Apr 3, 2007

balance negs and the UN resolution

Regarding the current resolution, a reader writes,
I wanted to use a balanced neg as a strategy for the upcoming state tournament. The idea would be to say that the U.N. should not prioritize either HR over NS or NS over HR but subject decisions to a case-by-case analysis. My criterion would be utilitarianism and the value would be global welfare.

However, teammates have raised up the question of, "How exactly would the U.N. decide to choose HR/NS." They also commented that the balanced neg strategy is evading the question put forth by the resolution and does not properly answer it. What do you think of the strategy? Does it or does it not work? If it does, how would I address the "flaws?"
Great questions. Here are a couple considerations.

1. The LD ballot specifically states that the Aff has to prove the resolution true "as a general principle." Same for the Neg. What many Affs are running is a resolutional analysis that in effect adds the words "when in conflict" to the resolution. As a Neg, if I were running a balance case, I'd call them for conditionally affirming.

2. This assumes that "a general principle" means "in the majority of cases." You could grant that the UN will sometimes value NS over HR, or HR over NS, but both scenarios are relatively rare. In most cases, the UN balances its obligations to both by primarily pursuing diplomatic solutions that involve nonintervention. (It has good reasons for doing so, which are the bulk of your case.)

3. The implicit Aff assumption is that it's impossible to truly balance obligations to NS and HR. If you've done the work of warranting #2, then you can either show why their argument is false, or show that their argument is unwarranted. My guess is that beyond #2, they won't have a good reason for why balance is impossible, either logically or empirically.

If these arguments don't convince you, then perhaps you shouldn't run a balance Neg.

Incidentally, the new resolution (for the national tournament) comes out May 15. You can be sure to find analysis here when it's made public.


Okie Debater said...

I had some problems at Regionals with my Neg. I had too many ideas, so I ended up writing two Negs: one more legal/theoretical (LT) while the other had more real world examples (RW). The LT was along the lines of National Sovereignty (NS) is the basis of the UN, and the Universal Declaration of Human rights is too broad. The RW was that UN intervention has been flawed , resulting in Human Rights violations (I used Haiti as an example) and also that interventions would be flawed because of political motivations.

I am considering changing it to:

V: Global Welfare (any good ideas)
Cr: Rousseau (?)
C1: NS is the foundation of the UN
C2: HR are too broad
C3: Because HR are broad, interventions would be based on political motivations

Does this seem to make any sense?

Jim Anderson said...

Your value is decent enough. However, I don't see how your contentions link to it. The closest you get is C3, but nowhere in your structure (as simplified here) do you show a reason why NS is good--why the UN would value it so highly.

You might try a value of global stability and a criterion of international law. NS is essential to international law (C1, making it the foundation of the world order as expressed in the UN). C2: HR's breadth leads to politically motivated intervention, rather than dispute resolution within a legal framework. C3: Consistently devaluing NS would lead member nations to abandon the UN and flout international law, creating more hegemons and rogue nations, as is occurring now. We can blame Kofi Annan for trying to make the UN into a global supercop, thus destabilizing international order and the very purpose of the UN.

I think all your existing arguments could be built into this framework. What do you think?

Okie Debater said...

That does make sense, but some problems I might have:

-global stability:
If each nation was left alone, its national sovereignty not interfered with, this would work towards global stability. However, if the UN violates the national sovereignty of a nation, it can result in instability because
a)they might fight back
b)any allied or sympathetic countries, media...

-international law:
International law is just law between nations right? Can the UN in fact respect international law (just law between two or more nations), or does it only have to follow its own law?

Could contention three (of your revision) be seen somewhat as:
Consistently valuing HR over NS would reduce the membership of the UN (therefore its efficiency)?

Jim Anderson said...

The UN can and should respect international law for the reason you state: if member nations feel their sovereign status is being violated, they will definitely stop "playing the game." The U.S. would be first to go if someone were to, say, try an American general in the World Court for war crimes.

You could reword the 3rd contention that way--but be sure to fully impact. "losing efficiency" isn't the sort of argument that's going to really sway a judge, especially when the Aff is so fond of talking about genocide. If you can show that violating sovereignty increases the risk of conflict by undermining the UN's mission, you're doing well.