The Instigator
Pro (for)
13 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
10 Points

Resolved: the U.S. should intervene to promote democracy

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/17/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,161 times Debate No: 17111
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (47)
Votes (5)




This round is for acceptance only.

--No semantics, this resolution is about intervention in other countries/nations to promote democracy

--Dropped arguments are concessions

--No new arguments in last round unless they are in response to arguments made in the prior round

--PRO must give reasons why the U.S. should promote democracy
--CON should give reasons why the U.S. should not



I accept.
Debate Round No. 1



1.According to the Conflict Research Consortium at the University of Colorado, “intervention can take many forms, including political, economic, diplomatic, humanitarian, and military interventions.”[1] Thus, it is not enough for the con to oppose merely one type of intervention, it may be the case that other forms work and do provide substantive benefits. The con opposes all of these.

2.According to Mark Peceny at the University of New Mexico, the U.S. has only engaged in proliberalization military interventions 1/3 of the time and nonliberalization policies 2/3 of the time.[2] Thus, evidence which looks at the former should be preferred over the latter since its more relevant to the topic.


1C: Military Intervention is successful

Mark Peceny points out that of the countries in which the U.S. intervened to promote democracy and proliberalization policies, seventy percent successfully became democracies.[3] Thus, when the express goal is democratic liberalization, intervention is successful. Peceny concludes, “The evidence presented here shows that target states have rarely democratized if the U.S. failed to adopt proliberalization policies during its interventions, while a majority of states where the U.S. adopted such policies became democracies. Furthermore, states that have experienced proliberalization policies are significantly more likely to be democracies than states that have not shared this experience.”[4]

Moreover, Economist Paul Collier at Oxford University points out that intervening after a conflict also yields substantial benefits. First, “Compared with no deployment, spending $100 million on a peacekeeping initiative reduces the ten-year risk of conflict from around 38% to 16.5%. At $200 million per year, the risk falls further, to around 12.8%. At $500 million, it goes down to 9%, and at $850 million drops to 7.3%.”[5] Second, its net cost-beneficial: “Because of war’s massive costs, each percentage point of risk reduction is worth around $2.5 billion to the world. The most expensive deployment reduces the risk of conflict by a massive 30 percentage points, with ten-year gains of $75 billion, compared to the overall cost of $8.5 billion.”[6]

Thus, intervention to promote democracy is successful, AND intervention to sustain peace in the aftermath is also successful, since it (1) reduces the risk of conflict and (2) yields economic benefits at a very low cost.

2C: Power Differentials mean intervention is necessary to support democratic movements

The Small War Jounral explains: “The insurgency’s level of external support influences the groups’ ability to secure weapons, supplies, and funds…Without it, the overwhelming conventional firepower of the state win generally win out.”[7] This is because the autocracy has an established military and is therefore able to crush a rebellion if it is not helped. This is empirically supported by the National Defense Research Institute: “when supported externally, these movements have a 79% chance of success, while without that aid, there is only about a 5% chance of success.”[8] The impact to this may be further seen in the context of Libya, as Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch explains that without US intervention, “Qaddafi’s resulting victory would have signaled to other authoritarian governments from Syria to Saudi Arabia to China that if you negotiate with protesters you lose, but if you kill them you win.”[9] Accordingly, by intervening to ensure democracy, we not only see great successes within the country itself, but ensure the support of democracy and civil rights around the world.

3C: More Benefits

First, Democracy prevents genocide

Professor Moore of the University of Virginia explains: empirically, more than 99% of victims of genocide were killed by non-democratic governments; these autocracies have caused 167 million deaths.[10] Thus, democracy fosters the change necessary to prevent genocide and human rights violations, since the inherent nature of democracy is that the people are a check on the government.

Second, Democratic Peace Theory

The Harvard Belfer Center reports: “Michael Doyle compares all international wars between 1816 and 1980 and a list of liberal states. Doyle concludes that "constitutionally secure liberal states have yet to engage in war with one another." Subsequent statistical studies have found that this absence of war between democracies is statistically significant and is not the result of random chance. Other analyses have concluded that the influence of other variables, including geographical proximity and wealth, do not detract from the significance of the finding that democracies rarely, if ever, go to war with one another.”[11]

This means that if the U.S.intervenes to promote democracy, it decreases the risk of future conflict between these states, and the U.S. It also means the U.S. has leverage over these states, allowing for more cooperation with the U.S.

