[eDebate] missions

tcram tcram
Sat Jul 11 16:10:15 CDT 2009

I write this as a resolution 3 agnostic who is simultaneously worried about this Russia business but also seriously disappointed at the final shape of resolution 2.  So I have a series of questions for Paul, though I invite any Rez 3 supporters to join in if they have any insights.

Is multilaterialism inevitable under any of the resolutions?  Topic 3 people say 'well at least we only get Russia. Topic 2 is bilateral accords with China, NWFZs, etc etc.'  If the wordings of 1 and 2 allow such shenanigans, why wouldn't planks 3 and 5 of Topic 3 allow it as well?  Saying 'those affs wouldn't be changes in posture' is confusing when the rez simultaneously suggests negotiated cuts with another country are topical.

What consequences do the words 'negotiate and implement' have in terms of the aff's relationship between solvency and topicality?  If Russia ultimately says no and the plan reverts to the status quo, is it an untopical affirmative because it did not achieve a change in nuclear posture (policies governing the role, mission, and size of the U.S. nuclear weapons
arsenal)?  Does the aff have to guarantee a deep cut on their side regardless of what Russia does?  Does the aff get to fiat Russian acceptance to get around these problems?  Is the aff bound to implement any changes Russia offers during the negotiation process?

What consequences do the words 'negotiate and implement' have in terms of counterplan competition?  'Offering' on the middle east created a mess for what we typically consider to be competitive 'plan-minus' counterplans.  To an extent, this was an interesting direction for debates because the topic was fundamentally concerned about diplomacy, but is this something we want to revisit as a subset of a much larger resolution with so much other stuff going on?  This also taps into whether there's really common ground on this topic beyond advantage areas (a very weak argument, as Malgor has shown).

Lastly, on this most recent question of whether the resolution is a syllogism (Malgor) or whether there is a governing phrase(Paul).  I really want Paul to be right about this because I think it would solve most of my concerns with the possible limits of Russia, but I'm struck by the vagueness of this statement: (PJ)"It says "at least" because there are numerous negotiating tactics and tools that relate to our nuclear posture. The topic committee probably wanted the resolution to reflect the literature (quite a notion, that!)."

What are these numerous tactics and tools that the US can offer that are both in the literature while also being limited to changes in nuclear posture?  If reflecting the literature is a virtue, why do you interpret a topic in a way that excludes the two most salient issues in US/Russia arms negotiations?  NATO expansion and NMD are both outside the scope of 'nuclear posture' in a definitional sense but are the core Russian concerns and is also the first things to roll of the tounges of anyone who is talking or writing about possible bilateral agreements with Russia.  It seems 'you gotta change posture' has taken on the figure of your much maligned 'you gotta have a cap.'

Just some questions.  Answer, clarify or ignore at your leisure.

-Travis Cram

-----Original Message-----
From: edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com on behalf of Paul Johnson
Sent: Sat 7/11/2009 10:56 AM
To: Malcolm Gordon
Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com
Subject: Re: [eDebate] missions


I appreciate your thoughtful response. However, we always assume that extra topicality is a crime. This is true of any resolution. Why would it not be true of this one?

The resolution says that negotiating and implementing a bilateral agreement that at least cuts is a way of changing our nuclear posture.

Of course it is! There is no other way to phrase this. It doesn't mean that you can add anything to Russia willy nilly. It says "at least" because there are numerous negotiating tactics and tools that relate to our nuclear posture. The topic committee probably wanted the resolution to reflect the literature (quite a notion, that!).

An aff that negotiated a deep cut, got russia to make a deep cut, and also stopped pressuring Russia on separatism or something would not be topical because we would make a deep cut (that changes our nuclear posture) and we'd stop giving Russia flak about ethnic separatism (thats not related to nuclear posture).

Your view holds the topic to be a commanding monolith, uttering absolute truth in the form of strict syllogism with a flaw:

US must change its nuclear posture
One way to do this is to negotiate an agreement with Russia that at least makes a deep cut in nuclear arms.
Therefore, any agreement with Russia that at least makes a deep cut is a change in nuclear posture.

But we have a missing middle term: that the intent of the resolution is to DEFINE "nuclear posture" as opposed to simply give an example.

Lets be clear: any agreement that results in a deep cut is, definitionally, a change in our nuclear posture. But the resolution says "change its nuclear posture" not "change its foreign policy towards russia". That is, the second statement does not DEFINE nuclear posture, it merely gives an example of a thing which is a change in nuclear posture, but does not exclusively define it as such. one can imagine many more affs that offer things related to our nuclear posture. 

