reply to post by Epiphron
Thanks for filling in in a pinch and taking this debate on short notice.
1) Would negotiating their surrender ensure that they could not take over again?
There is no way to absolutely ensure that they could not take over again.
We have already dismantled much of their organization, and removed them of power. Our choices are to either negotiate for conditions of surrender
that are likely to prevent their return to power, or to continue to dismantle their organization until we are satisfied that they will be unable to
return to power. Neither situation is certain. In either case, it is possible that they will return to power.
We could set conditions of surrender that would leave the chances of the Taliban returning to power similar to the chances of them returning from
power after being abolished as an organization by us. The difference between accepting surrender and your proposed alternative is that your
alternative requires a commitment of resources, time, and lives that is tremendous; a cost that the American people are unwilling to bear for
potential benefits that could approximated through accepting the Taliban’s surrender.
2) Do the majority of Americans blame the Taliban for any part of 9/11?
My assessment is that the majority of Americans accept a narrative that is for the most part consistent with the official story. This narrative
blames the Taliban for 9/11 to the extent that they supported and facilitated Al-Qaeda activities and those activities lead to the attacks of 9/11.
Alternatively, a recent large survey
found that 92% of Afghans are not
even aware of the events of 9/11. Remember that they suffer dearly from our “justice.”
3) If we were to negotiate with them, what conditions do you think they would place on their surrender?
Per the debate topic, we only need to be willing to negotiate with them; we don’t have to be committed to a peaceful resolution. If their choice
was between violent and forceful destruction or accepting conditional surrender, we would be in the position of deciding the conditions.
At this point, we’re committed to imposing democracy as the form of government in Iraq and Afghanistan, so one condition of surrender would have to
be that the Taliban not interfere with the democratically elected government or with the democratic process in any way. Another important condition
would be that they cease all unlawful activities. Other than that, some reasonable conditions were suggested by president Bush before we invaded
Afghanistan in 2001:
1) Deliver to the U.S. all of the leaders of Al-Qaeda
2) Release all foreign nationals that have been "unjustly imprisoned"
3) Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, and aid workers
4) Close immediately every terrorist training camp
5) Hand over every terrorist and their supporters to appropriate authorities
6) Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps for inspection
I really don’t know what their ideal conditions for surrender would be, but I do know that it doesn’t matter. We don’t have to agree if we
don’t like the terms. They’re more motivated to agree if they know the alternative is death or imprisonment.
4) Why do you think it would be preferable to have them surrender rather than just take them out of power ourselves?
Because “just” taking them out of power ourselves involves a terrible project of global war. Many people will die, it’s very expensive, and it
would involve being at war in the middle east wherever there are Taliban. There is no end in sight to this endeavor. The American people are not
interested in this course of action. War is widely accepted as being bad.
Surrender is very obviously preferable in terms of the human cost as well as the financial cost. It’s not good for our people to constantly have
soldiers in harms way on the other side of world; it’s not good for our economy to constantly be spending money on fighting - an investment with
little return, if any; and it’s not good for foreign relations to constantly be at war, especially at war in multiple countries. What you propose
necessitates a very long commitment to all of these undesirable things.
Accepting the enemy’s surrender is a way to get most of the benefits of your more prolonged, costly path to victory while avoiding the worst
aspects of that path.
5) If the majority of Americans want justice, would it be democratic if our leaders chose to negotiate the Taliban’s conditional surrender?
Obviously it depends of what is meant by justice. As I said, I don’t think most Americans feel that the Taliban bear the brunt of the blame for
the attacks of 9/11. Americans want Bin Laden for 9/11, I don’t think the majority opinion is that we should be continuing to fight the Taliban to
“get them back” for their role in 9/11.
Certainly almost no American would prefer a prolonged multi-front war again the Taliban over accepting their surrender. It’s just obviously not
worth it. What would we get out of it? Imagine the cost. There would have to be a very compelling answer to that question in order to make it worth
it. The reality is that such an answer doesn’t exist - it’s not worth it - and the American people recognize this.
-end of answers-
There seem to be two central features of your argument. The primary feature is this idea the Taliban doesn’t act in accordance with American
values and since the topic of the debate is what America “should” do, you conclude that we should dismantle them for this reason. This is clearly
silly. America isn’t responsible for every human being on the planet. We’re not the world police, we’re not obligated to fight every injustice
that we perceive to be occurring anywhere the world, and no one wants us to invade a country every time an organization sprouts up that doesn’t live
by truth, justice, and the American Way. It’s not desirable from the perspective of the American people or from the perspective of the target
country for us violently impose our values wherever we see fit.
The second central feature of your argument - as I see it - is the notion that when we talk about what “should” be done, we’re dealing with
ideal hypotheticals. According to you, since the Taliban are not an ideal organization, in an ideal world we would eliminate them without be willing
to consider accepting their surrender. This tactic is conducive to your position, but it’s very clearly an unreasonable interpretation of the
debate. The word “should” doesn’t mean that we’re only dealing in fantasy, and that we can ignore the downside of your proposed course of
Even though we’re debating what we “should” do, we have consider the full implications of any proposed course of action. We should not pursue
your course of action because the downside is too large. What we stand to gain is trivial compared to what we will definitely lose. At some point
it’s not worth it to risk lives and spend billions and invade nations because there’s a small group of jerks living in a cave in the desert who
don’t conduct business democratically.
I’m going to present a brief list of the pros and cons of my position and yours, as I see it. I’m only going for the major points here.
Pros of my position:
1) The Taliban can be removed from power
2) Their abilities to combat their government and ours can be minimized
3) All of the benefits that come with not being involved in a prolonged, multi-front war
Cons of my position:
1) Some Americans won’t feel that justice has been done for 9/11
2) Some Americans don’t want to negotiate with extremists under any circumstances
3) The Taliban may maintain some capacity for harm
Pros of your position
1) The Taliban will have essentially no capacity for harm when we’re finished with them
2) We won’t have to negotiate
3) Some people will feel that justice has been served
Cons of your position
1) A tremendous commitment to a prolonged, multi-font war
2) Very little to show for it, when the prolonged, multi-front war is over
3) Devastating to people and nations who haven’t done anything to deserve it (i.e. the nations and citizens of nations in which the Taliban may
1) What do you think of the list above?
2) What do we stand to gain from the tremendous investment( of lives as well as resources) required to conduct the wars necessary for your proposed
course of action? (Is it worth it?)
3) Do you believe that the Taliban are the greatest threat in the world to peace, human rights, or America?
4) You said that your course of action would “ensure a safer world in the Middle East, guarantee the protection of human rights…” (your answer
to #4, previous post). Do you recognize that these statements are untrue, or do you actually expect the judges to believe them? That is, do you
expect them to believe that we can “guarantee the protection of human rights” by dismantling the Taliban?
5) Doesn’t your line of argument imply that we should go to war with any organization that threatens peace, human rights, or America?