Rogue Nation Debates

Michael Roston the eminently practical mroston
Tue Feb 2 16:37:26 CST 1999

On Wed, 3 Feb 1999, Steve Mancuso wrote:
> Is the complaint that the negative could/would be making conservative
> foreign policy arguments?

no, Steve, the complaint is that the negative in the case of the three
biggest countries on that topic would have all too predictable ground.  If
we lift sanctions on Iran or Iraq, Israel is likely to flip out.  At that
point, most debates come down to an evaluation of which outweighs:
Israeli nuclear disclosure and other assorted impacts, or the human rights
and American inconsistency(i.e. leadership good) impacts the aff claims.
This sounds entirely too uninteresting to me, because it's the sort of
debates we have every year on every topic no matter what it is, and we
understand it well enough as it is.  The effect of the rogues topic is to
give us a deeper understanding of things about which we know plenty.

Comparatively, I knew nothing about global warming before the environment
topic my freshman year.  I knew very little about English-only before this
year.  I've gained from my knowledge of both these things.  On the other
hand, I sat down before the Southeast Asia topic last year, and, without
having swept all the literature, I predicted 2/3's of the affs that were
run at UNI or USC.  There were a few surprises.

Now, I'm not opposed to finding out more about our terrorization of Sudan
and Libya, for instance, but that's just a warrant for an Africa topic.
Those countries don't have nearly the headiness of the two I's and North
Korea in American foreign policy circles(at least these days), and I know
very little about the justifications and effects of our sanctions on them.
But I also don't know very much about all the other African countries, and
perhaps we could have a topic about a limited group of them(someone
suggested the so-called "Great Lakes" region a year or two ago).   That
sounds like a great foreign policy topic to me(I think Kate's idea for an
IMF topic is even better).

But I don't see what's so interesting about a big leadership good/bad
debate.  We're gonna hear about it anyway, whether in the form of case
advantages, Clinton(soon to be Gore) impacts, modelling DAs, and so on.
Why have a debate topic where it's the only explicit ground?

> Does that mean, by implication, we should try to find a topic that does
> not have a well-evidenced conservative viewpoint?  Just debate ones that
> have poorly-evidenced conservative viewpoints...or ones with no
> conservative viewpoint....  Just what exactly are those topic areas?
I am in favor of topics that bridge the gap between domestic and foreign
issues.  I thought biotech and especially terrorism were good for these
reasons. (I favored civil rights, but that was a personal bias)

I also think with the recent upsurge in protectionist politics these days,
that would make an excellent topic area.  Additionally, how can the U.S.
manage mega-mergers and monopolies?  These are all areas that I think we
would gain a great deal from learning about.  They have conservative and
"liberal" literatures on both ends.  They also allow a foreign focus
within the context of very domestic issues.

-Michael Roston
a closet full of miracles

"East Timor's Mandela, Xanana Gusmao, remains in prison...wrote recently
to the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas... "You should think a little
like an adult and a human being at this moment of reformation by avoiding
being heroes of the crimes of the corrupt murderer Suharto. As for me, I
am very happy to be punished by you. In 1997 I was given three months
remission, and this year four months. Please, take these seven months back
for yourselves. I really don't need them. One day, you will."
                                -reported by John Pilger in 1998

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