[eDebate] Russia: Agriculture, Ground, Etc.

Veronica Guevara veronica_m_barreto
Thu Apr 24 22:38:30 CDT 2008

 Calum argued:
"We mention Russia on other topics because US-Russian relations touched every aspect of world politics from 1944 until the present?it is powerful, influential, and enigmatic.  If "we have mentioned it before" is a standard for exclusion, you can't vote for agriculture?it was a politics impact, and we read economy impacts more than Russia, so that's out.  Obviously that would be a poor reason."
Yea, and what's more, we have debated and research issues directly pertaining to the ag topic area as recently as 3 years ago which can mean duplicative education for 4th & 5th year seniors.  That monstrous hydra of a Europe resolution had folks debating the Farm Bill and GMO's.  That supercharges Calum's offense that not only have we not had the choice to engage the Russia debate as the central focus of the debate, but we have already had resolutions that centered conversations about agricultural policy.
The Europe resolution might just prove that the interest in debating agriculture is far behind the curve as compared to some of the other options.  Debaters turned out in droves to research terribly banal IPR lit rather than subjecting themselves to pages and pages of farm subsidy work.  Take it from the gal who was handed the Farm Bill & GMO topic areas of research...you're far better off debating Russia.

Veronica M. Guevara
Weber State University
Department of Communication
1605 University Circle
Ogden, UT 84408

Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 20:57:12 -0500From: u.hrair at gmail.comTo: edebate at www.ndtceda.comSubject: [eDebate] Russia: Agriculture, Ground, Etc.
The agriculture topic is good.  I think it's second best.  This is why I prefer Russia over agriculture. 
No matter what topic is chosen, it is not going to destroy debate.  Much further work will be done on resolutions and their potential wording.  If the Supreme Court topic didn't strike us all dead from apathy and boredom, debate must be immortal.  I made fun of the desire to talk about corn and stuff already, but I was mostly joking (I called everyone Nazis at the end, if you recall).  I realize it's more than corn.  It's also wheat. 
Some have objected that Russia is boring; we debate it all the time.  The issue of what topic is most interesting is subjective, and little can be done to convince the hardliners in the Corn and Cows Contingent.  I've already shared my opinion. Some may agree, some not.  That's okay.  We unfortunately live in a democracy.
We mention Russia on other topics because US-Russian relations touched every aspect of world politics from 1944 until the present?it is powerful, influential, and enigmatic.  If "we have mentioned it before" is a standard for exclusion, you can't vote for agriculture?it was a politics impact, and we read economy impacts more than Russia, so that's out.  Obviously that would be a poor reason. 
What we haven't done is examine US-Russian relations on a more than superficial level.  I have mentioned this before?everything from the design of the American highway system to racial segregation, from military force structure to the hidden "dirty wars" of the CIA, can only be understood by doing this.  The USSR dried up the Aral Sea, dumped nuclear waste into the Barents Sea, reduced Lake Baikal to an open cesspool, and covered up the worst nuclear disaster in history, all as an outgrowth of superpower competition.  The USSR competed by borrowing against the future, and it is just now that the debt is coming due.  It's not all nuclear weapons, Russia lets you talk about almost anything?as an impact, of course, which doesn't mean unlimited plans.
Don't forget about the nuclear weapons, though.  I have been criticized for my graphic descriptions of nuclear war, and a "missiles are cool" stance.  Indeed.  They are, you see.  The grandiloquent language of fate, history, survival and destruction is the vocabulary necessary to discuss the issue.  Nothing else suffices.  The feeling that my language is too lurid is a byproduct of our inoculation to the possibility of nuclear war?everything I said was entirely literal.  Don't vote for Russia "because it has nukes," vote for it because it makes our inevitable discussions of nuclear war better.  In my mind, nuclear weapons *are* important.  They *are* fascinating.  
The history and policy of a country that absorbed twenty million casualties, tore itself to shreds, burned its own territory, and surged back from the ruins to dominate the lives of hundreds of millions of people is important.  We mistake awe for hyperbole.  
Sophisticated intellectuals raise an eyebrow and smirk with condescension when words like "glory," "destiny," "truth," and "patriotism" are used.  This is pure ethnocentrism.  These concepts haven't died in Russian political life?on the contrary they motivate millions to rally around ultranationalists who preach destruction of the "inferior peoples" to revive their once-great empire.  The same concepts motivate others to throw off the shackles of imperial history and attempt to normalize their country in partnership with other great powers as oil wealth and a surging economy conspire to return Russia to prominence.  That's boring?  I think it is worth discussing. 
Agriculture is boring.  Sorry, but it is.  The topic paper is well-written, well-researched, and well-defended on edebate.  It will still end up being a collection of novel ways to talk about the economy, the most boring impact in the world.  Yeah, environment.  Yeah, food prices.  Long-term impacts that would be unimaginably worse after a nuclear war (the impact to most disads), so affs will be about the economy.  Gross.
Timeliness has been discussed in detail already, and I think little has been done to dispute it.  Yes, food prices are rising, but the transition of political power in Russia is historically unique for that country, one of the world's most powerful, charting an uncertain course that will determine the balance of power in Eurasia over the next few decades.  This is not rhetorical fluff, and it is not a reflection of my love for the Soviet Union (note: I love the Soviet Union).  This means that research is likely to be dynamic, and representative of strongly conflicting opinions.  There is genuine uncertainty about Russia?how Medvedev will deal with the United States, how the next US president will deal with Russia, how much Putin will influence the policy of the Russian Federation.  In addition, there is debate about a larger factional struggle in Russia?that between the siloviki (powerful individuals with military and security backgrounds) versus the "liberal" faction (in the Russian sense of economic modernization).  
Agriculture is timely, but not in the same way.  It would be an excellent topic for 2009-2010.  It will still be relevant; there will still be proposals for market liberalization; there will still be caged chickens yearning to be free.  This window of uncertainty in Russia may not last that long?it will begin to close as the new leadership of the USSR and USA begin to consolidate their positions.
Wording?more has been made of this than I think is necessary.  One ought to remember that the topic paper for Russia advanced a controversy?cooperation with Russia over military issues.  Concerns about the wording of the resolution are valid, but they are not final.  "Bilateral Cooperation" will sum up the likely resolution choices, but it is not chiseled in stone?it's an option.  There is plenty of time to poop yourself in fear.  I suggest two further terms for consideration: 
1.       Earlier, I was uncertain of the phrase "selective cooperation."  Ryan Galloway has kindly directed me to more research, and I have more thoroughly considered it.  It's viable?the only drawback is bidirectionality, which can be solved by wording the resolution in such a way that the aff must increase cooperation and not pressure.  For example, "should adopt a policy of increased selective cooperation by cooperating with the Russian Federation in one of the following areas," followed by a short list.  It says cooperation twice.  There have been worse losses at sea.
2.       A possibly superior term has been suggested?"security cooperation."  This is a term of art roughly equivalent to military engagement with Russia.  This limits the topic, but still manages access to the best, central issues of US-Russian relations.  See: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/KSIL/files/000100.doc 
Here is more literature defining the phrase:
Another quick definition:
Negative ground?this is not just the Russia-China disad, as Malcolm suggested.   Relations disads are part of it, yes, but there's more.  Russian internal politics is, as I have said, not like other politics disads?there are good link cards to engagement with the United States over military issues; there are combined link/internal link cards (like engagement could undermine Medvedev enough that he couldn't do reforms), there are many intricate variations, etc.  Here are some arguments that have been overlooked so far:  US military disads, like overstretch, CMR, defense spending, and investment tradeoffs (like joint missile defense versus FCS, for example).  There are good Russian counterparts?especially under "security cooperation," the aff will have to deal with the Russian military?a version of the internal politics disad that focuses on Russian military objections to cooperation and the internal struggle between siloviki and reformers could solve all of these "specific link/area specific disads" concerns.  For more arguments, see my post responding to Dylan Keenan.
There are also arguments about the forum for engagement.  This is an entire controversy excluded from other topics?unilateral v. bilateral v. multilateral creates lots of disads, counterplans, and solvency arguments. Even if the word "bilateral" is omitted (and it may well not be), including "its" (as in "increase its cooperation with the RF) means bilateral.  The neg can read disads about engagement/track tradeoff, or counterplans like "do the plan through the NATO-Russia Council, UN, G8" etc.  Say the Congress/our allies/their allies/cows prefer multilateral engagement?this is a whole area that hasn't been adequately discussed.  On the other hand, the unilateral counterplan solves all the theoretical tiny peacekeeping and counterterrorism affs.  
I will not rehash this extensively, as several others have written about it already.  Link uniqueness is not a terminal problem.  Evidence will most certainly exist that says the US is cooperating in some areas, but this doesn't complicate disads to security cooperation, for example?status quo engagement is fairly limited, beyond proposals that we know the Russians will not accept, or programs that are a legacy of years past.  One may have to read some cards to establish uniqueness to cooperation.  This is far from impossible?the general trend of US-Russian cooperation is negative.
Missile defense deserves some special consideration.  Yes, the United States has broadly offered to cooperate on missile defense, which we know they won't do.  The proposal is vague?it doesn't offer joint control, technology development, or radar integration.  Russia has already demanded that its personnel be directly involved in operations, which we have refused, and nothing much more has been said.  
Do a search on Lexis for "missile defense and Russia and united states and date aft 4/22/08."  You'll see what I mean.
The most important argument I have made has still been conceded.  See this if you need some help:
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