Thursday, February 25, 2010

Common Affirmative Argument No. #1: National Security

A big one this year is National Security. Which seems a bit odd, because this year didn't really scream "national security" to me. But it's one that comes up often, due it's interesting nature (most debaters are guys and guys like applications about blowing stuff up) and the conservative nature in the league (hard to make "National Security" sound bad doesn't it?).

This choice of an application or narrowing down the resolution to this seems odd for an affirmative because, like the education route, it seems to be strong negative ground. There are a few claims that commonly come up.

Allies are unreliable.

No doubt they will be able to find an emperical example from history (though I would always grill them on historical support, what book they got it from, what reputable historian has this interpretation of the event, is that the only interpretation of the event, etc...?), but nevertheless it really doesn't matter. For every example of where an ally proved unreliable, unhelpful or downright deceitful, it still doesn't mean that allies as a whole is a bad idea or that international cooperation is unhelpful. Ever notice that even if your opponent can prove over 100 examples of allies being all of the above, that countries still seek alliances? Hmmm. I wonder. Here are some common examples that come to mind;

  • Operation Cyclone.

    Op Cyclone was the codename for a CIA program to arm Afghan mujahadeen (or freedom fighters as they were termed in the Western press) against the Soviet Union from 1979-1989. Operation Cyclone was the longest and most expensive CIA covert program that has ever existed to date. In 1980 the program's cost was 20-30 million per year and eventually was 630 million by 1987.

    To give some background, the Communist Party in Afghanistan took over the country in 1978, led by Nur Mohammed Taraki. The Soviets felt they should intervene to ensure the survival of the People's Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, due to the fact that the Middle East was increasingly pro-Western and had friendlier relations with the West and America in particular (ex. closer ties between the US/Saudi Arabia, US backing of the Royalists in the Yemen Civil War, brokering a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel).

    Very soon after the Communist takeover, much of the country engaged in open revolt, known as the Afghan civil war. However the Soviets, very early on, invaded Afghanistan and installed Barbak Kamal, Afghan ambassador to Czechoslovakia, as President. According to current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, US support to the mujahadeen started roughly 6 months before Soviet involvement in an effort to lead the Soviets to intervene, to create a Vietnam style scenario for the Soviet military. Local mujahideen continued guerilla warfare throughout the country and the Soviets retaliated with brutal reprisals. Eventually the mujahideen created the Seven Party Mujahideen Alliance in 1985 to coordinate attacks on the Soviets better.

    US support consisted of not only financial aid (funneled through the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service) but also of hundreds of Stinger missiles, used to target Soviet helicopters, which were crucial to movement in the Afghan mountains. Eventually cooperation between the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, numerous Persian Gulf states, the PRC, and Pakistan fully funded the rebels and led to larger and deadlier attacks on the Soviets and Afghan Communists. Eventually by February 1989, the Soviets began a pull out of Afghanistan and the DRA fell completely in 1992 with the fall of Kabul.

    Over the course of the war, over 620,000 Soviet military personell served in Afghanistan. Over 14,000 were killed, 53,000 wounded and 10,000 were left disabled. In addition over 14,000 vehicles were stolen or destroyed during the conflict. According to Anthony Arnold, retired CIA political analyst and author of three books on the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan (including "Fateful Pebble: Afghanistan's Role in the Fall of the Soviet Empire") argues that the USSR was held up by the military, KGB and the Party. However the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan ate away at the viability of all three of these institutions. It had a major pyschological impact on the civilian population as "afgantsy" returned home, disabled, disillusioned and addicted to narcotics. Furthermore the Soviet intervention represented what was wrong with the USSR, violence, suppression of dissent, a lack of honesty and cynicism. Arnold argues that Afghanistan was the pebble under the cane of the USSR. Once the cane fell, it led to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War.

    Aff Arguments:

    Relying on allies is a disaster. Soviet support for the Afghans led to involvement in a war that harmed their national security. Furthermore American support for the mujahideen led to the fundamentalist take over of Afghanistan and possibly the funding of the Taliban and even al Qaeda. Cooperation and lending a hand will result in the hand getting bitten off. Some may even go so far as to argue we directly funded the Taliban or Osama bin Laden himself.

