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Resolved: Failed Nations are a greater threat to the United States than Stable Nations

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/16/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,748 times Debate No: 10143
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)




I will be arguing the pro side of this debate, that is, affirming the resolution, resolved: Failed Nations are a greater threat to the United States than Stable Nations.

Seeing as I am relatively new to this site and its conventions, I apologize in advance for any potential mistakes I have made.

Many things threaten the United States and its people today. These threats stem from many places, including both failed and stable nations. However, when presented with the resolution: Resolved: Failed nations are a greater threat to the United States than stable nations, my partner and I must affirm the resolution for three main reasons.

Contention 1: Failed nations prove to be the perfect environment for Anti-American terrorism.

Contention 2: Failed nations feed regional instability and complicate attempts to remedy it.

Contention 3: Failed nations are prone to having anti-American parties in power.

The threat of terror to the United States is an undeniable one. Nobody can forget that fateful day in 2001, when 2, 995 lives were lost as a result of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. This proves to be an example of a direct threat to the United States by the Taliban. The Taliban is a terrorist group that originated and continue to thrive in Afghanistan, which is classified one of the highest on the Failed States Index. In Zimbabwe, in 1999, a bombing took place at an American embassy. This killed 456 people, roughly 300 of whom were American citizens. Failed nations like Afghanistan and Zimbabwe prove to be breeding grounds for many terrorist organizations, because, by definition as failed states, they have little control over their countries and what occurs in them. Oftentimes, the governments in failed nations are also corrupt. This means that even if the government of said nations was not corrupt, and made an effort to rid of, or control, the terrorist cell within their borders, chances are they would not be able to. In the end, it's difficult to argue with almost 3,000 deaths in a few hours in terms of a threat.

Failed states can cause conflict in large regions, containing both failed and even stable nations. Once again, consider the failed nation that is Afghanistan. Due in large part to strained Pakistan-Afghanistan relations (Pakistan being another failed nation), the stability of the region as a whole is challenged. This presents a problem, in that the United States is currently making an effort to reform and stabilize Afghanistan, and if those efforts are stymied by relations with neighboring failed nations, then the U.S. will be forced to use more resources, such as men and time, that we really do not have. Also, dropping United States soldiers into a boiling conflict between Pakistan and Afghanistan would be dangerous and unwise. Regional instability also facilitates widespread drug trade. Since the borders of failed states are either not guarded, or ineffectively guarded, this allows extremely large amounts of narcotics to escape these countries and head for, often, the United States. According to The Independent, Afghanistan and Myanmar make up seven eighths of the world's entire opium trade. CNN says that Afghan heroin alone kills 100,000 people annually, many of which are in NATO countries, such as the United States. The drug trade also helps fund the terrorist organizations mentioned earlier. The Taliban raised around $450 million in the past 4 years by "taxing" opium farmers and traffickers. Once again, 100,000 deaths a year, coupled with additional funding for terrorists, definitely constitutes a major threat to the U.S. and their allies.

Finally, power changes hands often (a trait common in failed nations),the odds are greatly increased that some faction will come into power that is distinctly anti-American. This is risky in itself, but even more so in failed nations that are also in possession of nuclear arms. For example, Pakistan, which has 70-90 nuclear weapons, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, has been in political turmoil for hundreds of years, with a coup d'�tat occurring as recently as 1999. If the current, relatively friendly government was displaced by one that was openly hostile to the United States (and there are numerous such groups in Pakistan), then those close-to-100 nuclear weapons would be in the hands of an enemy of the U.S., which could very well have catastrophic results

In conclusion, this resolution must be affirmed because failed nations are perfect breeding grounds for terrorism, are dangerously regionally unstable, and because failed nations have very high odds of having an anti-American government.


Re: Failed nations prove to be the perfect environment for Anti-American terrorism.

I'll begin by pointing out that terrorism itself is a hard term to define; in fact many acts committed by the U.S. can be considered to fall under the definition paradigms provided for terrorism. More importantly, however, is the fact that terrorism has been used throughout history and is NOT limited or even primarily destined to operate within failed nations. Here is a comprehensive list of famous terrorist organizations of the 20th century [1]:

* the American Ku Klux Klan
* the Irish Republican Army
* the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad
* two pre-state Zionist groups: Irgun and Lehi
* the Spanish ETA
* the Canadian Front de Lib�ration du Qu�bec
* the Palestine Liberation Organization
* the German Red Army Faction
* the Italian Red Brigade
* the American Weathermen
* the Peruvian Shining Path
* the Palestinian Black September
* Puerto Rico's Los Macheteros

