JT Round 1. OnceReturned vs Epiphron: Don't Kill 'em All

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posted on Nov, 15 2010 @ 03:00 AM
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The topic for this debate is "The US should be willing to negotiate the conditional surrender of the Taliban.”

OnceReturned will be arguing the "Pro" position and begin the debate.
Epiphron will be arguing the "Con" position.

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edit on Thu 18 Nov 2010 by The Vagabond because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 15 2010 @ 06:28 PM
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“The US should be willing to negotiate the conditional surrender of the Taliban.”

Thanks to the judges and the organizers. I hope not to bore you. I’m going to keep my opening statement reasonable in length and fairly straightforward. I intend to identify and define the relevant concepts for our discussion, and I will indicate in a general way how I intend to present my position. Throughout the course of this debate, I will show clearly that there is no reasonable alternative to the idea that the US should be willing to negotiate the conditional surrender of the Taliban, and that any suggestion to the contrary cannot be defended rationally.

The issue of the debate is what the US should do. In order to proceed, we have to sort out what is meant by “should.” First and foremost, the United States is bound by democratic ideology. What the United States “should” do under any circumstances is to act is accordance with the will of its people by way of their representitives. There can be no rejection of this essential guiding principal without a much broader rejection of the American system of government. Such a rejection would be off-topic, unrealistic, inapplicable to any grounded discussion of a specific policy issue, and well beyond the scope of this debate. I do expect my opponent to pursue this course of argument. Ultimately, then, what the US “should” - and will - do, is obey the will of the people.

The question, then, becomes, what should the will of the people be? Specifically, should the people accept or reject the statement that is the topic of this debate? This is the question that will be addressed in our discussion. I propose that there is a familiar method for making binary decisions that is better suited for our purposes than any other method. This method is the comparison of the pros and cons of each alternative; a cost/benefit analysis. The best way to decide whether or not the US should be willing to negotiate the conditional surrender of the Taliban is to consider the pros and cons of doing so, and then to consider the pros and cons of not doing so. The challenge here will be to prioritize the items on these lists, but even if we can’t agree on priorities, the presentation of the lists will clarify the basis for our ultimate decision.

The challenge that is inherent to the proposed decision-making method is the prioritization of the items on the lists of pros and cons. I suggest that there will be two categories of items on these lists: intangible considerations and tangible considerations. These categories will correspond in large part to moral considerations and practical considerations, respectively. The difficulty with the moral considerations will be the same sort of difficulty that surrounds all moral issues, namely, the lack of an objective basis. The difficulty with the practical considerations will be uncertainty; we’re identifying pros and cons of hypothetical decisions and we can’t really know what would actually happen under the circumstances that we will imagine.

While the pros and cons list will be the method by which I consider the two choices in the body of the debate, I would like to anticipate an item that will likely appear on those lists and address it very briefly now. An idea that is likely to appear on the pro list of my opponent’s position - an item that he will likely place on the con list of my position - is that of satisfying the American desire for revenge. He may describe this item simply as “justice.” The idea being that the US blames the Taliban for 9/11, and that no conceivable terms of surrender could possibly be a reasonable service of justice. I will remind the readers of a number of facts to keep in mind when evaluating this position. A) Who should be blamed for 9/11 is a highly contested issue, both in the United States and across the globe. A large portion of the population is not convinced that the issue is settled. While this debate only makes sense to have if we assume some guilt on the part of the Taliban, when determining “justice” it is worth remembering that the issue of guilt is outstanding, to say the least. B) According to the FBI, none of the 9/11 hijackers were from Afghanistan or Iraq. Source C) The perpetrators of 9/11 died on 9/11. D) The Taliban is not the same as Al-Qaeda. E) According to the US, 9/11 was an Al-Qaeda operation, not a Taliban operation. E) The topic of debate is the acceptance of the conditional surrender of the Taliban, not Al-Qaeda. Given these considerations, the idea that accepting surrender is not an option on the basis of justice will indefensible.

Points that will appear on the pro list of my position will be derived in large part from a list of demands that the US made to the Taliban before invading Afghanistan:

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

Source

I will argue that the pros of a surrender which included these conditions would be preferable by any measure to a refusal to accept any surrender at all. I will further argue that the cons of pursuing a course of action that does not allow the enemy to surrender would be overwhelming and clearly unacceptable.

Socratic Questions:

1) Is your position equivalent to that referenced in the title of our debate, “Kill 'em All?” In other words, is your position that we should kill every member of the Taliban?

2) Exactly which aspects of 9/11 do you blame the Taliban for? Do you blame them for anything else, specifically?

3) What are the most compelling pros of my position and cons of your position?

4) What do you believe would be accomplished by killing them all that couldn’t be accomplished by certain conditions of surrender?

5) What are the most compelling pros to your position and cons of my position?



posted on Nov, 19 2010 @ 06:57 PM
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First of all I’d like to briefly thank everyone who has helped put together this tournament. Also, I want to thank my opponent for participating and I’m sure this will prove to be an interesting and enlightening exchange of ideas. Throughout the course of this debate I will attempt to demonstrate why the US should NOT be willing to negotiate the conditional surrender of the Taliban.

