[eDebate] Topic Voting

Harris, Scott L sharris
Thu Jul 12 20:33:54 CDT 2007

While there has been a lot of discussion about whether the topic should be binding there has been very little discussion about the various topic options.
I would like to make an argument for topic #1 as the best topic for the season.  In addition to being the topic with the fewest words (as Jackie has pointed out) it is the topic that I think best balances aff breadth and neg ground.  It limits the topic to 5 countries.  Security guarantees and foreign assistance are identifiable mechanisms.  All three other topics include "trilateral security guarantees with Israel."  This phrase has a similar problem to "public health assistance" in the high school topic in that it is not a term of art.  Type "trilateral security guarantee" into google and the only hits you get are posts discussing the debate topic.  Allowing the aff to do things with Israel creates real problems for unique negative ground on the topic.  On topic #1 Israel relations disads are negative ground.  
Topic 3's expansion of the topic to include Saudi Arabia and Egypt is terrible because the U.S. already gives security guarantees and or assistance to those countries in ways that crushes uniqueness for disads.  
The inclusion of "only" in topics two and three makes them not an option to vote for in my book.  The damage done to the literature advocating affs when the resolution says aff engagement can "only" include these 2 or 3 options is considerable.  The number of advocates who limit their engagment to a security guarantee is incredibly small.  The literature for engaging Iran is not just about security guarantees.  This "only" limit guts much of the literature base for the aff on the topic.  I also think the inclusion of "only" has significant theoretical implications that has never been encountered in a topic.  The existence of "only" in the topic seems to make extratopicality automatically a voting issue since including any form of engagement not a security guarantee (topic 3) makes the plan by definition not topical.  It also has implications for counterplan competition.  While ordinarily a counterplan that does more than the plan isn't competitive it is an interesting question when a counterplan to do more than the plan proves the resolution to be a false statement because it proves that the USFG should not engage "only" through a trilateral security guarantee.  While perms may not have to be topical it is a little different when the perm proves the resolution to be false.  I don't want to judge such a debate.
I have heard that some people are afraid of topic 1 because it includes foreign assistance which is a broad category.  I think that is a strength of the topic not a weakness.  It allows a little more variety to affs than topic 3 does.  Affs still have to have a reason why the U.S. is key for any foreign aid or they will lose to other country counterplans if they are just claiming advantages from aid.  The 5 countries in topic 1 all receive fairly limited aid or no aid in the present system allowing uniqueness on disads.  The high school community is about to debate a topic involving giving aid to a region of 48 countries for whom we already give a bunch of aid.  I can't believe the college comunity is afraid of a topic that might allow assistance to 5 countries.  

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