The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

Resolved: The United States ought to end its provision of arms to foreign insurgents.

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 5/17/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 887 times Debate No: 102628
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




This debate is part of the DDO May Tournament held by the lovely SolonKR, so I would like to thank him for hosting and my opponent, tejretics, for accepting this debate.

Alright, let's get some definitions and rules out of the way first.


Ought - Used to indicate a desirable or expected state. (

Provision - The action of providing or supplying something for use. (

Insurgent - A person fighting against a government or invading force; a rebel or revolutionary. (

The rules here will be fairly simple. Round One is Acceptance and BoP is shared. Other than that, standard rules apply.

Thanks again to tejretics. Let's get this debate started! :)


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


Harm Caused by Insurgents

In Afghanistan, over two-thirds of civilian casualties were a result of insurgents, and this is a 28% increase from 2009. [1] One of the reasons that there is such a large increase could be due to Russia supplying weapons to Taliban insurgents. [2] Yes, this isn’t a case of the United States supplying weaponary, but it proves that the weapons given to insurgents can result in mass destruction, like the civilian deaths shown. To supply weapons to possibly dangerous groups is giving them a catalyst to hurt people.

Also, insurgents nearly always use acts of terrorism to achieve its goals, as it is “‘the easiest form of insurgency’". [3]

“Insurgent violence may take various forms. These include revolution,
coup d'etat, guerrilla, terrorism and riots. In recent years the term
intifada gained publicity, referring to the Palestinian uprising in the
Israeli-administered territories. With the exception of riots, these
forms of political violence can be also viewed as strategies of
insurgency”. [4]

“In practice, the terrorist operational inventory is rather limited. They place explosive charges in public places, assassinate political opponents or carry out assaults by small arms on the public at large, take hostages by kidnapping, hijacking, or barricading themselves in buildings.” They have a slim reach compared to more established terrorist groups, but it causes explicit harm nonetheless. This behavior can't be encouraged by the United States.

Misuse of Weapons

According to Elias Groll of, the United States is “supplying weapons to these [insurgencies] despite the heightened risk that they could be misused or diverted”. [5] This is because the way they are currently giving weapons makes it easy for them to end up in the wrong hands. For example, the United States supplied crates of weapons to Kurdish forces, but they were picked up by the Islamic State. [6] In another example, the United States supplied Iraqi troops with weapons, which they sold on the black market to Syrian rebel groups. [7] If not properly used or delivered, these powerful weapons can end up with the wrong people.





== My Case ==

My sole contention is that arming insurgents helps fight oppressive regimes. Since the objective of foreign policy should be striking a balance between advancing a country's own interests and benefiting people in general, vote Con.

(1) Insurgents funded by the U.S. fight oppressive regimes

The US tends to prioritize insurgencies that would assist the U.S. in its goal toward democracy promotion. Shannon Lindsay Blanton explains, "During the latter years of the Cold War, military-strategic factors determined U.S. arms transfers. In the post-Cold War period, U.S. arms transfers reflect the rising prominence of idealist goals in U.S. foreign policy." [1] This foreign policy trend has continued, because the U.S. sets out these idealistic goals and public opinion overwhelmingly favors them. There are multiple examples of this, with Syrian insurgent groups getting American funding to combat the oppressive regime that currently exists in Syria, and to combat terrorist organizations such as ISIL. [2]

(2) Increased likelihood of success

Arming of insurgents assists democracy promotion and combating oppressive regimes abroad. These insurgent groups are likely to be successful if supplied with arms, for three reasons. First, this arming bolsters legitimacy. According to the government's guide to the analysis of insurgency, "External aid bolsters the recipient's legitimacy rather than causing it to be portrayed as a puppet to foreign interests." [3] It means it's more likely that people will take the insurgency seriously, and often will create positive opinions about the insurgency.

Second, arming insurgents gives them firepower, massively increasing the chance of success. This has been the case since the Cold War. Christopher Dickey explains, "With the exception of the Bay of Pigs, the agency has succeeded repeatedly, sometimes spectacularly. In Afghanistan in the 1980s, the CIA arms for the mujahedin won the final and decisive battle of the Cold War, liberating Eastern Europe and destroying the USSR." [4]

Third, U.S. presence in general is favorable for democracy when the U.S. intends to cause democracy. According to an analysis by James Meernik, when the U.S. actually intends to cause democracy, U.S. presence tends to be successful in achieving that objective. [5] Moreover, the U.S. has massive influence over other countries in general, which means other countries tend to align with American interests. [6]

(3) Benefits of overthrowing oppressive regimes

First, these regimes are oppressive, and often cause widespread harm to their civilians. For instance, the Syrian government engages in "disproportionate bombardment and shelling" against civilians. [7] In certain instances, it even used chemical weapons against its own populace. [8] Insurgents have a right to tackle this direct oppression and the effects of granting them high chances of success are massively positive, in that they combat brutal governments.

