The Instigator
Con (against)
9 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
16 Points

A Just Society Sould Never Deliberately Initiate War

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/20/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,361 times Debate No: 39215
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
Votes (6)




So, I do LD in high school and found out that I know Bsh1 outside of DDO. He crushed me in my round at NCFL nationals, and I would like to have a rematch if he's up to it. I'd like first round to be acceptance, and then just proceed from there.


I'm not really one for rematches, but that fifth round at CatNats was fun. I'm game. Though, you know you reversed the sides--I negated at CatNats. Anyway, I think this should be a interesting debate! Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Yeah--sorry about the mix up on sides. But, I guess it should be intriguing to see our arguments for the opposite take on the topic. Okay, here's my case:

I negate.

Observation One: Never is defined by Merriam Webster as "at no time; under no circumstances." Thus, the affirmative must argue that a just society, regardless of other considerations, cannot go to war. If there are conditions under which a just society may deliberately initiate war, i.e. if there is a possibility a just society may initiate war, then one must negate.

Observation Two: "Should" expresses what is best or most suitable. This is illustrated by the sentence, "people should eat healthy." Thus, an affirmative is arguing that war is never the best or most suitable course of action for a just society.

Observation Three: To say that a just society exists is not to say that a just society cannot be surrounded by unjust or aggressive ones. We cannot say, therefore, that a just society exists in isolation from threats that it may need to respond to.

My value premise is Societal Welfare, defined as the health and wellbeing of a society and its members. When discussing whether societies should or should not initiate war, we must consider how war will impact a society"s welfare. Thus, prefer this value on strength of link. The value criterion for this round must be Pragmatism, defined as practicality in problem-solving. According to Prof. Gary Woller, prefer pragmatism as a weighing calculus because societies must act practically. He contends: "Appeals to a priori moral principles...often fail to acknowledge that public policies inevitably entail trade-offs among competing values. Thus since policymakers cannot justify inherent value conflicts to the public in any philosophical sense"the policymakers' duty to the public interest requires them to demonstrate that"their policies are somehow to the overall advantage of society." This implies a discussion of pragmatism. Woller 2 observes that: "deontologically based ethical systems have severe practical limitations as a basis for public policy...a priori moral not themselves suggest appropriate public policies, and"create a regimen of regulatory unreasonableness while failing to adequately address the problem." My premise is that it is both possible for a just society to go to war and that it is practical for a just society"on occasion"to employ war as a tool from the toolkit.

Point One: There are external threats a just society will need to preemptively respond to. According to Prof. James Schall, "Machiavelli advised that a prince should spend most of his time preparing for war...If we are this prince"s neighbors, do we take no notice of his preparations?...The prince thinks war is an answer. It can help him in his goal of acquiring and keeping power. We may have to suffer a defeat at his hands, but we should not choose to bring one on ourselves. Though much carnage happens in war, still we cannot conclude from this that 'war is not the answer.' It may not be the only answer," but it is oftentimes the most practical. "No valid alternative to war can be a mere...frivolous hope that nothing bad will happen no matter what."

Point Two: War as a means of intervention is oftentimes effective. Professors Western and Goldstein note: "many of the criticisms formulated in response to the botched campaigns of 1992-95 still guide the conversation about intervention today. The charges are outdated. Contrary to the claims that interventions prolong wars...the most violent and protracted cases in recent history...have been cases in which the international community was unwilling either to intervene or to sustain a commitment with credible force." According to Prof. Patrick Regan of the University of Canterbury, 82.4 percent of major power interventions are successful.

Point Three: Nonviolent acts often are unsuccessful. Prof. Brian Martin notes, "Nonviolent action is not guaranteed to succeed...The...prodemocracy movement in China, after a short flowering, was crushed in the Beijing massacre. Perhaps more worrying are the dispiriting aftermaths following some short-term successes of nonviolent action...The aftermath of the Iranian revolution was disastrous. The new Islamic regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini was just as ruthless as its predecessor." Ultimately, he concludes non-violent resistances alone tend to fail on balance.

Point Four: The initiation of precise, limited war now, does prevent more destructive war later. Prof. W. Burke-White contends that deliberately initiated war is a tool that can force other governments to respect human rights. Even the possibility of it being used deters regimes from infringing global ethical norms. This in turn promotes peace. He states: "states that systematically abuse their own citizens' human rights are also those most likely to engage in aggression...a foreign policy informed by human rights can significantly enhance global security" by reducing a nation"s war capital.