I will explain why it simply isn’t the American way, nor is it the will of the people, to allow a group of such egregious abusers of natural human rights to decide whether they want to surrender to us or continue their cruel and tyrannical rule over Afghanistan.

The term ‘should’, naturally implies an ideal solution and refers to the course of action that would be most proper and beneficial. As a decision that is based on idealism, it is relative to the entity making the decision, since what is ‘ideal’ cannot be objectively defined. That entity, in our case, is the people of the United States. So we must ask ourselves, is it really beneficial to the American People to allow such a dangerous and cruel group to exist in our world? More importantly, is that what the people of the United States want? Do we want to risk the Taliban reemerging later on, or do we want to make sure their brutal and tyrannical control over the Middle East can never be revived?

I accept my opponent’s proposal to examine this issue by the use of pro and con methodology, as I likewise agree that this would be the most expedient means to arrive at a logic conclusion to the question at hand.

As for prioritizing the lists and deciding which Pros or Cons are strongest, I personally think, since this is about what the US should do, that the ideals of this country should be used to measure the value and legitimacy of each reason. These ideals that all Americans believe strongly and wholeheartedly in are freedom, justice, and the right of every human being to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. As a country that stands for these ideals, it is our duty to ensure that justice and freedom be preserved restored wherever human rights are being violated. We cannot disregard the abuses occurring in foreign lands. We are becoming more globalized each and every day, and the inhumane methods of the Taliban can no longer be tolerated.

The Taliban are not a legitimate or legal organization and should not be dealt with as such. Negotiating with insurgents who are not bound by the same international rules and treaties as we are, is not the most efficient or effective way to deal with them, nor is it the will of the people of the US, which is the primary concern in our debate.

Response to Socratic Questions:

1) Is your position equivalent to that referenced in the title of our debate, “Kill 'em All?” In other words, is your position that we should kill every member of the Taliban?

No. My position is that we should completely break apart the organization by severing ties between members, block all sources of income so they will no longer be able to operate, capture a few top members, along with other methods to dismantle the group and ensure they will no longer have the means to gain power and control.

2) Exactly which aspects of 9/11 do you blame the Taliban for? Do you blame them for anything else, specifically?

I do not blame the Taliban for any part of 9/11. I will point out however that the majority of Americans do blame them, and it is the majority that counts here in America. So if we are to be guided by Democratic ideology, America does as a whole view the Taliban as guilty and does want justice, regardless of whether they did in fact have anything to do with 9/11.

I blame them for running a violent and oppressive dictatorship over Afghanistan, for cruelty and injustices against women such as not allowing them to work or be seen outside, for cruel punishment such as stoning, public execution, hand amputations, and other severe abuses of human rights.


3) What are the most compelling pros of my position and cons of your position?

The most compelling Pro of your position and Con of my position is that there is no evidence linking the Taliban to 9/11. However, I do not find this particularly relevant. Unfortunately, the American people do not care much for evidence and proof. They haven’t seen proof, yet they still demand justice. Since you stated that what the US should do is follow the will of the people, and considering that the will of the people is justice, NOT negotiating their surrender is the solution that is most in accordance with American Ideology.

4) What do you believe would be accomplished by killing them all that couldn’t be accomplished by certain conditions of surrender?

Killing them all isn’t my contention. I don’t believe killing them all is akin to not negotiating their surrender, as I’ve previously explained. By completely breaking apart the organization, which I believe is possible without killing them all, we can ensure a safer world in the Middle East, guarantee the protection of human rights, and carry out the will of the American people, which is justice. I don’t believe negotiating could accomplish these things because the organization itself would still exist and would continue to pose a threat.

5) What are the most compelling pros to your position and cons of my position?

The most compelling pro of my position and con of your position is that the US is a democratic republic, which means the will of the people governs the nation’s policies, so regardless of what the best solution to dealing with the Taliban is, it is what the American people want. My contention is that the American people do not want to negotiate with extremists.

Socratic Questions for my Opponent:

1) Would negotiating their surrender ensure that they could not take over again?

2) Do the majority of Americans blame the Taliban for any part of 9/11?

3) If we were to negotiate with them, what conditions do you think they would place on their surrender?

4) Why do you think it would be preferable to have them surrender rather than just take them out of power ourselves?

5) If the majority of Americans want justice, would it be democratic if our leaders chose to negotiate the Taliban’s conditional surrender?



posted on Nov, 20 2010 @ 07:13 PM
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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 action.

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 operate)

Questions:

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?



posted on Nov, 21 2010 @ 07:11 PM
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My response to Socratic Questions:

1) What do you think of the list above?

I think the cons of my position are a bit misrepresented, so I will take some time to address them.