Second, oppressive regimes are likely to be replaced with democracy given the likely objectives of insurgents, as demonstrated by source [1]. Democracy is overwhelmingly beneficial to global stability. For instance, democratization prevents repression by the state. Oppressive regimes suck. Political scientists Christian Davenport and Benjamin Appel found that democracy is likely to reduce the rates of state repression. [9]

Third, given that these regimes suck, giving the people a right to self determination is just. In a situation where these people are deprived of essential rights, there's a moral obligation to give them the right to control what happens to them.

Conclusion: Arming insurgents increases the likelihood of overthrowing oppressive regimes, which are typically targeted by the U.S. This advances American interests and the interests of people who live in these states. Arming insurgents is better than using the U.S. military because of (1) the massive cost of doing so, (2) the likely international backlash, (3) the creation of anti-Western sentiments among the people, creating instability, and (4) the right to self determination which exists in the hands of the locals.

== Rebuttal ==

Pro's C1: Terrorism

Pro says arming insurgents perpetuates terrorist actions. I have a few responses. First, the harm caused by oppressive regimes is much larger. The Syrian Armed Forces and ISIL have caused a larger number of civilian casualties in Syira than the insurgencies supported by the U.S., e.g. the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Second, once a democratic framework is achieved, terrorism is far less likely. Shadi Hamid and Steven Brooke explain, "What democracy can do . . . is prevent those most susceptible to extremist recruitment -- tens of millions of frustrated Arabs and Muslims throughout the Middle East -- from turning to political violence, by giving them alternative outlets for peaceful political expression." [10] This means terrorism in the long term is far less likely. This argument brings me an offensive impact: reduced terrorism in the long term.

Third, the insurgent groups that the U.S. supports are less likely to engage in the magnitude of terrorism that Pro envisions. As I've shown through my source [1], these insurgencies are those that fight oppressive regimes, as opposed to an insurgency like the Taliban which is more likely to engage in direct terrorist action, without regard for minimizing civilian casualties. Moreover, these groups actively fight terrorism, in many cases. For instance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the Free Syrian Army, actively fight ISIL. [11] [12] Both of these are insurgent groups backed by the U.S. in fighting ISIL.

Pro's C2: Misuse of weapons

First, the alternative is really simple: if there's a high risk of corruption, don't give weapons. Pro's own source says that the U.S. knows the high risk of misuse. Since this is a "should" resolution, I have the ability to do that. Moreover, Pro's first example is of a military, which does not describe insurgents.

Second, not giving weapons to Kurd forces is worse because it leaves them defenseless against ISIL. Arming Kurd forces is key to fighting ISIL. According to researcher Barak Barfi, the People's Protection Units, a Kurdish paramilitary group, has captured 17,000 square miles from ISIL. [13] Even with the risk of ISIL gaining weapons, arming Kurdish forces would result in substantially better outcomes.

Third, Pro's second example is a lie. She blatantly misrepresents her source. In that specific example, ISIL *claimed* to have gained the arms, but her own source says that the Kurdish authorities confirmed that they received the arms, and concedes that "every indication . . . is that the vast majority of bundles have been successfully delivered to the Kurdish forces." [14] This is a massive hit to Pro's credibility.

Conclusion: Arming insurgent groups fights terrorism in both the short and the long term, the misuse of weapons is highly unlikely and a solvable problem, and all of my impacts from democracy promotion far outweigh. Pro has also lost credibility in terms of her representation of sources.

For all the above reasons, vote Con.

[4 ]
[14] Pro's source [6] from Rd. 2
Debate Round No. 2


I'm sorry Tej, but I need to concede. I'm sorry that I couldn't follow through with the debate, but I took up a position to teach and I've been way too involved in it. You did a great job, though.


Thanks for the debate, and for not forfeiting.

Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3


Good luck on your teaching position.

Thanks for the gracious concession. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
To avoid confusion, by "first example" I mean the example of Iraqi troops selling weapons to Syrian rebels, and by "second example" I mean the example of ISIL gaining arms intended for the Kurds.
Posted by missbailey8 1 year ago
No problem
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
Please change to Select Winner voting system, with an Elo restriction of 2500 to vote.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 1 year ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Conceded.