[eDebate] In Defense of 3

Matt Struth mstruth
Thu Jul 9 13:18:15 CDT 2009

This post will serve to defend topic three as the best choice for next
year?s topic, and will provide reasons why the two alternatives should be
less preferred. Thanks to Josh and others for getting the ball rolling on
topic discussion.

Resolution 1 reads ?Resolved: The United States Federal Government should
substantially change its nuclear posture to be more consistent with its
nuclear disarmament commitments.?

We?re worried this resolution is missing words. Nuclear disarmament
commitments to whom? There is no limiting term of art in the resolution to
answer this conundrum. While we appreciate that sometimes a little vagueness
is good for T debates, we think this goes beyond being a little vague to
being a giant structural flaw. If this rez said ?nuclear disarmament
commitments under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty? we might be more in
tune with this resolution. Without that though, 1 allows virtually anything
(maybe posture is a limiting word, but I doubt it).

One last thing before looking at two- if you have ever liked the option of
going for T against a K aff, vote 3. I?m sure there are debaters salivating
at the prospect of going for ?the USFG has disarmament commitments to me and
other citizens,? but personally this scares me. As someone who was always a
fan of predictable limits, I found comfort knowing I could usually beat the
arg that the colon means the rez is about we debaters not the government.
Resolution 1 justifies a slew of ridiculous K affs.

Resolution 2 reads ?Resolved: The United States Federal Government should
substantially reduce the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal, and/or
substantially reduce and restrict the role and/or missions of its nuclear
weapons arsenal.?

Unlike Sears, we tend to view this resolution as more unlimiting than three,
and as having no common ground to tie the aff to, or at best similar ground
as what is provided under topic 3. Sears argues that it provides better
healthy t debates which can adjust the scope of the resolution. However,
missions functionally makes everything topical under three topical under
two. The following is taken from the topic blog:
?What is a "nuclear mission"? A specific task for a nuclear weapon, unlike a
"goal" like deterrence or a "role" like deterring an enemy or supporting an
ally. A mission would be to eliminate a target or to be survivable when our
arsenal is under attack or fire back when attacked, etc. Federation of
American Scientists wrote in 2005 a report called "Missions for American
Nuclear Weapons After the Cold War." It is definitely a term of art; the DoD
writes about the missions of their nuclear weapons.
I returned to the list of wanted affs. My current tentative wording is very
short. Quantitative cuts are clearly a reduction in missions. We might still
have a broad goal or role of deterring Russia, but targeting and other
missions would be restricted. Minimum deterrence (restricting counter-force)
is explicitly cited in the paper. Going to zero eliminates missions
altogether. Alert status and NFU would both restrict the mission to
surviving a nuclear attack and responding. There's good contextual evidence
for that.
KUSWA: sometimes these articles say "missions" plural or the overarching
"mission" similar -- does this affect wording? MANCUSO: I prefer plurality
b/c it emphasizes the sense of a particular task. The singular "mission"
seems to be synonymous with "goal" or "role." One CSIS paper referred to
"the nuclear mission" again and again, speaking about deterrence. Plural
allows the aff to restrict things that are count-able and measurable. For
instance, if our goal/role/mission is to deter, does cutting our nuclear
weapons to 1000 lessen that "mission"? Not really, it's still our goal. The
CTBT would presumably reduce our credibility and would then be topical under
goal/role/mission, would the aff's credibility turns then make them
So missions plural allows us to get to tangible, countable entities. 2000
weapons targeted at Russia/China before, and 1000 after -- missions have
been reduced, no matter what the President's mindset or agenda is.?

Plank one ?substantially reduce the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal? is
functionally equivalent to plank 3 of topic three, and those T debates about
the size of the reduction will be the same under either topic.

Plank two ?and/or substantially reduce and restrict the role? has the same
funky wording problems that plank two of topic three has: role would include
deterrence postures, like NFU, and NWFZ that would have to also reduce the
role, much like ?reducing the use of its nuclear weapons? decrease in
operational readiness is also topical under this part.

Plank three ?and/or missions of its nuclear weapons?, allows for the smaller
disarm cases, as the topic committee discussed ?MANCUSO: cutting warheads
would reduce the number of missions? with the same modifier as plank one.
Plank three also allows for the Russia concern to be topical under the blog
discussion ?MANCUSO: SORT and treaties that required negotiation would limit
the mission of the arsenal if it includes development and production of
weapons?. It also means that the same bilateral discussion would be topical
under two. The CTBT part of topic three is arguably topical under topic
two?s 2nd and third planks, depending on how you look at it which, which may
support the ?T, is good you should debate it out claims?, but in large part
the community will likely determine that CTBT is topical.

In short, topic two concerns me, because it enables everything in topic
three to be topical, with the added vagueness of the term missions, which
the topic committee attempted to hammer out what it means, and seems like it
has no meaning. Good for T debates? Maybe, but good for people to understand
exactly what they are debating when they first look at the resolution?
Probably not.

