Resolved: The United States should end its arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

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Resolved: The United States should end its arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Hey! Here’s a topic that’s interesting and politically relevant. It creates some good direct clash, so let’s talk about it!

Definitions

Not much to define here; you pretty know what all the terms in the resolution are. Arms sales are the sale of any military arms. Other than that, the most important word in the resolution is “should.” You’ll need to establish a framework that explains how we determine what a government should or should not do, then use that framework to evaluate the resolution.

Case Positions

Pro

1. National Security – Saudi Arabia is a known state sponsor of terror and demonstrably had a hand in 9/11. Selling arms to the Saudi regime not only arms a regime which is clearly antagonistic towards the U.S. but also inserts dangerous arms into a region of the world where terrorists could easily gain access to them. Historically, such arms deals have only armed those who harm the U.S. later.

2. Democratic Ideals – The United States should carry out actions which promote democratic ideals across the world. Saudi Arabia oppresses its people, suppresses basic human rights, and is rife with corruption and violence. Selling arms to a regime like this allows them to stay in power and carry out genocidal military actions like the attacks on Yemen. The U.S. should not enable such things to happen.

3. Arms sales come at the opportunity cost of energy independence – Arms sales with Saudi Arabia allows the relationship between the two countries to continue to exist. A part of this relationship is the oil the U.S. purchases. A conflict limiting the supply of oil would push the U.S. toward energy independence out of necessity. This is the direction the country should be moving anyway, so it would be for the best if the U.S. began severing its ties with Saudi Arabia.

Con

1. National Security – Arms deals with Saudi Arabia help protect U.S. interests in the Middle East. It ensures the maintenance of a cooperative military partner and bolsters a relationship that maintains U.S. access to critical oil. Despite the Saudi regime’s history, it’s better for U.S. security interests to continue arms deals.

2. Economics – The U.S. should make decisions that promote economic welfare for is own citizens. Saudi arms deals provide a large source of income and promote U.S. trade and influence in the Middle East. They are economically better for the country and should therefore continue.

Alright, that’s what we’ve got for now. The con side is going to be a little more difficult for this resolution, but it’s still doable. I hope this helps. Good luck, and please post your comments and questions below!

Resolved: The United States federal government should prioritize reducing the federal debt over promoting economic growth.

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Resolved: The United States federal government should prioritize reducing the federal debt over promoting economic growth.

This is a pretty annoying topic. It lends itself to a lot of speculative analysis that it will be difficult to find evidence to support. It also poses a false dichotomy. More often than not, reducing the federal debt and promoting economic growth are not mutually exclusive. Let’s get into it and see what we can come up with.

Definitions – We don’t really need to define anything for this topic. It’s all pretty straightforward. The important thing to note, though, is that the resolution is only concerned with situations in which promoting economic growth and reducing the federal debt are in conflict, meaning that you must pick one over the other. What should the government do when it has to pick?

Case Positions

Pro

1. Must prioritize debt to prioritize economic growth – In order to promote the greatest economic growth, the U.S. must prioritize reducing the federal debt. Interest payments continue to rise, drastically reducing the capital the U.S. government has available to spend on economic growth initiatives. In a strange twist, ignoring the national debt will prevent the U.S. from being able to promote economic growth moving forward.

2. National Security – A government’s first priority is to protect its citizens. That’s why government is created in the first place. A high federal debt is a national security risk, particularly since other competing world powers hold the majority of the debt. It threatens the ability of the U.S. to protect itself from threats should the debt be called.

3. Impending Economic Collapse – A growing U.S. debt balance threatens the stability of the global economy, and the U.S. is in no position to withstand a global collapse since it is not longer primarily a producer. A country like China, because of its continued industrial production infrastructure, can certainly withstand such a collapse. Global markets rely on trust and solvency of the U.S., and a growing national debt threatens both of those.

Con

1. National Debt is Meaningless – There is no such thing as “too much federal debt,” since the debt is essentially meaningless. No global power would call on the U.S. debt, and the U.S. would not fail to make interest payments. The debt can continue to grow or remain steady, and it won’t be an issue. The notion that other countries will stop buying U.S. debt anywhere in the near future is spurious.