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 operate)

1) Accurate.
2) I think the that millions of people getting to live freely and without an oppressive and dangerous extremist organization running their lives IS in fact something to show for it.
3) They have been living in devastation for centuries. What they do deserve is better living conditions and freedom, which can only be done through intervention.
The biggest con of my position is the additional risk of lives, though I do think most people will agree that freedom is worth fighting for.

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?)

We stand to gain the appreciation and admiration of the Afghani people for freeing them from the Taliban. Sure, we might not get money, but can you really put a price on freedom? I remember reading in the newspaper a while back about a man who ran into a burning house to save a little girl. It certainly wasn’t his job to do that. He didn’t get paid for it. A defenseless human being needed help, so he helped her. Would you disapprove of his actions since he risked his life and wasn’t going to get anything out of it? I sure hope not.

We’re in a similar situation, as a country. We should fight for those who don’t have the ability to fight for themselves. Those who have the ability to take action, have the responsibility to take action. There’s no law that designates the U.S. as the world’s policeman, but SOMEBODY needs to stand up and fight oppression. Who else is going to do it? Are we to leave it to the weak and defenseless to fight against their oppressors? I’m not advocating that we be the world’s policeman, but it should be a group effort from several of the most advanced countries to ‘police’ the world. Otherwise, things just may get out of hand, and by the time it finally starts to directly affect us, it might be too late.

Our country was founded on the belief that all human beings have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so as Americans we have the duty to ensure that everyone is given those rights, no matter how far they are from you, and no matter the cost.


3) Do you believe that the Taliban are the greatest threat in the world to peace, human rights, or America?

No. However, what they stand for, the denial of freedom and fundamental human rights to others, IS the greatest threat to peace, human rights, and America. When organizations like the Taliban are allowed to exist then the peace and safety of our world is threatened, and all necessary measure to abolish them should be taken.

Completely dismantling and eliminating is more effective as a preventative measure for the future than negotiation is. Our actions speak louder than words. If we truly want to put an end to the Taliban and other similar groups, then we need to send a strong message that we will not tolerate them to any extent.


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?

I believe that by completely dismantling the Taliban, along with helping to replace them with a democracy, as we are currently doing, we can guarantee the people of those countries the protection of human rights, at least to some degree. I do expect the judges to recognize the fact that our work in Afghanistan so far has resulted in an increased protection of human rights. By no means did I intend my statement to mean an absolute guaranteed protection of all human rights, but to a much greater degree than was possible with the Taliban in power.

5) Doesn’t your line of argument imply that we should go to war with any organization that threatens peace, human rights, or America?

No. Not go to war. Though my line of argument does imply that steps should be taken, with the assistance and approval of other countries and international peace committees, to ensure no such organizations can rise to power, and if they do, to remove them.

Socratic Questions for My Opponent:

1) If you saw a stranger in trouble, would you help them, even if you knew you wouldn’t get paid for it?

2) If someone is thinking about committing a crime, do you think a plea bargain, imprisonment, or death would be the most effective deterrent?

3) If we allowed them to surrender, would it be possible to capture and imprison them all?

4) Do you expect the judges to believe that we’re spending billions of dollars and losing thousands of lives fighting “a small group of jerks living in a cave in the desert”? Or is it possible they are a bigger threat than that?

5) Do you believe we can put a price on a human being’s freedom and safety?



posted on Nov, 22 2010 @ 07:08 PM
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1) If you saw a stranger in trouble, would you help them, even if you knew you wouldn’t get paid for it?

Obviously, this question covers a very broad spectrum of possible scenarios, and my answer isn’t yes to all or no to all, but yes to some and no to others. I have helped strangers in trouble; I saved a whole family that was drowning in the ocean once. I would do it again. I knew I wouldn’t get paid but I did it anyway. I think that most people in the same situation would do the same thing if they could. This is the sort of thing that I answer “yes” to.

A totally different matter is whether or not I would help someone on the other side of the world who is living under an oppressive government by attempting to dismantle that government. The answer to that question is self evident; I’m not in North Korea or Iraq or Afghanistan or Darfur fighting, so the answer must be “no.” I don’t think you’re fighting oppressive organization in other countries either though, so I would say that you “wouldn’t” help those people in that way because the fact is that you’re not doing it. This is the case with most Americans. They’re not fighting oppressive governments all over the world, because they don’t want to.

There’s a reason we weren’t at war with the Taliban before 9/11, and it’s the same reason that we’re not at war with every government or organization that violates human rights or threatens freedom. The reason is that the people of America don’t see it as our place to violently impose our ideals anywhere in the world that we perceive injustice.

2) If someone is thinking about committing a crime, do you think a plea bargain, imprisonment, or death would be the most effective deterrent?

Certainly for most people death would be the ultimate deterrent. While the most effective deterrent for people who might be inclined to act in a way that we disagree with would be death, I don’t think you’ll find very many people who are interested in living in a world where such a system were imposed. Additionally, death is not much a deterrent to people who are willing to die for what they believe in. Remember that many terrorists - especially Islamic extremists - kill themselves intentionally during attacks.

3) If we allowed them to surrender, would it be possible to capture and imprison them all?