Point Five: War is justified as a tool in the toolkit. Affirming would rule out war for any reasons. It makes sense that, even if war does not work in all cases, that we don"t rule it out, because there may a come a time when it will be the best option. To place such restrictions on action"as the affirmative would have us do"is not pragmatic or reasonable. It is not in the best interests of any society. Therefore, war should be justified as a tool in our toolkit; it doesn"t need to be used in every case, but it should be there in case we need it.

Insofar as it"s possible for a just society to wage war, and that having the ability to initiate war is highly practical, it is in the interest of societal welfare to negate"thus ensuring a just society"s ability to respond to its needs in the most suitable manner possible, even if that means war.


So, it is normally customary for the NC to be presented after the AC, but this order has been flipped in this debate. So, instead of just presenting the affirmative constructive (AC) speech as usual, I will also present my affirmative rebuttal (AR) at this time. Therefore, order will be AC, NC. Thanks to Lt.Cmdr.Data for instigating this debate...



1. Deliberate- as "unimpulsive" according to Black"s Law
2. Plato in his book, In Crito, describes a just society. He observes that totalitarians cannot be just because they inherently disregard their citizenries' freedoms. Therefore, a just society must respect the freedoms of its people. Additionally, a just society should have concern for the rights of all peoples and societies in order to remain free of malice.

Observation One: Stanford Encyclopedia offers the following explanation of war: "The mere threat of war, and the presence of mutual disdain between political communities, do not suffice as indicators of war. The conflict of arms must be actual...for it to count as war. Further, the actual armed conflict must be...widespread: isolated clashes between rogue officers, or border patrols, do not count as actions of war." Furthermore, Stanford notes that, "the onset of war requires a commitment, and a significant mobilization, on the part of the belligerents in question. There's no real war, so to speak, until a fighter intends to go to war and until it does so with a heavy quantum of force." In this way, the onset of war is triggered by an original, offensive act or by "a state of ongoing violence." Thus, we can extrapolate that to "initiate" war is both mobilization of forces and the actualization of violence.

Observation Two: Never is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as being very rare, this is evidenced by such statements as, "You never win the lottery."

I agree with Con's Value and his Criterion for this round.

It is my Sole Contention that deliberately initiating war is destructive, and thus it should be avoided.

Sub-point A: Deliberate initiations of war lead to more devastating warfare.

According to Prof. Andrew Alexandra, "the financial costs of the preparation and waging of deliberate war have increased, as has the devastation caused by those war...Such deliberate initiations spur the desire for more potent weaponry. And as one armed force gains weapons of greater destructive power and delivery systems capable of carrying these weapons further and faster, others strive to match them, for fear that they will be overwhelmed by these weapons in potential future conflicts. So the deadly spiral of the arms race escalates. The effect of this escalation is to make us less, not more, secure. And as more weapons are made, so more and more of the world's productive resources are diverted to their production. At the same time, states are forced to tighten control of their populations: to tax and conscript them, against their wills, to provide the resources and personnel necessary for war..." Alexandra also notes that this intensification is also likely to lead to a greater reliance on the vastly deleterious "total war" model.

Sub-point B: Deliberate Initiations of War engender aggression and intensified violence.

According to Prof. Frederick Schuman, "Since other powers feeling themselves threatened by an expanding power, they will at some point resist its further aggrandizement; relentless pursuit of power spells war--which is the ultimate negation of all morality." By this, Schuman indicates that aggression results in a pushback as a counter to the initial aggression, creating an endless cycle of violence and retaliation that will result in incalculable harms. Prof. Steven Murdoch concurs, arguing, "For many experts, weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and rogue nations change the self-defense analysis. In a world with these catastrophic weapons, they believe that countries should be allowed to strike preemptively. But how far these experts are willing to stray from a strict rule of self-defense, which requires actual enemy attack, turns upon what they emphasize. Some lawyers worry that a lower threshold for self-defense interventions, decided upon unilaterally, will impinge on nations" sovereignty and increase cycles of violence."

Sub-point C: Limited strategic information makes deliberate initiations of war unwise.

Prof. Dan Reiter, cites the following examples from his study: "In July 1949, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that the Soviet Union would not be able to construct a nuclear weapon until mid-1951, though the first Soviet nuclear test occurred only some weeks later in August 1949...The day before the first Chinese nuclear test, the CIA estimated a Chinese test within 6 to 8 months." Reiter goes on to summarize his meta-analysis of various military actions over the past 50 years, stating simply, "that in this modern era, intentionally beginning war fails or is made more destructive more than it succeeds as there is usually an incomplete intelligence picture of the situation."

Sub-point D: Deliberate Initiations of War reduce global cooperation.

