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Con (against)
4 Points


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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/24/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,013 times Debate No: 46640
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (24)
Votes (4)





The United States has a moral obligation to promote democratic ideals in other nations


1. No forfeits
2. Semantics are not prohibited
3. No new arguments in R4
4. BOP: Pro must show that the U.S. has a MO to promote democratic ideals; Con must show that no such MO exists
5. Violation or non-acceptance of any of the R1 rules or setup constitutes a 7-point loss


R1: Acceptance
R2: Opening Arguments
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals and Summary

Thanks... advance to LegitDebater! This will be a great round.


I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank Legitdebater for this debate! I anticipate a great discussion! In this round, I will make some observations about the framework, and then I shall present my case.


There are three key terms we need to clarify in order to understand the resolution: moral obligation, promote, and democratic ideals. Once we understand what these phrases indicate, we can begin to debate the topic.

Firstly, "moral" means "based on right and good," whereas "obligation" means "a duty or responsibility." [1] Therefore, to say that the U.S. has a moral obligation to do something is to say that it has a responsibility to do so based on what is the right thing to do.

Next, "promote" means "to help something happen, develop, or increase." [1] Therefore, democratization need not be violent or instantaneous. It can be a gradual process that is encouraged by the U.S.

Finally, democratic modifies "ideals" intimating that we are talking about ideals inherent to and of democracy. "Ideal" can be defined as "thing conceived as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation." [2] We can simplify this to the following: an ideal is standard of something else--in this case, we are talking about standards and principles of democracy.

With these clarifications made, I will proceed to make my case.


Contention One: Democracy is a desirable form of government.

“Democracy provides the best institutional arrangement for holding rulers accountable to the people. If leaders must compete for popular support to stay in power, they will respond to their citizens’ preferences. Rulers who do not need popular support to gain or maintain power will likely be more responsive to whatever group – the family, the military, the mullahs, or the communist party – controls their fate. The larger the number of people needed to elect a leader, the more inclined that leader will be to pursue public policies that benefit the majority. Not surprisingly, therefore, democracies ‘have consistently generated superior levels of social welfare’ compared to autocracies at similar income levels. Second, the institutions of democracy prevent abusive rule, constrain bad government, and provide a mechanism for getting rid of corrupt or ineffective leaders. Truly oppressive leaders cannot remain in power for long if they must seek the electoral mandate of those being oppressed. Autocrats face no such constraints. Mass terror and genocide occur in autocracies, not democracies. Democracies do not prevent all abusive behavior, but over the centuries, democratic leaders have unquestionably inflicted less pain and suffering on their people than have autocratic leaders.” [3]

This analysis is easily backed up by empirical analysis. If we look at the world's democracies [4] and compare them to the world's most free nations [5], we can see that there is a positive correlation between democracy and freedom, and a negative correlation between authoritarianism and freedom. When examined by economic freedom, 31 out of the 34 most free nations or self-governing regions are democratic in nature. [6] Finally, when examined by levels of corruption, democracies also outperformed other nations in that democracies tended to have less corruption. [7]

Contention Two: Nondemocratic regimes have killed millions.

"The more power a government has, the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more it is diffused, checked and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide [government mass murder]. At the extremes of Power, totalitarian communist governments slaughter their people by the tens of millions, while many democracies can barely bring themselves to execute even serial murderers…more people died from democide in the 20th century than from all its wars combined...To this I would add that the less democratic two states the more likely that they will fight each other...They create an oasis of peace...In total, during the first eighty-eight years of this century [millions of] men, women, and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; or buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens or foreigners. The dead even could conceivably be near 360,000,000 people. This is as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power and not germs. Putting the human cost of war and democide together, Power has killed over 203,000,000 people in this century. As the arbitrary power of a regime increases massively, that is, as we move from democratic to totalitarian regimes, the amount of killing jumps by huge multiples.” [8]

Consider that the worst regimes know to human history were nondemocratic ones. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Suharto, Enver Pasha, Idi Amin, etc. were all authoritarians.

Therefore, we can conclude that the less democratic a nation is, the more it suppresses freedoms and the more it harms its citizenry.

Contention Three: The U.S. has a moral obligation to act

Sub-point A: Human rights carry moral weight

“Human rights express ultimate moral concerns: Persons have a moral duty to respect human rights, a duty that does not derive from a more general moral duty to comply with national…legal instruments. Human rights express weighty moral concerns, which normally override other normative considerations…It is, for the future of humankind, the most important …task of our time to set development upon an acceptable path. It would be entirely irresponsible to deprive ourselves of any moral basis for the assessment and reform of our global order. And the only such basis that could be both plausible and capable of wide international acceptance today is a conception of human rights.” [9] Therefore, states that fail to respect their denizen's rights lose legitimacy. “In a Lockean sense, the state is constrained in its behavior through the duty to preserve and protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. When the state fails in this imperative, however, its legitimacy is forfeited and the moral defensibility of non-intervention wanes.” [10]

Sub-point B: Mass violations of human rights are the worst moral wrongs

"Humanitarian crises pose grave problems to human rights. The degree of human suffering typically involved – torture, killing, rape, physical injury, death, starvation, and so on – is the worst moral wrong that can happen to an individual. A serious humanitarian crisis involves the mass violation of basic human rights. As such, it involves (1) the worst moral wrong (2) on a massive scale. Accordingly, it is of the utmost moral importance that a serious humanitarian crisis is halted.” [11]

Sub-point C: Sovereignty is no barrier for action

"State sovereignty is not such an unencumbered absolute as to be above all external pressures, especially as it impacts human rights concerns. The concept of ‘fundamental human rights’ is featured prominently in the Charter of the United Nations; consequently, every member state of the UN is obligated to recognize and protect these rights. Likewise, there have been numerous regional and global conventions adopted to protect against human rights abuses such as slavery, apartheid, piracy, and genocide. ‘Many of these rules protecting human rights have consolidated into customary rules of international law, binding States whether they have ratified those Conventions or not.’ State sovereignty is thus hemmed in by UN directives and international conventions where human rights are concerned." [12]

Sub-point D: The international community has a moral responsibility to act

“The duty to assist is not indeterminate. It is correlated to the individual rights that have been abused and stays there, in peaceful advocacy of change from within, unless the sovereign goes further and pushes abuse to the level of wholesale murder or massacre, ethnic cleansing or genocide. At this point, an individualized duty to assist and support rights claimants would evolve into a responsibility to protect whole populations whose existence is threatened.” [13]

Thus, I rest. I turn the debate over to Con...