I doubt it. I don’t know that it would be possible to capture and imprison them all under any circumstances. Remember that high ranking Nazis escaped punishment, and that Bin Laden is still at large. I don’t think we can capture and imprison every single member of the Taliban no matter how hard we try. If they want to get away badly enough, some of them probably will.

4) Do you expect the judges to believe that we’re spending billions of dollars and losing thousands of lives fighting “a small group of jerks living in a cave in the desert”? Or is it possible they are a bigger threat than that?

That characterization of them is certainly crude and oversimplified, but I don’t think it’s factually incorrect. There aren’t very many of them; they do hide (quite effectively) in caves; and they are jerks. How large of a threat they are is debatable. The Taliban has never made an attack on US soil and there is no indication that they ever would, except perhaps in response to our attacks on them. Still, they would rank extremely low on any list of genuine threats to the United States.

5) Do you believe we can put a price on a human being’s freedom and safety?

It has a cost. We don’t get to put a price on these things, reality does that for us.

Again, there’s a reason we weren’t fighting the Taliban before 9/11, and there’s a reason we’re not fighting every oppressive government in the world right now. The American people don’t want to pay the cost in order to protect the rights of those people. Many Americans are happy to support the Red Cross and put supportive bumper stickers on their cars, but they’re not happy to go to war.

There’s no indication that Americans are interested in fighting everyone that disagrees with our principals anywhere in the world. It’s not our place. Americans are prepared to fight and die in order to protect these ideas [I]for Americans and in America[/I], not wherever in the entire world they may be challenged.

The idea that we should fight in order to impose, defend, or preserve American principals in other countries is what got us into Vietnam and it’s what has us nation-building in Iraq, two of the most unpopular endeavors in this country’s history. It’s inconceivable that this idea should guide our decision making, especially with regard to the elimination of the Taliban - a relatively benign threat compared to other groups and governments throughout the world.

Ultimately, you’re suggesting that the United States should eliminate the Taliban in order to protect and impose American principals and values. There is no indication that the American people are interested in imposing those principals and values on the rest of the world through warfare. In fact, wars in which that is the apparent agenda are undeniably unpopular.

1) If you think the American people want to go to war in order to protect [I]American[/I] values in other countries, how do you explain the fact that we’re not at war with every government that does not act according to those values and that we weren‘t at war with the Taliban before 9/11?

2) Do you think it’s important to respect the sovereignty of other nations even if those nations are undemocratic or threatening to American values?

3) Do you make a distinction between American responsibility to uphold its principals within its own boarders and its responsibility to uphold those principals globally?

4) Do you think we are presently at war with the Taliban primarily because they don’t share American principals or because of 9/11? Keep in mind that they have never shared our principals, and that we first attacked them in September of 2001.

5) Do you think that following the Taliban into any country that they move into and making war in/with those countries will decrease or increase the terrorist threat to the United States? How?



posted on Nov, 23 2010 @ 03:49 PM
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Ever since our country declared independence from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain, we have stood firmly on the foundations of liberty and justice. This is about what the US should do, and since the US has always stood for freedom, it would be hypocritical to deny other human beings the same rights we have simply because they were born in the wrong place. In 1823, our president James Monroe brought forth the Monroe Doctrine, which stated that no European powers were to interfere with Central or South America, where many countries were gaining their independence, just as we had done a half century before. So it is not a new concept for us to protect people in other countries from tyranny.

So this debate really isn’t about what we ARE doing, it’s about what we SHOULD be doing. Thanks to strong efforts by the media and TPTB, we, as a nation, have become largely desensitized and callous to suffering. Most citizens are simply too self centered to care about the oppression of people on the other side of the world. Indifference and selfishness are the main reasons why there is suffering and injustices going on in the world, so while this may be the current state of things, we really have to ask ourselves, is this right? Is this indifference and lack of empathy found in most Americans the way it really SHOULD be?

Answers:

1) If you think the American people want to go to war in order to protect American values in other countries, how do you explain the fact that we’re not at war with every government that does not act according to those values and that we weren‘t at war with the Taliban before 9/11?

I attribute this to the propaganda campaign that we have been exposed to for decades that has instilled indifference and callousness in our hearts and has removed all feelings of empathy. I don’t believe that our founding fathers, had they the military power that we have now, would have allowed such hypocrisy from our nation and its people. A country that truly stood for and believed in the lofty ideals and values that it was founded on would not sit back in the comfort of their freedom when others do not have that luxury. The only reason we are able to enjoy such a luxury is because not too long ago our forefathers were in the exact position that the people of Afghanistan are in right now, and they did not think it was right for human beings to live like that. Should we allow people to live like that?


2) Do you think it’s important to respect the sovereignty of other nations even if those nations are undemocratic or threatening to American values?

I think there is a difference between being undemocratic and being oppressive. I think most people will agree that the Taliban govern in an oppressive way. I do realize that there are nations that are not governed in the same democratic fashion that America is, and I do think we should respect them and remain uninvolved in their affairs, so long as their people are happy.

