Feb 2, 2011

definitions for the private military firms resolution

In this post, I'll look at some definitions and potential resolutional analyses / observations for the March/April 2011 resolution.
Resolved: The United States is justified in using private military firms abroad to pursue its military objectives.
First, some standard dictionary definitions of justified (excluding those that are obviously not applicable):
–verb (used with object)
1. to show (an act, claim, statement, etc.) to be just or right: The end does not always justify the means.

2. to defend or uphold as warranted or well-grounded: Don't try to justify his rudeness.

5a. (Law) to show a satisfactory reason or excuse for something done.
If "justified" means "shown to be just or right," then the Aff must provide a value of justice or morality (or somesuch), with an appropriately moral criterion. (If constitutionality or international law is employed, it's in the context that either is the correct standard for justice via a social contract, prevailing moral norms, or some other moral argument.)

If "justified" means "warranted or well-grounded," the Aff could use a purely pragmatic calculus such as necessity, effectiveness, comparative advantage, or cost/benefit analysis.

However, if "justified" merely means "excused," the bar is set rather low: legality regardless of moral or practical concerns.

All that aside, let's look at other aspects of the resolution.

1. Do "private military firms" include all private contractors operating under the aegis of the U.S. military, or only those that run security details or operations in combat zones? For instance, does it matter so much that private firms help provide logistics--if McDonalds runs the mess hall? PrivateMilitary.org defines private firms as
legally established international firms offering services that involve the potential to exercise force in a systematic way and by military or paramilitary means, as well as the enhancement, the transfer, the facilitation, the deterrence, or the defusing of this potential, or the knowledge required to implement it, to clients.
In my view, this seems to place emphasis on firms directly engaged in combat operations.

2. Is there a difference between "private military firms" and "mercenaries?" (A case built on international law might want to synonymize the terms.)

3. Note the word "pursue," which, for the Aff, might preclude notions of efficacy (or "solvency," to use the word that's been imported from CX debate).

4. How specifically must we define "military objectives?" This is a prickly question: the extent to which the Affirmative must defend the status quo may be a matter of intense debate. If the Aff tries to argue largely in principled or hypothetical terms, then the objectives may not matter so much; the intent, not the effects, would be most salient. However, the Neg may want to entirely reject the U.S.'s contemporary foreign policy (a sort of pacificist, or perhaps anarchist or anti-capitalist kritik), arguing that any U.S. military objectives, privately supported or otherwise, are completely illegitimate.


Anonymous said...

you seem like a hotti!

A said...

If i am neg, how can i use "is justified" to my advantage.

Jim Anderson said...

A, it depends on whether you're running a rights/justice-based case (in which case you focus on justice-based definitions), or a more practically-based case.

VarshaVeggie said...

can i use a value of Safety and define justified as
to defend or uphold as warranted or well-grounded

Jim Anderson said...

That seems--wait for it--reasonable.

Anonymous said...

I just realized that justice doesn't really work as a value for my criterion of preserving Nationalism(sounds weird but I have tons of justifications for it). How can I either
a.) make morality the value
b.) make justice work

Jim Anderson said...

Have you connected Nationalism to the social contract? That could link it to justice.

Pakman said...

Mr. Anderson,

You said that the definition of military objective is kind of ambiguous. Would
"In so far as objects are concerned, military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage"
be acceptable for Aff ? I haven't found a CV/VC pair yet but I'm thinking of something like security or societal welfare. Again, thanks for everything.

Jim Anderson said...

Pakman, that could work, although it's a little circular (what is "military advantage," for instance?).

(For interested readers, Pakman is citing the Geneva Conventions, which are normative in international humanitarian law.)

The use of "objects" is interesting, as it seems to include persons, which would open up the definition to a kritik based on objectification.

moriahjayy said...

what would be a sufficient definition of "justified" for the negative side?

Jim Anderson said...

I'd think that "justified" in terms of justice / rightness would be more apt for the Neg, since it sets a higher bar for the Aff to meet. But it depends on the kind of case you want to create.

Anonymous said...

I don't know which post I read it on but on one of them you commented about the 2011 national military strategy anyway would it be completely insane to try and use that to run a framework that says you have to prove/disprove use of pmfs in afghanistan and pakistan only?

Jim Anderson said...

Not totally insane, but perhaps difficult to defend against a well-warranted argument that we should discuss things in terms of moral principles rather than specific objectives, which are prone to change.

Lyssa said...

There seems to be an interesting potential to bring in weapons manufacturers. After all, they are under contract to provide services crucial to the goals of the military. The Aff might be able to corner the Neg into saying that the military should begin making its own weapons, which opens a lovely little can of worms.

Jim Anderson said...

Interesting, Lyssa. It could depend on the definition of "use." It's one thing to use the product of a firm... but to use a firm itself seems to be different.

Chrissy said...

why is Lyssa's point bad? Using a firm and the product of a firm sounds synomize with each other.

Jim Anderson said...

Compare "I used a contracting firm to remodel my garage" to "I used Home Depot to remodel my garage."

If Home Depot is analogous to the PMF that exclusively manufactures weapons (i.e., is a mere military supplier rather than a contractor), then saying "I used [Weapons Supplier X] to attain my objective" would be as weird as saying "I used Home Depot to remodel my garage." No one says that, even if they bought all the necessary tools and equipment there.

Anonymous said...

I need a different deinition of PMFs, particularly one that mentions they fight wars for profit. Can anyone help?