1 -
2 -
3 - McFaul, Michael, 2010 [Hoover Senior Fellow, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law at Stanford and nonresident associate at Carnegie] “Advancing Democracy Abroad,” p. 35-37
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 - Di Stefano, Paul, 2011, [Prof. of Humanities at John Abbott College in Montreal, Quebec], “Human Rights Violations and the Moral Permissibility of Military Intervention,” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 23:537–545 (2011)
11 - Pattison, James, 2010, [Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Manchester] "Humanitarian Intervention and Responsibility to Protect: Who should intervene?"
12 -
13 - Ignatieff, Michael, 2001, [former Leader Liberal Party of Canada, member of the UN-mandated International Commission for Intervention and State Sovereignty. Currently, a fellow at the University of Toronto] “Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry,” ed. A. Gutmann, p. 40



I thank bsh1 for his opening arguments!

My Refutations

"Democracy is a desirable form of government"

"The larger the number of people needed to elect a leader, the more inclined that leader will be to pursue public policies that benefit the majority."

I actually beg to differ, as this isn't necessarily true. Take former democratically elected Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi. For those of you who don't know, Morsi changed the Egyptian Constitution to grant himself authoritarian powers. Morsi not only held executive power, he held legislative power; the right to make and pass laws by himself. He even went as far to grant himself as "Egypt's new Phaoraoh" and usurped all state powers. In this case, the democratically elected leader in Egypt was no better than than Egypt's former dictator Hosni Muburak. This certainly didn't benefit the people; instead they decided to rebel. [1]

"Nondemocratic regimes have killed millions."

Although this is the case in a few extreme authoritarian governments in history, the push for democracy leads to mass murder too. In the Syrian Civil War, where rebels are "fighting for democracy" the death toll is now at 140 000, with 7 626 of them being children, and 5 064 of them being women. What my opponent fails to realize is that the push for democracy also results in war, thus leading to the killings of innocent men, women, and children. [2]

"totalitarian communist governments slaughter their people by the tens of millions"

Let's look at a war we've never forgotten, the very war that disgusted American citizens of that time and eventually caused American soldiers to pull out. The very war I'm talking about is Vietnam War. Innocent Vietnamese citizens were massacred by American soldiers, and American soldiers themselves were killed by the thousand. But at what cost? It was all in the name of "stopping communism" thereby imposing democracy on Vietnamese citizens. In what was known as the My Lai massacre, several hundred innocent Vietnamese citizens were brutally murdered by American soldiers. In total, 3 million Vietnamese died during this "war for democracy," with 2 million of them being citizens. The point that I'm making is that "imposing democracy" is rarely done peacefully and leads to just as much death as some authoritarian regimes themselves.[3]

"Sub-point B: Mass violations of human rights are the worst moral wrongs"

In contrast, war is a moral wrong. War is the very thing that leads to these human rights violation. Since democracy is often "imposed" by the U.S. intervening through violence, there's no moral obligation to commit an immoral act.

My Arguments

Is Democracy a desirable form of government if a non-democratically elected regime is benevolent to the people?

Benevolent Dictators

Sub-point 1: Fidel Castro (in power 1959-2008)

Take Fidel Castro, former dictator of Cuba for instance; under his rule, Cuba retained a high socio-economic well-being. Castro ruled Cuba for nearly half a century, but yet important factors such as HDI and infant mortality gradually increased. In fact, under Castro's rule, Cuba's adult literacy rate went up to 99.8% Suprisingly, America's literacy rate is only a mere 0.2% greater as a democratic nation. Castro extended social services to all classes of society, and health services were free of charge. Not only that, but every citizen was guaranteed employment. In some ways, Cuba is more successful than America and other democratic countries; especially in terms of education and healthcare.[4][5]

Sub-point 2: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (in power 1921-1945)

Atatürk was the first president in Turkey, and is commonly known as the founding father of the nation. Under his rule, the Ottoman Empire (absolute monarchy) was overthrown, secularism (no religious rule) was established, and women were given rights. Not only that, but he "pursued a policy of neutrality," and conducted friendly relations with countries bordering Turkey. You're probably wondering, "Sounds like a great democratic leader!" Actually Atatürk, like Castro, was a dictator that was not democratically elected, but yet was still worked for the best interests of the people.[6]

Sub-point 3: Josip Broz Tito (in power 1953-1980)

Tito, President of Yugoslavia, was recognized as a "benevolent dictator" due his "successful diplomatic and economic policies." Tito was a prime supporter of the Non-Aligned Movement, which Cuban leader Fidel Castro (whom I've mentioned in Sub-point 1) described the orginization as "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression ,occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics". [7] [8]

Economic Benefits of Authoritarian Regimes

Pro: "When examined by economic freedom, 31 out of the 34 most free nations or self-governing regions are democratic in nature."

Actually, political freedom isn't required for economic success. A study done by the American concluded that a country doesn't require a democracy for economic success. The study stated this: "Between 1991 and 2005, the countries that were economically free but politically repressed grew at 6.28% annually. Comparatively, the countries that were both economically and politically free grew at 2.62%." Therefore, "authoritarian regimes" can make better economic decisions for their citizens.[9]

The U.S. is only promoting imperialism, and has usually been unsuccessful

Does the U.S. have a moral obligation to commit an immoral act?