Prof. David Cole claims deliberate initiations of war "both make it less likely that societies will obtain cooperation from other societies and engender intersocietal animus. Reduced cooperation, poor communication, and increased hostility breed intensified violence and reduce global cooperation." If the global society feels as if an individual society is likely to aggress, the global society tends to isolate and closely monitor this society, sometimes even striking first out of fear, whether that fear is rational or not. Additionally, in a global culture where aggression is more prevalent, societies will tend to be more individualistic and isolationist as a whole.

Sub-point E: Deliberate initiation of war should not be preferred as there are viable alternatives, including diplomacy, homeland security, and defensive counterterrorism.

According to Prof. Dan Reiter, deliberate wars "often consume resources which might otherwise be allocated to these three essential approaches, costing hundreds of billions of dollars over just the medium term. The unfortunate reality is that societies do not have an infinite amount of money to spend." It follows that other, equally effective policies, could be pursued rather than resorting to deliberate war. He notes that statistically, diplomacy and defensive counterterrorism have been equally, if not more effective, than deliberate initiations of war. Reiter therefore urges counterterrorism initiatives, including ballistic missile defense, fissile material recovery, and port security, among other recommendations. NGOs are another means of achieving objectives, as they can often provide peaceful assistance on the ground and act as neutral interlocutors for various factions. Furthermore, according to Prof. Patrick Regan, NGOs tend to be 12% more effective than state actors in reducing armed conflict.


Overview: A just society would not use violence as it has regard for human life. If justice is giving each their due, and innocents are not due death, and innocents will inevitably die in war, then war is unjust. If war is unjust, a just society would never do it. This takes out the NC.

Obs. 1 - Never does not connote an absolute. My grandma says she'll "never win publisher's clearing house lottery," but yet she could. In this sense, "never" is more similar to "very rare."

Obs. 2 - I concur.

Obs. 3 - I agree; a JS should just not use war as its response.

Point One: I am not endorsing frivolous hopes, I am endorsing prudence--and war is not prudent. Vigilance in self-defense is always desirable, and if you cross-apply my sub-point E here, you can see that war is not necessary in order to respond to myriad external threats. Moreover, the ills of war could actually cause more harms to the JS than a policy of preemption.

Point Two: I looked up the Western and Goldstein card--it's from the '70s, which is not exactly up-to-date. Finally, without a link to the Canterbury evidence, it is very hard for me to evaluate its validity; I cannot find it online. Also, cross-apply my case here--war is ineffective.

Point Three: Nonviolence does have benefits. Alexandra argues, "There is ample historical evidence, for example, of the ways in which measures supposed to increase military security--development of armaments, strengthening of border posts, and so on--can undermine trust between states, and actually make conflict more, not less, likely, as well as the tendency for low-level military conflicts to escalate. The unilateral adoption of a pacifist stance by one nation removes these potential provocations for invasion. We also have a good deal of evidence for the effectiveness of non-military resistance to armed invasion. That evidence itself must have some deterrent force for those who contemplate military occupation of a state that has institutionalized pacifist resistance."

Point Four: There are alternatives to war that could achieve the exact same thing that the Burke-White card is referring to. Moreover, war forces tradeoffs. According to Reiter, "preventive attacks...consume resources which might otherwise be allocated to [alternative] approaches. Preventive attacks are tremendously expensive, costing hundreds of billions of dollars over just the medium term. The unfortunate reality is that a society does not have an infinite amount of money to spend." So, we trade peaceful alternatives for violent war? That's not pragmatic.

Point Five: Never = very rare. I'm not ruling anything out absolutely.

I will provide my source's citations in the comment section of this debate. I message Lt.CmdrData and he has no objection to my doing this. Thanks for a good round, and for an unusually fast response time. I look forward to see how this debate unfolds. Thank you!
Debate Round No. 2


Do debaters normally respond this quickly...? Well, that speech was the same style from bsh1 that I saw at NCFLs, and it was effective. This should be a challenge! I'm not sure if I can bold or italicize things on this site, so bear with me on formatting. I think I'll go AC, NC, and see how that works. Here we go...


The definitions are generally okay, but I will quarrel with one portion of the definition of a JS. I think that the last line about having "concern for the rights of all peoples and societies" is nebulous. I think that a JS could be non-interventionist or even isolationist as long as it acts generally in a just fashion. Look at Switzerland--it's just, but it pursues a noncommittal foreign policy. So, I agree with everything in the definitions, except that last sentence.

Alright, on to the observations. I'm on board with the idea that "disdain" isn't war, and that there actually needs to be conflict, but I don't think it needs to be widespread. Look at the North Koreans idiots. They fire rockets into South Korea periodically, just to remind people that they're all at war. It's not widespread, but it is real, occasional violence. As for "never," I would wager that the most accepted definition is the one I gave, and so that should be preferred. Colloquial speech is not the same as what the term denotes. Your definition is colloquial, and not a denotation. As "never" is being used more formally here, my denotative definition is better.

