[eDebate] khalilizad and framing debate

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Fri Jan 12 14:14:32 CST 2007

As Zalamy Khalilizad and and the us role in the un become fused I think it
is perhaps to reflect on some the ways in which neoconservative and other
imperialist ideologies have infiltrated the debate community.

Khalilzad is an architect of our current policy toward iraq and
afaghanistan, he basically has served in the role of colonial governor and
is a key implementer and thinker behind a set of polices that have killed
hundreds of thousands of people. You can defend the policies and the agenda
however you cannot deny his role in shaping the current world order. His
beliefs on hegemony are inextricably linked to the polices he is currently
implementing, he believes, thinks and acts upon ideas which aim to maintain
American supremacy through violent and coercive means that not just have
spread instability in Afghanistan and iraq but have put us on the verge of w
a potential world war. Millions of lives are at risk the word over now and
years into the future.

(sidenote, this is not really a post about these policies  and ideologies ,
I will debate you on them sure, but this is more a post about the way the
debate community interacts with these ideologies, arguments that the war is
good do not disprove the point I am about to make)

I have long argued that the debate community either intentionally or
unwittingly does a considerable amount of work for the maintenance of
imperialist facist status quo thought, and have specifically targeted the
way neo conservative and neo liberal think tank structures are utilizing
debaters to do theoretical micro political work for them through the process
of competitive debate. Often times these debates deveolve into karl rove was
a debater and then some one says yes but I know a labor lawyer from walla
walla. The question to me is not who the debate community becomes but who
provides the framing for the politics that makes up what we discuss, and
what ideologies lie behind those thoughts.

Khalilizad is instructive here, Zalamy (as many debaters are so familiar
with him or in particular his two cards that they jokingly refer to him by
his first name) is a debate hero, young debaters all over love to use this
card, old debaters everywhere love to use this card. Judges vote on it all
the time. Indicts still don't disprove the argument. Entire political
scenarios are constructed advocated and debated based on khalilizads
understanding of the importance of American primacy. Starting researching
your aff or neg argument with this as the projected end point structures the
research you do and the arguments you make on the way there. This has a real
political effect on how people come to understand the world and what they
find political acceptable and not.

Here is where the people who say micro politics don't matter are wrong. Each
time a debate is geared toward the truth that khalilizad offers the
political notion of American primacy is reinforces just a little bit, we
cannont deny that that the research we do for debate structures our thinking
about the political it is after all the reason debate is good right it
teaches us about politics. But the framing of those debates is hugely
important. No less an official on winning the hearts and minds of the people
than Donald Rumsfeld says

"I used to think one of the most powerful individuals in America was the
person who could select the annual high school debate topic. Think of the
power -- to set the agenda, and determine what millions of high school
students will study, read about, think about, talk about with friends,
discuss with their teachers, and debate with their parents and siblings over
dinner."Prepared Testimony for the 9/11 Commission 3/24/03

And Hallet and summey explain

Before concluding with some suggested lexical alternatives that will

replace the terminology of the naked emperors and will shift the nature

of the debate, moving it out of the rut in which antinuclearists have

become bogged, *we need to make clear the importance of the link*

*between a person's perspective and the terminology that expresses it.*

*The terminology affects how the debate is framed. Whoever controls the*

*framing and the questions that are posed has the greatest chance of*

*communicating their perspective. To do more than influence the*

*debate?to actually command it?requires moving from image depiction*

*to reconstructing reality.***

I'll give the community the benefit of the doubt as it relates to khalizads
imperialism and the way we work for it, but still each iteration each debate
structured toward this impact as the decision calculus, does intellectual
work for the particular ideology.

It is true that having it there forces people to debate it, but the ability
this particular piece of evidence has to frame what is real within debates
overwhelms many of the potential benefits of debating it. And no doubt
people will discuss how it frames debates but I think we need to look at it
more how it and other such political framing issues shape our community to
support a bougouis  set of political alternatives that most often reinforce
the trends that make the harms in so many peoples affs true.

And this is where towson cl departs from the topic, more on this soon, but
the basic argument is when the particular framing the community has provided
for debating during this season does the work of an institution (the law and
thus the prison) and the political alternatives that are available under the
topic reinforce the legitimacy of those institutions through each
performative utterance, it is time for debaters concerned about liberation
to  frame the debate in their own terms, and to chart their own course to
utilizing debate as political training ground.

This is not a debate bad argument, but it is an argument that says our
community is susceptible to being taken over and lulled into supporting only
a set of politics that reinforce the maintenance  of the status quo. If the
topic where prisons should be abolished all of the reasons that debate is
good would still be true, those who wished to could topicaly defend state
actors, those who didn't wouldn't have to as long as they could articulate a
specific political goal and describe a means to achieve it. If we
performativly bolster ideologies through our debating the question should be
which institutions and methods of change do we do work for.

Here is a good test, if the resolution was prisons should be abolished would
most of you who object to towson creating their own topic be topical? If so
do you care what ideological and political goals you do work for through
debating. If not, then what about bougouis legal change or neoconservative
politics is uniquely good for our community to be geared toward.

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