The resolution: "The United States has a moral obligation to promote democratic ideals in other nations"

Pro states that democratization can be a gradual process that is encouraged by the U.S., however, this usually isn't the case. When has the U.S. every "promoted democracy" peacefully? The answer is, they haven't. "Promoting democracy" has only promoted U.S. Imperialism. Does the U.S. have a moral obligation to storm into a country, and try to promote their ways, just because they think it's best for the people. The answer is no. Most countries haven't asked the U.S. for foreign intervention. Did Iraq say, "Help U.S, come invade our country!" We as westerners think our ways our so superior that we haven't even though about what the citizens want. All it has led to is war, which is an immoral act.

Failures of Promoting Democracy

The U.S. was supposedly "promoting democracy" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is now the 7th most corrupt country, with Afghanistan being even worse; 3rd most corrupt. According to recent reports, 461 000 civilians are estimated to have been killed during the Iraq War. As I mentioned before, in Vietnam, 2 million civilians were killed. Let's look at the political result of these 3 wars: Iraq and Afghanistan are in the top 10 most corrupt countries in the world, and Vietnam is still politically totalitarian. Promoting democracy has never been a peacefull, gradual process when the U.S. intervenes.[10][11][12]

To summarize:
1. Promoting democracy has usually been a failure; especially when it comes to th U.S. intervening.
2. Some "authoritarian regimes" were equal or better than democracy.
3. The U.S. has no moral obligation to commit an immoral act, war.



Debate Round No. 2


Thanks again to Con for a wonderful round! I will defend my own case, and then refute Con's.


C1: Democracy is Desirable

Pro's example of Morsi is cherry-picking. On balance, elected leaders are more responsive to the public. Look, for instance, at Europe, North America, South Africa, etc. In these democracies, while they are not perfect, government officials want to produce legislation that benefits the electorate because they want those voters to reelect them later. It is a reciprocal relationship--in exchange for votes, voters demand benefits; in exchange for votes, elected officials provide those benefits.

Let's now take a look at what Con DROPS:

1. Democracy constrains abusive rule and bad government
2. There is a positive correlation between freedom and democracy
3. Democracies are less corrupt on average

C2: Nondemocratic Regimes Kill Millions

Con then asserts that the push for democracy leads to violence. There are two, straightforward rebuttals to this. Firstly, oftentimes the regime is so bad, that losing some lives is better that remaining oppressed. This is certainly the case in such situations as the Rwandan genocide or Cambodia under Pol Pot. Secondly, why does pushing for democracy necessarily lead to violence? The resolution says I must "promote democratic ideals." This does not mean I have to engage in battle, or force a regime change. Merely, I must encourage people to believe in such concepts of freedom, equality, popular rule, etc. This type of process can be nonviolent. We can also look at such examples as Estonia's Singing Revolution for examples of how government's can be overthrown with virtually no deaths.

Con's Vietnam example makes no sense, frankly. The purpose of the Vietnam wars was no democratization; rather, it was waged in the name of containment. Secondly, S. Vietnam was already a democracy, and the U.S. never invaded N. Vietnam, so I don't see how we were "imposing democracy" in the North. Thirdly, I am not arguing that democracy should be imposed, but rather that it should be promoted. There is a big difference. Fourthly, Con is picking isolated lines out of a fairly large card, and responding to them out of context. The context, that democracies are, in general, less violent and more just is not something Con ever seems to refute. Instead, he cherry-picks a some counter examples, and makes a tangential point about the Vietnam War.

Let's take another look at points Con has DROPPED:

1. The more powerful the government, the more abusive it can be
2. Democide has killed more people than from all 20th Century wars combined
3. Democracies tend not to fight one another, promoting peace
4. The worst regimes in history were authoritarian

C3: MO to Act

Con asserts that War is a moral wrong. Firstly, I would argue that there are such things as just wars, but I would also underscore the difference between "promote" and "impose." I DO NOT advocate for the impostion of democracy on societies, but rather for the promotion of democratic ideals.

Moreover, humanitarian crises are the WORST moral wrongs, and thus outweigh war.

Let's take a look at some more points dropped by Con:

1. Human rights convey moral significance
2. Governments that violate their people's human rights lose legitimacy
3. Sovereignty is no barrier to action
4. The Int'l Community ought to respond to mass Human rights violations


C1: Benevolent Dictators

1. Castro

Consider that in Cuba: "[the] government [has been accused] of systematic human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials, and extrajudicial execution. Cuban law limits freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and the press. Concerns have also been expressed about the operation of due process. According to Human Rights Watch, even though Cuba, officially atheist until 1992, now 'permits greater opportunities for religious expression than it did in past years, and has allowed several religious-run humanitarian groups to operate, the government still maintains tight control on religious institutions, affiliated groups, and individual believers.' Censorship in Cuba has also been at the center of complaints." [1]

Cuba may have a great healthcare system and literacy rate, but look at democracies. Their rates are comparable, and they don't have the type of state abuse so obviously present in Cuba.

2. Ataturk

In fact, Ataturk was the leader of a democratic Turkey. He ruled in a multi-party system, which used free elections that "used an egalitarian electoral system...based on a general ballot." He worked hard to prevent the sort of totalitarian rule he witnessed in Germany and the USSR. [2]

3. Tito

"Marshal Tito ruled Yugoslavia as a dictator, suppressing internal opposition, executing Mihajlovi and jailing Archbishop Stepinac of Zagreb. He nationalized Yugoslav industry and undertook a planned economy. He didn't attempt to collectivize the small farmers, but forced them, under threat of severe penalties, to furnish large portions of their produce to the state...Having already transformed Yugoslavia into an armed camp, Tito built up a highly efficient secret police, and purged dissident elements in the Party." [3]

Here again, he may have been a decent Stateman, but he was a cruel leader.

