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Resolved: The United States ought not provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

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Resolved: The United States ought not provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

This topic is an interesting one. On initial examination, it seems stupid and one sided. And to be clear, it’s certainly emotionally advantageous for the Affirmative. That being said, there’s a lot of room for debate here if you can suspend the heartstrings for 45 minutes. There’s great opportunity for clash, and a lot of room for directly competing viewpoints. So let’s talk about it.

Definitions

Military Aid – This is any aid provided to the military of a nation. This includes, but is not limited to, troops, machinery, funding, weaponry, and training. Do not get bogged down in a definition debate about what does and does not constitute military aid. Your case should apply to all forms of military aid. The only distinction that’s important here is that this is not civilian aid.

Authoritarian Regimes – This is more of a “you know it when you see it” type of term. Authoritarian is a poor choice of words, but it refers to regimes which are dictatorial and generally have a history of abusing the rights of their own people. Relevant examples for this resolution include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, etc…

Ought – This means should, and you don’t really need to define it, but it’s important to know that this is the crux of your case. You must first answer the question of how we determine what the United States government should do. Only then can you determine if the U.S. government should provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

Alright, let’s get to work on possible frameworks.

Affirmative

1. Categorical Imperative – Providing military aid to authoritarian regimes certainly fails all three maxims of the categorical imperative. We don’t want to live in a world where this is universal. It doesn’t seek to not use people strictly as a means to an end, since what humane reasons could there possibly be to provide this military aid, and it definitely doesn’t contribute toward an end in the kingdom of ends.

2. Veil of Ignorance – In a liberal application of the veil of ignorance, it can be argued that, as a citizen under one of these regimes, you would not want foreign powers providing aid to a regime that is trying to oppress you. You would want the opposite. From behind the veil, it’s clear people would construct a world in which these regimes do not receive any foreign military aid.

3. Coherence Theory – Truth of a proposition can be examined through examining its coherence with other already established truths. This includes moral propositions. When it comes to established international moral principles, we can look to things like the declaration of human rights to show us that established truths focus around protecting citizens, not military regimes. There is explicit rejection of military oppression of people. It does not cohere with these established truths that the U.S. should provide military aid to authoritarian regimes.

4. Moral Progress – Moral conflict is necessary for moral progress. When the U.S. provides military aid to authoritarian regimes, it prevents the citizens under that regime from creating the necessary moral conflict to help the nation progress. Allowing the military to weaken allows the self-determination of the people to be realized through conflict.

Negative

1. National Security – A government’s primary obligation is to the security of its own people. After all, that’s why government is formed in the first place. If it fails to protect its people, government is worthless. There are several situations in which providing military aid to authoritarian regimes protects the security of U.S. citizens. As long as this is the case, the U.S. should continue providing such aid.

2. National Interest – A government’s primary obligation is to its own people and the interests of its country. Often times, providing aid to such regimes is in the best interests of the U.S. economically and globally. It often allows the U.S. to position itself more advantageously globally or secure access to resources it would not otherwise have.

3. Utilitarianism – The alternative of not propping up certain regimes is much worse. It leads to exacerbated conflict that is often worse for the people of a nation and worse for global stability. Military aid allows for the preservation of a government, though the government may not be the best. An authoritarian government is better than no government at all.

Hope that helps get you started. Good luck!

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