the recommendation against CTBT was because of the fact that the community had just debated the nuclear weapons topic.  I think it is an open question a year removed as to whether or not the CTBT should be included now that the nuclear weapons topic is two years away, and that the community interpretation of the topic largely did not include the CTBT. 

From the section of the topic paper I wrote:

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



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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2011, 02:19:13 PM »
Thanks Seth for providing a quick reference to the topic paper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Elliott Johnson

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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2011, 03:00:56 PM »
Quick note: Can we stop calling the CEDAW exclusively a "K aff", as though somehow only the critical teams are interested in women's rights? Seems to be if the disads against it are so bad and it has such a good advantage, more than just critical teams will probably end up running it. The idea that discrimination is not a problem for policymakers, I find somewhat troubling, and I can't tell you how much this mirrors any thousands of framework debates where the supposedly "K" team is like "our so-called critical impacts have real consequences" and the judge agrees, and the policy team is sad.


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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2011, 03:06:41 PM »
The recommendation against the CTBT in the 2010 topic paper was related to likelihood of passage given the nuclear topic, not concerns about the ability of the CTBT to sustain a year. Some viewed the treaties proposal as even more appealing if the CTBT were included. I am sure programs vary in their opinions about "recycling" - some object to bringing back a mechanism from nearly a decade ago, while others are happy to run a "slightly modified" version of the arguments they read in the previous year. The level of debater turnover is surely over 25% per year (the number of 1-2 year competitors being larger than the number of 5th years) , so probably fewer than half of the debaters in 2011-12 will have even debated the nuclear topic.

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

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

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

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

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


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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2011, 03:48:30 PM »
My point was not that only critical teams care about discrimination. The argument was that the ratification key warrants for those types of advantages are weaker and therefore more susceptible to the implement but don't ratify cp that was discussed in the topic paper.

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


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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2011, 05:28:18 PM »
I'm not sure where treaties ranks in my topic choices for this year, but the claim that there is no "substantive" negative ground on CRC, CEDAW, or other "soft" treaties is inaccurate. These treaties posit substantive rights (right to reproductive care, right to education, right to political participation, etc.) that the USFG would become obligated to fulfill/protect. That means major policy changes.

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

kelly young

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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #36 on: April 30, 2011, 12:33:27 AM »
I realize we won't agree on this, but we should keep in mind that the topic papers don't provide "THE GROUND" against certain affs, just an overview.  Otherwise, I'm pretty sure "the ground" against a lot of affs in other proposals is the good 'ol spending DA (yikes).

As much as I agree that the assertions that there is little ground on many of these treaties unfounded and unfair, this comment is just as bad. The other papers outline much more than just the "good ol' spending DA (yikes)" as ground. More importantly, when spending is discussed, it's usually as an internal link to another argument or as a tradeoff argument. Let's be fair to all the topic papers rather than response to assertions with more assertions.
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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #37 on: April 30, 2011, 03:04:31 PM »
I just had a radical idea about this topic area.  Instead of listing some treaties that the U.S. should ratify, how about a topic that had the affirmative defend treaty commitments that the U.S. should cease to follow?  Under this version of the topic, I don't think it would be necessary to name the treaties, because negative ground would be pretty well defined. You might want to add a time limit to keep teams from finding some obscure 18th century treaty -- treaties ratified by the U.S. since 1950 for example. This would ensure that the treaty chosen implicated some policy question that had current relevance.  There are quite a few people who make compelling arguments that the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 should be either unilaterally reinterpreted or abrogated altogether by the U.S.  Similarly, many people argue that the NPT has outlived its usefulness.  We would have to give some thought to wording because I don't think the aff should be stuck with just the negative action of ending current treaty commitments --the aff should be allowed to advocate at least some process that might seek to develop an alternative. 

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

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


Kathryn Rubino

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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #38 on: May 03, 2011, 06:28:03 PM »
While I don't speak for the entire topic committee, I will say that if Treaties were to win the first round of balloting I would vote against  a wording paper that was along the lines of what Sherry proposes on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the original controversy.
This isn't to say the idea isn't a good one, but as the direction of the original topic paper is to increase the United States' treaty obligations I would feel bound to only include wordings that were faithful to that interpretation.



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Re: 2011-12 Topic paper - Treaties by Whit Whitmore
« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2011, 06:47:02 PM »
Sorry to have missed this note originally.

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

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

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