"Benevolent" means "kind and generous." [4] I doubt anyone could describe Castro or Tito--both of who used brutal methods to retain their positions of power--either of these things. Maybe one could say that they were successful, but there are many successful democracies which are also benevolent.

C2: Economic Benefits

Con misinterprets my source. My source is not discussing political freedom, but rather economic freedom; i.e. the level of freedom given to people to pursue economic gain and to dispose of their resources as they wish.

Moreover, Con's very own source states: "The average HDI of 'politically-repressed nations' is much lower compared to 'free nations'. In other words, on average, politically-repressed nations have low human development." [5] So, while these autocracies might be growing in terms of GDP, the benefits are not going to the common people. In which case, what is the point of growth? If growth isn't benefitting anyone but the elite, why bother growing at all?

C3: Imperialism

Con asks "when has the U.S. ever promoted democracy peacefully?" Unfortunately, this isn't the question the resolution is asking. The resolution wants to know whether the U.S. should promote (peacefully) democratic ideals, not whether it has done so in the past.

Regardless of what the U.S. has done or will do, I only have to argue about what it should do.

Moreover, imperialism implies that the U.S. is acting as some sort of hegemon, which isn't necessary in this case. The U.S. can encourage democracy throughout the world, without colonizing or controlling the countries in which it is promoting such ideals. Therefore, no physical imperialism need take place.

Furthermore, the justification for action is that there is a Right to Protect. Ultimately, if a regime is unjust and oppressing its people, it lacks legitimacy. Therefore, outsider actors, like the U.S., are permitted to promote democratic ideals in an effort to help create a smooth transition to a just form of government.

"A major purpose of states and governments is to protect and secure human rights, that is, rights that all persons have by virtue of personhood alone. Governments and others in power who seriously violate those rights undermine the one reason that justifies their political power, and thus should not be protected by international law. A corollary of this argument is that to the extent that state sovereignty is a value, it is an instrumental, not an intrinsic, value. Sovereignty serves valuable human ends, and those who grossly assault them should not be allowed to shield themselves behind the sovereignty principle. Tyranny and anarchy cause the moral collapse of sovereignty. The implication of this argument is that a government that engages in the massive and systematic violation of the human rights of its population not only forfeits its internal but also its external legitimacy." [6]

C4: Failures of Democracy Promotion

I would argue that promoting democracy was not the main stated goal of either Iraq or Afghanistan. In both cases, the justification was self-defense. In Iraq, there were (supposedly) NBCs and WMDs which threatened us and our allies. In Afghanistan, the Taliban-led government was shielding bin Laden and providing a haven for international terrorism. In neither case is it fair to say that the U.S. went in to promote democratic ideals. The same is true of Vietnam, as I discussed earlier. This whole contention is just another example of Con's flagrant cherry-picking.


1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 - Abiew, Francis Kofi, 2010 [Prof. of Political Science at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC, Canada]: Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect: Redefining a Role for "Kind-hearted Gunmen", Criminal Justice Ethics, 29:2, 93-109


***Note to voters: Some of the previous links in my R2 arguments don't work. Please look at the comments section for the correct links if this is the case for any future rounds.

My Refutations

Pro: "Let's now take a look at what Con DROPS"

Never state what your opponent has conceided unless it's the last round. The only reason why I didn't clash with all of your arguments was because I wanted to make my rounds shorter than 10 000 characters was for the convenience of the voters. Thus, I will respond to your arguments that I didn't touch base with in the previous round.

Pro: "Democracy constrains abusive rule and bad government"

Pro actually contradicts himself here; he's stated that I didn't address this point but yet he claims that I'm "cherry-picking" with this example. In fact, I addressed your argument with the scenario in Egypt, and stated that this isn't always the case. Hence, this proves my point that democracy is not a perfect system that should be "promoted" in all countries. I will now bring up more examples since this is still round 3. Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, and Columbia are all "democratic" by definition. According to the Marriam Webster dictionary, democracy is classified as: "a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting." All these countries apply to this definition, but all of them restrict fundamental rights that citizens ought to have. For example, Ukraine's government is riddled with corruption; bribery is often a way of getting government action. Not only that, but freedom of speech is denied. [1][2]

Pro: "There is a positive correlation between freedom and democracy"

In 1999, 120 nations were democratic with only 35 of them guaranteeing electoral rights (see link below).


Pro ought to change his statement because many democratic nations don't guarentee their citizens fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech, and are in fact oppresive to their citizens. According to The American Economic Review articles, they failed to find any correlation between political/ civil rights and democracy. Interestingly enough, Ades and Di Tella (1998: 987) conclude, (Case 2002, Hicken 2001, Rock 2000, Pasuk and Baker 1998, Ammar 1997), they agreed that "corruption rose in both countries following democratization as the collapse of centralized networks of corruption gave way to more corrosive and decentralized corruption free for alls." Even then, democratic countries like Columbia and Brazil have widespread corruption.[1][3]

Promoting Democracy
"This type of process can be nonviolent. We can also look at such examples as Estonia's Singing Revolution for examples of how government's can be overthrown with virtually no deaths." I find this point absurd. Is Pro asserting that the U.S. should come into non-democratic country and get Americans to start randomly singing banned songs in that country? If this is Pro's vague idea of promoting, this obviously isn't going to work. Promoting has always been imposing with the U.S., which is War. Pro states that my example of Egypt is cherry-picking, but mentioning Estonia's Singing Revolution is even worse.

More points that Pro's asserted that I've dropped:

Pro: "The more powerful the government, the more abusive it can be"

This doesn't necessarily work in your favor; there's plenty of powerful democratic governments that've been a i.e. Russia, Turkey, Columbia, Ukraine, Egypt, etc.

"Democide has killed more people than from all 20th Century wars combined"

What Pro defines as "promoting" democracy is extremely vague. He asserts that it can be a gradual, peaceful process encouraged by the U.S. Are you saying that the U.S. should come into a country like North Korea and say, "hey, we've got some petitions from American citizens saying that you should adopt a democracy." No, it never works like that because "promoting democracy" is always done by war which accounts to an inconceivable amount of deaths. In comparison, is war really that much better than democide?

