[eDebate] In Support of the Weapons/Prolif Topic

Joshua A. Kernoff Joshua.A.Kernoff
Mon Apr 9 14:47:08 CDT 2007

With a few days left for teams who haven't voted for a topic yet I wanted to just voice support for the "proliferation" topic and really encourage people to consider voting for it.

While I am really happy with most of the proposed topics for next year that are mostly controversial and supported with lots of interesting literature, a few characteristics make the weapons topic stand out.

1. Balance of Ground

It's extremely difficult when voting for an area and even crafting a resolution to know how the debate community will interpret it and come to a consensus on what is fair ground for each side.  I talked to a lot of people who initially supported this years Courts resolution, assuming the affirmative would have much more leeway in defining what it meant to "overrule" a case (eg: go in lots of directions with Casey), but debate tends to limit what the aff can do to a very narrow selection of affirmatives, that, especially at the end of the year, become extremely difficult to defend.  Finding core affirmative advantage ground that can't be easily counterplaned out of is essential.

The weapons topic is by far most likely to ensure a fair balance of ground for both sides.  In the literature, debates are really quite balanced, and maybe slightly biased towards the affirmative.  It's unclear to me which PICS/CP's would be particularly devastating against these cases next year, in the way that the amendment CP this year or positive incentives CP on the China topic was.

However, the negative will easily hold its own in debates, given the huge amount of literature going the other way on these issues, or read disads to internal link turn the advantages. The difference between this and other topics will be that the aff actually gets to defend its advantages, rather than trivial distinctions such as "why only the court acting on this issue will solve" etc.

With topics like the Middle East, while I think its certainly possible that ground will be divided fairly in the debate community's T debates, I think its less than likely, and aff's might be pushed into really narrow methods of "constructively engaging" other countries, which will be bad since its gonna be hard to solve anything on the affirmative other than very specific scenarios.

2. Education/Interest

This is something that's probably more of an issue of individual interests/preferences, but I think there really are a lot of unexplored areas that would be extremely educational.  Entire new bodies of literature, weapons systems, types of international nonproliferation cooperation, and even academic theories about US weapon's supremacy have emerged since the CTBT topic.  Debating the technicalities and specificities of these issues would be interesting, and increase the quality of IR debates in later seasons as well.

I know some people have suggested this will be just another CTBT topic again, but the CTBT would probably not even be included in the resolution, and there is much more ground on this topic besides the generic "solve prolif = war" impacts.  The topic, after all, is really more about US weapons posture than global nonproliferation, which is definitely distinct, and gets into more specific areas than have been debated before.

3. It Includes the Other Topics, and not the other way around

US weapon's posture will have huge impacts on countries in the middle east, given many of these countries are those that the weapon's are being designed for.  Not only would many of these countries have strong reactions to big, US changes in weapons posture, but US policies TOWARDS those countries would also change.  Similarly, the effects on US soft power and international cooperation (that implicate democracy promotion) are affected by US compliance on nonproliferation.  Biotech too could be included, given the possibility of biotech-weapons, etc in the future.

These issues, particularly the Middle East, would not just be trivially discussed, since they are core affirmative advantages, requiring in depth research. 

However, US weapon's posture would really NOT be included in discussion of the other topics.  Other than generic internal links to proliferation, the other topics would not change US policies towards its weapons or nonproliferation, and it is unlikely US compliance with nonproliferation agreements would change either.  Other topics only get us into the Sagan-Waltz debate, not a more specific discussion of US weapons developments.


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