You agree with my value. I was a bit surprised that you did this, but I guess it gave you more time to rebut my contentions. So, this round should be weighed from a pragmatic (cost-benefit-like) view, with the goal of achieve the awesome value of Societal Welfare.

Point A (PA): You know, Mutual Assured Destruction has done a TON to prevent violence. Look at the USSR and the US, they have never directly waged war against one another. Arguably, this would have been more devastating then the proxy wars they fought. But, the arms race has really dropped off--look at how many countries have signed on to treaties against WMDs. Look at South Africa who gave up its nuclear technology. And, this reduction in WMDs is happening even as preemption becomes a global legal norm, as with Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, etc. Also, sanctions and the Geneva Convention seem like, and are, great ways of checking the risk of "total war." That's one of those phrases where if you drop your voice a few octaves and say the phrase, your argument sounds really impressive. But, in reality, we have WMDs, but they are rarely used in actual combat, especially with the advent of UN measure to curb the practice.

PB: War is not just about procuring power, man. It can be used for a variety of purposes: humanitarian intervention, proactive self-defense, yada yada yada...So, if your concern is a unilateral drop in the threshold for self-defense, why not have a multilateral agreement. Your argument here doesn't actually affirm, because I can still lower the threshold, and thus defeat the Murdoch evidence, but I just have to do it multilaterally.

PC: "Usually" poor intelligence does not mean that poor intelligence will be a problem in all, or even many, cases. This does prove that JS can "never" initiate war, even if you believe that never is very rare.

PD: War doesn't always annoy other nations. Look at humanitarian interventions; they can have a wide base of support. Also, just annoying other nations won't lead to more violence. We annoy the Russians all the time with our interventionist antics, but we're not at war with them yet, are we? In fact, we even communicate with them!

PE: Okay, so this argument is just a permutation of the negative. I can also have diplomacy, homeland security, and counterterrorism. But, I also keep war as a tool in the tool kit because you never know when war will be the best option.


OV: A just society is not a perfect society. All societies, just or otherwise, will occasionally have to act pragmatically, even if that means doing something unjust. A just society is just on the whole, meaning that if you subtract its unjust behavior from its just behavior, a JS is still net just. Basically, it's like a JS is net just, not always just. This is borne out in the framework you agreed to. We're talking about pragmatism, not moral absolutes. So, this is a great place to apply my "deontology bad" arguments from earlier (see my criterion paragraph in my NC.)

Obs. 1 - I rebutted this fallacy earlier...

Obs. 2 - Great!

Obs. 3 - We'll see...

P1: You say you're endorsing "prudence." Well, it's not prudent to rule out options, is it? Then you're tying your hands. So, if you try all those alternatives and they still don't work, then what? Then, you have to be able to use war as a last resort.

P2: Okay, so W&G is old...but the Canterbury evidence is still valid. And, old doesn't mean bad. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's not correct, and you never dispute the card's accuracy.

P3: The "unilateral adoption of a pacifist stance by one nation" leaves that nation vulnerable to attack. Cross-apply Machiavelli here. Plus, you argue for more homeland security, but then say we should decrease military security? A bit contradictory... Also, you never really rebutted the fact that nonviolent resistance doesn't have a awesome/super amazing/supercalifragilistic record, so this point should be carried across the flow.

P4: Again with the alternatives. This is just a permutation of my case. It's so non-unique it's not funny. I can do the alternatives too, I just don't rule out war. So, when the alternatives fail, I have war in my back pocket, so I can try the alternatives first. So, I won't have to tradeoff with war, because I can do all of these things. It's not an either/or situation.

P5: I already addressed this...

Alright, that's all I've got to say this round. Adios!


I will launch right into the debate. The order is AC, NC, as that seems to be the way we're structuring the debate.


Definitions: Extend my definition of deliberate. As for the definition of a JS, we have at least agreed that it is (1) not totalitarian, and (2) respecting of people's human rights. Con cites Switzerland as an example of a nation that is non-interventionist while still being just. But my last sentence was not saying that a nation had to be interventionist, merely I was arguing that it should not bear any biased or malice against other states or other peoples. Simply because a nation empathizes with others does not mean that it will act on its empathy. Thus, you can keep this last point.