As you can see, many of these organizations exist within stable nations. My point here is that terrorist organizations exist for a plethora of reasons and are by no means limited or even more prominent in failed nations than stable nations. The notion that this is the case is based on American ignorance of foreign politics, and the fact that al Qaeda - the terrorist organization that attacked the U.S. - happened to be based in an unstable nation (Afghanistan). Note that al Qaeda is a mobile organization; similar groups could have and can exist in many places. For instance, there are a lot of terrorist groups right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

To counter this point, I'd like to call several things into consideration. First, terrorist organizations typically operate on a small-scale. Yes, killing 3,000 people in a matter of minutes is indeed compelling; however, stable nations have the ability to wipe out an entire population in the same amount of time if they so choose. Unlike terrorist groups who max out at a few hundred members, stable nations have millions with perhaps thousands upon thousands of servicemen in the armed forces. I'll address the military prowess of stable nations when responding to Pro's 3rd point.

For now, I'd like to clarify that countries such as Russia and China are to be considered stable nations (since the dictionary defines stable as not likely to fall or give way as a structure, support, or foundation; firm; steady). That said, we should keep in mind that economically speaking, China is a power house. A report for the U.S. Congress suspects that China will overtake the U.S. as the world's largest trade economy in a few years; China's rise in this respect means Americas decline. Additionally, another concern are the large and growing U.S. trade deficits with China. People feel that China uses unfair trade practices to flood U.S. markets with low-cost goods and to restrict U.S. exports, and that such practices threaten American jobs, wages, and living standards [2]. In that sense, China is a threat to the U.S. economy.

Perhaps most frightening of all, China has the ability to literally crush the U.S. economy. Right now, we currently owe China 1 trillion dollars (though some suspect it's actually a lot more). If China were to stop investing Chinese assets in the U.S. by buying our treasury debt, then the U.S. might be unable or unwilling to pay it back without devaluing the currency. If that happens, hello inflation! The U.S. would take a toll much worse than what we endured during The Great Depression. No failing nation has the ability to send the U.S. economy into a tail spin. Also, it's worth noting that China currently has the most sway with the U.S. biggest foes, including North Korea and Iran.

Re: Failed nations feed regional instability and complicate attempts to remedy it.

Just because failed nations are more susceptible to mob rule doesn't mean that the nations themselves are to blame, but rather the bad organizations (terrorist groups) that infiltrate them or take over. In fact, one of the reasons terrorist groups have such a hold in the Middle East is specifically BECAUSE of stable nations like Russia. If Russia hadn't invaded Afghanistan, then the Taliban in Afghanistan would not exist. So, since the stable nations are to blame for a lot of the poverty and corruption in third world countries, then technically the stable nations are to blame. The United States is considered to have the best military in the world, at least in terms of superior intelligence, technology and ability to fight/win a war. So, a nation that isn't even stable enough to effectively protect its own country is not going to be able to harm a world super power like us militarily or economically.

Moreover, Pro said, "Regional instability also facilitates widespread drug trade. Since the borders of failed states are either not guarded, or ineffectively guarded, this allows extremely large amounts of narcotics to escape these countries and head for [the United States]." Well, it would seem as though the U.S. would be considered a stable nation. Therefore, saying the drug trade is a problem in the U.S. isn't making much of an argument for drugs plaguing and being a problem for only unstable nations. It seems as if drugs and the groups associated with them (like the mafia and street gangs) exist everywhere, including in stable nations. Further, it is because of the supply and demand factor of stable nations that allow for the drug trade to boom in other places.

Regarding our safety, China has the largest military in the world, meaning they could crush us in a land war. The world is trying to stifle China from ever developing a good navy; if they did, they would possibly pose the biggest military threat on the planet. On that note, their buddy Russia (who along with China has always been particularly hostile with the U.S.) has nuclear intelligence, bombs, missiles, etc. Lots of em. They easily have enough weaponry, technology and intelligence to take out the U.S., along with the incentive. In fact, that's the biggest reason why these stable nations and others pose the biggest threat to the U.S.; not only do they have anti-American sentiments, but actually the ability to severely hurt us in many ways.

Re: Failed nations are prone to having anti-American parties in power.

Going back to a previous point, the U.S. is considered to have the best military in the world, at least in terms of superior intelligence, technology and ability to fight/win a war. So, a nation that isn't even stable enough to effectively protect its own country is not going to be able to harm a world super power like us militarily or economically. For that reason, it really doesn't matter if some minuscule nation has beef with the U.S. We should be worrying about large and stable nations with militaries and/or economies that can cause real damage.


