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Debate: The pen is mightier than the sword

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This House believes that the pen is mightier than the sword

Background and context

This is a common phrase used to argue that writing, communications, diplomacy, and intelligent communication can be more effective than the sword, or military might. Is this true?

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History: Are there any examples showing that violent action was ineffective?

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Yes

  • Nonviolence is a sword that heals. (Martin Luther King, Jr.) Nonviolence (as opposed to spilling blood) is a weapon unique in history. Not only does it ennoble the man who wields it, but it also effectively heals the wounds. The African-American Civil Rights Movement is a shining example of how nonviolent protest gained moral justification and thus won this very struggle.





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No

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Theory: Is negotiation better than a direct military action?

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Yes

  • An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. As Ghandi said, discussion and non-violent action are the best (and the only justifiable) means to achieving justice. If we tackle injustice by committing injustice, opression by opression, violence by violence, we ourselves undermine the values our society stands for.





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No

  • Quick action is sometimes essential for success. In cases of genocides or violent regime changes it is important to act as soon as possible. Negotiation or discussions hardly allow for that.
  • Deeds, not words. Hardly can we negotiate with terrorists, insurgents, or guerilla. As these groups violate the pillars our society stands on - freedom, justice, democracy, etc. - we need to act instead of prevaricating in national parliaments or international bodies.




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Practice: Is diplomacy more effective than violent means?

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Yes

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No

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