    Negative Response:

    What we have here is 1) the success of cooperation and 2) failure occurring when cooperation is never tried. First of all, cooperation between Afghan rebels, Pakistanis, Persian Gulf States and the West led to the fall of the Soviet Union and an end to the occupation of Afghanistan. If your opponents value human rights, freedom or general welfare or national security, there are major implications to the defeat of the Soviets and the fall of the USSR. But secondly, a failure to continue to cooperate with the Afghans led to a takeover of the Taliban in the 1990s. After the withdrawal of the Soviet Union, the US halted it's cooperation with the Afghans and did not undertake any nation building in Afghanistan as advised by CIA officer Gust Avrakotos. Afghanistan's dilapidated state made it prime for a fundamentalist take over. The Heritage Foundation in 1989 warned that the US must remain committed to Afghanistan after the USSR left. Lastly however, allegations of US support for the Taliban are overstated. The main support went to Ahmad Shah Massoud, who after the war became a leader in the Northern Alliance, an organization that opposed the Taliban and al Qaeda, a Nobel Prize Nominee and was assassinated by Al Qaeda nine days before 9-11. As far as the CIA funding bin Laden or foreign jihadists,

    "It was, however, a cardinal rule of Pakistan's policy that no Americans ever become involved with the distribution of funds or arms once they arrived in the country. No Americans ever trained or had direct contact with the mujahideen, and no American official ever went inside Afghanistan."-- Pakistani Brigadier Mohammad Yousaf, former head of the ISI

    "Contemporaneous accounts of the war do not even mention [the Afghan Arabs]. Many were not serious about the war. ... Very few were involved in actual fighting. For most of the war, they were scattered among the Afghan groups associated with the four Afghan fundamentalist parties. No U.S. official ever came in contact with the foreign volunteers. They simply traveled in different circles and never crossed U.S. radar screens. They had their own sources of money and their own contacts with the Pakistanis, official Saudis, and other Muslim supporters, and they made their own deals with the various Afghan resistance leaders."-- Marc Sageman, former CIA officer

  • Sunnis in Iraq. As a part of the surge strategy, the US military in Iraq began allying itself with various Sunni tribal organizations in western Iraq as an attempt to bring peace and withdrawal. Part of the surge's success was good timing. The conflict in Iraq was the equivalent of a bubbling pot with the lid kept on during the Ba'ath years. However as Saddam fell, the army disintegrated and there was a lack of official surrender or transition, the lid was lifted. Kurds controlled their own region with their own independent militia and government. The Shi'ites in the south started receiving support from Iranian proxies and started trying to control the government, military and police and the Sunnis began fighting the new government as they were loyal to Ba'ath party and opposed a take over by the Shi'ites whom they view as "Persian". Al Qaeda, a Sunni organization, soon involved itself with the Sunni tribes in the west of Iraq. But by 2007 they have overstayed their welcome. They infringed on the tribal soveriegnty and became a law to themselves, killing and enforcing a strict shari'a law that most Iraqis did not subscribe to.

    Soon a "Sons of Iraq" movement began as Sunni tribes began to fight against Al Qaeda to regain tribal soveriengty. US counter-insurgency experts argued now was the time to commit resources to gaining their trust and flipping them against the insurgency. Against all odds, it seems to have worked. In late 2007, the Heritage Foundation reported,

    "Indeed, the US military reported over the weekend a 55 percent drop in attacks over the last nine months, falling to the lowest level since the summer of 2005. Iraqi civilian casualties are down 60 percent since June and are down 75 percent in Baghdad. The Iraq tribal operation makes both strategic and tactical sense: The locals - not US forces - do most of the fighting; the tribes have better on-the-street intelligence, knowing the language and culture, which facilitates picking out the bad guys."
    Cooperation between the central Iraqi government, which is Shi'ite dominated, the Coalition Forces and the Sons of Iraq movement has lead to a sharp decrease in violence and an increase in government legitimacy and reconciliation. However the issue has become now how to peacefully integrate Sons of Iraq fighters into civil society. Many have criticized how slow the Shi'ite government has been in integrating Sunnis into government and also some SoI fighters have rejoined the insurgency. However conditions in Iraq going into 2010 have improved dramatically since 2007.

    "Iraq has made very significant advances on the security front, with the help of the United States (November has seen the lowest number of killings in Iraq since the beginning of the war)."-- Seattle Times Dec. 2009.

