[eDebate] Hester and Nuclear Topic

Josh jbhdb8
Mon May 18 12:56:07 CDT 2009


First of all, Kudos to Mike Hester for some really good writing lately.  His
point, later compared to Harrison Bergeron effects by Gordon, about
unintended consequences of forcing wordings has been borne out in several
topic anomolies over the years (Con Con CP on Courts anyone?).  This post
asking about the role of a vote for the topic area also asks very good
questions and implies some others.

For a long time, as the topic committee has become more intense and
involved, I have tended to think of the paper as a rough idea that the
committee has the mandate to polish and form (hopefully into a diamond).  In
other words, when I cast Michigan's vote for Nuclear Policy, I was
considering the paper as advisory only.  For instance, while the paper was
excellent, the authors admitted that they ran out of time when it came to
wordings.  In addition, in the few days since the vote, multiple valid
questions have been raised about the one simple wording in the paper.  To
consider the wording in the paper as a "must include" could stick us
with many other "unintentional consequences."  The area paper authors do not
have a group of people tasked to just researching out all the possible ways
to word the topic.  The area paper authors do not have a room full of the
best and brightest coaches and debaters looking for any mistakes.

I agree that it would be good, for a year or two, to try out some topics
with more Affirmative flexibility.  I agree that wordings have often shoe
horned some bad baggage into topics that could have been better.  But I also
know, that after weeks of hard wording work, and a meeting with a TON of
great minds working hard, the wordings that come out generally have been
superior to just accepting the wordings in area papers.  This is not an
indictment of area paper authors...I don't see the point of area papers to
be writing topics.  I think the job of wording is solely the purview of the
elected topic committee (as long as it remains democratic and people's
opinions in the community and of the area authors' are taken seriously).

All of that said, I do have two small concerns about this topic:

1) Obama will almost certainly "reduce reliance on nuclear weapons" in the
sq.  Generally, I take the position that topics should force the affirmative
to do something controversial and opposed to the views of the likely
legislative outcomes.  Jessica et al deal with this in the paper by saying
that the decisions will likely be made after the topic is
debated....However, I think that there is a decent chance that some of this
stuff begins to move at least at the stage of policy declaration pretty
soon.  Usually, this can be overcome, but......

2) This is, as written, an overwhelmingly affirmative topic.  I agree we
should have MORE topics that allow affirmative creativity (Massey et al) and
are a little broader for the Affirmative.  However, this is the opposite
extreme.  The literature base on CTBT, No First Use, De-Alerting, NPT
credibility, Disarm, and Arms Control in general are OVERWHELMINGLY
affirmatively biased.  Aside from Dick Cheney and the Neo Cons NOBODY is
against these things except in part.

-- But what about the pics - the reason Hester et al wants Disarm as
an option is that the cards about symbolic exceptions are much better than
the net benefits to the pics.  On the actual arms control agreements and
changes in doctrine the same is true.  In addition, if you all dont remember
the CTBT debates - the breadth of affirmative add-on ground that CPs cannot
capture is MASSIVE.

-- Heritage writes good cards - yes, and all the think-tanks that support
the proposals have had 20 years to catch up and evolve past their
arguments.  Every liberal defense author just had 8 years of the Bush
Doctrine...trust me, no matter how fast you can read your 200 signal of
appeasement cards...the turns are mostly better and deeper. More important,
to most of us, the neocon argument got destroyed by everything that happened
after Iraq....Even Frum has been apologetic in public appearances.  This is
maginfied by that these DAs will likely be non-unique at the signal level if
Obama declares anything about our policy etc.

Now, do not get me wrong, I voted for this topic. It was a great topic
paper.  But lets not just run headlong into unintended consequences of a
different sort.  What we dont want, on either side, is major national
tournaments being won just on the flip of a coin.  Lets think before we

Good luck to the topic committee and thanks to the authors of the area


On Mon, May 18, 2009 at 10:53 AM, michael hester <uwgdebate at gmail.com>wrote:

> oops, my post should probably be part of the community-wide discussion.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: michael hester <uwgdebate at gmail.com>
> Date: Mon, May 18, 2009 at 10:51 AM
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] Nuclear Wording
> To: Michael Antonucci <antonucci23 at gmail.com>
> Can this concern over how broadly "use" might be interpreted be addressed
> by something like this...
> The United States government should substantially limit the use of its
> nuclear weapons as battlefield weapons and/or strategic deterrent.
> This way, deep cuts in stockpiles and changes in posture which
> significantly reduce when/where/against whom nuclear weapons could be used
> would each be topical.
> This discussion is an important one. My initial opinion is we're better off
> having a topic that allows AFFs to  address both force structure AND force
> posture, even it means risking making the topic so broad that it allows AFFs
> to do one or the other. i'd rather that occur than have the topic limit AFFs
> to just posture or just structure, and create gaps which hobble solvency.
> e.g., a topic that excludes changes in posture would mean an AFF that did
> deep cuts would lose to the the "less missiles = increased hair trigger"
> solvency args that the advocates of deep cuts clearly don't assume b/c their
> advocacy includes changes in posture too. if the topic is going to include
> disarm as topical ground, it HAS to include changes in structure, or the
> Disarm AFF would lose to the "you prohibit usfg use of weapons but leave
> thousands of missiles lying aroundm unable to be touched by military
> officers."
>  On Mon, May 18, 2009 at 9:29 AM, Michael Antonucci <antonucci23 at gmail.com
> > wrote:
>>    Malgor:
>> "That the United States federal government should significantly limit the
>> use of its nuclear weapons"
>> "Nuclear use" has a pretty specific meaning in the literature, as does
>> "nuclear use policy."  It means 'sploding stuff with big boom boom boom.
>> http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/06_1.cfm
>> http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0203/doc02.htm
>> etc.
>> One might interpret the sample resolution more broadly, as you suggest, to
>> include deterrence as a potential "use," and thereby let in cuts.
>> I dislike such interpretations because they're at odds with the available
>> literature.  "Nuclear use" clearly describes force posture, not force
>> structure.  It means "when we make the boom" not "how many boomsticks we
>> have at our disposal."
>> If you have to contort the available lit to let in the core, it's much
>> more difficult to make credible T arguments against the periphery.  The
>> periphery, in this case, would include numerous safeguards against nuclear
>> terrorism and, perhaps even more problematically, critical cases that merely
>> claimed to reconstitute our relationship to nuclear weapons.  The critical
>> cases could just change the "use" of nuclear weapons in our dreams, hopes
>> and symbolic order.
>> I'm all for these sorts of critical advantages, but an aff should have to
>> attach them to a more concrete action for the purposes of negative ground.
>> --
>> Michael Antonucci
>> Debate Coach
>> Georgetown University
>> Mobile: 617-838-3345
>> Office: 202-687-4079
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