Author Topic: Defense Spending  (Read 3751 times)


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Defense Spending
« on: May 13, 2015, 01:13:18 PM »
While I imagine a number of folks have made up their minds about which topic areas they like and dislike, I would like to take a few minutes and offer a pitch for the defense spending topic area. 

1.   Good AFF Ground – As the topic paper demonstrates there are a slew of possible affs for folks to consider.  There are affs that can increase the overall budget for all the services, there are affs that may increase one branch (ground forces for the Army, fleet size for the Navy, and so forth), and there is the possibility of smaller affs that increase a specific type of forces or weapons (buy more F-35s, buy more LCSs, etc). Depending on the wording of the resolution there are also possible affs that increase support for training.  Again, depending on the resolution there is the possibility of increasing support for other parts of the military such as the nuclear arsenal.
2.   Unique budget debates – In addition to the above there is real potential to have a resolution that asks the AFF to increase defense spending against other alternatives (domestic spending, non-offensive defense spending, and so forth).  While there is no inherent need to write the resolution this way, the literature on these questions is deep as most people who advocate increased defense spending do not foresee situations where we just tack on more to the deficit.  It is true that these debates will manifest themselves inevitably as teams debate what it means to “increase defense spending,” requiring this in the resolution will increase the depth of these debates by eliminating the need to pin the tail on the donkey.  Also, this is one of, if not the, biggest debates going on amongst security and budget analysts both inside and outside of the government. 
3.   HEG debates – We will certainly have hegemony debates on any and all topics but this topic area will bring an unparalleled depth to those discussions.  Far too often our debates on US leadership are overly-simplistic assessments of “hard power vs soft power” or general discussions of the value of a specific form of hard power.  This resolution gets to the heart of the debate about specific possibilities of hard power and how they operate in the current strategic environment.
4.   Good core NEG ground (note: updated neg evidence document attached) – Regardless of the wording of the resolution there are a number of arguments the neg can read in almost any debate.  After limited time spent researching the negative side of the topic it is clear enough evidence exists for the following (and I am sure there are others):

a.   HEG bad

b.   Politics –  I don’t mention this because of the general utility of politics on all topics but instead because of the quality of link arguments that will be available in any debate

c.   Budget DA
i.   Trade-off – Resolution is such that the neg wants to say the aff operates within the cap structure
ii.   Fiscal discipline – Resolution is such that the neg wants to say the aff busts the caps

d.   “Evolution” DA – plan causes a change in strategy, that’s bad
i.   Special Forces trade-off
ii.   Defense Innovation Initiative trade-off
iii.   Streamlining Good disad or case turns

e.   Interservice Rivalry

f.   CPs
i.   Offset cps – internal to military or external to other part of the budget
ii.   Strategy cps – limit focus to certain areas/etc
iii.   System v system, force v force cps
iv.   Allied burdens cps
v.   Acquisition reform cps and other streamline good cps

g.   Ks – seems obvious

I also want to take a moment and address the concern that this is “the Heritage Foundation topic.”  While it is certainly true that people at Heritage support a majority of the possible affs in this area, there are a number of other groups that support increasing defense in some form (see the letter sent to Secretary Hagel which includes the Center for American Progress, CSIS, Brookings, Stimson, and others: - and this:  Saying this is a conservative debate topic oversimplifies the matter as (a) there a number of fiscal conservatives led by Tea Party-types that oppose increasing defense spending and (b) the topic paper suggests writing resolutional options that would ask the aff to increase support for troops/weapons but to do so the expense of other parts of the military budget (or non-military budget).  Additionally, forcing the affirmative to defend conservative politics is not inherently bad.  I won’t run thru the traditional defense of switch-side debate but will simply offer a couple of points. The sophistic model of dissoi logoi (the argumentative philosophy that underpins SSD) stresses that students are best served when they are forced to defend what they believe to be the weaker position on a question.  If you believe this is the wrong side of the question but support SSD then this should be a topic you are willing to embrace.  Uniqueness supports this version of the topic area.  The topic paper addresses this already but I’ll restate it here: while history may support a “reduce” resolution (and it may be true that we spend more than the rest of the world now), the current budget context is one of reduced spending.  It may not be an overwhelming cut for some but it is enough to make it very difficult for the negative if the area direction was reversed.  Finally, as I mentioned above (and in the topic paper), this is THE debate in security circles.   Learning the nuances of how the budget process works is valuable in and of itself and this topic area uniquely forces those conversations in this community.