Author Topic: Resolutions for the ballot  (Read 43980 times)

kevin kuswa

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Re: Resolutions for the ballot
« Reply #45 on: July 07, 2011, 10:06:33 AM »
@ Jonah:  There is not much to respond to in your post.  One very fundamental problem for the Palestinians (thus the plea for more research--don't be insulted by that, just realize that a lot of Palestinians are writing and speaking about this very thing) is that their leaders are NOT democratic--they are corrupt and not responsive to the needs and demands of the people.  The four papers talking about this may be insufficient for you but this point is made there and elsewhere with clarity.  If you think there are personal attacks besides pointing out where more research would help, that is incorrect.  The fundamental point that Palestine is part of the larger topic area and that the debates would be timely and robust is still intact.  Do you have a cite or reasoned argument that the Palestinian people feel as though the leaders of Fatah and Hamas are democratic and could not benefit from democracy assistance from the US?  There are some other repeat positions made in your recent post...that's fine.  The only additional explanation needed is on the stem issue and it is clear that the same stem plus the careful vetting of the list of countries is very different from the Europe topic.  Look, I know you are a great researcher and a great guy--the point here is about WHY you believe Palestine should not be debated and I think you are wrong.  Your flippant treatment of this is more dangerous than the inevitability of politics entering into the debate.  It is more dangerous (and further clouding of the issue) to point the blame finger at my motives and dodge the debate than it is to balance complicated belief structures with research.  Let's continue this with vigor and respect.  Kevin 

PS--being sensitive to charges of not being collegial, I re-read the posts and feel as though I have been quite restrained given your claims that Palestine is so democratic (they vote) that the area should be excluded from debate, that the problem is simply one of geography, that "talking about Israel" on the neg. covers the area, and that no protests are taking place absent an annual rise on the day of Israeli independence.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 10:19:09 AM by kevin kuswa »


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Re: Resolutions for the ballot
« Reply #46 on: July 07, 2011, 10:36:28 AM »
I would say the high point of your previous post was when you called what I said "sick."  I do appreciate that you've tried to scale it back in this most recent post, I'll do the same.

It's possible that what I have to say may be a little redundant, but it doesn't seem like it's getting across, so I'll try one more time in a different package.

Concede that Palestine could benefit from democracy assistance.

Concede that Palestinian leaders can be corrupt and are not as responsive to the needs and demands of their people as they should be.

Concede that there may be a more hopeful feeling in Palestine because of the arab spring that explains some actions such as the recent overtures between Fatah and Hamas.

None of this proves that the Palestinians are in a state of democratic transition in the same way that the core arab spring countries are.  For Palestine it's about fixing democracy, not assisting in the creation of democracy.  To me, that feels like it would be a distraction from the central theme of an Arab Spring topic. 

Would it be as bad as Europe? Probably not. I said in my original post that Europe is useful as a framing device for good/bad topic, not as a direct analogy to this topic.  This is not a flippant attempt to dodge the debate, it's just my opinion about which of the choices given to us on the ballot would make a better topic. 

PS - Was it really so out of line for me to say that the existence of regular elections with pretty good voter turnout is a sign that democracy problems are not quite as severe as elsewhere?  You don't think that large scale protests have been a defining feature of Arab Spring resistance?  You really think it's unlikely that Palestine would come up as an issue on the neg in combination with Israel arguments and arguments about Palestinian populations in other countries?  Were those really such insulting things to say?  I'll admit I don't totally understand why that set you off to the degree that it did, but I accept that it may be because I'm missing an important piece of the puzzle that would help me understand your perspective better.  I'm willing to listen.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 11:06:23 AM by jonahfeldman »


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Re: Resolutions for the ballot
« Reply #47 on: July 07, 2011, 11:14:33 AM »
I am not a particular fan of Palestine. But, to me, the issue is whether a country/area can support viable affirmative plans without having to distort the meaning of the resolution. I think people will find that the West Bank/Gaza will make for perhaps the strongest, middle of the road affirmatives out there. Why? Because there is real inherency (advantage uniqueness) for this area.

If one were so inclined, a plan to remove the restrictions of democracy assistance toward Hamas generates a lot of good affirmative advantages: terrorism/terror-talk kritiks; over reliance on Israel; human rights promotion in Gaza; recogniton of the the Fatah-Hamas merger as, indeed, the formation of the Palestinian state; pressure on Israel to finally accept a viable two state solution; pressuring/persuading Hamas to change its views toward Israel; breaking Hamas away from Iran's grip; U.S. credibility on supporting democratic outcomes...regardless of who is elected; U.S. credibility as a negotiator for the Peace Process; Justice for Palestinians; reductions in civil war violence (evidence of this is really good); reductions of terrorism; reuction of corruption; respect for Rule of Law.

