[eDebate] Beware the Ideas of.....July?

Paul Johnson paulj567
Tue Jul 7 22:58:47 CDT 2009

I don't necessarily think 2 is the most limiting of the resolutions. Perhaps it seems to be so, if we maintain a very limited understanding of what counts as a reduction and a restriction (the first term being, I think, quite I bit more stable than the second). Perhaps there is an element of "term of artness" that has missed me.

But under 2, what counts as a restriction on a role or mission is not explicitly stipulated. Moreover, the topic committee explicitly listed one of its criterion for topic selection as "multilateralism", and, it seems, part of why people seem so excited for this topic is because its time for "the Aff to rise again". With those two understandings in hand, under resolution two we are looking at a fairly large list of actions that could easily include multilateral actions, and perhaps more multilateral actions than are present under resolutions one and three. After all, both of those resolutions at least limit multilateralism to Russia. On the other hand, if multilateral agreements constitute a sort of restriction on the role and mission of nuclear weapons (raise your hand if you think we'll debate the CTBT under resolution two), then under resolution 2 we're looking at multilateral/bilateral agreements with countries besides Russia. In backchannel, Will
 pointed out to me that the committee thought about a bilateral cuts aff with China, but decided it wasn't very good. Probably true, but how many not so good affs have nevertheless been written and then tormented teams all year because only a few teams ran it, and so it proceeded unmolested throughout the year just under the radar screen? How many other proposals are out there for this sort of thing (NWFZ's, additional IAEA protocols, etc)? 

I am trying to think of what happened the last time we had a fairly vague resolution and the way the community T policing went down. I recsontructed briefly the following history:

Subsidies- it was fairly clear what was called for here. Minimal T debating.

Middle East- fairly healthy debate over the meaning of constructive engagement, eventually the community settled on some sort of QPQ standard but intelligent holdouts argued both that the QPQ could be more expansive than envisioned and also that a QPQ was not necessary.

Courts- fairly straightforward. Overrule was a bad word for debate, but not for the T side of things--it was fairly straightforward.

China- another year where the topic didn't end up being great for the aff, but where it was fairly clear that the aff needed to be mean to china and the neg could be nice to them. opportunities for interventions to expand what counted as "pressure" ie the EASA aff met with limited success. I thought it was sort of crazy that NU DD's aff that basically erected an economic alliance against China could lose on T, though. Substantial was in some ways the most important word on this resolution by the end of the year. being aff wasn't that fun, though "pressure now" helped.

Energy- Ahhh! A true bellwether. On this topic, we had "reduce fossil fuel consumption". Aside from the burden mixing problem which resulted in teams just shoehorning caps into their plan text, the aff was given fairly wide latitude to do stuff because the resolution wasn't framed around a proper term of art. Good topic, though. Unless you were aff.

So actually, the past doesn't tell us much, except that when terms of art are vague/imprecise, the aff may get some latitude as long as they agree to always do some things.

IF you think that Topic 2 is the most limiting resolution, you have faith in judges to vote on T and negative teams to police affs. While the Indian Country topic was not the best topic ever in many ways, one thing you can say about it is that the T cards were pretty clear about what counted as increasing federal control. I am not so sure that we will have such a brightline this upcoming year. 

Interesting stuff.



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