[eDebate] Topic Thoughts - Middle East

Hall, Michael P. Debate mphall
Thu Apr 5 13:05:55 CDT 2007

Forwarded at the request of Hays Watson.

Michael P. Hall

Acting Director of Debate

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA 24502




From: William Hays Watson [mailto:whwatson at gmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2007 12:58 PM
To: Hall, Michael P. (Debate)
Subject: Could you forward this to e-debate?

Topic thoughts...
My preference is for the Middle East topic.  We've covered US nuclear
weapons policy both in high school and in college (via CTBT and SORT)
within the past 5 years  Paper was pretty sweet, though :-).  Props.  
While I love the prospect of debating democracy as an issue, I'm afraid
Mansfield and Snyder will get on my nerves by Harvard.  I'm also afraid
that it might be too sporadic--an Aff that promotes democracy in
Colombia, in Malaysia, in Uzbekistan, in Pakistan, in Nigeria...while
definitely interesting, there doesn't seem to be a common threat other
than the Mansfield and Snyder democracy good/bad debate.  
The Middle East.  Look, I'm betting I don't have to reveal to all the
strategic importance, the fluidity, the timeliness, and the dearth of
quality literature on both sides of EVERY issue that would be the Middle
East as a topic area.  Bottom line--its still the most important and
most dangerous part of the world, and we, as a debate community, haven't
debated the Middle East as a topic area since the mid-90s.  WTF????  A
tragedy, in my opinion. 
Specifics.  You want to debate prolif?  Pick the Middle East.  Egypt,
Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey...these are all countries with or
countries that could easily acquire nuclear weapons in a short amount of
time.  And there's a great debate to be had regarding the consequences
of such events.  You want to debate democracy?  Pick the Middle East.
Egypt, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, etc., all of
these countries are ripe with high-tech democracy good/bad debates
(pro-democracy movements in Iran, the pros and cons of democratic reform
in Egypt and Mubarak, etc.).   You want to debate genetic
engineering...well, go to med school :-). 
I personally think the most interesting angle of the Middle East topic
area is the security guarantee aspect that Maffie and Mancuso outlined.
I personally think (and strongly so) that Egypt and Israel should be
debated (they are unquestionably the two most geostrategically important
countries in the Middle East), and the best reason for their inclusion
is to have better debates around the "security guarantee" angle.
Israeli membership in NATO?  If you've been asleep the past year, then
you won't realize how important this debate has become, but over the
past year, there have been tons of quality articles discussing the
benefits and disadvantes of Israel being in NATO.  Even high-level
Israeli security officials are discussing the issue...like RIGHT NOW.
Extending U.S. nuclear guarantees to Egypt?  The implications such an
action would tremendous.  Would it solve the need for Egypt to acquire
nuclear weapons in the face of an increasing Iranian threat?  Would it
freak out Israel?  Would it restore an increasingly tenuous US/Egypt
relationship?  There's even a great debate regarding Egypt's inclusion
into NATO or a NATO-like alliance (MATO or METO, depending on the
literature).  Would the prospects of such inclusion galvanize
democratic/economic reform efforts in Egypt?  Could the possible
inclusion of Egypt's forces into NATO's structure improve
NATO-peacekeeping operations, either via reduced overstretch or
effective efforts in Islamic countries like Afghanistan?  Now that's
I spent an hour on lexis yesterday and found tons of quality and recent
articles on all of these issues.  Debating the Middle East is a must, in
my opinion.  As a former debater (not too long ago), I would relish the
opportunity to debate this area and I'm betting many more would as well.
As a judge and a coach, I also relish such an opportunity.  
The votes have to be in by April 15.  Take some time, read the topic
papers (or skim them), and do a little bit of research for each topic
choice.  I'm confident that you'll "see the light" and choose the Middle
By the way, no one is really talking about the topics on edebate.  Why
the hell not?  This is what we'll spend the next year researching,
discussing, debating, etc.  We need LOTS more feedback, if not on the
ceda blog, then at least on edebate. 
Hays Watson
Assistant Debate Coach
Liberty University
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