2. Economic Growth Allows Debt Reduction – The U.S. needs to focus on economic in order to eventually reduce the national debt. A growing economy allows for a surplus and allows the U.S. to make more payments toward reducing the federal debt. When the two come into conflict, the U.S. should prioritize growing the economy because it’s the only way to reduce the national debt in the long term.

Hope that helps get you started, good luck!

Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.

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Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.

I don’t understand why this topic was chosen. It’s like 20 years out of date. Gotta do what you gotta do I guess. Let’s get to it.

Definitions

I’m going to forego the specific definitions for this one, because they’re pretty obvious, and talk more about the history of the Law of the Sea. Historically, a nation’s territory in the sea extended 3 nautical miles outside it’s national land borders. In the 80s and 90s, however, that needed to be changed. Nations had unilaterally extended their territories to claim fishing and mineral rights, among other military rights. The original guidelines were not clear or comprehensive enough. So UNCLOS (the international UN body responsible for sea things) met and ratified the Law of the Sea. Notably, the U.S. did not ratify because the measure did not pass the Senate. Objections included national security concerns and concerns about the law’s formation for a new committee that would process claims to resources on the deep sea bed. So the question before us now is whether or not the U.S. should ratify this international law.

In order to establish and appropriate framework for your case, you must first determine how we determine what the United States government should do.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Globalization – Globalization is a positive force for all nations, and the U.S., as a leading economic power, should promote policies that promote globalization. The Law of the Seas is on such policy. It will help regulate international commerce, allow the U.S. military increased naval access, and allow recourse for other nations overstepping their bounds.

2. Economics – Without ratifying, the U.S. doesn’t have a voice in UNCLOS, which makes international maritime commerce more challenging. For example, U.S. telecom companies that need to lay cable in the ocean need to find foreign governments to advocate on their behalf in UNCLOS. That’s a pain and makes for a challenging economic climate for U.S. companies.

3. National Security – With a voting seat on the body, the U.S. could have significant influence over naval military policy. Additionally, the Law of the Seas allows for clearer definitions of international waters and reduces the potential for conflict in those waters.

Con

1. Anti-globalization – The notion of an international government is in itself bad. It places limits on national sovereignty that should not be there and does not allow for future flexibility. The U.S. should not participate.

2. Discrimination against U.S. – UNCLOS creates tremendous opportunity for discrimination against the U.S. when it comes to deep sea resources rights. It also lends legitimacy to any nations that want recourse against the U.S. for expanding its international waters influence.

That’s it for now, good luck!

Resolved: The United States should abolish the capital gains tax.

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Resolved: The United States should abolish the capital gains tax.

This topic isn’t so much bad as it is boring. It’s also heavily weight to the Pro. But, let’s do what we have to do.

Definitions

Abolish – This means to get rid of. Note that the resolution does not stipulate a replacement tax or policy.

Capital Gains Tax – This is a tax imposed on capital gains. A capital gain is money earned through the sale of a capital good, like stocks, property, or artwork.

Should – This is important because your framework has to explain how we determine what the U.S. government should do when it comes to tax policy.

Case Positions

PRO

1. Economic Productivity and Growth – When deciding tax policy, the government should focus on economic growth and productivity. Eliminating the capital gains tax has been shown to increase average household real income as well as economic growth. The tax should be eliminated because it encourages people to use their money, purchase/sell goods, and invest.

2. Societal Well Being – The purpose of taxes is to provide for the public good. Libraries, roads, hospitals, etc… all come from tax dollars. The capital gains tax is the least efficient in increasing this public good. The costs associated with its collection are so high that the benefit gained is marginal at best.

CON

1. Reduction in Revenue – The government collects money from taxes, and it spends that money. If the capital gains tax is eliminated, that money has to come from somewhere. It either means we shrink the budget, or create a replacement tax. Neither of those options are great. It would hurt government income, and therefore, it should not be abolished.

