Dec 28, 2007

defining "acquisition" in the nuclear weapons resolution

A reader writes,
Throughout my researching of this topic I have a found a sticky issue that may be extremely important in the debate round for this resolution. Needless to say I would like some help in "resolving" this issue.


How have you defined the term "Acquisition"?

Does it entail something newly acquired, or just further acquisition by states that already have them?

Also, can "acquisition of nuclear weapons" be interpreted to mean the acquisition of knowledge or specifications to build nuclear weapons?
Great questions.

It's helpful to consider the dictionary definition of acquisition: "the act of acquiring or gaining possession." (All the other options are, as far as I can see, semantically indistinct.) Acquisition is the act of acquiring. So, what does it mean to acquire?
1. to come into possession or ownership of; get as one's own: to acquire property.
2. to gain for oneself through one's actions or efforts: to acquire learning.
If both are valid, then the resolution allows interfering in a nation's efforts to beg, borrow, steal, or purchase nuclear weapons, and in a nation's efforts to build its own nuclear weapons. (Note that these processes aren't necessarily exclusive; South Africa, for example, borrowed nuclear know-how from Israel when developing its nuclear program, but used only South African nationals, equipment, and material when building the actual weapons.)

So, let's examine each successive question in turn.

1. The resolution could be fairly read to imply that the nation in question doesn't already have nuclear weapons--but it's only an implication, not a narrow reading. A negative might argue that since the resolution doesn't explicitly rule out attacking a nation that already possesses nukes, then the risks of preemption are multiplied.

2. The resolution clearly states, "to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons." If, using definition #2 above, this includes a nation's own efforts to build a bomb, then preventing such an effort might require disruption at any point in the process--whether in the planning, building, testing, or deployment phase. The word "prevent" here is key.


okiedebater said...

This is an idea that I've come up with, but I'm not sure it sufficiently upholds the Negative:

The resolution includes the phrases "by nations that pose a military threat". Note that this does not say "by nations that would pose a military threat" or "by nations that could pose a military threat". It therefore seems to imply that the nation is already a military threat even before acquiring nuclear weapons. If this is true, and the US is merely trying to "justly" defend itself with preemptive strikes, then it could be argued that the US would need to use military force to remove that threat, whether they are acquiring nuclear weapons or not. This would make the acquisition of nuclear weapons irrelevant to the discussion of whether or not the military force is just, instead making it more of a standard "just war" discussion.

My question therefore is:
By essentially removing the "to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons" from the resolution, does the Neg reasonably uphold its side of the argument and disprove the Aff?

okiedebater said...

Here are my preliminary thoughts:

1) Be careful to avoid making it sound like military force is a full-scale invasion. Say it could be one special ops team, maybe even just strategic placement of troops. If your opponent can make it seem like it would be an all-out war, it will be much harder for you.
2) "to prevent the acquisition of"
This seems to imply that we are sure they are acquiring nuclear weapons (not a case where we're not really sure, like Iraq). It also makes it seem like they are actually making it, or at least relatively close to having one.
3) "nuclear weapons"
You could actually try to include a BRIEF quote about the effect of a nuclear explosion. Try to somehow show how destructive nuclear weapons are. By showing how bad they are, it emphasizes why we don't want "nations that pose a military threat" to have them. Also, look up the NPT (or Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). It says things like they can have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, but not for weapons (which the resolution says they are acquiring).
4) "nations"
Be careful. The SquirrelKillers have a lot about terrorism, and how terrorists wouldn't be deterred, but if you use the dangers of terrorism, be sure you have a STRONG link to nations. If your opponent could take out the link, then your case would no long be related to the topic, and your opponent would win. Personally, I'm gonna try to stay away from the terrorism angle as much as I can!
5) Value:
This case seems to have a implied value of Justice. You could go with that, or as the Aff you could possibly try a value of National Security (possibly even Global Security). I'm probably gonna stick with Justice though.
I haven't done too much research on ones for this case yet, but some of the ones I'm considering are:
-Harms Benefit Analysis (in other words, showing how the benefit of not having a dangerous nation with nuclear weapons outweighs the costs of using military force)
-National Security (you could say that the United States is ensuring Justice by protecting itself by a preemptive strike. CAREFUL: I would argue that the nation trying to acquire nuclear weapons might me trying to protect itself too. In that case, there could exist a scenario when both countries are just trying to ensure their national security, then they go to war with each other...)

