[eDebate] Russia v. Arms Control

Calum Matheson u.hrair
Sun Apr 20 18:10:12 CDT 2008


I actually think the arms control topic is okay.  If there was no Russia
topic, it would be alright.  There is, though, and arms control is no
match.

The central controversy of the Russia area is whether Russia should be
treated as a military partner of the United States, or as a competitor.  I
feel that the reasons why this topic are timely have been explained
extensively in the topic paper (Stone: read the one that advocates the
Russia topic, not the one about a bunch of phrases that we didn't use), and
that the doubters have done little to respond.

Stone wonders whether anything will really change, and concludes, with no
apparent research, that it won't.  This is quite possible, but it's also
part of the argument advanced already in the discussion:  there is a debate
about whether Russian policy will change or not, which I analogized to
previous debates about Gorbachev and Putin.  Stone's opinion merely proves
that there is a debate over that.  Good.  There should be.

Some people think that Russia's policy will indeed change, or at least
could, in response to United States initiatives.  The Christian Science
Monitor, on the second of February, for example, argues that although Putin
has promised continuity, there will have to be a "system of balances,"
because the country "could be destabilized if the two men quarrel."  There's
an article in Newsweek on 2-25 about the fights Medvedev will face
distancing himself from Putin's siloviki allies.  There's a good article in
the Financial Times, 3-3, about the possibility that this will change
Russia's course by creating opportunities to increase cooperation with the
US.  Steven Sestanovich wrote something similar, arguing that behind the
placid exterior, there is already a fight for control over Russia's future
that could split the leadership.  In fact, although Medvedev seems willing
to continue many of Putin's policies, the area of biggest uncertainty is
relations with the United States and Europe.  I can provide dozens more
articles here.  The point is that there is a healthy debate:  one that is
unlikely to repeat itself for some time.  No Russian leader (ever) has
voluntarily stepped down from power?to suggest that there will not be timely
literature about Russia's future direction is uninformed.

Yes, there will be new literature about the NPT.  Time advances inexorably
forwards, and the old arms control writers have yet to die from collective
irrelevance, so there will be stuff published.  The coming of the next
review in 2010 is an argument for debating arms control in 2009-2010,
however.  It may be timely, but not in the way Russia is?the Russian
leadership is going through an unprecedented change.  The NPT is going
through another damn review that will produce the same set of complaints and
suggestions that all the other ones did.

There are some problems with the "timeliness" of the NPT, as well.  The 2000
recommendations include things like "implement START III."  This treaty not
only doesn't exist, it never will?it was replaced by the Moscow Treaty of
2002, which has been ratified already, and implemented (to some degree).  Other
suggestions, like the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, exist, but have been
largely dormant for some time.  Much of the aff literature for the CTBT gets
updated, but the neg literature less so.  The point is not that this makes
the topic bad, it's just that you are defending the timeliness of
suggestions made eight years ago.  Russia literature is more dynamic.

Does arms control access Russia?  Yes.  Does Russia access arms control?  Also
yes.  Which is better?  Russia.  Cooperation with Russia allows discussion
of more than just nuclear weapons?some areas Gannon, Lamballe, Rubaie, and I
suggested include space, naval cooperation, peacekeeping, and
counterterrorism.  Arms control provides a number of plans, but a great many
of them have the same advantage?proliferation.  There are certainly a few
more, but while there are different advantages to the various Russia areas,
there are relatively few for arms control.  Some of them are the same, but
the issue of US-Russian cooperation contains much more room for
creativity?although it has some common negative ground, and probably more so
than arms control.  There are not only US-Russian relations disads, but NATO
cohesion and credibility, third-party disads like China and Japan, and a
huge, vibrant debate about Russian internal politics.  Dylan doesn't want to
hear "stupid Medvedev disads."  He then said we should debate health care or
agriculture so we can have good politics links.  I think silence on this
issue is an adequate response.  Let's debate "Resolved: the USFG should burn
flags to celebrate sexual deviance" every year.  Russia has good, unique
disads.  No matter what wins, the oily stain of the politics disad will
never be cleansed from debate.  The common ground of arms control is?prolif
good?  Opaque prolif?  Deterrence (although it only links to a few affs)?  Oh,
wait, no.  It's politics.  Issue resolved.