Therefore, the U.S. should intervene to promote democracy, (1) because it works, (2) because its low cost and yields substantial economic benefits, and (3) because it reduces overall casualties and ensures long term peace.

[1] "Report of Conference Key Findings, Ideas, and Recommendations" in Managing Conflict in the Post-Cold War World: The Role of Intervention. Report of the August 2-6, 1995, Aspen Institute Conference (Aspen, Colorado: Aspen Institute, 1996) pp. 9-26

[2] Mark Peceny, professor at the University of New Mexico, “Democracy at the Point of Bayonets”, 1999

[3] Ibid. pg.207

[4] Ibid.

[5] Collier, Paul. Project Syndicate. “Does Military Intervention Work?”. 4/30/08

[6] Ibid.

[7] Lt. Col. Mike Fowler, Small Wars Journal, "Philippine Counterinsurgency Strategy: Then and Now", 2011

[8] Ben Connable and Martin C. Libicki, RAND Corporation, National Defense Research Institute, "How Insurgencies End", 2010, Page 63

[9] Tom Malinowksi, Human Rights Watch, The New Republic, "The Timeliness Paradox", March 27,2011,

[10] Moore, Director of Center for National Security Law @ University of Virginia Law School, 1997 (37 Va. J. Int'l L. 811, Lexis)

[11] Belfer Center. Harvard University. “Why the United States Should Spread Democracy.” 1998.


Framework: I accept this framework, with a few caveats.

While it’s true that I must oppose all types of interventions for the purposes of this debate, Pro must also defend all types of American pro-democratic interventions. The benefits and costs of the types of pro-democratic interventions the US is likely to engage in must be weighed together, and we must each show that the total benefits outweigh the costs or vice-versa. So, for example, if most types of intervention fail, and 1 type works, if the overall costs of American pro-democracy interventions outweigh the benefits, then I’ve fulfilled my BOP. So we must each show that the overall picture of American pro-democracy interventions favors our position.

Military Intervention:
Iraq Sanctions- While democracy was not the only goal of the Iraqi sanctions, it was one of them, as the 1997 Iraq Liberation Act stated. What were the results of this intervention? As a result of public health, nutrition, and sanitation declining, about 500,000 Iraqi children died due to the sanctions. [1]

Iraq War- So far, there have been more than 100,000 civilian deaths caused by the Iraq War. [2] Living conditions have declined since the invasion, with poverty doubling since the invasion. [3] Unemployment has declined since the invasion, but has stagnated in recent years. The main growth has been in the public sector, which employs most full-time workers—private sector employment has declined. [4]

Even just considering recent years, Iraq has not been improving, with the poverty rate staying flat at 22.9% from 2008-2010. [5]

Afghanistan- An estimated 14,000-34,000 Afghani civilians have been killed so far in the war, with casualties increasing in recent years. [6] Living standards, as measured by the Human Development index, have declined or stagnated. [7] [8]

While Pro’s statistics about peacekeeping are interesting, they are irrelevant to this debate. To be relevant to this debate, the intervention has to be 1) to promote democracy and 2) by the US Most of the interventions in his study either aren’t to promote democracy, or by the UN, rather than the US, or both.

Power Differentials:
There are two arguments here, 1) democratic movements are more likely to succeed with intervention and 2) intervening (or not intervening) in conflicts, like in Libya, sends signals to other regimes.

For 1), see earlier and later points for the costs of US interventions promoting democracy, and the lack of benefits.

For 2)—US intervention in Libya sends no such signal. Since the US doesn’t intervene when dictators it supports oppress or attack protesters, like in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, the only signal intervention sends is that dictators should ally with the US, not that they shouldn’t attack protesters.

Democratic Peace, Genocide:
Markets vs. Democracy: Democracy is only correlated with peace in highly developed and literate countries. [9] (Which, of course, precludes any country the US intervenes in). Another study found the same results, and also noted that in the poorest quintile of democracies studied, democracy made countries significantly more likely to go to war. [10] This suggests that the US imposing democracy on a poor, illiberal country is unlikely to create peace.

