[eDebate] Grand v. National Security Strategy

Michael Antonucci antonucci23
Thu Dec 25 16:51:24 CST 2008

I'm not wedded to either the term "national security" or "National Security
Strategy."  As mentioned, I believe we'll end up debating tattoos on
underage farm animals, rendering this exercise academic.  I'm not sure
you're directly clashing with my argument, though.

"The National Security Strategy is a single document, and forcing the aff to
change it only creates the counterplans that Antonucci mentioned and
accomplishes little else."


My (protean) argument is that those counterplans serve a *limiting
function*.  It's often much easier to win on a counterplan than it is to win
a T violation, although the counterplan's rooted in a component of the

For example, last year, several teams included a fairly artificial quid pro
quo in order to avoid the T violation.  (Dartmouth's USC version of naval
rules of the road's the first example that springs to mind.)  Such
contrivances opened them up to unconditional CPs coupled with kritiks of
"quid pro quo." Such strategies were less effective against the grand
bargain affs that seemed to consitute the topic's center.

One might, hypothetically, despise actual debates over the T violation,
regard the QPQ CP/K strategy with contempt, and yet *still* treasure them
for their role as a constraint on the scope of the topic.  You don't have to
love war to love deterrence.

" I do indeed loathe those counterplans. Some of them don't make much sense
(like covertly withdraw American troops deployed overseas?)  and a number of
them probably couldn't be done without presidential authorization."


The counterplan(s) would be tactically ineffective against the cases that
you envision, and tactically effective agaisnt cases that might game the
constraints that you're attempted to delineate.  That's my argument.

"The "buid UAVs" aff, by the way, would have to be the "build UAVs and
withdraw thousands of US troops" aff. One technological change
won't be grand strategy, and the counteplan to just build the UAVs without
withdrawing troops is what provides the best limit in my opinion, not
process PICs based on "national security." "

Yeah, I erred by using UAVs as an example.

I actually thought about amending my message after I sent it, but figured
that you'd cut me some slack.  I suppose not.

Some affs that you might dislike could potentially include:
- withdrawal of covert forces or cessation of certain covert ops (which
would leave the negative without much ground aside from case turns),
- phasing out certain types of troops, while remaining ambiguous on whether
they'd be replaced by other types of troops (maintaining link direction flex
on heg)
- withdrawal from a single theater in order to facilitate redeployment
elsewhere.  (eg, speed redeployment away from Okinawa, which is sort of a
hellish aff for people who enjoy unique links to DAs.  The Wons know what
I'm talking about.)

The term "grand strategy" may or may not limit out those affs.
Vulnerability to legislative or covert CPs certainly would.

"I'd rather not focus on process, but "grand strategy" does mean some of
these are possible because although the US does not have an official grand
strategy, many academics believe that the NSS amounts to American grand
strategy. That's okay with me. I know some people like those C/Ps, so I
think the topic should make them possible, but not make them automatically
compete by tying the aff to a mechanism as specific as changing the NSS.
There's a debate about competition this way--I may be alone in thinking
process PICs are boring, but I'm probably not alone in thinking that we
shouldn't choose a term just to avoid focusing debates on the actual
desirability of withdrawing US forces."

So, as opposed to taking a stance on crucial counterplans that delineate the
viable scope of the topic, we should remain agnostic in order to encourage
hot, hot competition debates?

Your writing strategy doesn't seem internally consistent.

If you steer away from the use of either "grand" or "national" strategy, you
won't have to hear those CPs - they definitely won't compete.  If you
include "NSS", you won't hear that much about those process CPs either, as
smart affs will simply view that vulnerability as a hard limit during the
process of aff and advantage selection.

Your deliberately ambiguous position, however, maximizes the number of
process debates, as smart negs will roll weaker teams on competition, smart
affs will bite the bullet on that vulnerability, and theory-debating skills
will determine a relatively larger percentage of debates.

I think there's some value to kissing either Scylla or Charybdis without
attempting to navigate between them.

"..I'm probably not alone in thinking that we shouldn't choose a term just
to avoid focusing debates on the actual desirability of withdrawing US

That, however, is not my argument, unless you substitute "avoid" with

We should choose a term that forces teams to select affs which build their
advantages on the basis of dramatic shifts in public diplomacy.
Counterplans limit where your multiple contradictory definitions of grand
strategy might not.

"Also, I think it's a mistake to think of "grand" and "national" just as
adjectives that modify "strategy.""

If I make that mistake, I'm sure you'll inform me promptly.

"By the way, I'm capitalizing it because the term has two meanings--one can
talk about "national security strategy" in general, which seems to be what
the DoD definition there is about, but the "National Security Strategy" is a
particular document."

Right.  That's why I distinguised between the two in my original post
title.  I thought it might be worthwhile to consider *both* possibilities as
alternatives to "grand strategy."

Your long Deibel card seems to discuss "national security strategy"
generally, not the National Security Strategy.

While Deibel prefers a narrowly construed definition of "grand strategy," he
repeatedly cites profound lack of consensus, as "the meanings of both grand
strategy and national security strategy are so fuzzy that each scholar must
(and usually does) begin his analysis by defining the terms anew." (p. 8)
That's scarcely a ringing endorsement of definitional precision that clearly
delineates the scope of affirmative ground.

National Security Strategy, however, might afford CEDA debaters a measure of
clarity or at least legislative predictability that both grand strategy and
national security clearly can't.

"One more concern about "national security strategy"--I want to ensure that
the aff makes broad changes that aren't confined to a single theater. This
is a bit trickier, but when the word "strategy" is used in a *military
context* it is distinguishable from "operational" in that it forces a
broader change. "

If forced to teach your topic, I would prefer that as well.  I feel a range
of counterplans, however, might better accomplish that goal than where you
come down in the strident dissensus over the meaning of "grand strategy."
It's useful for topic writers to distinguish between *permissible* aff
ground (fisheries) and *viable* aff ground (not fisheries).

"Everyone seems to be forgetting the "reduce overseas deployments" part."

Nah.  I just badly bungled my original example.

The better examples of strategic yet potentially topic-skirting affs would

a. accelerate an ongoing troop redeployment trend, eg Okinawa (forcing the
neg to win "adopt = new", enjoy that debate)
b. decrease dumb or bad covert ops, no perception (does "deployment" somehow
constrain these affs?)
c. switch out types of troops

Have you also considered whether or not you really want to build offsets
into the topic, by the way?

"The neg can probably win that it requires a change outside of a single
theater (so no "withdraw from Iraq"  aff, unless it also reduces US troop
presence elsewhere). It means the aff can't just change something tactical
or doctrinal. In this sense, the term is limiting because it is broad--it's
big; it's defined by it's level and scale."

Withdrawal from Iraq wouldn't constitute an alteration in our grand

I understand the arguments within your defintions, although the definitions'
authors admit that they're scarcely the product of consensus.  Still - you
don't think you're cherry picking even a wee bit here?

"[Calum argues that the term 'grand strategy' won't be included in plan
texts and will thus serve about as important a limiting function as
agricultural policy does on the current topic]"

Yup.  I agree.  I think that might be a problem.  I'm not worried that
"grand strategy" does too much.  I'm worried that it does too little.

"PLAN: The United States Federal Government should significantly reduce it's
overseas military deployments and employ its forces for a offshore

This plan text would bungle the distinction between a contraction and a
possessive apostrophe, and probably deserves to lose on that basis.

Happy Holidays!
Michael Antonucci
Debate Coach
Georgetown University
Mobile: 617-838-3345
Office: 202-687-4079
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