Stone also tries to "throw something out for the hippies."  Perhaps some
people have been taking 4/20 celebrations too far.  Here's his offer:
nuclearism.  Our discussion of critical ground for Russia is not just "I can
haz nuklearizm?"  I may not have conveyed this eloquently, but there is much
more to US-Russian interaction than nuclearism?Russia has been presented in
the "West" as a nightmarish, inhuman enemy, often described in the language
of racial inferiority, mixed with trepidation over its military might and
the threat that Russian/Soviet ideologies have presented to the liberal
capitalist countries that dominate the world order.  Nuclearism is just
better on a Russia topic?fear of US-Soviet war is the context for much of
the work done in that field.  Russian history is a rich source of comparison
with the United States?my discussion of contiguous colonies in the first
post, for example.  There's a body of literature that critiques the focus on
US-Russian politics as an elitist mechanism to suppress debates over
humanitarian issues in "non-strategic" areas of the world.  Even urban
policy in the US that has disenfranchised Blacks has a connection to the
Cold War.  The discipline of urban planning got a boost from the
countervalue-counterforce debates of the 1950s and later, where white
American planners suggested that we bait the Soviets into targeting inner
cities while whites fled to the suburbs.  Disaffected, beret-wearing
Marxists love to complain about the modern Russia.  The literature about
Cold War representations of the US-Soviet conflict applies to modern Russia,
too?this is a well-developed, highly specific critique of enemy
construction.  You can totally haz more than nuklearizm.  YA RLY.  I'll bow
to the superior K knowledge of Kansas JS though.  Who wouldn't.

There seems to be concern over solvency mechanisms.  Read our paper.  There
is plenty of advocacy for change in US policy toward Russia.  I will try to
respond to some specific concerns:

a)      a) There's not enough.  There most certainly is.  I feel that the
four of us did well in providing cites for various proposals to cooperate
with Russia over military issues.  Here are some examples:  develop joint or
interoperable forces for peacekeeping, increase funding for Cooperative
Threat Reduction, develop joint missile defenses, joint space initiatives,
and logistical cooperation.

b)      b) There are too many, and they are small.  The Russia area does
provide quite a bit of aff flexibility.  Even small affs, however, much
increase cooperation with Russia in a military area, and as discussed above,
there are a number of disads here.  Link uniqueness is not generally a
problem?although the US does cooperate with Russia in some areas now, the
trend is markedly downward, the political situation in Russia has changed
greatly since the bulk of these initiatives began, and the doubters have not
provided many examples here of affs that are large enough to have good
advantages, but small enough to dodge the core negative arguments.  I will
concede that you will have to cut some cards.  Alexei Stakhanov would have
cut fifty in the time it took you to read this sentence.

c)  "What is bilateral cooperation anyway?" This is my personal favorite.  The
word "bilateral" has been added here because it limits the forums in which
the US and Russia could cooperate?it excludes potentially large areas like
the United Nations, Nato-Russia Council, OECD, and so forth.  Maybe these
are potential counterplans?that would be nice since each one wouldn't apply
to every area of cooperation, so preparing for them would not be
unmanageable.  The phrase "bilateral cooperation" obviously limits the aff
to joint projects with Russian participation, but the real limit here comes
from the areas?nonproliferation, counterterrorism, et cetera.

Scott Elliot:  you lived in Russia.  I have genes.  We're even.  I read a
lot about genetics.  It is a good topic...for a PBS documentary.  I would
watch the hell out of that.  Russia is a country assembled from the left
over scraps of nightmares and shattered dreams of a new society.  The choice
seems clear to me.

My almost pathological love of the Soviet Union should be obvious by now,
and I have lots more to say, but this is already pretty long.  I need to see
if Putin/Stalin slashfic exists somewhere on the internet.

And by the way, the refs cheated in that 1980 hockey game.  Miracle my ass.

Calum
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