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Talk:Resolved: It is just for the United States to use military force to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by nations that pose a military threat

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Nselegzi 07:01, 16 December 2007 (CST)

Some Questions

I have some questions about the new res

1. What do you think the significance of “The United States” is? Is it because it’s a superpower, lots of money etc, or is the resolution asking us to focus specifically on “nations that pose a military threat” in the status quo to the US (limiting the debate to North Korea etc)?

It's likely a little of each. Within reason, every nation has a right of self defense. For instance, if it would be just for the United States to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it's likely that it would also be just for Israel to use military force. Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is clearly a greater threat to Israel than it is to the United States. It would be difficult to argue that somehow the United States would be justified in using military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but not just for Israel to do so.
It is worth noting, in fact, that the topic doesn’t specify who it is that a country poses a military threat to. That is, the United States might be justified in using military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons not because Iran is credibly at threat to the United State but rather because it is a credible threat to Israel.
At the same time, one could argue that while it might be just for some agent to use military force to prevent a state from acquiring nuclear weapons, that the United States shouldn’t be trusted to intervene. Today, most any state could potentially acquire nuclear weapons. Affirming the topic, one could argue, would give the United States far too much power.

2. How far must the affirmative go? Can the Affirmative prove that it’s just for the United States to use military action etc. but that this in most cases won’t be the best option? I know that its “generally affirm or negate” but it seems in this resolution that one example is enough to disprove the nation since were talking about a fairly small group of countries.

This is going to be the problem with this topic: assigning burdens. Does affirming justify the United States using its military against any country that is antagonistic to the United States because any nation might potentially acquire nuclear weapons? Is it limited to only that small handful of countries that the United States is suspicious is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons? Iran claims it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons; the Bush administration doesn’t trust Iran and points out that Iran is admittedly developing the capacity to enrich uranium to the point that it could be used in a nuclear weapon. Iran is clearly hostile to the United States and, were Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, the world would in all likelihood be a lot worse off. Does that justify the United States taking military action against Iran? Is so, what sort of military action?

3. Why do you think the resolution specifies “acquisition”? Does that rule out taking action when a country already has a stockpile of nuclear weapons?

It doesn’t necessarily rule it out. Whether the United States is morally obligated to refrain from using military force against a country that possesses nuclear weapons is an important, but unrelated question to the one that this topic asks.

4. When we’re talking about a nation, does that mean that the government has these nuclear weapons? Would non-state organizations, like terrorist groups, be topical?

Yes, it would be topical, but only to the extent that the fear is a nation supplying a terrorist organization with nukes. The fear with impoverished North Korea, for instance, was to a large extent that it would end up selling nuclear weapons to terrorist organization.

Nselegzi 01:15, 10 December 2007 (CST)

Nations that Pose a Military Threat

This resolution does not specify to whom the threat is a threat.

I would say that almost every nation with a military could be a military threat as their military could possibly attack American interests. It does not say a threat to the U.S. as a whole and therefore could be interpreted this way

It doesn't even specify American anything.... It could attack anyone's interests, or so I think.

True enough. In fact, in today's world the destabilizing effects of a war on the world's economy likely makes any military conflict at the very least an indirect threat to the United States. Of course, the affirmative doesn't necessarily need to prove that the only just use of the United States' military is self-defense. For instance, the Sudanese government does not present any credible threat to the United States, but the genocide taking place in Darfur is likely sufficient to justify military action against the Sudanese government. Further, the United States has agreed, through treaties, to protect and defend its NATO and OAS allies.
Nselegzi 07:05, 16 December 2007 (CST)

Some More Questions

I have a bunch of questions.

How do you define "a threat?"- I’m using capability + intention but that leads to the problem of how do you define those Does the threatening nation already pose a threat, or is the res saying they will pose a threat if they get nukes?