Obs. 1 - Con tries to use the North Korea example to disprove that war is necessarily widespread. Yet, Con is forgetting that the Korean war was initially widespread, and it is no longer a "war," whatever technicalities one might cite. It's a state of peace, that is ripe with tension that occasionally boils over into sporadic violence. That isn't war as it is understood in the round. A good counter example might be Rwanda and the Congo. Rwandan troops recently crossed into Congolese lands to pursue rebel groups. The incursion was temporary, and, while extremely annoyed at the Rwandans, the Congolese do not consider themselves at war with Rwanda. A few shots fired does not add up to war until a significant group of troops has been mustered and deployed.

Obs. 2 - Con says my definition is informal, yet it comes from Black's Law--a very formal dictionary. This dictionary DENOTES its meaning as "very rare." Moreover, my examples stand--Con never stated why, in those examples, never did not mean what I claimed it to mean. Extend the examples. In doing so, you must also extend my definition.

Sub-point A: Con argues that MAD will prevent total war; yet, this only works when both countries have WMDs. We don't go to war with Russia because of MAD, but yet, we can go to war in Iraq or Afghanistan, despite Russian objections, because those targets lack nukes. Also keep in mind that not all WMDs deter. Biological and Chemical weapons, which Saddam did have, didn't deter us from going into Iraq. And, the success you give regarding South Africa and so on, are instances of effective diplomacy, which is an alternative to war. Finally, clearly sanctions do not always deter WMD use--look at the Assad regime in Syria. Thus, it is vital to take a more pacifistic approach to avoid the arms race to begin with.

Sub-point B: My concern here is that initiations of war spur cycles of violence. Schuman argued that initiating war results in a push back that just creates cyclical violence. For example, the U.S. campaigns in Afghanistan boosted terrorist recruitment leading to increased terrorism. The U.S. countered with its war on terror, and now the militants are pushing back, as can be evidence by Al-Shabab's actions in Kenya. Another good example would be WWI leading to WWII leading to the cold war, and so on.

Sub-point C: Con never contests the fact that intelligence is usually poor. Extend this argument. All Con does argue is that "usually fails" does not translate to "very rarely succeeds." Even if it doesn't, "usually fails" gets me part of the way there.

Sub-point D: Con basically concedes my point when he agrees that our actions "annoy" other nations. Insofar as we build animosity with important global partners, we make it harder to achieve our diplomatic and economic agenda. Therefore, even if a lack of communication does not always lead to violence, it has other detrimental impacts to us. Con also makes this argument about humanitarian interventions, but gives no example to warrant his claim. A counterexample would be Libya, where we "annoyed" the Russians to no end in our humanitarian endeavors.

Sub-point E: I admit that this point is a permutation of Con. But, that doesn't mean this argument is not important. These alternative, in my world, are the only options that should be used. My argument here was meant to show that these alternatives are effective enough that we don't actually need to keep war in our back pocket to use. Con never disputes the efficacy of any of these alternatives--extend my arguments.


OV: I concede my overview, though, even without it, I can still take out the NC.

Obs. 1 - I already addressed this

Obs. 1 and 2 - We basically agree here

P1: It is not prudent to use options that almost always backfire and fail. That's like saying, if my keys and my knife can't open my car door, I'll have to try and use some cesium to blow it off. Sure, the cesium might blow the door off your car so you could get in. But then again, the cesium might also kill you. It's not prudent to keep options like that in anyone's tool kit, even as a last resort.

P2: Con still has not given me the link to the Canterbury evidence, so I cannot evaluate its validity. As for the Western and Goldstein, Con concedes that it's old, but he tries to downplay some of my criticism by adding that old does not mean bad. Sure, old does not mean bad. But W&G are drawing their conclusions from examples, and when those examples no longer apply (tech has improved, geopolitics has changed, etc.) then the evidence should be thrown out.

P3: Homeland and military security are not the same thing. Homeland is more so border security, not an internal military build up, like in North Korea. So, I can promote one, while lessening the other without any inherent contradiction. As for leaving a nation vulnerable, the resolution only prevents JS from INIATING WAR. If attacked, they can still engage in self-defense. Moreover, you dropped Alexandra's argument that states that have established cultures of peaceful resistance are likely to deter violent invasions, because invaders don't want to contend with the hindrances and inconveniences of a disobedient populace. Look at Gandhi's movement in India, for instance.

P4: Oftentimes you don't always have a choice--sometimes a call has to be made because you cannot afford to try to exhaust all alternative first. If you have finite resources and can only afford to do one: (1) war or (2) diplomacy, then you are making a tradeoff. And, with the massive costs of war, the most pragmatic route is to choose the alternative.

P5: I already discussed this point in my observational analysis.

I look forward to hearing/reading my opponent's responses. Thanks!
Debate Round No. 3


I guess the AC, NC order is working out, so I'll just stick with it for this round. Thanks for Pro for accepting the rematch--I think it's been closer then the round we did at NCFLs. Maybe the flipped sides had something to do with that...IDK. Anyway, I'll stop digressing and get to the debating.