3) Do you make a distinction between American responsibility to uphold its principals within its own boarders and its responsibility to uphold those principals globally?

No. I don’t believe place of birth, which is completely due to luck of the draw, should make a difference between a free and happy life, and an oppressed and menial one. Of course, many may attribute that to simply the unfair nature of life, but if it can be prevented, then it should be. I believe our country, with the help of others, has the strength and the means to ensure that the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness can be extended to all human beings. This is now possible. It’s not a matter of whether it can or cannot be done, but whether it should or should not be done. I believe it should.

4) Do you think we are presently at war with the Taliban primarily because they don’t share American principals or because of 9/11? Keep in mind that they have never shared our principals, and that we first attacked them in September of 2001.

Officially, as we have been told by the government, we went to war with them because of 9/11, and we are now trying to protect local Afghans and restore peace and order.

As for the apparent contradiction as to why we didn’t attack until 2001 even though they have been around for about a decade before that, I think that can be attributed to our leaders decisions rather than the will of the people or what our country stands for. If our leaders had the media show the atrocities and severe abuses of human rights going on in Afghanistan, then pressure would have likely been put on the government to intervene in some way.

5) Do you think that following the Taliban into any country that they move into and making war in/with those countries will decrease or increase the terrorist threat to the United States? How?

I think the threat would decrease. They already are recruiting people from all over the region so I doubt that it would make them more aggressive or that it would increase their numbers. Staying right on their tail could only increase our chances of finally putting an end to their organization.


Additionally, death is not much a deterrent to people who are willing to die for what they believe in. Remember that many terrorists - especially Islamic extremists - kill themselves intentionally during attacks.


Sure, they have some people who are willing to die for their group, but so do we. Our soldiers will sacrifice their lives, it’s just a different strategy, but same result. I don’t think you’re taking into account that the masterminds of their organization wouldn’t just go kill themselves. They’re too valuable. Their leadership qualities and organizational skills are what perpetuates the Taliban’s existence. Without them, the organization would crumble.


Remember that high ranking Nazis escaped punishment, and that Bin Laden is still at large.


According to this, and this , high ranking Nazis were brought to the US by our government, and the Taliban said they would hand over Bin Laden if the US gave them evidence that he was guilty. So, neither of those examples can really be used as examples of our locating and tracking incompetence. Our technology really is quite advanced, so I think it’s more of whether we really want to find them or not.

Questions:


1) If you were an afghan woman and scared for your life because the Taliban could violently beat you simply for being outside, would you want a foreign country to save your people and defeat the Taliban, or would you think that it’s not their duty to help you so you’re essentially hopeless?

2) Should the US have allowed Hitler to take over Europe since he never directly attacked the US?

3) Do you think there’s a difference between undemocratic principles and tyrannical oppression?

4) Is there anything hypocritical about living by the principle that all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and then granting those rights to some human beings and not to others?

5) If I’m a racist and I want to beat up people of other races, is that what you think I should do, since that’s what I want?



posted on Nov, 24 2010 @ 12:09 PM
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Originally posted by Epiphron
Ever since our country declared independence from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain, we have stood firmly on the foundations of liberty and justice.


America is founded on these principals. There is no indication that the founding fathers intended to impose these principals on the rest of the world. American principals are meant to be upheld in America. That’s as far as our constitutional responsibility goes. In the Declaration of Independence, America was declared [I]independent[/I]. All of our founding documents apply to the US as an [I]independent[/I] nation. There is no mention of converting every human being on earth to truth, justice, and the American way. That’s not to say that isolationism is the best policy, but certainly the unending pursuit of anyone who disagrees with us was never a goal. It is not now an American policy, and it should never be an American policy.



This is about what the US should do,


This debate is not about engaging in an absurdly unrealistic fantasy. It’s true that if we were allowed to construct the world as we wanted, we wouldn’t include the Taliban. They are not a positive element. However, we live in a world with many negative elements. This is reality. Given reality, there are consequences to our actions. The consequences of pursuing the Taliban and every other threat to American principals all over the world are untenable. The American people don’t want to do what you’re suggesting. It’s not worth it. The people of America don’t want to lose thousands of lives and spend many billions of dollars in order to try to bring about this utopia that you envision. The people have decided that it’s not worth it, they don’t agree with you, therefore they should not go along with your plan. They’re free to decide in matters like this and their decision is clear. We - the people of America - are not interested in an unending war against all evil in the world.



and since the US has always stood for freedom, it would be hypocritical to deny other human beings the same rights we have simply because they were born in the wrong place.


There’s a difference between having the right to something and having that thing given to you. The Afghan people have the right to freedom, but that doesn’t mean that the United States is responsible for protecting them from every threat to freedom that may arise, especially from without their own country.

We don’t control the world. It’s not up to us to determine everything that happens. We’re not denying them anything, the Taliban were. The Taliban are already out of power. Accepting their surrender under certain conditions could provide as much of a guarantee as possible that they don’t return to power or interfere with democracy.



