[eDebate] Possible Topic Area
Tue Dec 23 09:37:40 CST 2008
but "k teams" don't matter
On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 11:26 PM, Calum Matheson <u.hrair at gmail.com> wrote:
> thanks dylan. here are my initial reactions, although i will have to do
> some research again to dig up evidence to support some of them, the cites
> for which i have forgotten.
> 1. enforceable meaning for grand strategy
> one thing i like about this phrase (and again--anyone with alternatives,
> let me know) is that it may make the aff implement broad changes in US
> strategy. "grand strategy" can be distinguished from just "strategy," or
> more usefully, defined by its scope--iraq is one theater, as is afghanistan,
> the arctic, etc. i think you could credibly define the term to force the
> aff to change US military policy in general--something like "selective
> engagement," or "offshore balancing," or "isolationism" is a dictate
> intended to govern american responses world wide. world war II's "germany
> first" policy, for example, was a grand strategy, as is the policy of global
> military preponderance--they are partly defined by broad goals, not just
> actions to accomplish them. this is the "levels of war" thing i was hinting
> at earlier. here's a world war one example: artillery drumfire--tactical;
> the ludendorff offensives (1918)--operational; the attempt to capture the
> channel ports--strategic; the attempt to force the BEF off the continent
> (because jerry thought that meant winning the war)--grand strategic.
> you are probably right that some affs will try only to withdraw troops.
> however, i think there's a few things the neg has going for them: a) grand
> strategy = multiple theaters (above) b) the aff still has to "significantly
> reduce" presence (or some similar phrase) c) the word "deployed" helps to
> limit out the "coast guard missions" or whatever (maybe "forward deployed"
> would be even better?) d) ultimately, the aff has to withdraw troops from a
> place where there's an advocate to do so--the need for an advantage will
> limit out some of the very small fears.
> here's one definition of the word "deployed," just from dictionary.com:
> "To position (troops) in readiness for combat, as along a front or line."
> 2. neg cheating
> to some extent this is unavoidable of course, but i'll talk about some of
> the specific things you've mentioned. consult counterplans are a perennial
> plague, but in this case, a lot of them won't solve the case, and their net
> benefits are the reverse of the aff anyway. would japan accept a US
> withdrawal from asia? probably not, and if they did, it would seriously
> mess with the usual net benefit--the US-japan alliance. NATO? methinks
> they would say no, and if they said yes, same deal with the net benefit.
> russia would say yes, but the NATO-russia council would of course say "no,"
> as both the NAC and NRC operate based on consensus. also, even if one
> doesn't like consult counterplans, at least they make sense on this topic.
> it's pretty much the thing that consultation is intended for, so i don't
> think it would be the end of the world--there's definitely going to be
> evidence about the topic. probably about each individual aff.
> "redeploy without changing strategy" i think is not a concern either. the
> withdrawal of troops is an example of grand strategy--if the plan only did
> this, and so did the counterplan, it wouldn't compete; if the plan did more
> than this, the c/p would be a pic and the aff would just have to win that
> the other parts of the plan were important. i think it's like "lift
> sanctions but don't constructively engage" on last year's topic. don't
> think you can do that. as for all the temporary c/ps/redeploy elsewhere
> etc. i think they either wouldn't solve the aff, wouldn't have net benefits,
> or would just be impossible. it takes a minute or two to redeploy, say,
> 100,000 troops from iraq. if we decided to send them to korea, it would
> take months. that's why we forward deploy in the first place. there might
> be evidence about this, and so i could be wrong, but i think it's either not
> there, or not good enough to beat the aff. "leave troops in this one place"
> will probably not compete--most advocates of disengagement don't think we
> should disengage everywhere; most affs won't put "all forces" or whatever in
> their plan; the net benefit to it is probably the opposite of the aff; there
> are only so many of those places to begin with and the aff will probably be
> ready. the courts counterplan gets into a deference debate where there's at
> least literature (that, and a "that's crazy the world would explode" debate
> based on the courts dictating military strategy).
> 3. global u
> "global" uniqueness isn't global, actually--really just iraq. the "you
> surrender american hegemony" disad, for example, will not be made not-unique
> by iraq withdrawal. if the aff just withdrew from iraq and said that we
> were doing that anyway, it wouldn't really change grand strategy--it would
> only implement it. we're probably going to ramp up presence in afghanistan,
> too, so there's that. there will be theater disads unaffected by that too,
> like korea, japan, europe, and central asia. other things like chinese
> aggression, appeasement, and russian imperialism (ahem) will be unaffected
> by iraq probably, or at least good ev will exist to suggest that they are.
> it might mess with the politics disad. it's going to do that anyway,
> regardless of the topic. and i don't think politics will be the best disad
> on a topic that requires a military draw down.
> 4. too expansive
> this is something i've thought about, and it's definitely a concern for the
> wording, but not a fatal one i think. first, no matter what the aff does,
> they have to reduce US military deployments--bottom line. those are where
> the best disads come from. if they do stuff unrelated to that, the neg can
> easily pic out of it all. this realization i think will mean that affs
> don't do it in the first place. second, economic and diplomatic initiatives
> can plausibly be included in grand strategy--in fact, they usually are.