"Democracies tend not to fight one another, promoting peace"

This is irrelevant; whether or not democratic countries fight other democratic countries doesn't mean that the U.S. has a moral obligation to "promote", which is usually impose, democracy on other countries. If a country doesn't consent to the U.S. invading their country to establish U.S. democratic ideals, the U.S. has absolutely no right to.

Moral Obligation to Act

Pro states that he doesn't advocate for the promotion of democratic ideals, but for the promotion. But again, Pro's idea of promotion is ineffective an vague. War would be the most effective way of imposing it, but has also resulted in moral wrongs as I've stated in R2.

The U.S. has no moral obligation to invade another country to "promote" ideals the Americans think are superior. Number 1, countries need to consent to his. Number 2, this is usually done by war which is also immoral. Does the U.S. really have a moral obligation to do this?

"Governments that violate their people's human rights lose legitimacy"

I find this statement quite ironic because the U.S. has also violated their citizens rights. The CIA has a plethora of allegations of Human Rights Violations including waterboarding, rape by prison guards, andpolice brutality. "A 2010 memoir by Wilbert Rideau an inmate at Angola Prison from 1961 through 2001, states that "slavery was commonplace in Angola with perhaps a quarter of the population in bondage" throughout the 1960s and early 1970s." The U.S. Department of Defence even acknowledges that an American citizen was held in Guantanamo Bay, a horrific American military prison where detanees are often tortured. The point is, who are we to decide? [5][6][7]

"Sovereignty is no barrier to action"

Many countries wouldn't allow the U.S. to just come in and promote their ideals, thus leading to war inevitably. Do you really think authoritarian regimes are just going to causually let the U.S. in?

"The Int'l Community ought to respond to mass Human rights violations"

However, this isn't about the International community, this is about the U.S. which has no reason to invade a country to impose ideals that they think are superior.

My Arguments

Benevolent Dictators


Pro points out that Cuba hinders freedom of expression and association, but the other democratic countries also do this as I've stated before. Many authoritarian regimes are just as good as democratically elected ones in the fact that they provide benefits that the citizens want. Pro also talks about how I've conceided a numerous amount of points, but he's conceided the Cuba's infant mortality, healthcare, and literacy rate is comparable to democracies.


Pro states that he was a democratic ruler, but the wikipedia article specifically stated that he established a provisional government. The very definition of provisional is arranged, which is a non-democratically elected government. Nevertheless, Pro conceids that he was a good ruler.


Pro's criticism is also applicable to democratic leaders such as Vladamir Putin who has been criticized for being authoritarian.[8]

Pro's definition of "Promote" is vague and ineffective

My opponent asserts the promoting democracy can be a peaceful and gradual process encouraged by the U.S. He even says it can be like "Estonia's Singing Revolution." Again, these points are absurd, the U.S. isn't going to an authoritarian country, and get their soldiers/ citizens to start singing to protest against the government. Moreover, the U.S. has not right to promote ideals that they think are superior. The reality is that democracy really isn't superior and can be as just as corrupt as a dictatorship.


The U.S. is absolutely a hegemon. The U.S. is the most powerful country in the world. The only interest America has in going in "promoting" democracy is for America's own benefit. My opponent claims that the U.S. intervening in Iraq was for safety reasons, but there were no WMDs found.[9][10]

I rest my case....

Debate Round No. 3


Thanks again to Con for a great debate! At this juncture, I will defend my case, refute Con's case, and then move on to some reasons to vote Pro today.


I thank Con for pointing out that I should not point out what Con conceded; however, I would prefer to give him a chance to address those points rather than simply winning because he failed to clash.

At this point, however, Con may not address any dropped/unrefuted points because I would not have an opportunity to defend those points, which would be unfair to me. Any attacks against dropped points would be new arguments, and thus against the rules. Therefore, any dropped points that I extend now are untouchable pieces of evidence for Pro.

C1: Democracy is Desirable

The example of Morsi really is cherry-picking--Con never disputes this fact. My argument was never that democracy is perfect; clearly, no system of government is perfect. Rather, I contended that democracy was the best form of government in most cases. Pointing out individual exceptions to the rule (exceptions that are in the minority) fails to invalidate my point.

If we look at Con's University of Hawai'i source, it writes about democracy thusly: "One necessary and sufficient set of characteristics involves the electoral system through which people choose their representatives and leaders, and thus give their consent to be governed and communicate their interests. The manner is which democracies conduct their elections vary from one to another, but all share these characteristics: regular elections for high office, secret ballot, a franchise including nearly the whole adult population, and competitive elections." I would also argue that free and fair elections should be included on any set of criteria for a democracy--democracy is about people choosing their leaders. An unfair system prevents people from doing that, and is therefore undemocratic. Consequently, Russia is not a democracy--Putin is more of an autocrat than a democrat.

As for the other countries on this list (Turky, Ukraine, Brazil, Colombia) Con's own source is unsure of whether or not they are democracies. Let me also point out also that this source Con is using was from 2002, and is really out-of-date. In Turkey, recently, the PM's allies have been put under a criminal investigation [1] and a key opponent of Erdogan was just released from prison by court order [2]. So, the judicial freedom concerns and corruption concerns expressed in the source seem to be bygones. Brazil, Ukraine, and Colombia have also made great strides in fighting corruption and in liberalizing their governments since 2002.

Finally, Con's own source observes: "Of course, freedom is an ideal, and even liberal democracies imperfectly fulfill it, although they do much better than other types of government...Sometimes and more than you like, officials do step on your rights; and they pass laws and rules that in one way or another limit your freedoms. But when this happens, you have the power to do something about it. Your freedoms remain more than paper constitutions, political pronouncements, and strutting flag-waving." Con's owns source agree with the Pro position: the democracy is better than most other forms of government! Turn this against Con.

