[eDebate] Possible Topic Area

J T jtedebate
Tue Dec 23 11:10:46 CST 2008

Dylan expresses a few valid concerns....

--- On Mon, 12/22/08, Dylan Keenan <dylan.keenan at gmail.com> wrote:
From: Dylan Keenan <dylan.keenan at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Possible Topic Area
To: "Calum Matheson" <u.hrair at gmail.com>
Cc: edebate at www.ndtceda.com
Date: Monday, December 22, 2008, 9:11 PM

I do have a few thoughts/concerns 

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.

I think some of this is inevitable...and idiocy.? But I would like a topic with decent T ground.? The Supreme Court topic proved this can be accomplished without massively unpredictable ground.? 

I think different modifiers might limit out these small cases.? Identifying specific areas (middle east for example) has been mentioned as a possibility...but perhaps identifying the end goal would work.? Some of the contextual lit after 9/11 identified anti-terrorism...so defining the agenda for the "grand strategy" might offer some limits

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.

True.? The inaugural address could very well define Obama's "Grand Strategy"? This could be in vague terms (like Bush's anti-terrorism rhetoric)...that's a wait-and-see situation.? There would have to be a way to limit out things like Iraq.? Undoubtedly, Obama will mark a change from Bush's grand strategy (oppression).? However, Obama also wants to increase troop deployment to Afghanistan.

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?

I found several authors that described "grand strategy" in vague terms, including military deployment, values, trade, etc.? One or more of these things could be included as a modifier, i.e. defining the agenda of that strategy.? I am definitely against a trade mechanism, but that might be inherent in the term

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 with


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 disads.

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 suggestions.

"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 evil).

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 limit.

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> wrote:

> I may or may not work on a Russia topic, but I'm interested in another one

> too, about US military policy.


> I'm thinking about something like this:

> Resolved: The United States Federal Government should adopt a grand strategy

> significantly reducing its overseas military deployment.


> Topical affs would include offshore balancing, various incarnations of

> selective engagement, strict isolationism, and more radical options like

> discontinue the war on terrorism, disband the military, and so on. Policy

> advantage areas would include terrorism and proliferation of course, but

> also (in my opinion) a much more nuanced discussion of military power than

> that to which we have recently been accustomed.


> The advantages wouldn't all be about hegemony, but it has bothered me for

> some time now how often we talk about that, and how rarely actual strategy

> is involved, and how shallow our discussions must necessarily be when

> neither side can actually change the way military force is used, as opposed

> to the simple level of its power.


> I'd like to include a version with a non-US actor, something like this:

> Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially change

> 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 not

> sure what I think about international actor resolutions yet, but there seems

> 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 sharing,

> and EU defense as extremely well-developed net benefits/disads), and it

> avoids the most common objection that I've heard to these topics, namely

> that there is insufficient advocacy literature in English.


> I've already done a fair amount of research on this, especially the terms

> 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 electronic

> tubes should feel free to contact me at u.hrair at gmail.com.


> Calum


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Dylan Keenan
Debate Coach
Barkley Forum

Emory University
dylan.keenan at gmail.com

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