Autocratic Peace Theory: Studies suggest that autocratic regimes are also more peaceful to each other—suggesting that it isn’t democracy that causes peace, but rather similarity of regimes. [11] This would mean that changing a dictatorship to a democracy wouldn’t necessarily make that country more peaceful, but just make it more peaceful toward democracies and less toward autocratic regimes.

Cold War: Joanne Gowa notes, "the democratic peace is a Cold War phenomenon: that is, the available data show that the democratic peace is limited in time to the years between 1946 and 1980. A democratic peace does not exist in the pre-1914 world, and it cannot be extrapolated to the post-Cold War era. As a result, to the extent that U.S. foreign policy is based on spreading democracy abroad to enhance international stability, it rests upon very weak foundations." [12] This suggests that democratic peace was the result of states allying together against the Soviet threat, not actually because of democracy itself. So imposing democracy in the post-Cold War era wouldn’t make countries more peaceful.

Intrastate conflict: So 25 of the 29 recent (Note: Chart is from 2002) conflicts are religious or ethnic in nature. And in 23 of those 25, it was under a democratic regime—and in some cases, the conflict resulted in the overthrow of that democratic regime and its replacement with a dictatorship. This is because democracy tends to exacerbate underlying ethnic or religious problems in countries—groups vote along ethnic/religious lines, and use the power of the state to promote their group’s interests at the expense of other groups. And so the groups without political power resort to extra-political means.

Democracies turning into dictatorships: Democracies, especially ones imposed on countries, have often turned into dictatorships worse than the ones that preceded democracies. Hiter’s Germany rising from the Weimar Republic is the most notorious example of this. Other examples of democracies turning into dictatorships include Spain, Portugal, post-czarist Russia, post-WWI Italy, Greece, Turkey, Guatamala, Argentina, Chile, Pakistan.

While genocide rarely occurred under democracy, that doesn’t absolve democracy. If a democracy leads to a dictatorship that enacts the Holocaust, then sure, technically, it didn’t happen under a democracy, but it still happened because of democracy.

Do we have a sort of Jekyll and Hyde government, switching back and forth between good and evil, selflessly promoting freedom for others and imposing tyranny on others to suit its own interests? (See Pro’s point that only 1/3 of US interventions are pro-liberalization) Of course not—what we have is a government that intervenes abroad for its own interests and its own interests only. Sometimes these interventions are nominally in support of “democracy”—but that doesn’t change the essential nature of the interventions or the American government. Is the Obama administration for freedom and democracy for the Libyan people, and for oppression and dictatorship for the Saudi people? Or is it more likely that one of these narratives is a fraud? And if so, which one? It seems more plausible that the President is actually for oppression and is lying about Libya, than that the President is actually for freedom and democracy, but is lying about Saudi Arabia. If the US government doesn’t actually care about helping people, how can we possibly expect them to succeed at doing so?

Conclusion: As American pro-democracy interventions have, overall, failed in the past, and there's no reason to expect that the US has ever cared about helping people or ever will, America should not engage in pro-democratic interventions.



[3] State of the World's Cities 2010/2011, UN







[10] Mousseau, Michael (2005). "Comparing New Theory with Prior Beliefs: Market Civilization and the Democratic Peace". Conflict Management and Peace Science 22 (1): 63–77

[11] Raknerud, Arvid; Hegre, Havard (1997). "The Hazard of War: Reassessing the Evidence for the Democratic Peace". Journal of Peace Research 34 (4): 385–404

[12] Gowa, Ballots and Bullets: The Elusive Democratic Peace (Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1999), p. 113.
Debate Round No. 2



Con concedes he is taking the non-interventionist side and must therefore oppose all forms of intervention. He then asserts (without any warrant) that I must defend all types of pro-democratic interventions. This is absurd. (1) The resolution is about whether the U.S. should intervene to promote democracy and does not stipulate which kind of intervention. (2) This assertion is absurd since it would mean I would have to defend interventions in which the means the U.S. chooses is wanton genocide, and there is nothing in the resolution that even implies this. I merely have to show that the U.S. SHOULD intervene to promote democracy, and I can fulfill this burden without defending ALL types of intervention or interventions the U.S. chooses to engage in, including the ones to which he conveniently chose to appeal. If we can promote democracy through peaceful means, and there are good reasons to do it, I win the debate even if some forms of interventions are bad, since he must deny all of them.

