[eDebate] Topic Thoughts - Middle East

Adam Farra adamhfar
Thu Apr 5 15:50:08 CDT 2007

I share these concerns - here is how I have personally addressed them  
(I reserve the right to be wrong):

1) Literature "signaling" mitigates the impact. The evidence about  
the US stepping up its rhetoric and military mobilization against  
Iran will likely communicate that the US will invade Iran. So, for  
instance, everyone will have to do a file on "should the US attack  
Iran" and "will the US attack Iran" - as people update this research  
throughout the year it will become more apparent that an attack is  
coming/not coming, and people will cut cards around those particular  
outcomes - probably even restructuring their 1AC around around those  
outcomes. I think my argument only works if I assume that nothing  
TOTALLY UNPREDICTED happens in the Middle East, which I think is not  
entirely true - but is probably more true than not.

2) The impact is empirically denied. I'm not too sure what the topic  
was in college when I was a sophomore in high school - but 9/11  
happened during the WMD topic, and that had some obvious  
ramifications on the topic (limit WMD use). Regardless, the topic  
went on and most people did not have to change their affs - some affs  
included contentions about why terrorist attacks don't cause massive  
retaliations, etc. but those arguments were not "new" anyway - they  
simply had more credence since they were updated. Also, didn't the  
SORT get signed/ratified on the Treaties topic at the NDT or  
something and no one seemed to care? I feel like I heard this  
somewhere...I'm not sure on the specifics though.

3) The literature is pretty stable. There will always be hawks and  
doves - and they will always advocate similar policies (isolation,  
attack a particular country, sanctions, no first use guarantees,  
market incentive packages, etc.). Let's say the topic includes Syria  
and Assad is overthrown; chances are that those same authors will  
keep their positions - they will just update them. So, if you're  
reading your Syria aff and something big happens before Northwestern,  
you're going to look to the same solvency advocates anyway and they  
will still say "do the aff" but they will say "do the aff because 'x'  
is still true in the world of a new government."

The worst possible scenario is that it makes it a little bit harder  
for the negative to win their US-Israel Relations DA - but if that is  
one of the "core" DAs then you're going to have to do those updates  
anyway, and the amount of literature will probably not overwhelm the  

My one lingering concern would be big changes that happen AT the  
tournament - but I don't know why most of the arguments I've already  
listed would not address that problem as well.

That's my 4 cents.


On Apr 5, 2007, at 4:16 PM, helwich at macalester.edu wrote:

> I like the Mideast topic as much as anyone, and think that Mike and  
> Steve did a stand-up job with the paper.
> I have one big concern, however--topic volatility.
> If the U.S. pulls out of Iraq or bombs Iran, or Musharraf is  
> assassinated, etc., the whole game changes. That makes for an  
> exciting, and educational topic.
> Big changes in a 'problem area' also create enormous research  
> burdens within a very narrow timeframe. Mac would be in a tough,  
> tough spot if the US were to attack Iran midseason. I tend to think  
> that predictability is a more important gage of whether small  
> schools can engage with a topic, and I'm somewhat concerned.
> However, I can be persuaded. So?
> best,
> dch
> From: "Hall, Michael P. (Debate)" <mphall at liberty.edu>
> Date: April 5, 2007 2:05:55 PM GMT-04:00
> To: <edebate at ndtceda.com>
> Subject: [eDebate] Topic Thoughts - Middle East
> Forwarded at the request of Hays Watson.
> Michael P. Hall
> Acting Director of Debate
> Liberty University
> Lynchburg, VA 24502
> 434-582-2080
> 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 hot.
> 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 East.
> 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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