No failing nation has the ability to hurt the U.S. either in terms of our military (safety) or economy on a greater scale than stable nations. To reiterate, terrorists can and do exist anywhere (the ones that exist in Afghanistan do so thanks to stable nations), and unstable nations do not have the prowess or capability to inflict a lot of harm upon us that we couldn't counter or overcome quickly. On the other hand, stable nations have us by the balls (so to speak) at the very least in terms of our economy, but also with technology in the arms race, the space race, etc. As such, I have negated the resolution. Back to my opponent for now.

[1] ]
Debate Round No. 1


I would first like to thank my opponent for responding, and reassure her that I will indeed be continuing this debate, as well as wish her good luck.

I would like to start by reiterating my first contention and the meaning behind it. My opponent appears to have somewhat misunderstood the point that I was trying to convey in that argument. As I stated, failed nations have been shown to be good environments for anti-American terrorist groups to prosper. This means that, due to the qualifications for a failed nation to be considered as such [1], they must possess "Criminalization or Delegitimization of the state [government]", and thusly, it is simple for terrorist groups to prosper since the government is either powerless to, or too corrupt to attempt to, remove said groups.

My opponent also argues that stable nations have the ability to wipe out an entire population if they so choose. I'll go ahead and assume that the implied means with which they would accomplish this end is nuclear weapons. However, due to the concept of M.A.D (Mutual Assured Destruction) [2], this is a practical impossibility, since the stable, well-controlled governments of nations such as China and Russia know good and well that launching nuclear weapons at the United States would simply lead to the death of their nations as well. However, at least a few failed nations also possess nuclear weapons, (i.e. Pakistan) and with the governmental instability stated above, the chances are a lot higher that such nuclear weapons could get into the hands of some independent organization that would simply not be susceptible to M.A.D, since they would not be operating as a nation. Subsequently, in terms of PRACTICAL military threat, failed nations are much more of a threat.

And indeed, stable nations (China, at least) do pose a great economic threat to the United States. China is becoming much more powerful by the day economically, but that in and of itself is not indicative of a threat, unless one considers it a threat to the hegemony of the U.S.. To reinforce that point, my opponent points to the fact that China owns the vast majority of the United State's national debt(whatever that number may really be), and the potential damage caused if China were to stop investing in buying our treasury debt. However, this once again comes down to practicality and realism. You must ask yourself, why on earth would China give up an entirely beneficial prospect to spite the United States? Chances are, they wouldn't. This, again, stems from their stability as a nation. With a process of decision-making that would be required to withdraw their investments, as well as the fact that this trade is beneficial to the Chinese nation, there is very little chance that China would in actuality stop accruing more currency from the United States.

To counter the point about economic harm, I'd like to point to Somalia, which is currently perched atop the Failed States Index, which provides a good example in more than one instance. As you can probably remember, in 2008, pirates in Somalia began boarding ships passing through waterways near the country. What is little known is that through both lost resources and ransom paid, the Somali pirates recieved roughly $150 Million USD. While this is a small sum, it must be recognized that, as my opponent stated, terrorist cells usually function in small groups. This is also true in this instance. A few thousand men (maybe even less) received this much money from the United States. This clearly would not happen in a stable nation, because of the fact that these people were acting independent of any nation (let alone the shambles that remain of Somalia), and, unlike any force acting with a nation, especially a stable one, had nearly nothing to lose.

Also, in 1995, shortly after the brutal Somali civil war, the United Nations sent aid to the nation, attempting to alleviate the famine that had set in. Due to the distinct lack of order or government control, Mohamed Farrah Aidid and his militia simply took all of the aid for themselves, to continue to hold on to their power. As a result of this, the large amounts of money put into this operation were completely wasted, since the Somali government was practically nonexistent, thus making it a failed nation, and proving (twice) that it was a sufficient threat to the United State's economic interests.

In regards to my contention on regional instability, my opponent points out that failed nations are not to blame for the groups that reside within them and operate out of them. I must disagree with this statement. Failed nations, being what they are, as I stated in my first contention, are perfect environments for anti-american terrorist groups, seeing as they either support, or cannot deter said groups. Ironically enough, my opponent points out that stable nations are, at least in part, to blame for the rise of poverty and corruption in 3rd world countries. This is proven to be untrue in pretty much any circumstances in which the British or French occupied a nation as a colony recently. If one notes the geographic locations of the top...say...twenty failed states, as categorized by the FSI, it's nearly impossible not to notice that the majority are in Africa. Only since the British rule was overthrown (or French, in some cases), have conditions been indicative of failed nations in African countries.