> there are narrower definitions though, like the one from robert art that
> distinguishes grand strategy from foreign policy by saying that all those
> other concerns are foreign policy, although (not in that quote) he
> acknowledges that the term is broad. as always seems to be the case, i
> believe that the narrowest possible interpretation will probably come to be
> accepted as the orthodox one. i hope no one poops their pants over this,
> but i don't think that having a lot of aff plan possibilities is so bad
> anyway. i'd kind of prefer it, as long as some central theme pulls it all
> together, which in this case it does.
> something else about this that i think deserves saying. i got a lot of
> backchannels last year before the tragic defeat of the russia topic (by
> nazis? most probably, yes) where people made fun of me for talking about the
> critical arguments possible on that topic, because no one defends the topic,
> or it's not a useful conceptual category, or "k teams" don't matter, or
> bite me.
> the critical ground on the grand strategy topic is, in my opinion, very
> strong. i'll leave aside the low-hanging fruit of imperialism, orientalism,
> militarism, capitalism, nuclearism, and many, many others. the aff gets to
> reduce US military deployment, so the lukewarm K affs could be excellent.
> "grand strategy" allows all sorts of interesting things, like military
> humanitarianism, that have solid critical defenses. affs that don't want to
> defend a plan but instead do something more radical have great
> opportunities. you get to say the military is bad. seriously. it's even
> topical. there's a section in "metaphors we live by" by lakoff and johnson
> (if i'm remembering this correctly) about the way that "strategic" and
> military metaphors are used in debate--just one of many ways that one could
> use reference to this topic to make broader statements about the debate
> "community," if one wished to. the neg critique ground is similarly
> strong--layne, gholz, press, and a variety of others who are the chief
> advocates of these affs are also offensive realists. the usual mush of
> dillon, shapiro, tickner, and ashley cards, the plagues of generic critique
> debates, are now directly relevant. trust me, they will make more sense
> when they actually link to the aff. there will be an impact. it will
> relate to the case. i'm in favor of that simply on the grounds that we will
> be applying opposed arguments to each other in ways that make sense and for
> which they were intended. not everyone is going to be happy, but then
> again, not everyone ever will. this topic is better than most in that
> regard. there might not be something for everyone, but it could be a whole
> lot worse.
> it could be courts.
> On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 11:11 PM, Dylan Keenan <dylan.keenan at gmail.com>wrote:
>> I like this topic idea ---- the impact lit is already fun, and would be
>> made better when it central to the topic (although ME seems to disprove this
>> a bit. How were people still getting away with Steinbach generic ME war goes
>> nuclear when it was pre Iraq). I agree with Calum that a lot of heg debates
>> are kind of shallow. Part of the problem is that the debate often ends with
>> "heg inevitable ? we just make the US good at it/make the world hate us
>> less" ---- this topic seems like, if well debated, it could avoid some of
>> I do have a few thoughts/concerns
>> 1) Can we stick the term grand strategy with any enforceable
>> meaning? That is, what is to stop the aff from say getting US security out
>> of Nigeria (not sure if we actually have military personel there) or
>> withdrawing from the Arctic, or stopping coast guard good will missions to X
>> country and nothing else. I get that the term grand strategy is a term of
>> art, and is designed to deal with this. I also know that terms like "energy
>> policy" or "constructive engagement" which are designed to make affs do
>> something significant frequently devolve to the minimum and nothing more.
>> Given the idiocy the neg gets away with these days something like that is
>> perhaps necessary but still, it is a concern because small affs ALWAYS
>> reduce the quality of debate.
>> 2) Conversely, I think we should center a lot of the topic
>> discussion around how the neg will try to cheat and write the topic to
>> prevent that. Is it possible people will have a counterplan to redeploy
>> without changing grand strategy (basically do the plan under a different
>> name). To have host countries force the US out? Use temporary redeployment
>> to other areas? Consult CP is a concern that always arises. Since the
>> supreme court doesn't set grand strategy a courts CP may be used with some
>> stupid self serving justification like "tests grand strategy" ? or con/con
>> or amendment ? all that trash. And some possibly legit PICS (offshore
>> balancing except one brigade at one port which is at risk of terrorism).
>> 3) Global link U questions will come up. Obama is gonna wind down in
>> Iraq. I don't want to hear a year of "drawdown now" = no link uniqueness.
>> 4) Is the topic a bit too expansive on the mechanisms besides
>> military power. That Layne def. mentions economic power. Is this basically
>> sanctions or trade policy as well?