On the negative, Right Wing Zionists would flip out; it would undermine U.S. credibility on fighting against the War on Terror; and money given to Hamas would be used to promote violence against Israel; Iran would flip out if we somehow became friends with Hamas; Hamas will never renounce violence against Israel; Egypt flips out because they lose a bargaining chip; U.S. looks weak and other countries take advantage of the weakness; China and Russia will move to counter increased U.S. influence int he region; the U.S. conservatives will flip out---real elections and politics links.

In other words, whether the U.S. should increase democracy assistance to the West bank and Gaza is highly debatable and unique. Sounds like a good policy debate topic to me.


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Re: Resolutions for the ballot
« Reply #48 on: July 07, 2011, 02:18:39 PM »
I must admit that the evidence outlining the problems facing democracy in the west bank and gaza is pretty good.  that being said, I do not think that Palestine is a good addition to the topic, though i would take palestine over iran in a heartbeat.

Jonah has some fine points.   especially:

-The struggle for democracy precedes the Arab spring by several decades
-Their problem isn't overthrowing dictatorship; its reconciling Fatah and Hamas, and coping with two disparate geographies.  They don't have a lack of political structure or participation, there are established political parties who represent the views of their constituency.

In the main source for the topic meeting report on Palestine (can't remember exact cite, but it was assessing DA in Palestine), they note that most people surveyed/consulted for the study thought:

"the all-pervasive nature of the Israeli occupation, the lack of Palestinian sovereignty and the internal split between Gaza and the West Bank are irredeemable barriers to effective democracy assistance."

There is also no shortage of funding for civil society NGOs in the west bank and gaza.  In fact, the card in the paper with a 'civil society overfunded' header, directly says the problem isn't really with democracy assistance.  There are tons of programs training Palestinians to be activists and promote effective democratic institutions.  Unfortunately, the above problems preclude any effectiveness and implementation of the training.

Palestine is not a sovereign state, they are an occupied people.  They also have geographical separation, as Jonah pointed out.  This is a set of complex problems and despite what you may believe, democracy assistance does not adequately address the situation.  Palestinians are willing to tolerate the non-democratic nature of their government because they believe progress on these more fundamental issues is more important.  I don't see why you were so offended at Jonah's simplification, as inevitably you do the same *because we all do-the issue is incredibly complex and impossible to convey in a comprehensive manner*.

I think Iran is an important nation in global affairs, and most would agree that the Israel/Palestine situation is also quite important.  That does not mean they belong in a topic centered on democracy assistance.  The mechanism doesn't do the area justice. That, coupled with the valid concerns outlined by Jonah, is enough rationale for me to recommend against including Palestine into this topic.  

ps- I think a topic revolving around disputes over land would be interesting (israel palestine, india pakistan, china taiwan?)

** forgot to mention-the best barrier is that the US won't fund Hamas, so the aff would fund them thus removing them from the terrorist list.  The advantages based off the lack of funding are easily solved by another actor funding them instead.  This makes the US key warrant more about Hamas being on the terrorist list and less about the funding itself.  This could potentially present some topicality problems for the aff and assuredly undermines the most topically relevant 'us key' warrant for the palestine area.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 02:21:36 PM by Malgor »


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Re: Resolutions for the ballot
« Reply #49 on: July 07, 2011, 06:56:53 PM »
if this thread gets too heated ill start trolling again dont make me now


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Re: Resolutions for the ballot
« Reply #50 on: July 08, 2011, 03:47:55 PM »
if this thread gets too heated ill start trolling again dont make me now

Did you just say 'meow'?

kevin kuswa

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Re: Resolutions for the ballot
« Reply #51 on: July 09, 2011, 02:19:56 AM »

Just got out to California—the Sonora Pass was probably not the best route out of Nevada and across the Sierras, but the 9,000+ foot elevation was spectacular despite passing the U.S. military’s “mountain training facility.”

Thanks immensely for the considerate response, the willingness to make some concessions, and the continuation of the dialogue.  I apologize as well for any insensitive tone and tendency to gravitate to the hyperbolic.  I have always had a great deal of respect for you and your debate acumen and that has not changed.  Furthermore, I am listening to your arguments and know that there is some validity in the position that Palestine may be so distinct from the Arab Spring movements that we would not want to include it on the final list of countries.  On the other hand, I still believe that US democracy assistance to Palestine would make for a good set of debates and should be given serious consideration when voting on the options.  The main reason the initial post raised a degree of ire—which certainly could and should have been tempered—is because I know that the Israel positions (DA, even CP) will be quite common no matter what topic we select.  Giving the aff a chance to really engage the debate and take into account the quite massive political changes taking place in Palestine seems like an important counterbalance.  I am also still not sure why occupation is being called a “geographic” problem (which is usually used to de-emphasize political configurations), but I guess in a literal sense the inability to move freely in one’s own country is an issue of place.  Finally, the tendency to group Palestine with Iran in an attempt to exclude both has become more and more pronounced and I don’t think those comparisons are fair given the radically different status of each.  That said, these are all things we can pursue further and I’m glad the door is open.

