[eDebate] Counterplan Competition

Richard A. Garner richardgarner
Thu Jan 17 09:31:16 CST 2008

I like some of what Hester's saying here a bit better, insofar as it draws
its principle of exclusion from the nature of the topic vision it starts
from. However, I don't think it quite succeeds if I understand it correctly
(and I think I agree with Tripp, though I'm still processing what he said).
Hester said that:

> "in this framework, the above CPs are competitive. the following would not
> be:
> a CP to have the US offer more.
> a CP to require less of the recipient country."
But this would seem to negate the single argument I have heard most often as
a ground defense on QPQ, i.e. the Unconditional CP, as it asks for less from
the recipient country.  Surely, this is germane to a vision of the topic
which assumes that CE = QPQ.

> I thus firmly disagree that "competition should be decided through net
> benefits, not abstract, formalist concerns". It needs to be decided through
> both, using first abstract concerns and then net benefits. To say otherwise
> is actually to assert that many counterplans which add to the plan, even
> more clearly then the unconditional counterplan are competitive because
> people realize that the two can be done as distinct actions and thus write
> to compare them. In truth I think most of the community already accepts a
> formal logic standard to some degree when evaluating competition. The idea
> that a legitimate permutation includes "all of the plan action" is such a
> line. Most judges to my knowledge believe if the best policy at the end of
> the debate includes all of the plan action then the affirmative should win.
I think that this still falls within the purview of Tripp's formal
abstraction critique. The very purpose of conceiving of the topic vis CE =
QPQ is to recenter the topic onto the grounds of discussing international
diplomacy and negotiation, much as we see going on with Iran, the US, and
the EU over the last few years (as opposed to a topic that includes
substantive reversal of policy stances by the U.S., say from good governance
in Afghanistan to autonomous development (I made that up, but it's

Considering what the educational heart of the topic seems to be under this
vision, traditional debate conceptions of all of the plan do not function
for this topic. Normally, it is assumed that the affirmative plan happens
immediately and definitely. That is not the case here, because many in the
community want it to not be; on any other topic, a plan with such a
condition in it would lose and lose often on (T). For a CE = QPQ topic, the
saliency of negotiation becomes the heart of the literature. It seems that
to conclude otherwise, one would need to previously negate the idea that QPQ
= heart of topic for the very same reasons. And, Tripp's argument aside,
Hester's 'harder bargain' standard meets Dylan's criterion, is both logical
and based in the literature, and includes 'all of the plan' in the final
action. There's also a CP competition question for Dylan's interpretation,
which is highlighted below.

> One last quick point, is that I think we may also have different
> conceptions of what an offer means. I think the affirmative has to defend
> only what basically amounts to a statement of the plan withinin earshot of
> Iran. It isn't an 'offer' in the sense of formal negotiators presenting it
> as a first step. At the core the only thing that has to happen is an effort
> to make Iran aware of the fact that "Their doing Y will cause the US to do
> X". The most accurate description of the plan is a statement of a
> contingency (If Y?) not a formal negotiation move, AND if the affirmative
> presents it that way, you shouldn't get to read negotiation literature onto
> it.

That would mean that there is absolutely no competition for CPs except for
running disadvantages off of the offer itself, which obviates any in-depth
discussion into the intricacies of diplomacy, or supposes that we should
exclude CPs that compete off of the question of the substantive policies
such a discussion proposes, obviating the primary negative strategy in
contemporary debate. If one's vision of the topic excludes CPs that can
compete off the salient educational question, then it's probably untenable
to be negative. It probably also doesn't meet the core gesture of CE,

Yes, I think that means most of these CPs are competitive. But I also think
that's a necessary outcome of a vision of the topic that centers it on
discussing the intricacies of engagement and negotiation in international
political relations, especially the subset the topic deals with. Ultimately,
this should drive affirmatives to the best combination of carrots and
sticks, narrowing the number of cases (five isn't necessarily bad), and
promoting a depth of preparation for these types of CPs.
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