[eDebate] national security policy

Calum Matheson u.hrair
Sat May 16 23:37:50 CDT 2009

i wanted this topic, but two things concern me about this phrase.  i have
not done adequate research to be certain of either, but i'd like to call
them to the attention of those who get to make wording decisions.

"national security policy" seems difficult to define, and could create

1. too narrow?  the national security strategy (NSS) says fairly little
about nuclear weapons.  it does mention that the US will maintain the
nuclear triad.  it doesn't say anything about launch-on-warning, strategic
ambiguity, tactical weapon deployment in europe (non-strategic weapons
aren't really part of the triad), or even nuclear first use (although it
does talk about preemption in general), which i think are some of the best
affs.  changing any of these things wouldn't necessarily reduce reliance on
nuclear weapons for accomplishing the goals of the national security

2. too broad?  part of US national security policy, in any definition i can
think of, includes building strategic relationships with other powers (this
is in the NSS, for example).  so if the US is building a strategic
relationship with russia by cooperating over non-proliferation, is it
topical to stop this cooperation?  that would reduce our reliance on nuclear
weapons to build positive relations with russia by removing them from our
cooperative relationship.  altering the resolution to "its nuclear weapons"
doesn't fix this general problem, although it does resolve this example.
now the US could discontinue START negotiations instead--that would reduce
our reliance on our nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip to foster better
relations with russia.  first strike?  after all, it totally removes our
reliance on nuclear weapons to achieve our national security goal of
peaceful cooperation.  as long as we launched them all, it would in fact
make nuclear deterrence impossible, increasing our reliance on conventional
deterrence.  total disarm and total first strike could be the only topical
affs since they would make it impossible to rely on nuclear weapons in any

contextual evidence would solve some of these problems, but people don't
seem to be terribly sympathetic to it in T debates now.  i can imagine some
definitions of "national security policy" that might avoid these concerns,
but haven't actually seen evidence for them yet.  i realize that terrible
interpretations of the topic will probably not win a lot of debates, but i
will confess that my primary motivation in writing this is to reduce the
chances that i have to judge really stupid t debates.

does anyone have good definitions for "national security policy" or
suggestions for alternative terms?

Calum Matheson
Assistant Debate Coach, University of North Texas and Glenbrook South High
Supporting Member, World Transhumanist Association

"[I]t is setting a high value upon our opinions, to roast men alive on
account of them."
-Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
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