Author Topic: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection  (Read 42308 times)


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Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
« Reply #45 on: May 19, 2011, 05:12:24 PM »
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.


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Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
« Reply #46 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 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.


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Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
« Reply #47 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.


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Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
« Reply #48 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. 


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Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
« Reply #49 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). [ ]

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)

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.

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 [ ]
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.
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, []
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.
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) [  ]

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
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. []
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 []
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.

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.
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.

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. []
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.
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.
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.
The march toward democracy in MENA is already stalling, and risks a total reversal to either military rule, or Islamic fundamentalist rule [ ]:
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.
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:
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. [ ]
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,]

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,]

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.


Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
« Reply #50 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.


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).

Re: Moving to the second phase of the topic selection
« Reply #51 on: May 31, 2011, 05:13:15 PM »

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

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.
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?

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?

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