1) The exact opposite of Aff point 1. Try to make it sound like military force is a full scale invasion, troops on the ground, major casualties scenario.
2) Make it sound like acquisition could still be far off. Can the US invade if they are just doing the most basic research? If they even just have nuclear ambitions??
3) "nuclear weapons"
This is a tough one for the Neg to minimize. There are already 9 countries that have them, but no new country has developed them in the last 20 years. Also, note that countries aren't using them (at least not for war). Wouldn't that therefore indicate that the status quo was working?
4) "nations"
This is a good point for the Neg. If the Aff doesn't link terrorism well, attack that point. Also, point out that nations have national sovereignty. If they are doing something wrong, or against a treaty, it is up to the UN to resolve that, not the United States.
5) "that pose a military threat"
I find it interesting that is seems to say that they already pose a threat. It could have said "that would pose a military threat" or "that could pose a military threat". It doesn't say those though. I'm thinking you could almost argue that it says a nation already poses a military threat, and therefore, if the US is really just trying to protect itself by removing a threat, it should do so (the fact that they are acquiring nuclear weapons is irrelevant). CAUTION: I haven't completely thought that through, so I'm not sure what the end result would be...
(check to maybe see some discussion about it)
6) Value:
Justice is probably the best one for the Neg. Feel free to think of some others though
7) Criterion:
You could use Utilitarianism or Harms-Benefit Analysis if you want to prove that intervention just makes things worse off. You could use something along the lines of International Law (or something legal) if you want to show that the US is violating the UN Charter and/or other laws. Finally, look up Just War Theory (research him with the "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy" and the "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy")

LD n00b said...

I think pointing out that "nuclear weapons" is in th eplural counters a negative argument based on aquizition. The fact that it is in the plural seems to indicate the are tlaking abou the state a nation is in when it has at least one nuclear weapon. (By state I mean "characteristic.") If you interpret it literally, the resolution says its not ok to go after them if they are only aquiring 1 nuke but you can if they're going for 2 or more, and that doesn't seem to make sence, meaning we have to consider "aquired nuclear weapons" as a category a nation can fall into when it aquires just one, and that we are trying to revent a state from falling ino that category.

Also, remember the "generally true" standard. Even if an aff excepted the negative-favoring definition, the negative would have to prove the majority of cases in whihc the US actually would use military force fall into the category allwed by that definition.

So, I don't think an aquisition-based neg holds too much water.

-LD n00b

okiedebater said...

I'm a little confused by your first part. I have a different interpretation of the "nuclear weapons" in the resolution, which is that it is the acquiring of any type of nuclear weapon, whether that is just a nuclear bomb or nuclear missile.

Anonymous said...

hey, does any body have an example of a good aff case?

Anonymous said...

resolution is just so damn long.
a good value for aff is national or global security, and for neg the resoltion has pretty much outlined your best choice, Justice
some good criterion for aff is Hobbes Leviathan (self-preservation), and double-effect. the neg is better off with Cosmopolitism, and just-war Theory.
and before you choose Cosmopolitism or Self-preservation MAKE SURE YOU READ THAT PART OF THEIR PHILOSOPHY. for two important reasons. 1 to make sure that they are actually attacking your criteria. and 2. to give yourself a reasonable chance to defend against someone who knows more about it then you do.

mothman699 said...

I thought of a good neg argument which says that the "hostile nation" is trying to acquire nuclear weapons but there is such a thing as civil nuclear weapons which was a programed used by the NPT to gain knowlegdein nuclear goodies but not military knowlegde, and the resolution doesnt state what type of nuclear weapons so theres a nice loop hole but you should get a little more info on it because there is a lot of good and bad stuff like the Pakistan, India thing and the N. Korea getting nukes and stuff