Fine, I can agree with your whole definition so long as it is understood that the resolution is not saying that a society must always be interventionist.

Obs. 1 - Most people would agree that the Koreas are still at war, despite the lack of widespread conflict, so that kinda backs up what I said earlier--war doesn't need widespread conflict to be war. As for the Congo-Rwanda example, that may be true in their geopolitical situation, but the geopolitical situation in Korea is different. This means that, depending on locale, war is not necessarily widespread.

Obs. 2 - Regardless of the source, "very rare" is a colloquial definitions. The examples you offer are colloquial. Not only that, but most definitions/dictionaries define "never" the way I did. You never rebutted this, and when I say that, I don't mean "very rarely." Flow this point across. Thus, my definition is more predictable and fair, and should be preferred.

PA: No, obviously MAD won't prevent war in all cases--but you never rebut that MAD does prevent some war. But, the fact that MAD isn't foolproof is correct. That's why we have a UN, with enforceable resolutions, and why we have the Geneva Convention. These check against the risk of "total war," because nations don't want these penalties imposed on them. You use the example of Syria, well, look at Syria now. The U.S. threatened it with war unless it stopped using WMDs, and Syria stopped. This shows how war itself can be used as a tool against "total war." this turns your argument by showing that initiations of war (as the U.S. was about to do) can be good.

PB: You totally drop my argument that Murdoch is talking about "unilaterally" imposed thresholds. That's completely fixable, and I, in my world, can fix it. Thus, this argument doesn't actually harm my advocacy. Then, you talk about "cycle of violence" as not reserved for power-mongering. Yet, power was the only thing Schuman addressed. And really, humanitarian efforts like Libya have not led to more violence, so that kinda defeats your claim that initiating war always leads to these cycles.

PC: You basically concede that this offense is insufficient to affirm, which is all I wanted to show. So...yeah. That's good.

PD: War is a last resort strategy. If we try alternatives first, we won't always have to annoy other nations. Then, if the alternatives fail, we can use war when we need it. Some war with some annoyance is better then tying our hands. And, don't forget, I don't say that war is the best option in all cases, just that it should be a tool in the toolkit.

PE: You admit that I can perm your argument. Thus, I can co-opt all the benefits of alternatives while still having war as a potential tool in case I need it. That's good for me.

Alright, everyone. Let's summarize my offense thus far. (1) Never is an absolute prohibition. Bsh1 must show that initiating war is ALWAYS impermissible for a just society. (2) Total War is unlikely when you consider MAD as well as international checks against it. (3) PC is insufficient offense for Bsh1 to win the debate. (4) I can co-opt his alternatives and their benefits. Thus, I not only get those benefits, but also any potential benefits from war. So, if war has any benefits AT ALL, I will have more benefits that Bsh1, who is limited to his alternatives. Under a pragmatic calculus, then, I win.


OV: This is now a nonissue...

Obs. 1, 2, 3 - Already hashed-out...

P1: The cesium example was cool. Great imagery. Yet, even cesium can have some benefits. If I want to break into a safe for example. Then, cesium would be great. So, clearly, I should still keep some cesium around, just in case I'm in a larcenous mood.

P2: Yeah, don't have the link to the Canterbury stuff. It's in text form. But, W&G still can be corroborated by it...

P3: Fine, so homeland and military are different, and you can do self-defense. But, not being able to prevent attacks still sucks. If the bomber are already about to unload their contents over New York city, its a bit late to scramble the jets in defense. It's so much better just to annihilate the bomber before they've even taken off. Preemption is a key component of effective self-defense. If you accept that, then you accept that initiating war is sometimes okay. At that point, you ought to vote for me.

P4: Okay, yeah. So I might need to tradeoff every now and again. So what? Having options gives me flexibility; in that sense, the very fact that I have a tradeoff is nice, 'cause I can weigh the options.

P5: Yeah, yeah. Already covered this.

More analysis of the offense: (1) Preemption is beneficial. (2) Cesium is fun--er, I mean it can be useful.

So, I have a ton of offense that shows that war is a pragmatic choice. Vote for me! Gracias and adios!


I would like to thank LtCmdrData for what has proved a great rematch. I will go AC, NC, voting issues.


So, we now have clarified our definitional framework and are in agreement. How will the definition impact the round? As Con says: "the resolution is not saying that a society must always be interventionist." This actually hurts Con because it means that a just society can pursue a pacifist approach.

