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Summary: This case is simple and effective. Instead of utilizing abstract moral theory, it emphasizes basic logical arguments that most judges can easily relate with.
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About "Predictable Abuse (NEG)"
This case is simple and effective. Instead of utilizing abstract moral theory, it emphasizes basic logical arguments that most judges can easily relate with. The underlying argumentation of the case starts by asking a simple question: Why can civilians not own weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear weapons? The most obvious answer is that they are much more likely to be used for wreaking havoc on society than for legitimate safety purposes. Because they are so likely to be abused, nuclear weapons are considered to be unsafe in civilian hands.
This analogy extends beyond citizens. The reasons why countries like the US are pushing for nuclear proliferation is because of the weapons’ potential for abuse. Nuclear weapons are not inherently bad, but their likelihood to be misused morally obligates responsible countries to safely reduce their presence. Likewise, preemptive warfare is easily abused. While there are a few times when it is used legitimately, the majority of “preemptive warfare” is just one country attacking another out of aggression and claiming that there was an imminent threat.
Many affirmatives will try and attack this case by referring to their definition of preemptive warfare. By noting that their definition limits preemption down to cases of self-defense, they will try and avoid all of these arguments. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that “self-defense” is an objective concept. For instance, every few months Russia sends a few planes into US airspace to communicate their strength and dominance. In return, the US military usually sends up a few F-16s, causing the Russian planes to return home. However, at any given time, the F-16s are never certain that these Russian planes won’t launch a surprise missile toward California. This remote threat does not give us justification to attack Russian airfields, which indicates that there is no clear bright line about how imminent a threat has to be in order for us to attack preemptively. If you press relentlessly for specifics on this standard in cross-ex, it’s quite possible you could get the Affirmative team to admit this as well.
In order to run this case effectively, you’ll want to impact the common sense of these ideas. Use analogies and comparisons to construct a down-to-earth narrative, and don’t get too caught up in the details. While a decent Affirmative team will present examples of successful preemptive warfare, always remember that those examples do not alone prove the resolution. Strictly speaking, nuclear weapons have had a 100% success rate of saving the free world from tyranny, but that does not mean that nuclear weaponry is now morally justified. In fact, many would posit that nuclear weapons are, on balance, immoral due to their impact on innocent life.
Because the focus of this case is on the reasons for abuse as opposed to examples of abuse, I recommend finding some extra applications to store away for rebuttals. There are many recent examples of countries that attacked preemptively and claimed that they were acting out of self-defense. If you have a robust bank of applications at your table to compliment your logic, then the Affirmative position won’t be nearly as persuasive.
Finally, be smart about responding to the cliché affirmative arguments. For instance, many teams will try to claim that. “Everything is open to abuse,” which means, “Nothing can be moral.” However, while that may be true, there is a clear bright line between owning a gun, which can be abused but has many legitimate civilian purposes, and owning a nuclear weapon, which has no legitimate civilian purposes and can only be used to destroy. Something has to be abused more than it is correctly utilized in order for us to say that that action is immoral. Luckily for us, preemption is very rarely used legitimately.
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Nathaniel has been competing in speech and debate for 5 years, and is thrilled to be writing for the Monument Publishing Team! He enthusiastically believes that debate prepares students to be beacons of truth in a dark and convoluted society. Nathaniel has competed in all 3 forms of debate, including parliamentary, which he placed 3rd in at NITOC 2017.