Jan 17, 2008

military force, nuclear weapons, and a tacky tie

A few odds-and-ends questions from readers regarding the nuclear weapons resolution, which I've been remiss in answering until now. Questions are indented and edited for clarity, and each answer follows the question. Enjoy.

I can't find any intelligent definitions of military force beyond that of an actual army... Any help?
On the affirmative, you might combine definitions of "military" and "force," since the common definition makes it seem like we're referring to a military unit. On the Neg, I like Rupert Smith's description from The Utility of Force: "Force is the basis of any military activity, whether in a theatre of operations or in a skirmish between two soldiers. It is both the physical means of destruction--the bullet, the bayonet--and the body that applies it... Military force when employed has only two immediate effects: it kills people and destroys things."
What about saying that nuclear weapons pose a threat to our inalienable rights, which justifies the use of military force because it is a government's priority to protect these rights?
That's a decent starting point, based on social contract logic. However, you still have to get from "they're a military threat" (To whom? The resolution doesn't specify.) to "they're threatening our rights" to "so we have to keep them from getting nukes by using military force."
I have a clarification to make. For Affirmative, we are saying that it is just for United States to use military force, and in Negative, we will be arguing that it is unjust for United States to use nuclear weapons... I just wanted to make sure I am on the right path...
Not exactly. The Neg doesn't have to declare it unjust for the US to use nuclear weapons, unless they're making the claim that "military force" is so broad that it potentially includes nuclear war. The Neg's ultimate goal is to show that preventing a nation from acquiring nuclear weapons is unjust. It could have nothing at all to do with whether the US has, or doesn't have, its own nukes.
I have a quick question. What would the best way to establish each nation's right to protection? Although it's undisputed in law, I feel as though I need to concretely establish it in round.
Social contract theory (pick one). International law (UN Charter). Self-imposed constitutional obligations.
On the affirmative - I have a good connection between justice and human rights, but I'm struggling to prove that preemptive force best protects human rights. Any suggestions on which direction I should look for evidence?
Daniel Zupan's analysis, cited here, is a good start. Not just "preemptive force," but preemptive force to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons. If Zupan is right, that makes a huge difference.
How can the US stop a country form acquiring weapons without engaging in aggression or a war? How will military blockades stop countries from acquiring such weapons? I am trying to find non-violent ways to use 'military force.'
Morally speaking, force always involves at least a threat of violence, so I'm not sure this is a distinction that matters. Especially since there's nothing in the resolution to limit military force to "nonviolent" forms. The Aff essentially has to describe the wide range of options, from special ops to surgical strikes, the majority being prudent and / or proportional, and point out that the burden is to prove the resolution true "in general," not in every tiny detail. It's a heavy burden, for sure.
Even though The United States is trying to block nuclear weapons from other countries, in order to do so, where did the US get the power to use military force on other countries? Also, had the United Nations given power to keep nuclear weapons only for U.S. and not other countries?
By "power" you probably mean "right," in which case it depends on if you care about international law. If you don't, argue that the U.S.'s moral commitment is only to its own citizens, justifying unilateral action. If you do, argue that the UN charter permits preemption in the case of preventing nuclear proliferation. It can be done. Or just argue for abolition, period.
Okay, In my case, I am upholding that nuclear weapons pose a threat to our citizens' inalienable rights, therefore it is the OBLIGATION of the United States to use military force, but I just can't think of any more arguments. Can anyone help?
Expand your moral concern to the world at large. See here for tips.
how do u define justice for affirmative...? please help me...cuz i defined justice as right action, but i dont think it is such a strong definition...especially for this resolution
Giving each their due... what is due to each? Right action... what is the right action to take? Equal treatment... how do we define "equal?" Every definition of justice has advantages and flaws. Pick one you like, work out the consequences, and warrant your choice with connection to international law, the social contract, general moral principles, or something else.
So I need to qual for state at my next tournament...I need some major help. I wrote a neg case that has never failed me- but I can't seem to win any aff arguments. I'm running Justice, safety..and an observation about "Double Effect" -A just action is one that produces good consequences, the ends outweigh the means..that kind of thing. My contentions only explain why nuke war is bad, and since using military force would for sure prevent this, according to Thomas Aquinas and his double effect doctrine and according to consequentialism...it would be just. So what am I doing right? What can I do to improve/strengthen my case?
Your framework is not the major problem. It's when you get into your contentions: military force would "for sure" prevent nuclear war? That's a stretch.
My coach said that using preservation of rights for the basis of my case isn't strong. I thought that if I show that nuclear weapons are a threat to our rights, and it is the U.S. has an obligation to protect them, then it has to be just.
Before I contradict your coach, I'd need to know why rights preservation (the foundation of the traditional social contract view) is "weak." A government that doesn't protect its citizen's rights is patently unjust according to the S/C view.
I was thinking about using preemptive war as one of my negative contentions. Would that be smart or would it pertain more to the past PuFo topic?
That's a defensible way to approach the topic. Since, as I describe above, the resolution doesn't limit the definition of "military force," it's easy to pin the Aff for supporting preemptive war.

