[eDebate] Ag Bad - the line-by-line

brian rubaie brubaie
Wed Apr 23 01:26:22 CDT 2008

I apologize in advance for the brevity of this message, it is finals week at
UTD and, as you might suspect, I'm further behind than the Mavs.

I've believed Russia to be the best topic ever since Calum told me Putin
collects emotions. I like Arms Control, and I've been impressed by the work
done to support Agriculture. Calum and Jason have discussed why to prefer
Russia over Arms Control and Latin America. Jason had a large explanation of
why Ag is bad. Seth and Alex did all the important work of 'Why Russia?' in
the topic paper. I'd like to begin a brief discussion of Russia in contrast
to Agriculture.
"I agree with most of what Dylan said." - Matt Cormack.*

"Ag would be better if for no other reason than that it is different ... why
not go with a topic that would provide fresh topics to debate?"

Russia is a very fresh topic to debate. The magnitude of the shift from
Putin to Medvedev can't be understated. A president is becoming a prime
minister and the youngest president since the 19th century will soon rule
Russia. The United States approach is far from determined and Russia
scholars certainly won't remain quiet. The debate between advocates over the
next step to take towards Medvedev will be both fascinating and thorough.

"Rock solid uniqueness is an advantage for ag.  I am sure that there will be
plenty of random things that we do with Russia that a staff writer will call
coop .... I can't say that I miss cutting "pressure updates" ... these
debates define boring."

Debates over generic uniqueness are almost always bad. The good thing about
the bilateral cooperation mechanism versus the constructive engagement
mechanism is that the types of bilateral cooperation are much more defined
than security guarantees or foreign assistance were. While cooperation
between the US and Russia may be high it certainly isn't extensive in most
areas of military or weapons cooperation. Each of those areas of cooperation
have a direct impact on a variety of government actors and global security
arrangements. The propensity of links might be raised but the topic would
afford ample uniqueness. While I agree that bilateral cooperation exists in
varied forms, it is reasonable to believe that it will rarely exist in one
of the relatively stable areas proscribed in the topic paper.

"This (food production) doesn't make you worried about a uniqueness
flip-flop midseason - the real effects of global and domestic food
production will be lingering for years. And come on, no matter who comes
into office, there won't be a mid-season rollback of ag subsidies, zero

There should be little fear that any of the other topics will flip, either.
Treaty modification is much less frequent than Farm Bill modification. It
should also be mentioned that the new Farm Bill has been continually
stalled, the subsidies are a key fight, and the most reaction was criticized
today by Bush. The fallback options are the 2002 Farm Bill protections. If
that can't be agreed to, by no means an unrealistic scenario, the scenario
is standards derived in 1912. That scenario is hyperbolic but by no means
unrealistic. Medvedev will tread new ground but very slowly. The United
States will likely do the same. Either way, there aren't likely to be new
major treaty commitments from young leaders in the absence of significant
bilateral cooperation. The status quo will be stable enough to support DAs
and oppurtunistic enough to support good affirmatives.

"Okay, worst case and zero new interesting, topic related Ks get discovered:
the generic ground is still better for debates and fresher for students than
your other topic possibilities."

I agree that all the options you listed are very interesting. However, to
conclude that Russia is "boring" and "stale" is a misplaced ad hom. Calum
has written extensively about the tremendous diversity offered in critical
literature on the topic.

"On of the best parts of this topic is a clear solvency mechanism with a
definite direction for almost all relevant uniqueness ... even the longest
and most complicated wording proposed is rather non-technical and concise."

"All or nearly all" is an interesting contraption. Add this to intricate
subsidy policies that vary grossly by their reach (fishing v. ethanol) and
the topic veers further from a stable mechanism. I wasn't around for the
Europe topic and won't speculate how it went the first time around.
"Bilateral cooperation" is a good term of art. The topic paper details how
it can function as a stem to produce a variety of forms of cooperation.
However, if the community would like a more narrow resolution, it can easily
be crafted. If the community and/or the topic committee determine that one
element of the topic seems best, the term could be narrowed to something
such as "military cooperation."

"A foreign topic for the third year out of four would cause a repeat of a
bunch of debates that have happened in the past. I realize that no topic has
forced a discussion about Russia or proliferation, but each topic ... this
isn't the same [as the Courts] ... come on now, the advs ground for lifting
subsidies has something for everyone:  poverty, a number of trade/Doha advs,
developing economies advs, very real relations advs, lots of environment
advs (both domestic and international), animal rights (factory farms bad),
ethanol/energy advs."

Agricutlure is unique and its DA ground is probably far more plentiful than
the courts. However, it pales in comparison to a Russia topic. "Agriculture
is global" does not mean that it includes anything resembling a basic
discussion of Russian policy. Animal rights are interesting and all but a
lot of those fuzzy animals we eat reside in forests that are being
destroyed. I realize that's a very brief and cliche "turn" argument, but
realistically the sheer magnitude of the US-Russia relationship trumps the
real impacts of US agriculture.

I'm from a farm family, we're very self-important, but even I would concede
we probaly don't have the same sheer effect on the globe as Russia.

Very rarely can a topic be both stable and fresh, comfortable and exciting.
Russia offers the rare oppurtunity to debate during a leadership transition
of two major powers. The Summer research would be deep, the updates would be
interesting, and the smart-type solvency advocates would be around all year.
The debate community can do little better than a topic that combines
history's most fascinating elements with modern society's largest crises.
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