[eDebate] grand strategy v. national security

Josh jbhdb8
Wed Dec 24 16:01:44 CST 2008

I was not saying that I think this makes the topic a bad topic...Honestly
just thinking it through....I think being able to prove it has to be a
multi-theater reduction is pretty important because the likelihood of change
x personnell in one engagement to smaller numbers of y personnell cases will
be really hard to beat (if multi-theater is not hard-wired into the

In many cases things in the category of RMA or Modernization or New
Tech inherently are designed to retire larger numbers so while you are right
that the aff would also have to decrease numbers - thats really not much of
a check.


On Wed, Dec 24, 2008 at 2:33 PM, Calum Matheson <u.hrair at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm obviously not given to brief responses, so I apologize.  The first,
> really long, section is about defining "grand strategy" and some of the
> alternatives.  The next section is about what the topic is supposed to be,
> and dealing more with ground and strategic (in a debate sense) things.
> I: Defining "grand strategy"
> "National Security Strategy" does not, I think, solve the problems with
> "grand strategy," and in fact may create more of them.  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.  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 "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."
> 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.
> Also, I think it's a mistake to think of "grand" and "national" just as
> adjectives that modify "strategy."  It should be apparent now that these are
> all extensively-debated terms of art, so it's a mistake to break the terms
> apart.  I didn't want to include the adjective "grand," but rather to make
> the topic about "grand strategy," which is a different conceptual category,
> not just "strategy that is grand."
> Here's some definitional stuff about NSS:
> First, there are definitions that make it indistinct from "grand
> strategy."  Here's what the DoD has to say:
> "National strategy
> The art and science of developing and using the diplomatic, economic, and
> informational powers of a nation, together with its armed forces, during
> peace and war to secure national objectives. Also called national security
> strategy or grand strategy. "
> (Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms)
> The "Dictionary of Modern Strategy and Tactics" also says that the three
> terms are equivalent.
> Second, there are definitions that define "National Security Strategy" as a
> broader concept than "grand strategy."  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.
> Here's a discussion about the two terms by Terry Deibel:
> "[M]any writers on grand strategy go even further, putting the connection
> of strategy with war in second place and arguing that strategic thinking
> should be applied to the whole field of national security...All the
> instruments of state power were included...grand strategy thus became
> nearly synonymous with a much newer term, "national security strategy,"
> defined by a congressional panel as "the art and science of employing and
> using the political, economic, and psychological powers of a nation,
> together with its armed forces, during peace and war, to secure national
> objectives."  Today, in fact, most writers on *grand* strategy use that
> term in ways that cannot be distinguished from that definition of *national
> security* strategy."  (Italics in original)
> So some writers use "grand strategy" imprecisely to mean something much
> broader, namely "national security strategy."  Deibel thinks it should be
> narrower, and be applied only to military aims:
> "This study argues that the term "grand strategy" should be reserved for
> the use to which Liddell Hart put it, that is, to represent the broadest
> planning for and the conduct of war; encompassing all the policy
> instruments, nonmilitary as well as military; tailoring them to meet the
> political goals of the state; and considering how the conduct of hostilities
> will affect the peace to follow.  This definition of grand strategy is not
> in accord with its usage in much recent literature, however, because it
> deliberately excludes the efforts of a nation to maintain security while at
> peace.  Those will be included here in the term "national security
> strategy," limited to goals that have mainly to do with the protection of
> the nation's physical security against attack ? presumably the most
> important area of the national interest, but far from the only one with
> which strategic thinking should deal.  National security strategy would
> thus include grand strategy properly defined, with the latter operating
> within the former when the nation is at war and the two becoming less and
> less distinguishable to the extent that the war becomes total (see Figure
> 1.1.)."
> This may also deal with some other objections, such as the "PIC out of
> changing C/P" which I will discuss in more detail below.  "Grand strategy"
> is only a plan for wartime--the status quo qualifies certainly--where as
> once war ends, the same ideas and directives become "national security
> strategy."  I think this means that the aff doesn't have to defend that the
> plan ties the hands of all future administrations forever.
> Here's some ev that "strategy" should be limited to military action (Colin
> Gray):
> "strategy is?about the threat and use of force for political reasons."
> And...
> ""it is important to keep the meaning of strategy clear and relatively
> narrow?my own strong preference?is for the meaning of strategy and strategic
> to be confined to the more restricted and clearest of the uses specified by
> Clausewitz.  Strategy is about the threat or use of force for the
> political purpose of the war."
> More evidence that "grand strategy" means military changes--perhaps
> narrower still (Lars Skalnes, crazy Nordic punctuation omitted):
> "American scholars in the decades after World War II increasingly adopted a
> narrow conception of grand strategy and concentrated most of their attention