    "In Iraq, 2009 was the year of transitions, and they turned out to be relatively smooth. Despite catastrophic attacks in August, October and December and an ongoing level of violence that still makes it a very troubled place, Iraq has done reasonably well in statistical terms. Violence has not increased even as U.S. forces have generally reduced their role. Another 10,000 "Sons of Iraq" have been hired into permanent jobs by the government, reducing the odds of a Sunni backlash against the Shiite-led government, and the economy has survived the decline in global oil prices. Iraqi elections are now scheduled for March, so 2010 needs to be another year of smooth transitions, especially as U.S. forces are scheduled to decline to 50,000 by summer's end. Though much could still go wrong, Iraq is holding together."-- Brookings Institute

    Aff Arguments: The arguments on the affirmative are stronger on this one than on Op Cyclone. According to Ramzy Mardini, an Iraq expert at The Jamestown Foundation, "the rise of the Awakening councils may risk reigniting the Jaysh al-Mahdi". In addition the affirmative can argue the similiar story Operation Cyclone. Extending the hand is a mistake. Getting in bed with various, unsavory allies (regrettably a necessity in war) is a mistake.

    Neg Response: However the negative is still much stronger. Cooperation with the SoI movement did work and the only reason we are in a position to argue about the future stability of Iraq is thanks to the cooperation. In addition the only reason why it may fail in the future is due to a lack of cooperation between the government and the SoI. In fact increased competition between Sunnis and Shia would destroy this current trend of stability. This is a slam dunk negative example that can be turned if used on the affirmative.

  • Soviet-Western Alliance. From the beginning, Western and American relations with the new USSR were chilled. After the Communist takeover, the US extended it's embargo to include Russia. US Secretary of State Robert Lansing hoped a tsarist style dictatorship would emerge, along the lines of General L. G. Kornilov. In addition the US hoped to support the White and Black Russians against the Red Russians during the Russian Civil War. The US didn't extend full diplomatic recognition of the USSR until 1933. After the end of the Nazi-Soviet non-agression pact of 1939, with the Nazi invasion of the USSR, immediately the situation became much more cordial, though still cautious. Under the Lend-Lease Act, the US sent enormous quantities of war materiel to the Soviet Union, which was crucial in turning back the German advance. Eventually the combination of Russian brute force and US support turned the tide by 1942, leading to an Allied coupe d'grace in 1944. By the end of the war, the Cold War had started as the common enemy had disappeared. We entered the Cold War, a system of competition between the US and it's allies and the USSR and it's allies until the collapse of the USSR in 1989-1991.

    Aff Arguments: We collaborated with one of the greatest mass murdering regimes of all time.

    "From 1932–33, Stalin and henchmen, Lazar Kaganovitch and Vyacheslav Molotov, conducted a merciless campaign to crush resistance by Ukrainian farmers to communism and collectivization. They isolated Ukraine, then cut off all food supplies and seeds. Six to nine million Ukrainians died from the ensuing man-made famine and mass shootings of "anti-State elements" by secret police execution squads. Cannibalism became common. Large numbers of Ukrainians were also murdered during the Great Terror of 1936-38 in which an estimated 2 million Soviet citizens were shot and the same number died in Stalin’s concentration camps.

    In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the Soviet penal system reached its zenith: 5.4 million people were prisoners in the gulag. Some 300,000 more Ukrainians were sent to concentration camps under the supervision of Commissar Nikita Khrushchev, and 21,259 were killed in Soviet "pacification" campaigns and against independence fighters. Other Ukrainian nationalist leaders were assassinated in Western Europe by special Soviet hit teams.

    During the same period, Moscow unleashed terror on the tiny Baltic states. From March to May, 1949, 95,000 Lithuanians, 27,000 of them children, were sent to concentration camps. In total, 120,000 Lithuanians, 50,000 Latvians and 30,000 Estonians went to the gulag where the death rate was 51% per annum.

    Neither Roosevelt nor Churchill cared to admit they had allied themselves with a greater criminal than Hitler to wage their "Crusade for Freedom," nor that the price of this compact with the devil was giving Eastern Europe to the Soviets. In the end, the Allies destroyed a lesser threat, Germany, and in doing so, created a greater one, the nuclear-armed Soviet Union.
    "-- Eric Margolis

    That is the essence of an affirmative argument, not only did we make a pact with the devil, but also created a greater evil.