When discussing my mentioning of regional instability leading to world drug trade, my opponent seems to misinterpret my point. Con says that, "saying the drug trade is a problem in the U.S. isn't making much of an argument for drugs plaguing and being a problem for only unstable nations." this is a completely irrelevant argument, seeing as the resolution refers to which [failed nations or stable nations] is more of a threat to the UNITED STATES, not themselves. The intended point of that argument was, since it is easy to get out of a failed nation, because its borders are likely so poorly guarded, it is subsequently easy to get out of that nation with drugs. Said drugs then lead to numbers like roughly 100,000 deaths per year(from Afghan Opium exports alone), many of which find themselves in the United States, and also fund terrorist organizations, which further harm the United States, direct deaths from drugs aside.

Finally, my opponent states that Russia and China have anti-american sentiments, as well as the tools to effectively "crush [the United States] in a land war". This is indeed intimidating, however, contrary to what Con has stated, Russia and China have no feasible incentive to obliterate the United States, since we function as both trading partners, as well as allies, nowadays at least. Con goes on to state that the United States possesses the most powerful military in the world. This applies well for battling stable nations, but failed nations and their inherent militias and insurgencies are nigh unto impossible for the United States to defeat in any form of conventional battle, as shown nicely by the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq currently.


Failed nations prove to be much greater threats to the United States, because, while they are less well-equipped to harm the U.S. militarily, they are much better armed in radical-idealism, as well as determination. It becomes an issue of realism; is China likely to launch nukes at the U.S.? No. Is it likely to stop investing in our national debt? No. This completely discounts any military risk on China's part, as well as a significant part of the economic threat posed. However, failed nations being so difficult to restore to stable nations, means that odds are much higher that failed nation-based terrorist groups will continue to attack the United States, and many drugs will continue to find their way into the country. As such, I continue to affirm the resolution.



I'd like to sincerely thank my opponent for sticking around and posting a cohesive and thoughtful argument in R2. I'm going to break up each argument and rebuttal into numerical points in order to ensure not leaving out any contentions brought up by either party. Good luck, Pro!

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1. Pro begins by clarifying: It is easy for terrorist groups to prosper in failed nations because the government is essentially powerless to stop them. I understand this point; however, you'll note that I've already refuted this argument in the previous round. What I said was that this was essentially an irrelevant contention, because (a) terrorism is not limited to failed nations -- I even posted a list of the most famous terrorist organizations in the 20th century, many of which operated in stable nations (b) we only operate under the assumption that terrorist groups are limited to failed nations because al Qaeda, the group that attacked the U.S., is run primarily in the failed nation of Afghanistan... but this group and others are mobile and migrate from one location to another.

2. Next Pro asserts that while stable nations have the ability to wipe out the U.S. with nuclear weapons, this is not likely because her stable nations would not want to engage the world in a nuclear global war. You'll note that MAD essentially states whoever shoots first dies second; in other words, we're engaged in a sort of nuclear arms race with countries like Russia and China to maintain an equal if not better supply of WMDs. In fact, my opponent's very own source notes former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara having said, "If we could create an umbrella we would need it, no matter what it costs" [1]. This brings me to my next point - economics.

3. Pro mistakenly writes that while China is indeed becoming more economically powerful by the day, that in and of itself is "not indicative of a threat" which I completely disagree with. Pro asserts that China has no incentive to stop buying U.S. debt. However, a simple lesson in economics would tell you otherwise. Why should they keep investing in our country at massive rates if we can't seem to turn our economy around enough to pay them back accordingly?

In addition, China's Premier Wen Jiabao has said that he was worried about the U.S. becoming something of a deadbeat. "We have made a huge amount of loans to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I'm a little bit worried," Wen said. What China's premier may be worried about is the possibility of the U.S. running up so much debt -- the projected 2009 deficit is $1.75 trillion -- that it may not be able or willing to pay it back without devaluing the currency which would lead to massive inflation.

Furthermore, even if China didn't dump their treasury assets (which Pro is correct in stating that they probably wouldn't abandon us completely), they could always reduce or halt future purchases for diversification purposes, or to divert money toward its own 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package. This would have a detrimental impact on the economy alone. Reduced demand for Treasurys would drive up U.S. interest rates, pushing down home prices even more than they've already fallen, and also could start a run on the dollar. This is why both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama have pleaded with the Chinese government to keep the loans flowing to Washington, D.C. Additionally, a part of the reason the federal bailout was approved was because foreign bankers were worried after the banking collapse - especially China - which owned around $376 billion of Fannie and Freddie debt [2].

