Dec 3, 2007

in the key of LD: a riff on reader questions and comments

I'm going to riff on some thoughts thrown out there by various commentators regarding the January-February resolution. Their words are blockquoted and edited for spelling or grammar. (I may add more as they roll in.)

anonymous writes,
For this new topic, I'm a little tired of the utilitarianism and deontology debates. Would it be a good idea to say that the incentives of a nation justify its actions, in that since the United States is trying to prevent nuclear war, even if it fails, the actions (military force) are just?
If I'm right in thinking you mean "intentions" instead of "incentives," then you're offering an essentially deontological reading of justice, where intentions or duties, not ends, matter most. You're not going to avoid the old ends-means argument unless your opponent agrees to your criterion.

anonymous 2 writes,
To me it seems like the current resolution wanted [us] to infer Iraq, Iran, North Korea...but I think they're trying to stay away from directly having a topic on Iraq or Iran considering everyone's a little tired of having topics on it... lol
You're absolutely right: this resolution screams "Axis of Evil." The NFL's topical analysis [MS Word] even starts, "Iraq. Iran. North Korea." Zero points for subtlety. At least the previous resolution, plea bargaining, didn't stray too far in that direction--I hope.

LD n00b writes,
1. How can you define and back up justice on an international level? Also, could you argue states only exist for the sake of individuals so giving "each his due" is more important than international law (which is not necessarily just)?
To define justice on an international level, you might look to the UN Charter or other similarly cosmopolitan agreements. I see shades of the national sovereignty debate returning. (Hmm... maybe some old LD material will be useful here?)
2. Is it possible, maybe with a definition of "for", to frame the resolution to say "a situation in which the United States intervenes to stop a country posing a military threat from acquiring nuclear weapons is just?" Then, all you would have to do is demonstrate how someone is wronged in the process (especially if you go with individuals being key).
I'll admit I'm a little confused here: it appears like the sentence makes the situation to be just, instead of the intervention. Perhaps you could clarify.
3. It is key to define "military action." This is definitly NOT the same as war. (Think Israel's 1984 airstrike on that Iraqi reactor.)
Absolutely. As I've mentioned elsewhere, both the Osirak attack and the Cuban missile blockade qualify as "military action."
4. What percentage of the time would military action have to be justified to prove/disprove the resolution?
51%. (Why not? The new LD ballot claims debaters have to prove the resolution "generally true," which I'll gratuitously interpret as "in a majority of cases.")
5. Could you argue the action of any state (or at least, any democratic state) is justified? (This worked well for me as a neg in plea bargaining. I said that any definition besides one of "conforming to law" was subjective, so the only remaining one was "conforming to law." I won with it more than I lost, although I don't know if that logic would work with this resolution.)
Assume that justice means "conforming to law." Does that automatically justify any state action? No. Sometimes, states act illegally, even under their own laws. (Besides, the laws of a democratic state are "subjective" inasmuch as they are created by the subjects of the law, instead of derived from eternal truths.)

Overall, useful comments. If more people post good thoughts, I'll post my responses.


LD n00b said...

First of all, thanx for responding to all 5.

What I meant by number 3 was essentially this: Say you use the typical definition of "giving each his due." You could argue how everyone is due his/her right to life, and that in any military action against a country strong enough to pose a military threat to the united states, both combatants and non-combatants would be killed. Even if you accepted that the nukes would be used after aquired (which is certainly a stretch)it still does not give everyone thier due for the United States to use military intervention to stop the nuke's aquisition- even though it gives alot more what they are due than if nuclear weapons were actually used, it still does not give each his due when the because someone is going to get killed, proubably including at least 1 inocent; thus, not everyone gets what they are due. (It would be fun to try to get an aff to argue military action doesn't kill people.)

It would proubably be more useful on crystalization, but it still could be interesting and pretty much garentee a neg win, if neg can deffend the definition.

-LD n00b

Anonymous said...

Affirming the resolution bites Western ideals of right and wrong. Furthers neo-liberalism. I can't decide if I wanna run it as a K, or an NC. Or if i even wanna run it at all. Feedback, please.

Jim Anderson said...

I'd run it against any case that claimed the US was uniquely able to justify the response. I'd also think about running it in general--combined with a contention or two regarding the necessity of multilateral or international action. I definitely think that some Affs are going to have the whiff of ethnocentrism.

LD n00b said...

Some ideas to get around the ethnocentricity of any US-determines-Justice argument as AFF

1. It says 'for the US" in the resolution

2. The nation the military force is used against is not specified; therefore it is impossible to use a definition/vc of justice that applies to that nation

3. Even if you are looking at it universally, somthing can be just AND unjust. If it is just for the united states but not for the other nation, it falls into this. Something that is both Just and Unjust is still just. (The Neg has to prove it is not just, not that it is unjust.)

-LD n00b

Anonymous said...

Ive got a criterion and one argument but I have hit a standstill any help?

C-Political realism-all nation-states are motivated by national interest. All states seek to preserve their political autonomy and their territorial integrity.

A. The use of Military force in response to a military threat supports political realism
-The interest of the nation to preserve territorial integrity and countries that pose a threat jeopardize this integrity

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, according to Morgenthau, for the political realist, the supreme value is prudence--acting cautiously, weighing each situation as it comes, rather than trying to apply a universal moral principle. Your PR case would work against any universalist Aff.

One of the things about nuclear weapons is that they eliminate traditional boundaries of sovereignty. A border defended by an army is useless to stop a ballistic missile--and, even further, worthless against the far-reaching effects of fallout. So your contention could be shored up even further.

Ronee said...

i'm in my second year as a debater but i'm still unfamiliar with terms. what is K and NC and all that? are they important terms? are there any other terms i should be aware of?

Jim Anderson said...

K = Kritik. NC = Negative Constructive (case). They're pretty important terms. Google "kritik," and you'll see what it's about.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jim,
Just as a general question. Could I use protecting the state as a criterion and say the Social Contract justifies the use of force to combat a threat because justice is achieved through society and without society we would be reduced to the state of nature. Did that make sense??


Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous, good question. I think it's wise to use a two-pronged social contract analysis: one part domestic fulfillment, one part international. If the state has an obligation to preserve its citizens' security, since that's what they've traded their rights for, a la Locke or Hobbes, then it definitely and concretely ties into this resolution.