Con then uses this same source to try to argue that there is no correlation between freedom and democracy. The numbers Con cites are from 1999, mine are from 2013. Prefer mine because they more accurately reflect the status quo. Finally, Con's own source asserts that democracies a freer than most other forms of government, so we can turn this back on Con.

As for Corruption, I cannot find the AER article he cites, but I would point out that the most recent citation used is from 2002. Again, prefer my far more recent evidence. Finally, Con's own source writes: "However, where one political party dominates a state, controls the legislature, executive, and courts, and has a sympathetic media, then there usually will be political corruption. When there is a strong opposition party to exploit the corruption of the governing party for electoral gain, incumbents will be more careful about obeying the letter and spirit of the law." One party domination is an autocracy, and so Con's own source indicates that autocracies are more corrupt on balance.

C2: Nondemocratic Regimes Kill Millions

My idea of promoting is using education, social media, etc. to educate people about the benefits of democracy, so that they are able to work for democracy at home. Promotion =/= invasion. Look at the Arab Spring, for instance. Social media galvanized nations into making necessary democratic reforms.

I also support having government advisors in transitioning countries. In Myanmar, for instance, Britain has sent advisors to teach the military how to act in a way more respectful of people's fundamental rights [3]. These are small steps, but they all are in a good direction. Conditional aid is another tactic which can be used.

Ultimately, Con is just totally wrong when he asserts that "'promoting democracy' is always done by war." And even if war were used, the democide impacts outweigh. As my source, whose math has gone unrefuted, points out, democide has killed more people in the 20th Century than all of its wars combined. Con essentially concedes that democracies tend not to fight each others--therefore, a few wars to bring about a more democratic globe could drastically reduce the total number of future wars. In other words, a small short term loss for a massive long term gain. This means that war actually saves more lives than it costs. Again, though, war is a very extreme option, and the "small steps" approach is more advisable.

Pro misunderstands how I am using the term "powerful." A powerful government is one that can act sans de jure or de facto checks and balances. Therefore, what I am saying is that an unchecked government is more apt to be abusive. The USFG for example, is not so powerful that it could legally start killing people without trials, because there are institutional checks against such actions.

C3: MO to Act

My argument is focusing on mass human rights violations of governments against their own citizens. The U.S. does not perpetrate such acts in nearly the same number as other countries. There just isn't any comparison.

Also, consider the following example. A bully beats someone up. The next day he comes back to the playground and sees another bully beating someone up. The first bully intercedes and stops the fight because "bullying is not okay."

I don't think any sane person is going to say that the first bully shouldn't have stopped the fighting because doing so was hypocritical. In the same way it is silly to suggest that the U.S. should not act to save lives because it is hypocritical. The goal is to save lives, not to engage in finger-pointing.

Finally, Con never actually disputes that states that violate rights forfeit sovereignty.

As a part of the international community, the U.S. has a duty to intercede.

One last thing: if the resolution was simply talking about invasion, it would have said "invasion" not "promote." Con is willfully and obstinately trying to twist the resolution in such a way to skew the ground Con. This is not to be allowed.


Cuba and Tito: So, democracies have good healthcare, literacy, and civil rights. Cuba just has the healthcare and literacy. Clearly, in that match-up, democracies win. As for Tito, I would argue that Russia is not a democracy under the criteria posited by Con's very own source. Again, most democracies don't have purges and secret police.

Atatruk: a provisional government is not an "arranged" government, but rather a "temporary" government. [4] It is part of the transition to democracy. I think it is ridiculous to say that Ataturk was an authoritarian because he took part in a provisional government whose sole goal was to steer a steady course until elections were held. Provisional governments are part of the democratization process, and Con's arguments here border on the outrageous.

The point about U.S. as a hegemon is really irrelevant. The topic is asking how the U.S. SHOULD act, not how it DOES act.

At this point, let's review all the points Con dropped, and which he cannot contest further:

1. Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq are non-topical
2. Democide killed more people than War
3. Democracies tend not to fight each other
4. The worst regimes in history have been authoritarian
5. Humanitarian crises outweigh war
6. States that engage in massive and systematic violations of human rights lose legitimacy; therefore, they lose their claim to sovereignty
7. Economic growth in autocracies only benefits the elites


Why is democracy good? Con's own source advocates well for democracy promotion, and it alone basically affirms the topic. But, we can see from the panoply of sources I offered, that democracies are safer, have less corruption, have more freedom, and are less abusive than nondemocratic regimes. Nondemocratic regimes tend to be abusive, oppressive, and deadly--they perpetuate humanitarian crises, which are the WORST moral wrongs. And, under the R2P doctrine, soveriegnty is no moral barrier to action.

What is my BOP? The resolution wants to know whether the U.S. should promote democratic ideals. "Promote" means "to help something happen, develop, or increase." Promotion does not necessitate military action--this takes out most of Con's objections against me. However, even if I did have to support military action, the benefits outweigh the harms, so a Pro vote is still in order.

Thanks! Please VOTE PRO!


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My Final Refutations

Democracy being desirable

Pro:" The example of Morsi is cherry-picking..."

What Pro fails to see is that debate is all about "cherry-picking" examples that best fit your side. I can easily point out numerous examples of when Pro cherry-picked i.e. Estonia's rare non-violent singing revolution, but the whole point of this debate is to provide examples that support or refute the idea of the U.S. having a MO to "promote" democratic ideals on other nations. However, Morsi wasn't my only example, democratically elected governments such as Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Columbia, and Turkey also hindered people's freedoms.