On the other hand, a US action which does not change our nuclear posture just isn't topical, because the resolution says "change nuclear posture" then gives an example (an aff that negotiated and implemented a deep cut, and included more stuff, more stuff MODIFIED BY nuclear posture).

You have lots of faith in the community to keep the multilateral stuff out under 2. History demonstrates its unlikely, because contextual evidence, when ambiguous, leads to a less restrictive topic with debate idiosyncracies (adding a cap, for example, under energy) as opposed to a more limited topic. That means more than just Russia is in play under 2. NWFZ,s China, etc.

I feel we have probably reached a stasis point, and people are eager for more Stroube-Sanchez uselessness.


--- On Fri, 7/10/09, Malcolm Gordon <malgor.debate at gmail.com> wrote:

> From: Malcolm Gordon <malgor.debate at gmail.com>
> Subject: [eDebate] missions
> To: edebate at ndtceda.com
> Date: Friday, July 10, 2009, 4:18 PM
> I must disagree with a few of your
> characterizations, Paul.? Most importantly, the way you are
> reading resolution three that allows it to limit out random
> bilateral russia affs.? 
> "The United States Federal Government should
> substantially change its nuclear posture in one or more of
> the following ways"? 
> This is the governing phrase, how could I disagree?? And
> if it were the only thing relevant, it might be enough to
> limit out the strange bilateral affs.? (resolved: usfg
> should substantially change its nuclear posture; this would
> certainly exclude non-posture related concerns as extra
> topical).? Unfortunately, the resolution actually qualifies
> what constitutes said change with the phrase "in one or
> more of the following ways."? It is a particular
> statement that anything that meets one of the listed actions
> is considered a substantial change in nuclear posture.
> Therefore the additional qualifying phrase of:? 
> "Negotiation and implementation of a bilateral
> agreement with Russia that
> at least includes a substantial reduction in nuclear
> weapons"
> means that any aff that meets that sentence is, by
> definition, a substantial change in its nuclear posture.?
> So any aff that negotiates and implements a bilateral
> agreement with Russia that "at least" includes a
> substantial reduction in weapons is topical.? "at
> least" is a floor, not a ceiling.? There is nothing in
> that sentence that prevents affirmatives from adding things
> not related to nuclear posture, because the resolution has
> already dictated that as long as the deal contains a
> reduction in weapons, the negotiated and implemented deal
> meets the threshold.? 
> if the plank read "negotiation and implementation of a
> bilateral "arms control" agreement with Russia
> that at least includes a substantial reduction in nuclear
> weapons", then I would agree with you.? The resolution
> would then say the agreement must exlusively be an arms
> control deal.? That qualification, however, does not
> exist.
> As far as your concern that topicality will often exclude
> things it would be nice to debate under a resolution....I
> agree, topicality tends to exclude affirmatives, as that is
> its purpose.? But no topic will contain all the salient
> issues because competitive equity is a consideration.? FMCT
> is a good example, it is just as important in the literature
> as CTBT, but likely even harder to win as topical under any
> resolution but 1 (even then it will be difficult to prove
> its a substantial change in posture).? On the treaties
> topic, we didn't debate law of the sea, or CEDAW, or the
> treaty on rights of the child, or landmines, etc.? On the
> courts topic, there were a littany of big cases that
> didn't get in (I was a HUGE advocate of putting Terry v
> Ohio in the resolution...get it, huge...cause i'm
> fat...).? This is inevitable and a very subjective voting
> determination for coaches.
> Your last point, about holdouts, is also inevitable.? But
> 2 provides very compelling negative interpretations that
> will limit these affs out.? If they are going to be so
> effective as to make even the most unlimiting interpretation
> acceptable under 2, they will under 3 as well.? Once
> we've crossed into that threshold, the difference is
> lost on me as to which would be worse.
> I also agree with Mancuso, while we might be afraid because
> missions and roles are largely redundant, it's not a
> deal-breaker as much as a reason we shouldn't be scared
> that the addition of missions will explode the topic.?
> Especially since there is good evidence that defines
> missions in a way that excludes hyperspecific country affs
> (don't retaliate against brazil if they nuke us, for
> instance).
> I understand people like 3 because it lists a few affs, so
> it will help in preparation.? But no one has given an
> example of affs that will be extremely unpredictable under
> topic 2.? I have only heard examples of how topic 3 allows
> interpretations that are very justified under the wording of
> the resolution and very unlimiting.
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