2. Benefits Only the Wealthy – Poor and middle class people generally don’t make much from capital gains. People investing in stocks and things are usually wealthier. In fact, the data shows pretty clearly that the majority of people paying capital gains taxes are wealthier than most Americans. If you eliminate the tax, you don’t actually help people that we would rely on for economic growth, you just help the wealthy. So, there’s no point in eliminating it.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.

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Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.

What a strange topic to start off the new season. It’s phrased quite vaguely, so as not to specify if the question is referring specifically to American anti-missile systems which South Korea has delayed deploying this year. If that was the question, then this would be a good targeted debate with lots of clash. Instead, we’re now left to speculate on what is in South Korea’s best interest in a vacuum. Ugh.

Definitions

Anti-missile systems – This is pretty straightforward. There is technology which can defend against missile attacks; anti-missile systems are that technology.

Deployment – Also straightforward. These systems need to be built and deployed.

South Korea’s best interest – This is the crux of your debate. You must construct a framework which allows you to evaluate what is in South Korea’s best interest. In order to do that, you must explain how a government determines what is in it’s country’s best interest.

Pro

1. Security – A nation’s first priority is the security of its people. Security is the primary reason governments and societies are formed, and an anti-missile defense protects the security of the Korean people. North Korea is an active threat, and missile defense helps mitigate that threat.

2. U.S./Korea Relations – It is in a nation’s best interest to maintain strong global allies. The refusal of S. Korea’s new government to deploy a missile defense system has damaged its relationship with the United States, its strongest ally. This directly damages the interests of the Korean people.

Con

1. Security – North Korea is not an active threat. They have not actually made any aggressive moves, and show no indications or possessing actually threatening military power. Consequently, the deployment of anti-missile systems would actually harm the security of the Korean people. It would damage environmental security, as well as expanding U.S. military influence in the country. This is not in the best interest of S. Korea.

2. Sovereignty – South Korea must be able to stand on its own two feet for the sake of its people. The word “deployment” clearly indicates that the anti-missile system would likely be American, rather than being constructed by Korea itself. Instead, S. Korea should construct its own anti-missile defense system. This would avoid the harms to its sovereignty which would occur as a result of it allowing a foreign power to deploy military apparatus within its borders.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.

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Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.

I’m not sure why the resolution specifies the Sahel region; it should probably just say Sudan, or Darfur. In any case, I’m not sure how I feel about this resolution. It doesn’t actually pose an interesting question, nor does it pose one that doesn’t have a correct answer. It’s also a situation that doesn’t exist in reality. In order for prioritization to be a problem, two things have to come in conflict. Why can’t we provide both? Or neither? I also say “we,” but the resolution doesn’t actually specify an actor, which is another big problem. Who is providing the assistance?

Definitions

1. Sahel Region – You should just google this to find a map. The region spans across Africa near the north. It includes the south of Sudan.

2. Development Assistance – This type of assistance focuses on development. It may include things like economic provisions, infrastructure development, technology, consulting, etc…

3. Military Aid – This is fairly straightforward. Military aid involves providing either direct military intervention or military resources to a particular group.

Pro

1. The goal is to solve the problem – Many of the regions issues are caused by resource scarcity. Conflicts in this region of the world are power struggles for what little the land has to offer. If we just provide military aid, the conflict will never stop because the development of the region will not progress; different people will just inherit the same conflict that exists now. As such, development assistance must be prioritized.

2. Just War Theory – JWT dictates that we cannot provide military aid in this region of the world. Military intervention, of any sort, does not fulfill the 5 contingencies of Just War Theory. There is not a just cause, atleast from the U.S. perspective. There is not a reasonable chance of success, and the force is not proportional to the wrong being done.

Con

1. What’s the Point? – Development assistance will be useless in this region because the people who need it will not be able to access it. Military aid needs to be provided first in order to stabilize the region before any additional development can hope to be successful.

2. We shouldn’t be providing anything – The notion of aid is misleading. Historically, intervention of any kind has been much more harmful to such areas of the world than it has been helpful. As a result, there should be no prioritization. Aid should not be provided. People should be allowed to exercise their self determination and develop nations on their own. Self determinate nations have proven to be the most successful.