Obs. 1 - I would argue that the current state of affairs in Korea is a tense peace, not a state of war, despite technical claims otherwise. Violence occurs rarely, sometimes less than once a year. We have more violence than that in some of our cities. That's not war. Moreover, Con is employing an ad hominem fallacy when he relies on what "most people" think. Con never directly rebuts my Congo example--extend it. Con tries to downplay my example's importance by noting geopolitical differences in the locations, yet, war is war wherever it is. And, in both of these cases, it's not war. Stanford is a credible source, and should be believed.

Obs. 2 - Con is again trying to downplay my sources. Don't let him do this. Black's Law is incredibly reliable, and formal. It is not a dictionary prone to giving "colloquial" definitions. And again, simply because most sources do something, doesn't make them rights, as my examples illustrated. It's an ad hominem fallacy. Extend never as "very rare." But, even if you don't accept my definition, I can still win, as I shall show.

PA: Con concedes MAD is an insufficient protection. Con also DROPs the fact that MAD fails even when we attack nations with WMDs, as was the case with Saddam and his chemical stockpiles. Con also drops the successes of alternatives over war. Con claims that it was U.S. threats of action that caused Assad to cave, but there are alternate explanations of this. Russia and China were likely pressuring Assad to stop, as the crises in Syria and the diplomatic fallout were giving them headaches. So, we can't really attribute Syria's concessions to U.S. military threats.

PB: Schuman uses the word "power," but his analysis has broader implications. The fact that initiating war creates push back is true, as can be seen in my un-rebutted examples. Moreover, in Libya, cycles of violence were triggered by our intervention. There has been a upsurge in terrorist activities there, and weapons from Libya that were lost during the war made there way into Mali, and helped to fun insurgent rebels. So yes, our involvement in Libya did lead to more violence. Turn that example back on Con.

PC: Sure, sub-point c doesn't affirm on it's own, but it is important un-rebutted offense for me, that, when coupled with other pieces of offense, will affirm. Con never contests my argument that intelligence is usually wrong; extend it.

PD: Here again, Con skirts the issue. Con never contests the fact that war does have detrimental economic, diplomatic, and security-relations impacts. He just says it's better to deal with some of those problems then give up war altogether. No, it's not.

PE: Con never rebuts my argument here that: "These alternatives, in my world, are the only options that should be used. My argument here was meant to show that these alternatives are effective enough that we don't actually need to keep war in our back pocket to use. Con never disputes the efficacy of any of these alternatives--extend my arguments."

I will dispute Con's analysis of the offense. Here is my interpretation. I am winning several key points: (1) never = very rare, and even if it doesn't, I can still win; (2) MAD fails; (3) war leads to cycles of violence; (4) war harms our ability to communicate well, which has a multiplicity of negative consequences; (5) the alternatives are effective enough that we can safely do away with war as a tool in the toolbox.


I've gone over much of the observational and overview framework, so I won't touch on that here.

P1: But, you have to ask, are the risks worth the benefits. The risks of cesium are so high, that almost no sane person would use it. In effect, they would NEVER use cesium because it is so volatile. This is the same with war. If initiating war is that dangerous and perilous then a JS would NEVER employ it as a tool.

P2: Con drops all of my arguments against W&G. Disregard that evidence. Without a link or a way to view the Canterbury evidence, we cannot ascertain its validity, and so we should not evaluate it. This takes out the entirety of Con's point two. He has no offense here.

P3: Con agrees that I'm not contradicting myself, which strengthens my case. Con then offers the bomber example--but, if intelligence is usually wrong, as I have shown, then it is unlikely that you will have good intelligence on the bombers. How do you know where they are being kept before take off.? How do you know if they're even going to attack? By striking preemptively, you could be setting off a war that never needed to happen. If the bomber were never going to bomb you, then by destroying them preemptively, you are initiating a pointless war that will cost many lives. that's not pragmatic.

P4: Tradeoffs are harmful in that they waste millions of dollars and entail unnecessary risks. Again, that is not pragmatic.

P5: Never = very rare, but even if it didn't, I can still win.

Offense counter-analysis: (1) Con's point two has been completely taken out; (2) Con could get us into pointless wars; and (3) tradeoffs are bad.


So, the value in this round is Societal Welfare, which I plan to uphold through a criterion of pragmatism. It is my job to show you that, from a pragmatic standpoint, a just society should never initiate war. Let's assume that never mean "at not point," which is the strict interpretation Con offers. I can still show, under this, that war should be rule out. Here is why:

1 - War leads to cycles of violence
2 - War harms our relations with other nations, which has many harmful consequences
3 - There are very effective alternatives which obviate the need to use war
4 - Intelligence is usually bad, so preemption fails
5 - Con, in his point two, is unable to show that war is statistically effective
6 - Con could get us into pointless wars

In light of these truly dangerous and terrible consequences, war is just too risky a tool to keep in our toolkit. It's like cesium, it's just too much of a risk to carry around, let alone use. Therefore, it is wisest and most PRAGMATIC, just to rule it out altogether. At no point should war be used. The perils are just too great. War is not pragmatic, it does boost societal welfare, and it is not something a just society should initiate. With that, I urge a vote in affirmation of the resolution.