More questions? Ask away! I'll do my best to answer as I'm able. No guarantees, your mileage may vary, always seek a second opinion, floss daily.


LD n00b said...

For one of my AFFs, I'm running a just is conforming to law because its the only unbiased and provable definition of justice kritik. Since I worry there may be some toruble with "internaitonal law," I got a definition of law that includes "applicable to its people" which would rule it out.

So basicly, my question is, how do definitions work when you define a term that wasn't in the resoltuion? Does it have any weight at all? Does your opponent accept it by default if can't don't offer a counter definition (like with a definition from the resolution? Is your opponent allowed to introduce another definition later, since there was no way for them to expect you to define a non-resolution term?

Thank you.

Jim Anderson said...

First, to your argument: "applicable to its people" doesn't necessarily rule out international law. Nations have clauses in their constitutions that make treaties legally binding.

Second, definition wars are the lowest form of LD argument. Any definition that is clearly an attempt to win by default will mostly anger a judge. That said, it is important to define concepts that aren't explicit in th resolution. For this one, "counterproliferation" might be another important term. The value criterion is rarely if ever explicit in the resolution.

So, if you must define terms, use definitions that are reasonable, not obvious "game playing" attempts, and they'll carry whatever weight they're worth. Just don't have the expectation that you should win every round solely because you have a clever definition of one word or phrase. Most judges and decent competitors will see right through it.

Also, strategically, definitions take up precious time, so use extraneous definitions only as needed. I see far too many negatives read all their definitions, even when they're exactly the same as the aff's!

I would imagine that your opponent is allowed to offer a counter-definition in the speech immediately following the one where you define the term. I'm not sure if there is any official rule on this matter. So, take my advice with skepticism.

LD n00b said...

I was using the applicable basicly to counter the UN or any other international body, because the US' SC veto and pure military and economic strength makes the UN toothless.

But thanks for the advice on definitions. I think I can transition it to a VC debate basically on the same thing, but thats only if my opponent would try and pull international law.

Thanks for the treaty advice, though. Has the US ever signed a treaty that would explicity rule out pre-emptive war? Since it seems it hasn't, perhaps I can use this as evidence in my favor.

Jim Anderson said...

Some argue that the UN Charter, to which the US is a signatory, rules out preemption. Obviously they're not members of the Bush administration.

International law has as much tooth as its participants give it. In that sense, it's little different from any other legal system, since legitimacy is at the core.

LD n00b said...

That last bit is kind of what I'm hinging on. The US is a majr provider of that tooth.

Since the UN did not in anyway condemn the US invasion of Iraq, (right?) then hasn't it set a legal precident in favor of pre-emption?

Jim Anderson said...

Only if you think of the only legit reason for the Iraq war as preempting Saddam's nuclear ambitions, instead of the many stated reasons, including the other WMDs, the human rights violations, and, most germane to the UN, his consistent violation of UN resolutions.

Anonymous said...

hey Jim,
could i somehow use the stability or security of the united states for my criterion and say that any threat causes instability within the US and the US is justified in providing its people with a sense of security? Also on a larger scale, could I also say that the US's influence in the world is vast and any instability could also cause instability internationally? I don't know if the last part made any sense.


Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, If you talked about the moral and Constitutional obligation of national defense, and how security is a precondition for a just government, then you could use security as a criterion, I think. Don't say a "sense of security," though, which is subjective. Talk about actual security--freedom from threats and attacks.

Also, that the world depends highly on US stability is almost a no-brainer. Just look at the recent stock market shakeup, worldwide, all because of U.S. housing woes. A similar shakeup happened post-9/11. I imagine the consequences of a nuclear attack could be much worse.

Anonymous said...

For my aff, I'm running justice as my value and protection of human rights as my criterion. I have one contention about preemptive action with some nice analysis, but I'm out of ideas. Help, anyone?

Ash said...

Hey. For my neg case, my value criterion is Humanitarianism, but im not sure it fits. Im saying that it commits a human rights violation and that a country is created under four things,its people, the government, land, and sovereignty, and that the US has no right to meddle in the affairs of other countries. I also stated in that same contention that a government obligation is to its own people. I jumbled my contention up and its very weak, so I was wondering if you could help me sort this out. Another thing, could I say that it could backfire if the US uses military force in another country? Also I need some past happenings that can support my reasons, so I'd be really grateful if you could help me.

Jim Anderson said...

ash, it seems like your criterion is really a form of national sovereignty, which would protect rights against aggressors, preserve a nation's unique culture and heritage, and provide other benefits you've listed. That alone could justify noninterference by the U.S.

Any arguments you'd make about the potential for a worse outcome would be tangential to your V/C, unless you could somehow show how a nuclear war--even if limited--would not only destroy lives, but create chaos among states.

Perhaps your value would be global stability or peace? Just thinking "out loud."

I'd have to see your case to give you more detailed help.