In 1823, our president James Monroe brought forth the Monroe Doctrine, which stated that no European powers were to interfere with Central or South America, where many countries were gaining their independence, just as we had done a half century before. So it is not a new concept for us to protect people in other countries from tyranny.


The Taliban was not a foreign threat to Afghanistan. What you’re talking about is not protecting the Afghan people from some outside tyranny, you’re talking about going into their country and forcing them to do things differently. We’ve already done that. The Taliban [I]are[/I] out of power. We could impose conditions of surrender that would ensure that they don’t return to power or interfere with democracy, and we could enforce those conditions. This would accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish, it would just do it without as many Americans dying and without our government spending as much money.



So this debate really isn’t about what we ARE doing, it’s about what we SHOULD be doing. Thanks to strong efforts by the media and TPTB, we, as a nation, have become largely desensitized and callous to suffering. Most citizens are simply too self centered to care about the oppression of people on the other side of the world. Indifference and selfishness are the main reasons why there is suffering and injustices going on in the world, so while this may be the current state of things, we really have to ask ourselves, is this right? Is this indifference and lack of empathy found in most Americans the way it really SHOULD be?


This a desperate fantasy that you’re expressing right now. A perfect world is unrealistic, and it’s absolutely absurd to suggest that the American people should have to be forced to fight, die, and pay for a futile attempt to bring it about. I say forced because Americans are clearly not interested in pursuing your proposed course of action. This is not the result of a desensitization campaign by the powers that be. It’s not as though the American desire to impose utopia on the world used to be stronger. We’re never been interested in doing that. You can’t argue that the people have been desensitized when nothing has changed. In fact, the US gives more aid money now than 20 or 50 years ago. We’re not becoming more callous about the state of the world. It’s just that people don’t want to die in pursuit of something so obviously unrealistic.

Recall that earlier in the debate you agreed that the United States should act in agreement with the will of the people. The will of the people is [I]not[/I] to violently impose freedom on every human being on earth. Case closed.


1) If you were an afghan woman and scared for your life because the Taliban could violently beat you simply for being outside, would you want a foreign country to save your people and defeat the Taliban, or would you think that it’s not their duty to help you so you’re essentially hopeless?

I would want someone - anyone - to help but I would know that it’s not the duty of another country on the other side of the world. It’s not the duty of any country to protect every human being on earth. Nation’s duties are to its people, no the people of other nations. How can American citizens be asked to put their lives on the line so that an Afghan woman can go outside? No one can expect foreigners to die for their rights.

2) Should the US have allowed Hitler to take over Europe since he never directly attacked the US?

The United States entered WWII because of Pearl Harbor, not Hitler. Our war in Europe was in our own interest. We acted to defend our allies and protect ourselves. We did what we should have done. We defended our allies not for the sake of principals but because our economies were intertwined and because we knew we were next on Hitler’s list. The threat of the Taliban is not comparable to Nazi Germany.

3) Do you think there’s a difference between undemocratic principles and tyrannical oppression?

Yes, in principal a dictator could be a great leader; not tyrannical or oppressive.

4) Is there anything hypocritical about living by the principle that all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and then granting those rights to some human beings and not to others?

If that were the situation, it would be hypocritical. Americans live the by principal that Americans have those rights, not every human being anywhere. And, it’s not as though we’re the ones doling out the rights to the entire world and we give them to some and not to others. The Taliban took the rights from the Afghan people; the United States did not take their freedom.

Besides, the Taliban is already out of power. If they surrendered, Afghanistan could operate under a democracy. That would accomplish your goals without the ridiculous cost of pursuing them to the last man.

5) If I’m a racist and I want to beat up people of other races, is that what you think I should do, since that’s what I want?

I don’t agree with racist violence, so I don’t think you should be violent. That doesn’t meant I will go anywhere in the world that racism exists and stop anyone who is about to be violent because they are racist. There’s a difference between acknowledging that something wrong and being obligated to prevent it.

-end of answers-

The direction of this conversation seems now to be more about whether we should defend other people’s freedom at all. The debate is about whether or not we should allow the Taliban to surrender. Recall that the Taliban has already been removed from power. Their surrender could ensure that they not return to power in Afghanistan.

Questions

1) Is there any evidence that the founding fathers intended for America to impose its principals on the rest of the world?

2) Is there any evidence that the American people wish to impose American principals on the entire world?

3) Since Americans don’t want to continue the war in Afghanistan indefinitely, do you think the government should disobey the will of the people and do it anyway?

4) Why is it the responsibility of America in particular to secure the freedoms of every human being?

5) Why wouldn’t accepting the Taliban’s surrender work to prevent them from interfering with democracy in Afghanistan? We would enforce the conditions of surrender. . .



Want to take Thanksgiving off? I would be fine with that if you don’t respond until Friday afternoon. I wouldn’t count it as your 24 hour extension, you would still have that if you need it in the future.



posted on Nov, 26 2010 @ 03:06 PM
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That’s not to say that isolationism is the best policy, but certainly the unending pursuit of anyone who disagrees with us was never a goal. It is not now an American policy, and it should never be an American policy.


