[eDebate] Answering common objections to the Middle East topic

brian rubaie brubaie
Fri Apr 13 15:22:17 CDT 2007


As perhaps the only Kurd in the world supporting constructive engagement
with an Arab nation, I thought I might make a late push for the Middle East
topic.

A few benefits of the topic I hadn't seen mentioned previously -

(1) Timeliness. The solvency literature might never be better than the
present. For example, the question of whether to diplomatically engage Syria
was an open question until 2006 when the U.S. started to realize its Iraq
policy was doomed. I like the simple premise of this topic - the more
volatile the situation in the Middle East, the more voices clamoring for
different solutions. It would make for great solvency advocates,
well-defensed CPs, GREAT uniqueness both ways, etc.

(2) Conditions in affirmative plan texts. For example, an affirmative could
offer fuel assistance to Iran on the condition that the assistance
supports oil-based petroleum. This helps assuage some of the fears of a
rapidly changing literature base. Iran's continued nuclearization would then
make the affirmative conditions more relevant, not less. This does not make
the plan passage conditional (assistance is guaranteed), but rather makes
its continuation within the literature more stable (few solvency advocates
suggest U.S. assistance for nuclear fuel.)

(3) Nature of successful CPs. This would seem to function as a continuum,
both of which provide good options for the Neg. The more assistance offered
by the Aff, the greater the Neg PIC ground. The less assistance offered, the
more likely another actor could perform it. Affirmatives would get to pick
their poison and strap in. Speaking from the perspective of a 2A from a
small policy squad, I believe this type of flexibility is more valuable than
another few add-ons.

A few responses to common objections to the topic (alphabetized because I'm
a nerd) -

 "AFFIRMATIVES WILL BE SMALL"

Great! The more obscure the type of assistance the more likely an alternate
agent might solve. Still, if you can't stomach agent CPs, I think even
limited Affirmative actions are still vulnerable to PICs. Some examples
might include lift sanctions but don't remove oil-for-food, don't lift
sanctions on GMOs, only lift sanctions on pharmaceuticals, etc.

"ALTERNATE AGENT CPs"

Some have suggested the topic will devolve into agent debates. This fear is
not new. When I attended the topic meeting last summer most were afraid of
the utility of agent CPs. There are two important issues. First, the Aff
would be able to direct the nature of the CP debate as described above.
Second, this topic enables some good affirmative responses -- (1) U.S. is
key to a specific type of assistance (also answers PICs.) (2) U.S.
diplomacy/leadership add-ons. (3) DAs and solvency arguments, i.e. the U.S.
will block. (4) Unilateralism good. (5) Particular agent bad, etc.

"EMPIRICAL FAILURE"

 Some have argued that the U.S. track record is a miserable failure, tilting
the solvency literature towards the negative. That just seems to produce
more fertile affirmative ground. I'm sure failure motivates new policy ideas
which take the failures of the past into account.

"TOO MANY AFFIRMATIVES"

Some have objected that there are multiple forms of assistance that could be
given, unfairly multiplying the topic. While each country deals with a
number of issues, there are fewer areas which advocate assistance in the
literature. North Korea is an example--even "broad" aid packages contained
assurances on  6 - 8 resources.

"TOPIC VOLATILITY - AFF PLAN LOSS"

Some of have suggested they might wake up to find their 1AC had passed. A
few things I think might prevent this -

(1) Conditions in affirmative plan texts, mentioned previously.

(2) The plan ACTION will maintain stability. Bush is in the last stages an
unpopular second term. While the region is unstable, U.S. policy isn't
likely to rapidly shift.

(3) I'll admit my experience with past topics is limited. However, according
to two advocates of he Middle East topic whose combined experience in debate
probably surpasses my age--

David Heidt - "Topic volatility won't kill your aff. The solvency advocates
listed in the paper aren't generally things that are likely to happen any
time soon (security guarantee to Iran?). If there was a risk this would
occur, you would know about it enough in advance and it's likely the only
world in which this happens is if you run a tiny aff. The last time I can
remember that someone's aff was done was actually on the treaties topic,
when the SORT was passed (a nonprolif treaty)."

Whit Whitmore--"There have been two instances in which a plan "happened"
recently. 1) On the sanctions topic some sanctions were lifted against North
Korea just before the sanctions topic. Guess what happened? The Lit got
awesome and people continued to run North Korea all year long. 2) The SORT
treaty was "signed" at the end of the year. Affs found cards that say
signing doesn't equal ratifying and continued to run the aff into the
outrounds of the NDT.'

"TOPIC VOLATILITY - UNIQUENESS INSTABILITY"

Will Repko makes a persuasive argument for a stable uniqueness base, while
Bill Newman suggests that both Arms Control and Middle East are relatively
in flux.

My short experience in college debate suggests a shifting uniqueness base is
a good thing. This was part of the affirmative arsenal that the literature
improved throughout the year. Our affirmative win rate stabilized when
changes made more aspects of negative uniqueness claims suspect, i.e. the
Court was awarding damages liberally, Roberts' influence wained, etc.

Thank you for your consideration if you've read this far.

Hope this weekend finds you all well!

Brian
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