Dec 12, 2007

defining "military threat" in the nuclear weapons resolution

What constitutes a "military threat" to the United States? The current resolution puts the question at the forefront.

Looking at the United States' relations with China, an emerging world power that threatens American hegemony, is instructive. How much of a threat is China?
Richard C. Bush III, director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, says, "Most experts would define 'threat' to mean a combination of capability and intentions. There's no question that China is building up its capabilities, but China has displayed no intentions of using those capabilities against the United States."
There you have it: capability of attacking the United States, its forces, or its allies, and intentions of doing so.

The resolution puts no qualifier on the immediacy or imminence of the threat, which could lead to a potential negative line of attack. Consider again:
"Our Pentagon is in charge of seeing a threat and building against a threat. Unless political leadership is out in front, keeping the cooperative elements higher in priority and reassuring the other guys, the self-fulfilling prophecy is in danger of taking hold," he says. "As Joseph Nye says, if we treat China as the enemy, it will become the enemy because of how it perceives what we do."
The neg can argue that the resolution permits a rather loose reading of threat, which only raises the potential for disastrous consequences--as the recent Iran intelligence flap demonstrates in a very real way.

Update: A sharp-eyed reader notes that the threat may not have to be toward the U.S., as I pointed out when the resolution first arrived. If I may quote myself:
Does the resolution imply that the threat must be toward the United States, or would it include a unilateral action taken in the name of global security?
I think the latter would be answered with a "yes."

6 comments:

LD n00b said...

This is really about more than this specificly, but arn't quotes sort of foolish, ecpecially for definitions? I mean, unless you spend a lot of time trying to defend why that person is so smart and relevant, all you're saying is "sombody in the whole world agrees with me." For every philosopher you can quote agreeing with you, there must be thousands who disaggree (and thousands more who do aagree,) and there's no way to prove sombody is a better judge than someone else. What if your oponent says "but my debate coach agrees with me, an my oponent has offered no proof his source has any better judgement than he/she does, much less other philosophers who side with me."

A dictionary definition is one thing, but a quote like that (especially taken out of its context) seems thin.

I'm not just refering to this resolution; I mean in general also. Since these things are so widely debated, a quote really proves nothing, right?

-LD n00b

Jim Anderson said...

I think of the definition as a heuristic--a rough-and-ready tool for analysis. "Threat = capability + intention" makes intuitive sense, much more so than a dictionary def. (Also, Bush cites "most experts," so the definition can't be that far afield.)

The name of the philosopher or professor is only icing on the argument cake. It doesn't warrant the definition; it makes it pass at least a baseline level of criticism, though. If your opponent is going to get into a definition war, then you have to appeal to something other than expert status anyway. Even if you use a dictionary definition, you're going to come up against other dictionaries with different definitions.

I'm surprised, though, to see you attacking a professional source, seeing how you defined "nation" on a different post. ;)

Anonymous said...

anybody have a neg case or atleast a value and value criterion for the neg

JJ said...

By silencing thoughts and ideas, you silence debate. What else is a quote than an idea or thought? And why, for that matter, does anyone's thoughts have merit over anothers? Also, why does a dictionary's definition hold more weight than a person creating one through logic or other means? I hate when people pull out this attack. First, dictionaries are elitists. The first dictionary was created with the intention of undermining organized religion by "brainwashing" its readers with subtle and unnoticable negative connotations of anything associated with it. Furthermore, dictionarys' destroy creativity and suggest that, beyond the written word, there is no room for innovation. Also, Black's law was founded by Henry Campell Black who owned many slaves...is owning slaves just? Why do we accept, then, definitions of justice from a man who believed that owning slaves was just? If he was wrong about that, then I bet he's wrong about other things. Quotes are fine.

phillicheezeman said...

lol
stone, u so jacked

travis said...

Capability plus intent=threat...given the fact that you neither have access or the ability to truly know what types of attacks and the recency there of this nation has recieved from enemies...you have no basis at all to form any kind of logical argument to back-up your ill-informed claims that China is "no threat"...please go back to school and learn how to analyze and use logical arguments that are founded on some sort of structural reasoning first before you dive into indeterministic reasoning of which is fully predicated on assumption that must be justifed with some sort of logical chain of reasoning. Plus your wasting precious resources and taking up space on the internet that could be used to inspire productivity instead of compulsory breast-feeding from a nanny state that you have wet dreams about.