Clearly you are disregarding the fact that America’s foreign policy has long been a policy of freedom and justice for all human beings ever since the Declaration of Independence. When the founding fathers wrote the Declaration, they wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. Do you really think that by ‘men’ they actually meant only American men? That only Americans are endowed with unalienable rights?

In 1917 Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war, and to justify his request he made this statement:

Our object now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power… Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples.


The truth is that our country has always acted on this policy of preserving the freedom of all people against tyranny. It’s what our government was founded on, and it’s what our policy is now. Spreading democracy and ending tyranny is clearly a central goal of our nation.

If the freedom of other people has never been a policy then why in the world would we call our presence in Iraq “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? It’s ludicrous to posit that protecting the freedom of people around the world is not an American policy.


This debate is not about engaging in an absurdly unrealistic fantasy

Actually, this unrealistic fantasy happens to be our reality at the moment. Whether you admit to it or not, we are presently spreading democratic principles throughout the world and attempting to extend freedom to oppressed peoples. Our present policy is that we will not negotiate with the Taliban. So it really isn’t so absurd since it really is our present situation.

Our policy is that we won’t negotiate until they renounce Al Qaeda, and their policy is that they won’t negotiate until we leave Afghanistan. Since there is obviously no sign that we will be leaving anytime soon, why should we be willing to negotiate when there is no chance that it would even be fruitful.

They don’t seem to be in a desperate situation right now. Some even say that the US is losing the war against them. They don’t have much incentive to surrender if their backs aren’t even against the wall. So the only real way to deal with this threat is to eliminate it.


There’s a difference between having the right to something and having that thing given to you.


So you’re saying that just because you have the right to free speech it doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is obligated to give it to you?

If someone has a right to something, and someone else is depriving them of that right, it is up to someone else to restore that right, and logically the country that was founded on the principle that all humans have unalienable rights should be the one to do it.


The Taliban are already out of power.

Ever since they were officially removed from power, they have been growing both in power and size. All sources indicate that the Taliban show no signs of slowing down. So it’s not like they are no longer a threat, they still have a whole lot of power. The only difference is that they’re not an officially recognized government as they were before.


I say forced because Americans are clearly not interested in pursuing your proposed course of action

They clearly are. If they weren’t, then we wouldn’t have hundreds of thousands of troops overseas trying to restore freedom and implement democracy. If all those troops weren’t interested, then they wouldn’t fight, simple as that.


Recall that earlier in the debate you agreed that the United States should act in agreement with the will of the people. The will of the people is [I]not[/I] to violently impose freedom on every human being on earth. Case closed.


Yes, the United States should act in agreement with the will of the people because this is a democracy, and the will of the people should presumably be in agreement with democratic ideals and the principles of freedom that are the central pillars of our nation. We were lucky enough to escape tyranny here several hundred years ago, and since we believe that freedom is a right that all human beings have, we should work to preserve those rights. It’s the only course of action that would not contradict the values that we pride ourselves on.


Nation’s duties are to its people, not the people of other nations. How can American citizens be asked to put their lives on the line so that an Afghan woman can go outside? No one can expect foreigners to die for their rights.

If a nation’s duties are only to its people, then the Department of State’s self proclaimed goals wouldn’t include:


• Promotes democracy as a way to achieve security, stability, and prosperity for the entire world;
• Helps establish and assist newly formed democracies; and
• Identifies and denounces regimes that deny their citizens the right to choose their leaders in elections that are free and fair.


Human Rights

It’s obvious our country’s duties extend far beyond internal affairs. Neglecting the suffering of people around the world would be a disgrace to the US and all it stands for.


I don’t agree with racist violence, so I don’t think you should be violent.

Here you have demonstrated that what someone should do is not the same as what that person wants to do. I contend that this same logic is a primary component of my argument. Just because the people don’t want to do something, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t. Whether they should or not is dependent upon values. In our case, the values of the people of the US are those which our country was founded on, with the most important being the right of all human beings to freedom.


Americans live the by principal that Americans have those rights, not every human being anywhere.

Is my opponent really saying that Americans don’t believe that all human beings have the right to life and liberty? I’ve never personally met anyone who thought that Africans don’t have a right to live, and I don’t suspect I will ever meet an American who does think that. I find this statement quite shocking and absurd.

Answers

1) Is there any evidence that the founding fathers intended for America to impose its principals on the rest of the world?

Yes. Their belief that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. I don’t imagine that they meant only Americans have a right to life and liberty, or that they were just saying this for dramatic effect. I believe this statement demonstrates their intentions for America to hold freedom above everything else, and to secure it for all human beings by all means necessary.

2) Is there any evidence that the American people wish to impose American principals on the entire world?

Yes. I believe anyone who is against tyranny and thinks that all human beings should be free wishes to impose American principles on the entire world. If someone doesn’t think that democracy should replace tyranny then one can only assume that they don’t value the rights of all human beings. I believe the people who don’t value those rights are a small minority in America.