4. Next Pro combats the idea of countries like China hurting us economically by bringing up Somali pirates. First of all, pirates earning 150 million dollars is peanuts compared to the damage that China could inflict on our economy, thereby making this a pretty moot point. However, I'd like to point out that Somalian pirates should not be directly linked with Somalia in this instance. The resolution is about failed nations vs. stable nations and their impact on the U.S; not the impact that PIRATES have on the U.S. Pirates or other criminals would cause the same amount of harm regardless of their nationality. While it's true that this kind of blatant theft can exist in nations with unstable governments, the reality is that stable nations steal just as much via "white collar crime" or through other corrupt policies.

Yes, the UN has tried to help Somalia in the past and failed, but that was a loss that the U.S. and others accepted on their own terms; they weren't forced to help Somalia but rather made a decision and unfortunately incurred a loss. Additionally, the U.S. has helped contribute just as much if not more money to other nations, such as helping Europe during and after WWII. We also help Israel left and right in the same regard.

5. Now, in trying to sever the connection between stable nations and failed nations, Pro points out that the majority of failed nations reside in Africa. However, since he said that failed nations were a threat because most terrorist groups reside in failed nations, he forgot to point out that the location of most terrorist groups are NOT in Africa, but are indeed in places like the Middle East where stable nations are in fact responsible for the instability in those regions. We don't hear about people in Ethiopia attacking the U.S. but rather enemies in countries like Afghanistan; a nation that has a Taliban and corrupt government officials in power thanks to Russia's invasion nearly three decades ago.

6. Regarding the drug trade, Pro clarifies that failed nations pose a threat to the U.S. because their unsecured borders make it easy for people to smuggle drugs into the U.S. I am pro drug legalization, so I really fail to see a problem with this to begin with. That said, I hold individuals to be responsible for their own choices; if they want to experiment with Afghan opium, than that is there right and subsequently their responsibility. Moreover, we have intense border patrol on the American border, and yet we smuggle drugs in via American citizens all the time [3].

7. I've discussed incentives for a lack of Chinese investment in the U.S. already, as well as the problems of our military opposition. I'm out of characters, so that's it for now!

[ Conclusion ]

Yes, failed nations in some cases have higher terrorist threats than stable nations; however, as I've already said, those threats are small-scale in comparison to what an actual government can do. Moreover, the U.S. has the resources to combat that terrorism and ensure that it doesn't spread significantly; no post 9/11 attacks prove this. People should be responsible for their own livelihood regarding drugs, and as far as the economy goes, failed nations have little to no impact in terms of deciding our future. On the other hand, our debt to countries like China and Japan have made us DEPENDENT on them in term of being trading partners, allies and basically being at their mercy as they hold the fate of our country in their pocketbooks. Stable nations are more organized and have greater capacity to produce resources which could pose a threat to the U.S. Also, anti-American sentiments from stable nations are more likely to attract support from other nations around the world, thus turning more of the world against the US (such as we saw after engaging in the war with Iraq).

Debate Round No. 2


NobodyAgreesWithMe forfeited this round.


See! I told ya. People who start these debates for their real life debates never finish them (even after Pro's assurance that he would). Le sigh. Anyway, I'm pretty confident that I won this debate regardless, so just extend my arguments and we'll leave it at that. It was a good effort, Pro, and maybe we'll meet again. Take care :)
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by NobodyAgreesWithMe 8 years ago
Gah. I apologize for not having my second source down. Ran out of characters :P

Here you are,

Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Phuck that, ciphermind. People come here posting lame arguments for their real-life tournaments and use DDO regulars to help build their case for them. It's kind of lame and pathetic, imo. The same topics are posted here over and over and over and over. Now, it's cool to debate something more than once, but the problem with using these topics is that they're posted AT THE SAME TIME or over the same 2 month period and that's just obnoxious. People make accounts to post this stuff, and then never come back or most of the time don't even bother presenting a second round argument. I think I might start accepting all of the debates and just never posting a first round so that they forfeit after time expires in hopes that the people get the hint and stop.
Posted by ciphermind 8 years ago
Yes leet, it's the Public Forum NFL topic so it's very popular, as are every NFL topic here.
Posted by Zetsubou 8 years ago
OMD again! I swear they'e all alts. The never answer
Posted by NobodyAgreesWithMe 8 years ago
Gah. I guess I'll address all three comments at once.

1. True, but I didn't write the resolution(which, by the way, is the Public Forum resolution for November), I just debate it.

2. Huh?

3. Yes, it has. And the astounding majority has voted pro. So I'm seeing how well my argument holds up.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
Failed vs. Stable nations is a false dichotemy.
Posted by wonderwoman 8 years ago
way more than that
Posted by leet4A1 8 years ago
Hasn't this debate been posted about 19 times by now?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
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