    Negative Response:

    Firstly, an alliance was crucial to ending the Nazi Empire. Also from Eric Margolis,

    "The Soviets destroyed 75–80% of all German divisions – 4 million soldiers – and most of the Luftwaffe. Russia lost at least 14 million soldiers and a similar number of civilians. The Red Army destroyed 507 Axis divisions. On the Western Front after D-Day, the Allies destroyed 176 badly under-strength German divisions. When the Allies landed in Normandy, they met battered German forces with no air cover, crippled by lack of fuel and supplies, unable to move in daytime."

    A world war against the Nazis with just the UK and the US would have resulted in disaster.

    Secondly, we have to understand the size of the Nazi threat. While we have a concrete idea of the threat of the Soviets during the Cold War, we have to understand that due to the way history worked out, there is no telling how threatening the Nazis could've been. Geographically we faced a threat that stretched from the northern tip of Norway to the southern border of Algeria, from the city of Brest, France to 15 miles away from the gates of Moscow. Militarily in a matter of 6 years, 18.2 million men served in the Wehrmacht. That's more than half the population of California. Through the rearmament program, the Reich had become the foremost military power in the world, creating new and powerful weapons like the first assault rifle and the omst advanced tank on the market, not to mention new mobile tactics (blitzkrieg) that revolutionized warfare.. Politically, the Nazis were more imperialistic than the Communists. While the USSR definitely acted in an imperialistic manner and wanted to bring Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia into it's sphere, the Nazis outright sought to create a "Greater Germany". Economically, Nazi Germany was a power-house, which had reversed it's declining real income by nearly 16% in 1933 and kept it stable until the fall of Germany. With a system, though very state directed, that had more market incentives than the USSR it's unclear as to whether it would've faced the near inevitable economic collapse that the Soviet Union did. Strategically, the Reich had advantages the USSR could never have. The USSR was almost completely landlocked with little/no warm water ports. George Friedman, CEO of Strategic Forecasting, explains in his book "The Next 100 Years" that naval access determines power and access to international trade. The USSR's loss was near inevitable due to the lack of naval access. The Nazi Reich had control and access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic.

    Thirdly, this argument of how much worse the USSR was, in terms of nuclear power and human rights abuses, is a false comparison. It's comparing an entity which had a 72 year run, which had more time to develop and murder, to an entity with (at most) a 12 year existence. Of course the USSR, in hindsight, is going to appear the more dangerous power. Furthermore, concerning the "nuclear USSR" argument, the German nuclear program had started in mid 1939. One of the main reasons the USSR was able to follow the US as a nuclear power is because it basically stole elements of the German nuclear program under Colonel General A. P. Zavenyagin when the Red Army occupied parts of Germany. A book by Rainer Karlsch, Hitlers Bombe, published in 2005,  the Nazi nuclear program, while nowhere near as funded or adequate compared to the Manhattan Project, was much farther along in development than previously thought. There is no reason to believe that had America refused to dirty our hands and fight alongside the USSR, that the Nazis would've been far more successful and would've created a nuclear weapon.
Strong countries like the US can "go it alone".
So what? Even if true, why would you want to? Secondly, unilateralism is not competition, while it may be non-cooperation. But thirdly, unilateralism is hardly a success.

Firstly it creates a perception of arrogance which weakens the acting state's ability to muster up support in the future. Even if one can unilterally now, it may weaken relations which will be needed for a time when it cannot.

Secondly, multilateralism defrays the cost acting, which increases humanitarian intervention in necessary cases (ex. natural disasters and military interventions). For instance over 33 billion was initially earmarked to the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) in April 2003. Thankfully thanks to some amount of lip service to multilateralism, the US only had to pay 18.5 billion of it. Many hands make light work.

Thirdly, the record of multilateralism is far better than the record of unilateralism. The allegations that multilateral coalitions are too "bogged down" simply defies the record. Desert Storm was an operation that involved nearly 1 million military personell from over 32 nations and thousands of vehicles. Yet within a matter of hours, Saddam's Ba'athist military machine was humiliated, defeated and systematically destroyed in combat and expelled from Kuwait. Let's look to D-Day. It was the largest amphibious assault in human history, involving 1.4 million soldiers from 12 countries and thousands of vehicles. Yet it was arguably also one of the most successful, breaching Hitler's vaunted Atlantic Wall. General Rommel, hero of the Afrika Korps, remarked that he knew that war was lost after June 6th, 1944.


It's pretty clear that national security is the territory of the negative. Or at least the common arguments and examples coming out of the affirmative regarding national security are just patently false. Or least need to be argued better.

1 comment:

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