3) Since Americans don’t want to continue the war in Afghanistan indefinitely, do you think the government should disobey the will of the people and do it anyway?

No. I don’t think the government wants to continue the war indefinitely either. The government should do whatever it takes to dismantle and eliminate the Taliban as quickly as possible. Ultimately, the will of the people should be consistent with American ideals. These ideals of freedom and justice must be the standard for the American people’s will, and their will must be the standard for the actions of the United States.

4) Why is it the responsibility of America in particular to secure the freedoms of every human being?

It is our responsibility because we, more than any other country, have the ability to do so. It is our responsibility because we value freedom more than anything else, so we should be the ones to secure those freedoms. Also, I never stated that we should do it alone. I have repeatedly said that the effort should be made with the assistance of other advanced democratic nations, with the cooperation of international organizations that specialize in fighting for human rights. It wouldn’t be the US alone, but we do have the military capabilities that other human rights organizations don’t, and since we have always stood for human rights, we should make the effort.

5) Why wouldn’t accepting the Taliban’s surrender work to prevent them from interfering with democracy in Afghanistan? We would enforce the conditions of surrender. . .
There are no signs that the Taliban would be willing to surrender, at least the high ranking members, so I’m not fully convinced that they would surrender, much less accept our terms, until they’re weak and desperate, which they aren’t at the moment. It wouldn’t work because unless the organizational structure is completely destroyed, along with all the offshoots, sources of funding, and connections, then they would still remain a threat. Unless we send the message to all rebel groups that we will not show mercy, the threat of similar groups would still exist. Giving them any power whatsoever to decide their fate only conveys weakness and desperation on our part.

I appreciate the extra time off. I hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.



posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 01:44 PM
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Taking my 24 hour extension.



posted on Nov, 29 2010 @ 04:45 PM
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My opponent’s primary argument throughout the course of this debate has been that the people of the United States want to negotiate the surrender of the Taliban. I would like to point out that the topic is not about what the people want to do, but what the U.S. should do. In response to a hypothetical situation posed to my opponent, he conceded that there is indeed a difference between what someone wants to do and what someone should do.

I contend that the word ‘should’ is the key to this debate. The term implies the existence of certain guidelines that one is obliged to follow. I believe the most logical and appropriate set of guidelines are the values of freedom and justice that our founding fathers had in mind during the formative years of our nation.

The only guidelines that my opponent has put forth to determine what the US should do is that we should do what we want. While that may likely be a popular opinion, I don’t think it is the wisest choice to make. It has long been held as common knowledge that the decisions of a nation should not be made by the populace, for nothing is more unreliable, capricious, or exploitable than the desire of the masses.

While my opponent persists in his belief that my position is nothing more than a delusional fantasy, I believe he has not taken into account the fact that my position is the one currently being employed by the US. He may delight in claiming it is an absurd fantasy, but the truth remains that it is actually our reality. These false and unrealistic attacks offer no real substance to his argument, and in truth they only expose his inability to substantiate his position with logical and evidence-based reasoning.

My opponent seems to believe that the Taliban are desperate and are eager to negotiate their surrender with us. He hasn’t provided any evidence suggesting that they would willingly do so. What we do know is that the Taliban are becoming increasingly strong and that they have continued their insurgency with no sign of stopping.

The idea that they want to negotiate seems to be a fantasy of my opponent, because as far as we know, they will not negotiate until we leave Afghanistan. It has never been a policy of the US to negotiate with violent regimes. He has failed to explain how it would even be possible to negotiate with people who do not wish to negotiate with us, and further, why we would even want to.

One point I made which my opponent failed to address was the risk of not eliminating the entire threat. A zero tolerance policy of inhumane treatment and oppression needs to be enacted if we truly want to ensure that no similar groups are able to rise to power as the Taliban did.

We often take for granted here in America the fact that we’re at least given the freedom to live a lifestyle of our choosing and to believe in whatever we wish to. If we truly want to ensure that our fellow human beings are extended the same basic freedoms, then it is imperative that we dismantle the Taliban completely.

Freedom is not something worth risking.



posted on Nov, 30 2010 @ 01:46 PM
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Sorry for the delay, got side tracked in real life. I see that I've missed my closing statement, but I don't forfeit. Cheers.



posted on Dec, 11 2010 @ 09:19 PM
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OnceReturned has won and will advance to Round 2.

OnceReturned is the winner here, and probably the all star of the junior tournament thus far as well. I wish I could go on at length to spell it out, but in a nutshell, he used his socratic questions and also his answers to them brilliantly to cast his opponent's position in the least favorable possible light. It was an almost perfect argument that forced the perhaps more popular, and perhaps "more American" seeming alternative position to contort itself until it no longer looked American or the least bit advisable. Epiphron did a way above average job actually, but it just wasn't enough against this opponent, and he did trip over some historical and ethical contradictions.





 
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