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Summary: This brief gives you arguments to counter Pearl Harbor as an application.
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About "Pearl Harbor (OPP)"
Pearl Harbor is a hard example to counter because it is so personal. It was a direct attack against the United States, and we hadn’t even attacked first. This brief gives you arguments to counter this example, including:
- Pearl Harbor wasn’t a preemptive strike
- It wasn’t inherently immoral
- Japan was acting in self-preservation
- Japan was fulfilling its moral responsibility
Here is an overview of the arguments. First, Pearl Harbor wasn’t a preemptive strike. It was more of a technicality/catch-your-opponent-off-guard type argument and should not be run as a main argument. It will get them to waste time while you move on to juicier subjects.
The second argument is building to the idea of how Pearl Harbor can be morally justified by debunking the other end of the spectrum. Once you convince the judge that it wasn’t immoral, you can more easily lead them to the idea that it was moral.
The third argument is important. You have to convince the judge that it shouldn’t just be the United States that can act to preserve itself and its way of life. Consider comparing Japan’s predicament to our current war on terror. Should we not be allowed to attack terrorists before they attack us? Japan was acting in the exact same way.
The final argument ties into a government’s responsibility to protect its citizens, so make sure that’s clear. Japan legitimately was hurting from embargos and war. It legitimately believed that it would be at war with the United States soon. And Japan legitimately believed that the best way to protect its citizens and its interests was to attack the US first. Thus, Japan was legitimately trying to protect its citizens in the best way possible, which is certainly moral. Sure, we don’t like it, but that’s not the point.
Wording is key here. Try to keep your opponent on the defensive and prevent them from discussing how we actually lost thousands of lives from that attack – and avoid mentioning it yourself. Use terms such as “Pearl Harbor” rather than “The attack.” Keep the wording on your ground.
Good luck, and happy debating!
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Taylor Belyeu is a high school senior entering her seventh year of speech and debate. She has competed in both styles of debate, as well as Apologetics, Impromptu, Extemp, Persuasive and Informative speaking, and has qualified to the Regional level in all categories. She has also qualified to nationals three years in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and two years in Apologetics.