[eDebate] Possible Topic Area

Calum Matheson u.hrair
Tue Dec 23 11:47:36 CST 2008

just a few more things about the term "grand strategy" in reaction (not
necessarily opposition) to JT.

1. i think that obama's inaugural address will probably not define it.  the
US national security statement probably defines american grand strategy more
so than a particular presidential speech, since it is supposed to be the
guiding document for american policy overall, and the president doesn't
really define US strategy alone.

2. the second part of my example resolution ("reducing its overseas
deployments") is supposed to be the real limit on the topic.  "grand
strategy" just allows the aff to do some extra things to access the best
literature advocating new force postures.  i like the idea that the term is
quite broad, and that real T debates about it are possible, because the
requirement of reducing troop deployments puts serious limits on the aff's
ability to cheat.  this is like constructive engagement--it meant very
little, but the security guarantee/aid part limited the aff.  constructive
engagement just let the aff access the best solvency, like grand bargain.
so when jt says he found authors who define grand strategy broadly, and we
should include a term to limit it, i think this resolution does that.  if
you withdraw troops from korea, europe, and the middle east, but then also
put sanctions on sudan, you're not going to win.

3. this idea is obviously still embryonic, so i might include some stuff in
the paper about focusing the topic on particular regions, but at this stage
i oppose it.  the purpose of "grand strategy" is to focus debates about
military strategic decisions at the highest level, ideally multi-theater
changes that alter the disposition of forces broadly.  this is, i think, is
the most interesting aspect of the topic.  we have a lot of area topics, but
we have very few with the scope of "grand strategy."  there aren't a million
affs, but the ones that do exist have powerful solvency evidence, huge
advantages, and lots of negative ground.  this minimizes "global uniqueness"
and provides the best access to the kind of debates that motivated me to
propose this topic, namely, debates about fundamental strategy and the
(un)desirability of american world power.


On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:10 AM, J T <jtedebate at yahoo.com> wrote:

> 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
> 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.
> 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
> 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.
> 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.
> 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?
> 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
>>> >
>>> > _______________________________________________
>>> > eDebate mailing list
>>> > eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
>>> > http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
>>> >
>> _______________________________________________
>> eDebate mailing list
>> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
>> http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
> --
> Dylan Keenan
> Debate Coach
> Barkley Forum
> Emory University
> dylan.keenan at gmail.com
> _______________________________________________
> eDebate mailing list
> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
> http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/attachments/20081223/7e2c8ecd/attachment.htm 

More information about the Mailman mailing list