Resolved: The United States has a moral obligation to promote just governance in developing nations.At a reader's prompting, here are some initial thoughts.
First, generally, why might just governance in developing nations be important? Lots of potential reasons, each of which would require some research for warranting:
* It's just / the right thing to do, which is reason enough
* Improves lives / protects rights of citizens of those developing nations
* Reduces conflict / promotes international stability
* Economic security for nations and their trading partners
* Just governance probably better protects the environment
* Reduces the growing pains of globalization
Still, we're not yet to the level of a moral obligation; not all good things are obligatory. We have some hurdles to clear:
1. The Affirmative has to warrant the notion that nations have moral obligations.
Such obligations could arise from several places: the social contract, universal moral schemes (utilitarianism, Kantianism), or legal frameworks (the Constitution, treaties, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international law). They may be corporate (the U.S. as a government has the obligation) or aggregate (the U.S.'s government agents as a collection of independent moral actors have the obligation).
The choice of moral framework will be critical to establishing the level of the obligation as well. Even from a purely pragmatic or instrumental perspective--that the U.S.'s only moral obligation is to its own needs--if, empirically, promoting just governance is critical to the U.S.'s own security, then we vote Aff.
2. "Just governance" has to be clearly, compellingly defined
Here's where a broader contractarian perspective offers a coherent framework without demanding particulars (What kind of governmental structures? What sort of democratic institutions, if any? What kinds of civil rights?). Delving into specifics potentially makes the Aff an uphill battle. However, it's not impossible to narrow the focus to something like international legal norms, which offer a widely agreed-upon set of "best practices" for just governance.
3. What does it mean to "promote" just governance? Does mere cheerleading suffice?
On the Neg, I'd use a "fork" strategy:
a. If the obligation is mere cheerleading, it's not morally significant, and therefore no obligation.
b. If the obligation requires economic or military action, it's too costly, and therefore no obligation.
c. If the obligation is something else--diplomatic efforts? winning a war of ideas?--it's ineffectual and pointless and wasteful, and therefore no obligation.
4. Is it ever to the U.S.'s advantage to allow--or even promote--unjust governance in developing nations?
It sounds like a question a terrible person would ask, but then, political philosophers are terrible people. We can't presume that just governance provides automatic benefits for surrounding or affiliated nations, never mind the citizens of the developing nation, unless we construe "just" so broadly as to include beneficial outcomes by definition.
In fact, for the U.S. to maintain economic and military hegemony, perhaps it's best to let developing nations remain mired in dictatorships or muddle their own way through. As the Egyptian non-intervention and the Libyan intervention shows, getting involved isn't automatically the best option. More cynically, if developing nations gain power through just governance, they may threaten the long-term interests of the United States.
At any rate, there are no easy, knock-down arguments for either side, although it seems that the Negative, by sheer number of hurdles, has the advantage in this debate.
If you have any questions or would like any further analysis, let me know in the comments. I don't usually cover the NCFL, so I won't blog extensively on this resolution without your prompting.