"I would also argue that free and fair elections should be included on any set of criteria for a democracy"

Democracy was vaguely defined in round 1, and you never specifically specified this in your opening argument. Pro's utopian ideals of all democracies being free and fair isn't always the case in the real world. Ergo, democracy is not perfect, and the U.S. shouldn't being "promoting" it in countries without their consent. My opponent also argues that Russia is not a democracy, but it still is by definition; just not the most liberal one. Nevertheless, my point was the democracy has been a failure in a number of countries, including Russia. The affirmative argues that Turkey may be a democracy, and have PM allies under "criminal investigation. However, this proves my point. Under a democracy, Turkey still had corruption problems. Yet under non-democratically elected leader, Ataturk, he took steps to end this. Not only that, but he also argues that my source that states that these countries are corrupt is old, and that Ukraine, Brazil, and Columbia are taking steps to "end" corruption. However, these countries are still highly corrupt.

Ukraine: Transparency International recently accused Ukraine of being the most corrupt nation in Europe, and is tied for 144th place with many authoritarian such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Nigeria, which are all authoritarian regimes.[1]

Brazil: Forbes states that the cost of corruption in Brazil could be 53 billion alone, especially after "public funds were used to by political support by then Lula da Silva government, and to pay off debts from the previous election campaigns."[2]

Columbia: Don't even get me started... Columbia is home one of the biggest illegal drug businesses in the world, and have had recent allegations of a massive corruption network under the Columbian army.[3][4]

What do all of these countries have in common? They're all democracies by definition and are all incredibly corrupt. Is democracy really desirable?

Nondemocratic Regimes Killing Millions

Pro:"My idea of promoting is using education, social media, etc. to educate people.."

Pro never specified this in previous rounds, and all of the sudden states this? You're supposed to model this in your opening argument, and not just state this in the last round. Nonetheless, I'll refute your next points.

Pro: "Look at the Arab Spring, for instance. Social media galvanized nations into making necessary democratic reforms."

In Round 1, you stated that there should be no new arguments in Round 4. Right here, you're kind of introducing a new point, but I'll clash with that. What my opponent fails to understand is that the Arab Spring was not a peacefully organized event that encouraged nations to make democratic reforms, it was an incredible violent process. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed during the Arab Spring, with a negative effect on citizens both mentally and physically. When Egyptians ousted democratically elected President Hosni Muburak, many foreigners in Egypt were suprised at how "little many Egyptians cared that Morsi had been once democratically elected."[5][6]

According to political scientist Shadi Hamid , director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, on this issue "Democracy is not a matter of principle or faith for most people... It is something they believe in to the extent that it brings good results. ... If democracy does not bring those things, then people lose faith in the democratic process." He continued,"When push comes to shove, many say, democracy is fine in theory, but is not actually improving our lives. If the generals can promise us a greater degree of security and stability, we prefer that instead." [6]

Therefore, what really matters is if democracy is best for the people. Pro's so called peaceful notion doesn't turn out to be peacefull nor successful for that matter.

Pro: "And even if war were used, the democide impacts outweigh."

Not necessarily, war accounts for a significant amount of civilian deaths, soldier deaths, and costs. In reality, war is just as bad as democide.

MO to act

My opponent continuously states that the U.S. should stop human rights violations of governments against their own citizens. But again, this isn't something that democracy will necessarily solve, especially if it's "promoted" casually. Whether it's done violently or peacefully, it'll be a failure as I've proved. Even then, "promote" means war, which leads to mass human violations as well. Pro also gives the analogy of a bully stopping another bully from beating another kid up, but the point is that this is a non-sequitur in the U.S. having a MO to act.

Essentially, the U.S. is being highly critical of other countries, and has no right to invade a country to impose ideals that the U.S. thinks are superior.

My Final Arguments

Examples of Benevolent non-democratically elected regimes

Castro: Pro points out that while Cuba has good healthcare and literacy, democracies have good civil rights. However, as I've continuously stated, many of today's democracies don't give their citizens civil rights such Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, Colombia, and Turkey. What my opponent fails to see is that, non-democratic countries can be just as benevolent to their citizens as democratic ones.

Tito: Pro states that Tito's regime in Russia isn't democratic, however, I never said that it was. First of all, Tito was the leader of Yugoslavia from 1953 to 1980; he's not the current leader. My point was that under his regime, he instated successful economic and diplomatic policies for the country. Hence, non-democratic regimes can make just as good of decisions for their people as democratic ones.

Ataturk: Even if we see this as a "temporary" government, it was still a non-democratically elected one. Whether it was part of the transition to democracy is irrelevant, the point is that Ataturk is a prime example of how a non-democratically elected regime can be benevolent to the people. Nevertheless, Pro concedes that he was a great leader for the people of Turkey.

Pro's definition of "Promote" is vague and ineffective

Pro suddenly described what "promote" was in R4, which he isn't supposed to do. Nonetheless, it would still be ineffective. His prime example is how the Arab Spring was originally spread through the internet, but again, this ended in mass violence. What did the push for democracy lead to? All it has led to was a civil war, a corrupt democratically elected leader, and mass instability.

The U.S. has absolutely no right to "promote" ideals that they think are superior. An analogy is this: you're part of a Hindu family, and all of a sudden a Christian group breaks your door, and tries to promote Christianity to your family. By no means am I saying this is a real life scenario, but this is what it would feel like for other foreign nations. However, it would be okay, if the Christian group knocked on the door, to ask for a quick word with the mother or father to try to promote Christianity. The point is that countries need to consent to the U.S. promoting their ideals on their nation.

Imperialism: Again, this resolution is unrealistic because the U.S. doens't really want to promote democracy, they just want to expand. All my points are based around what the U.S. has done in the past and what they'll likely do in other countries. It's like saying that the U.S. would win if they went to war with North Korea, and then disregarding that North Korea has a ton of nuclear weapons. All I'm saying is that the U.S. is a hegemon that's looking for benefits for their country rather than "promoting" democracy.

