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Resolved: The United States ought to promote democracy in the Middle East.
The NFL really needs to stop recycling topics. I think this one comes back every three or four years. Although it’s still relevant, the arguments haven’t really changed, and it’s tiring to debate the same thing repeatedly. This is also an awful topic. It is rife with the opportunity for definition debate, an opportunity students jump on all too often these days. I’ll do my best in this topic overview to not get mired in the definitions and give you principles you can apply categorically to the resolution.
Democracy – In this resolution, democracy does not refer to the absolute form of democracy that was advocated in Athens. This is referring to most any form of representative government in which the people elect their leaders. In the modern world, constitutional monarchies like England are also considered democracies. Do not get caught up in the nuances of what a democracy is. The point the resolution is trying to get at is whether or not the principles which create and sustain a democracy should be promoted.
Promote – This is another one where there is an opportunity to get confused in the details. Promote can mean anything from dropping flyers to conducting a military occupation and establishing a puppet regime. There are many ways to promote democracy, and if you think of a position, it must be applicable to all of these methods or it will not works.
Ought – As always, this is the crux of the resolution. You must establish a framework which explains how a government determines what it should do, and then apply that framework to this specific context.
1. National Interest – A government’s metric for action should always be what is in its national interest, or the interest of its people. If democracy flourishes in the Middle East, so will stability. This stability will lead to a decline in conflict, reduction in terrorism, and increase in economic prosperity. The result is that the United States will be more secure and will have more economic partners to help secure its interests.
2. Moral Obligation – Every nation has certain moral obligations in a globalized world. These moral obligations come from the common morality that is established by everyone being a human being and being entitled to certain rights and privileges. Those who are able to promote and protect the principles of this common morality ought to do so, and the United States is one such nation. Promoting democracy in the Middle East will help bring human rights to a region of the world which currently is lacking them. The U.S. has a moral obligation to see that happens.
3. Perpetual Peace – Democracy is the only form of government which can sustain a perpetual peace. Every nation ought to prioritize establishing a global peace because that is better for the world. Therefore, the United States has an obligation to promote democracy everywhere, including the Middle East.
1. Self Determination – Regardless of how the U.S. operates, people in the Middle East need to be free to determine their own form of government and societal structure. This is true not only because it is a fundamental human right, but also because it is the only way to lead to a self sustaining and successful country. Historically, nations which have been deprived of self determination do not fare so well.
2. Security – A nation’s first obligation is to the security of its people. That is the primary reason governments are formed. Promoting democracy in the Middle East, or trying to, has damaged the security of the American people by creating resentment and conflict. Foreign interference has historically been destructive and caused severe backlash, so the United States should not promote democracy in the Middle East.
3. Governmental Legitimacy – When it comes to action, especially with regards to foreign policy, a government must need an impetus in order to legitimately act. This impetus must correspond to an obligation a government has to its own people. Otherwise, the action violates its social contract. Promoting democracy in the Middle East does not correspond to any obligation the U.S. government has to its own people, therefore, it ought not do so.
That should provide a good start for you. As always, please post comments if you have questions or want to discuss anything. Thanks!