[eDebate] South America?

michael hester uwgdebate
Sat Apr 5 10:42:14 CDT 2008


I'll echo Antonucci's comments, while also defending a potential South
America topic:

1) yes, the Latin America Political Stability (LAPS) topic was amazing
mostly b/c: a) the Commies were still overt (Soviet Union just sounds tasty)
which made not only Red Spread but it's oppositional argument -
Encirclement- a viable debate in every round, b) Gorbachev had recently come
to power and there were some rumblings about something called glasnost and
perestroika, c) ABC Prolif (yes, publishers actually printed books detailing
the possibilities of nuclear proliferation in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile,
d) the Shining Path (great euphemism for 'crazy-ass Maoist professor-led
revolutionary movement that likes to blow up powergrids in Peru') gave us
terrorism without the guilt of hating Muslims, and e) Liberation Theology
(even before their predilection for young boys was made public, the Catholic
Church was scaring rich people) gave us a movement DA that actually had
uniqueness cards written somewhere other than in the leaflets handed out at
the movement's rallies. Each of these areas had large impacts on their own,
and frequently they intersected to create even larger impacts. China doesn't
(yet) have the kind of influence in LA that the Soviets did, Brazil is known
more for making bikini pictures look appealing than for making nuclear
weapons, Peru's Japanese leader took care of the Shining Path with a good
ol' fashioned police crackdown, and Lib Theo has devolved into debates about
whether the right reverend Creflo Dollar should get away with driving a
Rolls.

2) BUT, i'd also argue that even if these wonderfully delicious impact areas
still existed today, the Current Resolution Assembly Process (CRAP) would
still choke the life out of the LAPS. Rather than the parsimonious (yet
admittedly large) Resolved: That the United States government should adopt a
policy to substantially increase political stability in Latin America, we'd
end up with something like this:

Resolved: The United States federal government should enact, through
legislation, a policy of political stabilization, including one or more of
the following:

- a free trade pact with Belize and Uruguay, but not Paraguay;

- trade tariffs on non-petroleum products imported from Venezuela;

- a substantial increase in environmental protection assistance to Brazil,
except for anything that might actually solve deforestation;

- a substantial increase in security assistance to Guyana;

- rescission of all or nearly all agriculture subsidy increases in the 1982
Farm Bill.

In our (misguided, imo) attempts to create viable, predictable, NEG ground,
we end up destroying viable, SOLVENT affirmative ground. if the AFF is given
topical ground that can actually address big problems (poverty, disease,
discrimination, war, environmental degradation), there's not a region of the
Earth that can't make for a great topic full of not only ELIs, but other
cool impacts. but if we tread down the same path of distorting resolutions
to make sure the 1AC starts out as a flawed position, we can take even the
most grand areas of discussion and reduce them to dreadful debates.

even without kritiks and PICs, negatives managed to debate the LAPS topic.
sure, they could always fall back on domino theory to give themselves a DA,
but even then they didn't have half of the NEG ground we do today. complex
CP theory and Ks have provided NEGs with a toolbox larger than ever before,
definitely enough to deal with the Bats and Guinea worm AFFs that haunted
the dreams of 2Ns in days gone by.

c'mon folks, let's take the shackles off of the AFF. this year was a decent
first step. we used the broad term of "foreign assistance" and STILL most
teams were flipping NEG in elims. the last topic to have a decidedly
affirmative tilt (Security Assistance to the Mid-East) was the result of a
writing a terminally non-unique resolution (in my best Chandler voice,
"could the USfg GIVE any more military aid to Israel and Egypt?!"), and not
due to expansive wording.

South America. BioTech. Labor Relations. Immigration Reform. They could all
be perfectly fine topics. It's not the Subject (problem area) we should
worry about, it's the Object (we who formulate the resolution).

hester

hester

On Sat, Apr 5, 2008 at 10:31 AM, Michael Antonucci <antonucci23 at yahoo.com>
wrote:

> The Latin America high school topic was before my
> time.
>
> I have heard stories, though.  Red Spread was a
> crucial advantage/DA.  I think that matters.
>
> During the Cold War, Latin America constituted a
> crucial front in a major geopolitical struggle with a
> plausible claim to world-shattering consequences.  It
> was a *fast* route to *big* impacts.  The "domino"
> internal links surely rocked.
>
> That isn't true anymore (discounting Red China
> conspiracy theorists.)
>
> Executive summary: topics with big impacts work
> better.  They're remembered fondly.  Topics without
> big impacts end up with contrived and stale arguments.
>
> Long version: The ability to access extinction impacts
> with relatively short internal link chains drastically
> affects the quality of debates.  Most debaters seem to
> believe that the constructive engagement topic was
> superior to the "grab bag of Supreme Court cases"
> topic.  The topics' differing scope and some design
> bugs may have affected that - but the ability to
> logically access impacts mattered as well.
>
> Teams will claim extinction-level impacts.  That's
> inevitable, because it's a winning formula in the game
> as currently constituted.  (If you don't like this
> aspect of debate, don't shoot the messenger.  Your
> topic won't change the culture - the culture will
> change your topic.)
>
> If ELIs are a logical outgrowth of the literature,
> arguments will remain logical.  If  not, debaters will
> contrive increasingly counterintuitive and absurd link
> chains in order to access the fast big magnitude
> impacts they need to succeed.
>
> I've seen this played out this year, as I've coached
> on both constructive engagement and sub-Saharan
> Africa.  I prefer listening to a debater defend a
> fleshed-out Iran strikes or Syrian-Israeli war impact
> than hearing...right.  The Rabid Tiger.  Again.  This
> difference didn't occur because high school debaters
> are dumb and you're all really smart.  It happened
> because you can construct a brilliant proposal for
> improving the delivery of pharmaceuticals in Botswana,
> and no one will care because it only really impacts
> some Botswanans.  No offense, Botswanans and
> Ecuadorans - you're important, but it's tough to weigh
> the Galapagos against politics.
>
> Latin American countries affect issues of trade and
> narcoterrorism and some neat biomes - but none of them
> have nukes (I know there's a prolif risk, but it's a
> pretty low-probability one.)  "Brazilian growth" and
> "Chilean trade" won't get it done against big DAs
> absent some real contortions.
>
> I'm sure a Latin America topic could be really
> interesting, but intelligence reform would sustain a
> better year of debates with fewer silly contrivances.
>
>
>
>  ____________________________________________________________________________________
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