>> A few pluses:
>> 1) Advantage innovation. I think that is a big problem this year. I doubt
>> it would be when you have the whole military, planet, and economy to play
>> 2) I bet there are cards about the importance of a public statement
>> shifting US strategy for states as well as non-state actors. That might help
>> deal with negative BS counterplans
>> 3) Big impact debates on a lot of different impacts = good for outweighing
>> On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 11:28 PM, Calum Matheson <u.hrair at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> This isn't really a reply to Dr. Glass, but just an explanation of why I
>>> suggested the phrase "grand strategy." I'm certainly open to alternative
>>> "Strategy" can be defined to narrowly--a military strategy, as opposed to
>>> a grand strategy, may be defined as a plan to accomplish a particular
>>> military objective. Grand strategy can be defined as a broader policy, by
>>> the civilian leadership, fitting the use of force into an overall plan to
>>> achieve American objectives. I want the aff to be able to do things other
>>> than simply reduce US deployed forces--offshore balancing for example--and
>>> be able to make the requisite changes in force structure, etc. The phrase
>>> "military strategy" is properly used (according to some narrow definitions)
>>> only to describe land forces (so JFC Fuller was a military strategist, for
>>> example, as opposed to Alfred Thayer Mahan, a naval strategist).
>>> "Doctrine" was also not what I was looking for, although I intend to
>>> explore it as a separate area within the broader topic. It is my
>>> understanding that this describes a set of rules or procedures governing the
>>> conduct of the military. So Operation Gericht (the WWI German operation
>>> around Verdun, 1916) was an "operation," the "strategy" was attrition, but
>>> the "grand strategy" was the overall German plan to dominate continental
>>> Europe (presumably for the purposes of evil, knowing them). I could
>>> certainly be wrong about this (the terms, not the intent of Germany to do
>>> Is anyone interested in this topic willing to suggest (directly to me, if
>>> you wish) alternate terms? "Grand strategy" is not meant to be the primary
>>> limiting term, but rather to allow the aff to include broad changes in force
>>> deployment. The "reduce deployment" part is supposed to be the primary
>>> Some examples of how "grand strategy" is used:
>>> Christopher Layne uses it to describe a policy of offshore balancing,
>>> including the end of large-scale forward deployment (in "The Peace of
>>> Illusions," for example).
>>> This is Robert Art, in "A Grand Strategy for America:"
>>> "Grand strategy, like foreign policy, deals with the momentous choices
>>> that a nation makes in foreign affairs, but it differs from foreign policy
>>> in one fundamental respect. To define a nation's foreign policy is to
>>> lay out the full range of goals that a state should seek in the world and
>>> then determine how all the instruments of statecraft?political power,
>>> military power, economic power, ideological power?should be integrated and
>>> employed with one another to achieve those goals. Grand strategy, too,
>>> deals with the full range of goals that a state should seek, but it
>>> concentrates primarily on how the military instrument should be employed to
>>> achieve them. It prescribes how a nation should wield its military
>>> instrument to realize its foreign policy goals."
>>> On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 9:44 PM, David Glass <gacggc at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> hmm I'd just get rid of the words "grand strategy to"
>>>> grand is obv problematic
>>>> a strategy need not be implement even if its purpose is to do something
>>>> so consider:
>>>> Resolved: The United States Federal Government should significantly
>>>> reduce its overseas military deployment.
>>>> On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 5:14 PM, Calum Matheson <u.hrair at gmail.com>
>>>> > I may or may not work on a Russia topic, but I'm interested in another
>>>> > too, about US military policy.
>>>> > I'm thinking about something like this:
>>>> > Resolved: The United States Federal Government should adopt a grand
>>>> > significantly reducing its overseas military deployment.
>>>> > Topical affs would include offshore balancing, various incarnations of
>>>> > selective engagement, strict isolationism, and more radical options
>>>> > discontinue the war on terrorism, disband the military, and so on.
>>>> > advantage areas would include terrorism and proliferation of course,
>>>> > also (in my opinion) a much more nuanced discussion of military power
>>>> > that to which we have recently been accustomed.
>>>> > The advantages wouldn't all be about hegemony, but it has bothered me
>>>> > some time now how often we talk about that, and how rarely actual
>>>> > is involved, and how shallow our discussions must necessarily be when
>>>> > neither side can actually change the way military force is used, as
>>>> > to the simple level of its power.
>>>> > I'd like to include a version with a non-US actor, something like
>>>> > Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially
>>>> > one or more of its operational doctrines.
>>>> > "Operational doctrine" is a term of art that would create a somewhat
>>>> > different focus for the topic than the US-only resolution above. I'm
>>>> > sure what I think about international actor resolutions yet, but there
>>>> > to be some interest. I like the idea of NATO as an actor: the c/p
>>>> ground is
>>>> > particularly interesting (US or EU, with multilateralism, burden
>>>> > and EU defense as extremely well-developed net benefits/disads), and
>>>> > avoids the most common objection that I've heard to these topics,
>>>> > that there is insufficient advocacy literature in English.
>>>> > I've already done a fair amount of research on this, especially the
>>>> > that might be included, although the resolutions above are very much
>>>> > preliminary ones. Anyone who is interested in
>>>> > helping/criticizing/questioning/attacking me without clogging the
>>>> > tubes should feel free to contact me at u.hrair at gmail.com.
>>>> > Calum
>>>> > _______________________________________________
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>>> eDebate mailing list
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>> Dylan Keenan
>> Debate Coach
>> Barkley Forum
>> Emory University
>> dylan.keenan at gmail.com
> eDebate mailing list
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