You could try to argue that nation would only become a threat if it gained nuclear weapons, but it's hard then to assess in advance which countries fall under the topic. That is, are we only talking about countries who are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons with an intent on using them? Reasonably speaking, it probably makes more sense to say that the nations covered under the resolution have already shown some clear hostility towards the United States. Now, what's interesting here is the example of Pakistan. Pakistan's government developed nuclear weapons at a time when it was friendly towards the United States. However, given the volatile nature of Pakistani politics, would the United States have been justified in using military force to prevent Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons since we could not be sure if the Pakistani government would remain friendly to the United States? The least contentious approach to this issue would be for the affirmative to defend the use of military force in cases where the nations in question are ones that the United States have some reasonable reason to fear might use weapons or distribute them to those that would. The negative can and should argue that this could give the United States a pretense for using military force against almost any nation that didn't have nuclear weapons, and affirmative will need to address this issue. The affirmative will likely respond by arguing that the United States would only be acting justly when its own intentions were pure. That is, the affirmative will say that the United States would acting unjustly if it used the potential of a hostile nation acquiring nuclear weapons as a pretense for using military force against that nation as opposed to the United States acting in good faith since it really did think that there was a real danger of nuclear war. This would be a fair an interesting debate.

If you’re running no one should have nukes- how do you then say that the US would be just in enforcing this? Wouldn’t some international body be established to make sure no ones making nukes, rather then setting almighty US as the enforcer?

The affirmative's argument would likely be that the United States is justified, when it's acting in good faith, unilaterally. If an international body were to act, all the better, but the United States would be wrong, the affirmative will argue, to let a country acquire nuclear weapons, just as any other country that could stop a nation from acquiring nuclear weapons would be wrong not to stop them. If the affirmative argues that nuclear weapons are wrong in and of themselves, then any nation that could act to stop another nation from acquiring nuclear weapons would, assuming that there was a legitimate threat, in acting to prevent it.

How does a country balance obligations to own citizens vs rest of world? I want to run human rights for my vc but then I run into the problem of whose human rights? Obviously US citizens should come first to the US government but it seems wrong that the rest of the world should then be ignored…

I do not think the affirmative needs to prioritize American lives. Nuclear weapons are a threat to humanity itself, not just to the United States. The negative can't really argue that the United States ought not use military force to prevent a threatening nation from acquiring nuclear weapons on the grounds that the United States' primary obligation is to its own citizens. So, if the affirmative uses a value criteria of human rights broadly speaking, there's little to fear. Jimmy Carter, in fact, made this the foundation of American foreign policy during his administration.

Most of what I've read says the only time its really just to attack is in self defense. Does this mean that helping another country defend themselves is by nature unjust?

There has in recent years been a good deal written about the "obligation to rescue." For example, most Western powers accepted that they acted wrongly in not doing more to stop the genocide in Rwanda. Clearly, there was little direct threat to any Western nation from genocide. Look up articles on "humanitarian intervention" and you'll find the literature on this.

Based on the last two questions… do you have any suggestions as to something fairly short I could read that’s a basic intro to international relations? I got that walzer book about just and unjust war but it sort of expects a basic understanding of IR already.

Walzer has a newly published collection of essays. A few of the essays are for a general audience and deal directly with the issues raised by this topic. You might also want to read A Very Short Introduction to International Relations
Nselegzi 13:50, 3 January 2008 (CST)

Can the US Keep its Nuclear Weapons?

Q: How can the U.S. say that they are striving to minimize nuclear proliferations then still keep its own nukes? Wouldn't they be obligated to rid of their own nukes and ask other nations that have alreayd acquired them to do the same?

A: It's possible for the affirmative to argue that the United States may be justified in keeping its nuclear weapons on the grounds that they do act as a deterrent against those few other nations that have nuclear weapons and that might potentially use them. On the other hand, the affirmative could also just argue that unilateral disarmament would be an important first step in the abolition of nuclear weapons. One cannot help but wonder if after the United States abandoned its nuclear weapons whether other countries would follow suit. Affirmative could, in other words, remain agnostic on the question of whether the United States ought to abandon its own weapons. It might be easier on the affirmative to argue that the possession of nuclear weapons by any nations is wrong than to defend the status quo where a small number of nations have nuclear weapons and try to insure that no other nations acquire them.

Nselegzi 14:46, 4 January 2008 (CST)

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