Please, VOTE PRO! Thank you!
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
Alright--thanks. I never thought about a vote in that sense, deciding a round on an non-argument factor.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
Dude I dont feel comfortable deciding the outcome of this debate off of a spelling error or something...there are still 4 days I bet someone will vote on it, especially if you ask around. If it's almost over and still no one else has voted I'll evaluate those things though
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
thett3 - thanks for the RFD. Is there some way you could untie it, like evaluating sources or s/g. Whether I or Data come out on top, I would just like to have a winner for this one. It was close...

I probably should've debated the framework...
Posted by thett3 3 years ago

Con wins since the resolution is an absolute. Pro had a good case about how war usually leads to bad outcomes, but I think by mostly arguing the impacts instead of the morality of initiating violence, he makes an implicit concession in favor of Con. Yeah, intelligence can be flawed and sometimes preemptive strikes are done wrong, but if neither of these are the case (which is possible) the resolution is negated.

Hard decision...sorry for tying this up.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago

I think it's clear what the resolution means, if "never" was supposed to mean "very rarely", the resolution would be "A just society should very rarely initiate war", and the debate comes down to what "very rarely" means. Never is an absolute, so it's easy to debate.

Con has a lot of offense, but he didn't elaborate on it too well. I know it's an LD debate, but if we're judging by pragmatism some kind of examples of justified wars and the positive impacts from them would be good. I buy that since other nations can be aggressive and have war in mind the JS should keep warfare as an option, but I also buy the argument that war can lead to more war, so it's a matter of magnitude and which is more likely to happen after the initiation of war.

I just wish either side gave me a better numbers comparison, or something. Pro, you argue that preparing for war makes "total war" more likely--how much more likely? Why is this bad? States will tax and conscript people--how many? How much does war cost? There is a myriad of historical examples to use for both sides. When has global cooperation been reduced by war? Con, 82.4% of interventions are "successful"? What does that mean? How much good does this do?

I don't really know *how* to weigh the round without numbers if I'm supposed to value what actually works.

I almost voted Pro because of subpoint B. The only examples I have to look to are those I'm told were WWI leading to WWII and more terrorism after intervention in the ME. The only counter-example Con gives is Libya in the final round, which pro attacks.

I think Con came out on top of the theoretical debate, like how it's better to destroy the bomber before it gets to the city. Pro responds by saying sometimes our intelligence is faulty, but all he gave were two examples of UNDERestimating the threat level. I think it's an implicit concession on Pro's part to make that argument. Pros argument doesn't solve for a case where the intelligence is sound
Posted by LtCmdrData 3 years ago
Hey thett3, could you vote?
Posted by LtCmdrData 3 years ago
Yo! Glad you enjoyed the round...
Posted by Lewan 3 years ago
I do LD debate in high school, thanks for the round guys!

I hope to find more debates like this one in the future.
Posted by thett3 3 years ago
@ LtCmdrData

Yeah, I'll probably vote on this. One of guys should remind me if I dont do it by the next couple of days
Posted by bladerunner060 3 years ago
Oh, and it should go without saying, but I suppose I should, for clarity's sake, express it just on principle (so call this "RFD 0/3"):

S&G were equal in my opinion.
Conduct was exemplary on both sides as far as I saw.

Sourcing is a little iffy, since I preferred Con's definition over Pro's, and Pro attempted to rely on a source for his...nonetheless, I didn't think it worthy of scoring.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by WheezySquash8 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had better points, and more conduct, but con cited sources more often so he won for sources.
Vote Placed by yay842 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: gj to both of you! lots of effort put into this supa dupa looooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggggg debate. I have no way to say vote plus one for either of you.
Vote Placed by thett3 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: In comments
Vote Placed by Juris 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Same reasons with that of Beverlee. Pros arguments are very clear and relevant to the proposition.
Vote Placed by Beverlee 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a very well argued debate, that was technically very skilled. Pro's case that the war is inherently unjust, and therefore not consistent with just action was decisive for me. This, to me, set up a catch-22: a society cannot be both just and engage in unjust actions simultaneously. The debaters agreed that a society can alternate between "just and unjust," which allows that an otherwise just society must become unjust insofar as that society decides to initiate a war. The car door illustration was helpful.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Yeesh this was close. RFD in comments.