Answering the criticisms of three:

1) Unity-?parts are accidental (the list isn?t bound by a common generic
theme) and certain parts of this topic are different enough to make a squad
looking for common generics to have problems. ?  Nick Brown, already did a
decent job answering this point, that all of the affs under res 3 have the
same advantage areas, which means you get the same ground on topic two or
three, with a more predictable list of what is and what isn?t topical. This
helps smaller schools and programs be more prepared for a variety of
debates, since it clearly lays out the aff ground. But isn?t it too
limiting? No- topic three still allows for the same creativity that topic 2
would allow while still making it slightly more limited.

2) Bad wording in declatory policy ?
We agree the wording to this plank is awkward. Josh says it is ?certainly
not using a term of art (already explained above why we think this ?links?
more to rez 1).? It?s probably true that reduce/restrict wasn?t the best
word combo. But there are definitions of reduce that allow this plank to
make sense, and contextual evidence about declatory policy will probably
help define the limits of this topic. Also, we?re not sure what the
implications of this criticism are- are you concerned this will make this
plank too limiting? Moreover the second plank of topic two seems to share a
similar problem, without much of the same concern.

3) ?The lost art of T debating?
There are a few things that should be pointed out here, first, no one loves
a good T / theory debate like I do, considering most of my strategic
arguments were ASPEC, Consult, or T. Malcom Gordon argued ?I LIKE the idea
that your skill can change the boundaries of the resolution.? Yes some of us
can love a good T debate, but let?s go even farther back in time, a great
great long-long ago, where there was lots of case debate. Topicality gives
debaters too much of a crutch to lean on, and I understand the need for it,
but topic three lets us engage in what we want to do, debate about the
merits of the plan, debate is supposed to improve our ability to make policy
decisions, not to help write the next Merriam Webster?s dictionary
definition.  We also disagree that lists outright limit good T debates,
remember the Middle East topic, where there were plenty of good QPQ good/bad
debates, nothing about a list inhibits those types of debates, rather the
list helps create a more narrow focus for smaller / newer schools to engage
the community.  We also don?t think that putting faith in judges to pull the
trigger on questionably topical aff?s is the way to go, as more and more the
community is defaulting to an interpretation of reasonability, rather than
competing interpretations, while most judges think that they are fairly
unbiased, do you really think you wouldn?t think the CTBT is reasonably
topical under topic 1 or 2?

I also don?t think 2 produces significantly better T debates, other than
debates over the terms: ?Role? ?And/or? ?missions?. That?s what I?m looking
forward to another year of the dumb debates over the meaning of the term
?and/or?. Yeah for a topic that has two of them?. Under topic three you
still get the T debates over the terms ?substantially reduce? which is in
both 2 and 3 versus ?substantially change? which is in 1, ?reduce? and
?restrict? both in 2, and ?operational readiness?

4) Russia and uniqueness. Josh and Nick have already pointed out this is
inevitable.  Russia is probably topical under 2 and definitely topical under
1. 3 is potentially (and probably) the most limiting in regards to Russia,
because it spells out what you have to do. Malgor says ?CEDA nationals on
the China topic came down to "pressure now." Is that what we want again? A
whole year of Observation 4 nuclear agreements now?? It?s too late. When we
voted for a relevant topic, we guaranteed this. Obama is changing nuclear
posture. This affects every rez. Bigger picture: why are we hating on aff
ground? Generic non-uniques aren?t even the beginning of a check on the
ridiculous things we let negs do. Also, read specific links: generic
non-uniques won?t matter if you don?t read generic links.

Nick Brown says ?I have seen at least 10 articles  that say "if we go any
lower than what we just agreed to, we're in big  trouble." And there's
always the uniqueness CP and the unilat CP. In my mind there's a big
difference in capping the number of nukes at 1600 and capping  the number of
nukes at less than 1,000, and I believe there is plenty of ev  in the lit to
back that up.? We agree completely. Our research backs this up too. I
personally think the Russia deal makes neg ground better (once/if it happens
in December) because the link ground for ?below 1,000? is so much better
than 1,000-1,6000.

Minor modifications: The Russia plank says ?Negotiation and implementation
of a bilateral agreement with Russia that at least includes a substantial
reduction in nuclear weapons.? That means after the deal, under rez three,
you have to have ANOTHER ROUND OF CUTS. We?re pretty sure that?s not a minor
repair- that actually requires the aff to do something daring and powerful
with regards to US nuclear posture. It?s also the reason rez 3 is best for
dealing with this Russia business.

And does everyone forget about ?Solvency Advocates?? any aff that negotiates
a bilateral treaty with Russia will have to win that Russia will accept that
treaty, and most of the things Russia wants are things the US doesn?t want,
like restrictions on NMD, TNW?s, Iran policy, nato enlargement, things which
there are great negative arguments for. Furthermore, the negotiations will
likely be long and complicated, making it hard to win that Russia says yes.
However, there will be a time when the treaty has been negotiated but not
implemented, topic three has the better shot at limiting those affs, because
of the phrase ?negotiate and implement? an aff to just implement won?t
?negotiate?, giving better T ground for the neg under the third topic.

-Matt Struth and Nick Ryan

(if anything in this post doesn't make sense, we each blame the other
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