> on the purely military instruments available to great powers. Foreign
> economic policy was consigned to the realm of low politics?Posen's commonly
> cited definition of *grand strategy* as a "political-military means-ends
> chain" (1984, 13) implies a narrow conception of grand strategy.  He and
> others have completely ignored economic means."
> "Mearsheimer?defines *grand strategy* as "the relationship between
> military means and international commitments."
> There are a bunch of footnotes here too--I don't have them yet, but that
> suggests you've got a lot more potential cards out there.
> 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.  As above, "national security strategy" uses the word also
> in a peacetime sense, so it could potentially allow smaller affs as well as
> all of the broader, grand strategic ones.  Here's a card about grand
> strategy vs. operational strategy:
> "Strategy  A military term that denotes a long-term plan, to be
> distinguished from 'tactics' which relates to conduct of battles. 'Theartre
> strategy' refers to planning in a particular theatre of war, while 'grand
> strategy' is concerned with military logistics and continental or world
> war."
> II: Counterplans, etc.
> Okay.  Here's the part about counterplan concerns and debate-strategic
> stuff.
> First, the phrase "grand strategy" will be in one of the resolutions I
> write about, and I currently favor it, but I'll suggest alternatives too.
> Everyone seems to be forgetting the "reduce overseas deployments" part.  If
> you write an aff to reauthorize the Crusader program (or whatever), it might
> be small and unpredictable...but you also have to fiat a troop withdrawal.
> "Counterplan: reauthorize Crusader" solves that aff.  This is like
> constructive engagement on the old sanctions topic (I'm old, yeah,
> whatever).  You could do anything that was "constructive engagement" but you
> also had to lift sanctions, meaning that if the plan had two parts, you had
> to have an advocate for doing both together.  Those didn't really exist.
> Similarly, "grand strategy" allows you to do a lot of things, but you won't,
> because the neg will PIC out of them.
> Second, "grand strategy" is a limiting term in some important ways, based
> on the definitions above (and others).  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.
> Third, about this "do the plan but don't change strategy" thing.
> a) I'm yet to hear what the net benefit to this is, or have anyone provide
> a single link card.
> b) This is partly why I like the term "grand strategy." There are plenty of
> cards that describe American grand strategy, and even say that it is usually
> defined by the NSS (or NMS even).  But this doesn't mean that the aff
> necessarily has to change that document--the terms "national security
> strategy" or even "national strategy" probably require that, but grand
> strategy may not.  The definition by Robert Art is really important
> here--grand strategy is the plan for how American military assets will be
> employed to accomplish a goal--it is not necessarily the goal itself.  The
> aff is not required to change the NSS to create a change in American grand
> strategy, although there are certainly cards that say that would be
> involved.  There is thus a debate about whether the counterplan competes,
> but less of a debate about whether this elusive "change strategy disad"
> links.
> c) I'll use an analogy to this current topic, indisputably the best
> soybean-related topic we've ever had.  No one reads a PIC to just eliminate
> subsidies without changing agricultural policy.  Few teams even put
> "agricultural policy" in the plan.  Similarly, most plans about strategy
> would be something like this:  "The United States Federal Government should
> significantly reduce it's overseas military deployments and employ its
> forces for a offshore balancing."  The aff can say that this amounts to
> adopting a new grand strategy, but they don't have to put the phrase in
> their plan--the "normal means" for doing the plan entails revisions of many
> US planning documents, but it would be tough to write a counterplan to avoid
> this.  The idea that the NSS officially defines US grand strategy is not
> legally true--it is just usually the case.  I haven't yet found a card
> saying that changing grand strategy requires changing the NSS, just that the
> NSS is usually interpreted as a statement defining current grand strategy.
> Here's the important part: "grand strategy" might *allow* the aff to do
> things that are broader than military deployment changes, but it might not
> *require* them to do these things.
> d) The "restricted to military means" interpretation may mean you don't
> have to change this document.  The controversial parts of the NSS are mostly
> the goals, not the means, which under the Art interpretation above, you
> probably don't have to change--this is also the most limiting interpretation
> of the topic, so that's probably good.  The aff could easily say that it
> changes the NMS, or that changes in either document are a result of the
> plan, not the action of it.  This is the advantage of using a term, like
> grand strategy, that is meaningful, but not tied to a very specific legal
> mechanism.  You can read link cards to the NSS disad (if it's out there),
> but you can't really read the NSS PIC.
> Finally, Josh Hoe:  yes, the topic allows the aff to make US forces more
> effective.  The aff can abolish the military or whatever, but the topic will
> mostly be about what strategies are useful.  It's not the "reduce American
> power" topic, it's the "adopt a new strategy" topic.  The aff can definitely
> do either, but the primary disad to the second ("you hurt American power,
> that's bad") applies to the first--and you don't even have to read a link.
> Also, the aff could do RMA, etc., but they still have to defend a troop
> withdrawal, so you could PIC out of the withdrawal part if the aff did
> something minor, as explained above.
> Calum
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