[eDebate] Neg Ground on the Russia Topic

Stephen Weil stephen.weil
Sat Apr 26 12:28:30 CDT 2008

I'll admit. I've gone back and forth on the Russia topic. At the outset,
I'll say I love the Soviet Union almost as much as Calum. When I heard a
Russia topic was a possibility, I was convinced that there could be no other
option. After a couple weeks, I started to waver a little. I was concerned
about the lack of a mechanism/viable negative ground. Then I realized that
these concerns were silly. First, I'll say I'd have one suggestion for the
resolution: I would take out counter-terrorism cooperation. We just do too
much of it now, maybe not in terms of military cooperation, but definitely
in terms of some intel/etc after 9/11. I think uniqueness would be much less
of a concern for bilateral cooperation in terms of military-to-military,
peacekeeping, or space. I also think the term selective cooperation could be
alright if the resolution is worded to prevent bidirectionality.

Some people worry about defending the hawkish position. I've heard some
people belittling "Red Spread" and other concessions/cooperation bad type
DAs. The generic negative ground has been characterized as only the
Russia/China DA (which is still a pretty solid DA). If you want to be scared
shitless of Putin and understand exactly why the hawks are afraid of
cooperating with him, I advise that you go to youtube and type in "The Putin
System." It's really long (9 parts about 8-10 minutes each), but I picked
out some of my favorite parts. (If you have the time/care, you should watch
the whole thing though. It's pretty well done.)


This is part one ? the history of Vladimir Putin. Some of my favorite

"There is only one key word for KGB mentality. The word is control."

"Mr. Putin belongs to that generation of Russians who joined the KGB in 1975
when they knew perfectly well about the crimes committed by Stalin, about
the role state security played in the dramatic history of my country."
--Oleg Kalugin, former KGB spy


This is part seven ? its about Gazprom. Some of my favorite quotes:

At a conference in Europe, a French journalist asks Putin about the War in
Chechnya (this is right around Beslan). The journalist asks something along
the lines of "aren't you worried that by hunting down the terrorists in
Chechnya, you will kill too many civilians?" Putin's ONLY RESPONSE was this:

"If you want to become an Islamic fundamentalist and be circumcised, come to
Moscow, we are multiconfessional, we have very good specialists, I can
recommend one for the operation. He'll make sure nothing grows back!"

I wouldn't mess with that dude.

Think nukes are the only thing Russia has that's scary?

"Gazprom's giant tentacles will not only engulf all European countries but
also Japan, China and South America. Putin's objective? A transnational
government around Gazprom. Russia's future challenge to America's world

I know that's not qualified or anything, but if you all remember our buddy
Flynt Leverett, he also says:

"The most profound challenges to America's global leadership during the next
quarter century are not posed by the risk of strategic failure in Iraq,
further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or the growth and
consolidation of extremist forces in the Islamic world.  Rather, the most
profound challenges to U.S. preeminence during the next 25 years flow from
the strategic and political consequences of ongoing structural shifts in
global energy markets, especially the global oil market.  Most notably,
cooperation between China and Russia on energy matters is bolstering
Sino-Russian cooperation on strategic issues, effectively creating a
Sino-Russian "axis of oil" as the principal counterweight to America's
global hegemony."


This part is about Putin's consolidation of power. Scared me. Here's a quote
from Putin after Beslan:

"We've been working very hard to salvage the remnants of the Soviet Union
any way we possibly can."
--Vladmir Putin

Salvage the remnants of the Soviet Union? He really is a scary dude.

Also, this isn't in this video, but when Yeltin handed over power to Putin,
he had to get a guarantee from Putin not to prosecute him once he had power.
Why? Putin wanted to charge him because he thought that dismantling the
Soviet Union was a crime against the state.

So this dude may or may not have stepped down from power (temporarily?). You
don't want to debate about the consequences of him voluntarily giving up
power (or did he)? Is Medvedev a reformer, or just Putin's Gazprom patsy?
Will he follow Putin's commands, or will there be a power struggle inside
the Kremlin that could be seriously impacted by the actions of the United
States? And as the backdrop to all of this: one of those guys still has the
nuclear attach? case.

Beyond the significance of Russia, I think that the topic would be great
because of the depth of research it would allow.  People have made this
point of plenty of times, but there is an unbelievable amount written about
Russia, Russian politics, and US-Russian relations. This isn't just in terms
of new coverage and CounterPunch articles. There are few topics that are the
subject of so much quality academic debate and research. Dylan complains
about the lack of quality in "stupid Medvedev disad debates." I assure you
that if people put their brilliant debate minds to it, there is no shortage
of qualified and in depth discussion of how the US-Russian relationship and
US-Russian interactions will affect Medvedev and Russian politics in
general. I'd be willing to bet that there is more depth on this than whether
or not political capital is critical to pass the Law of the Sea.

It's not just a question of there being a lot written about Russia either.
There is a lot of theoretic depth and academic research about the underlying
factors of Russian actions.  This was an area I thought we really didn't do
enough with in the Middle East. Sure, Harvard talked a little bit about the
nature of the Iranian regime, and whether they were a revisionist power or
not. But for all of our stupid internal politics debates, nobody really got
into the nature of these regimes, and especially not when it came to any
area beyond Iran. This should not be a problem for Russia: there is a
quality academic debate and a lot written about the nature of the Russian
political system, the motivations of its leaders, etc. If people are willing
to do this sort of research, this could be one of the best topics ever.
What kind of dude is Putin? Who is Medvedev and what does he believe? Those
are fundamental questions that determine the answer to other questions like
"how will US offers of cooperation impact Russian behavior." Instead of just
reading a card from Newsmax that says cooperation will increase nationalism,
and the aff responding with a card from the NYT that says cooperation
empowers moderates, there can be a quality debate about the
behind-the-scenes motivations of Russian politicians. I personally think
that sort of stuff is awesome. You might disagree.
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