Failures of "promoting" democracy

Afghanistan and Iraq are prime examples on how "promoting" democracy is a failure. The U.S. was supposedly promoting democracy in those two countries, and eliminating the Taliban, but it has just led to mass corruption in those countries. Afghanistan and Iraq are now the 3rd and 7th most corrupt nations respectively after the U.S. intervening.[7]


1. Pro disregards the fact that non-democratically elected regimes can be just as good as democratically elected ones.
2. Pro fails to take into account that "promoting" democracy is usually violent and ineffective.
3. Pro dismisses the fact that the U.S. is one of the most powerful countries in the world, and is looking to expand rather than to promote democracy.


Debate Round No. 4
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
Chosen, this is not the time or place to re-hash old drama. If you wish to discuss something, PM me. If not, then don't try to pump new life into dead issues.
Posted by ChosenWolff 3 years ago
Wrich isn't biased in his votes btw. At least not to my knowledge. If he was bias, he explained each and every point in a 5 page document. It is rude for bsh1 to call out his vote, and when he defends himself, back out as if he's in the wrong for arguing votes.
Posted by ChosenWolff 3 years ago
I went on a long rant about the stupidity of the pro position yesterday (war on terror related). Were you playing devils advocate?
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
As I've said previously, any further discourse would serve no purpose. I am seeking other means to redress this disagreement.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
If you want to limit the voting pool, then set up judges to score your debates. As it is, I've done nothing to violate site policy, have done nothing to offend you, and have thus given you no reason to make such an advocacy.

I'm free to express my opinion as long as it conforms to site policy, as are you.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
You're welcome to make such a request, but I really see no reason to honor it.

As it is, you should be aware that unwarranted accusations of votebombing are against site policy.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
Any further discourse, Wrich, would I'm sure be counterproductive. Please, refrain from posting or voting on any of my debates.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
"Wrich has a preexisting bias against me and I asked him repeatedly to never vote on my debates. He has disregarded this request, clearly."

ROFL, none of this is true, and I am not aware that bsh1 has such animosity against me. I do know that it's almost impossible to have a reasonable discussion with him reach any sort of resolution, but that's not a reason to be angry about anything.

Hell, I've debated him before, and it was a good debate. If he's just ranting about something that had nothing to do with him (i.e. thett3's poor conduct pertaining to one of his debates I left an RFD on) well, that's his prerogative.

Regardless, this is an open voting system, and my vote is as valid as anyone else's.


"Wrich only did that because he knows I'd report him. A VB disguised as a legitimate RFD..."

That's just silly, and you know it. Subutai, the (laughable) judge of that tourney has since recanted that any of my votes have been "votebombs", lol. He was wrong then and you are wrong now. Regardless, you're free to your opinion, factually incorrect as it may be.

Just about all of my RFDs are long so as to facilitate discussion on the debate, and to keep the discussion pertinent to the debate. Thett3 experienced one week of this where I demonstrated that I had read his own debate closer than he did, and I was rewarded with a slap in the face amidst silly and false accusations about votebombing by a bunch of children. Even Thett3 withdrew from that tourney due to the stupidity surrounding how it was administered. C'est la vie.

And you wonder why so few people care about the score here. There really is no reason to. The RFD is what really matters. There are going to be disagreements, and it's a sign of maturity to be comfortable with that, instead of thinking that you should always get what you want like a spoiled child.
Posted by bsh1 3 years ago
Wrich only did that because he knows I'd report him. A VB disguised as a legitimate RFD...

Frankly, I think atheists vote should be removed. I did at the time, and in our PM his logic totally broke down and became a circular mess. However, I agree that there is little use lingering on it, and so we might as well just leave it as is.
Posted by Legitdebater 3 years ago
I think both atheist and YYW lacked a good RFD. They both misinterpreted our arguments. However, wrichcirw only awarded 1 conduct point, and provided a very thorough RFD. I don't think you could criticize wrichcirw's vote as much because he literally supported every he said with quotes from the debate.

That being said, it was probably one of the best debate's I've ever had, and your still a very good debater. I wouldn't let the voting on one debate bother me too much. In my previous debates, some of the RFD's were literally one line. I was literally fuming, and I totally forgot about the report button at the time.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Mikal 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I just finally had the time to glance through this debate and by the end I feel almost obligated to tie it. This was a very tough debate and a very well executed one by both parties. I was trying to get the time to read it all throughout the weekend and could not find it and I just got home. This went back and forth both ways. I loved pros contention about moral obligation and equally liked cons contentions about dictators. I usually judge arguments by the amount of arguments that were won. The more I go back over this the more I feel as if I could not decide a clear winner. Pro outlined a strong point for me as well and I felt con failed to address it. That is that democracies fail to usually fight each other and then again it goes both ways. I think pro did not respond all the way to a few of cons contentiosn as well. I wish I had more time to rread through this again, but I am at a hotel and my internet is spazzing. As of now I am saying a tie because I did not sway one way heavily
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Very tough debate to vote on with well thought put points by both debaters. In the end I am deciding this debate solely on arguments, as it can be argued that both debaters broke some rules. Con in my opinion had more conclusive arguments by showing that the US does not have a moral obligation unless it thinks itself as morally superior and justified. But by doing this, the US is in effect disregarding democracy of others. While I think personally democracy is the only way forward for a country, its the countries option to adopt it at their own time and on their own means. By going against this the US is in effect infringing on sovereignty of other counties and cant really be held to be morally accountable to be imposing democracy when it is morally suspect.
Vote Placed by YYW 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO's case is simple: democracy is a good form of government, relative to other forms of government, and the US has a moral obligation to promote democratic governance. Rather than debating about whether or not the US has a moral obligation to promote democracy, CON argued against democracy itself (which was tangential to the resolution), and made an incoherent argument about imperialism. Both sides got caught up in irrelevant detail -but that was profoundly more the case on CON's side than with PRO. PRO affirmed the resolution, and CON did not negate the resolution. Explicitly clear victory to PRO.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments - Overall a well-organized debate, although IMHO PRO?s position lacked critical analysis. It simply read as something one would see in editorial pieces in reputable journals...all style, no substance. I was surprised at how strong CON's case was vis a vis PRO's.