Going a little deeper into the specifics and trying to address some of Malgor’s comments alongside the position that Palestine is not worthy of inclusion, I would stress the following:

1. The lack of geographic contiguousness (if that’s a word) between the West Bank and Gaza does not mean we can easily associate the two major political parties with each respective region.  The parties do not fully (or even partially) represent the people in either location and the need for greater freedom of movement seems to call for better and more focused democracy assistance, not staying with the status quo.

2.  Yes, there are forms of democracy assistance going to Palestine now, but these “flotillas” are limited in scope, are not headed to the right constituencies, and often complicate the chances for progress because they mainly go to the bureaucratized parties (adding to corruption) or NGOs that end up going through those same parties.  Some progress is being made, demonstrating a potential that we have not seen in many of the other countries in question, but the US needs to do more and the nature of the assistance needs a different and more durable focus.  One benefit of democracy assistance “for” a given place is that it can be highly specified and targeted, both characteristics that could make US assistance to Palestine more productive and effective.  There is a good debate about the saturation level, the US role, the fungible nature of assistance, and the best recipients—Scott Elliot’s post points to a lot of these research areas even though I disagree that the aff would have to go through Hamas.

3. The degree of connection to the Arab Spring movements is a subjective assessment and does not leave us with the desired level of consistency in the list of countries.  From one perspective, the Tunisian self-immolation was preceded by events in both Iran and Palestine, while another angle would say that youth groups demanding further freedoms were emboldened by the fall of Ali and Mubarak, hoping for similar changes in their own countries (true for the Palestinians as well).  What we do know is that Yemen, Syria and Libya are in very different situations than Tunisia and Egypt (which themselves are quite distinct), let alone the political uniqueness of Lebanon, Morocco and of course Iran.  DS’s posts prove nothing if not the complexities of all the interests involved, diminishing a claim that one of the vetted countries is somehow so distinct that it should be left out of debates.  Maybe the degree of Arab Springy-ness is no longer helpful as a variable once the country has gone through the committee’s initial phase of research, has appeared as a possibility in the original topic paper, and has been linked to a series of nuanced arguments on both sides of the question?  Algeria, Iraq, and Kuwait are all absent from any list, and Tunisia has been left off one of the options.  We should look more toward variables surrounding solvency, the US role, and the need for fundamental freedoms in the country than to the immediate and most obvious Tunisian cascade.

4.  The “established” political parties do not represent their constituents and the Palestinian people are not willing to give up on democracy for larger gains because those larger gains are all about a deeper sense of democracy.  There are too many contradictions being floated here—if the struggle for democracy started years or decades ago, why does it no longer matter for the people?  If the people are under occupation (and geographically imprisoned), how can any political party represent the full interests of the people?  If democracy assistance is flowing from countless sources, why is it impossible to imagine such assistance transcending disparate physical locations?  If civil society includes more than the major political parties and other entities are involved in the process, why must all assistance go to Hamas and always require fiat over the terrorism and violence preclusions in US law?  What is so abhorrent about the debate concerning US assistance to Hamas when all of the other countries are struggling for warrants about the US role?  I understand different posts are making different arguments here, but it seems as though competing aspects of the political context are being used to make a larger point when all of those aspects cannot be true simultaneously.  Where some of you are highlighting obstacles, others of us see debate.

All of this will probably be for naught if recent voting trends bear out because we’ll be left with one of the two small options (no Iran, no Palestine and a somewhat arbitrary choice between Yemen and Bahrain).  Nevertheless, the conversation is bearing fruit and there is always a chance that voting squads will get excited about the great debates available in the Palestine area, the ability to discuss the historic vote approaching in the UN as it relates to US action, and the chance to run a policy affirmative that is not swamped by a generic agent counterplan.  Negative-minded voters should not worry about adding Palestine because they will have a great Israel link among other quite powerful options and affirmative-minded voters should lobby for Palestine’s inclusion to open up what we all recognize as one of the most important and intractable conflicts of all time to a mechanism and an agent that makes sense and could even solve (a little).

Thanks again for the sincere olive branch and I look forward to seeing how this shakes out in the voting and beyond.