Military Intervention:
My opponent drops the systemic analysis I provided. When we look only to the 1/3 of cases in which the U.S. sought to proliberalize, we were 70% successful. This means military interventions, on net, have been successful and are a means to promote democracy. While examples can be used, they cannot legitimately overrule systemic analyses. While prolib was a goal in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was not the primary goal, so my evidence holds more weight.

Sanctions: This is embarrassing. His own source says the “trade sanctions” were imposed after Hussein invaded Kuwait, in response to his aggression. This is an indict to generic intervention, not pro-democracy intervention since that was not the goal. Also, it was UN, not U.S. and the 1997 act he cites makes no mention of sanctions. TURN: The Liberation Act intervenes to HELP pro-democracy movements in Iraq, which is good in light of sanctions. “Democracy” or any derivative thereof is not even found in his source.

War: This does not prove we should not generally intervene to promote democracy, at best it proves we should not have done it by total war in Iraq. By this logic, Obama would not be an interventionist!!! This does NOT prove his BOP, it just indicts one example.

1.The casualties would happen independent of demo promo since we originally intervened in our defense, demo promo became a goal later.

2.Casualties are not a reason not to intervene if the people desire democracy. By that logic, all revolutions would be immoral and we should always have autocracies. 82% of Afghans support the current regime, 4% want the Taliban. Death is bad, but it is necessary in their struggle for democracy. [1]

3.On net, lives saved now: health access increased from 9% to over 80%. [2] As a result, there are 80,000 more infants who survive [3] and 89,000 more children who survive than was the case under the Taliban.

4.Basic human rights: only 900k students in schools under Taliban, of whom none were women. Now, there are 6.2 million, of whom 35% are girls and there are 42k women teachers, none under Taliban. [5]

5. Violence is declining: 70% of the violence occurs in areas that only account for 6% of the population. This will decrease, since the U.S. will win if we continue: Taliban control dropped from 90% to 4%. [6]

6. GDP Growth: 2008: 9%, 2009: 13%, 2010: 16%. [7]

7. Jobs: 8 million in 2000. 15 million in 2009. [8]

8. HDI is just an arbitrary standard. There are significant benefits in basic human rights, economy, health, and the people prefer it.

Extend: Collier evidence was dropped. He just asserts that this is not explicitly to promote democracy and its UN. (1) That’s not the argument I made. I said this proves that we can SUSTAIN democracy after its been implemented by peacekeeping. Collier says this reduces violence by 30% which answers Cons objections about violence later on in the case. (2) UN intervention is often a form of U.S. intervention, since we provide them with most of their troops. (3) Extend econ benefits of trade, these are net benefits for the U.S.

Power Differentials:

(1)Examples don’t overrule systemic analyses. Rebels are 79% likely to win with foreign aid (and the source says nominal military aid) whereas it falls to under 10% without it. Which means when there is a struggle, demo promo succeeds.

(2)Even if his argument were true, the rebels would have been slaughtered without U.S. intervention. Remember, he appealed to casualties. Insofar as the rebels/protesters would have been routed without us, that is a reason to vote for me. This is a case where our intervention was positive for casualties, which proves that we should intervene in these circumstances, he opposes them, which means he would have genocidal autocracies win the day. We intervened, there were less casualties than otherwise might have been. EVEN IF YOU ACCEPT CASUALTIES IN IRAQ, we have one case where intervention decreases them, and he cannot support ANY intervention! I win.


He misunderstands DPT. DPT is merely a theory that says democracies tend not to go to war with other democracies, not that they don’t go to war. His study talks about internal stability and violence, not DPT. Even if there is violence, the violence is not directed toward democracies but to autocratic neighbors OR internal insurgencies, which is ameliorated with FOREIGN INTERVENTION! I never said dem=peace, I said dem=peace with other dem, which means there is less risk of conflict for the U.S.

Autocratic Peace: TURN: This proves DPT since regimes are just less likely to war against similar regimes. Democracies don’t war with democracies; that is the argument. Democracy, however, is comparatively better than autocracies in every other aspect.

Cold War: Cool story- According to Harvard, among 29,000 instances of conflict evaluated in post-1991 sample, only one war between democracies occurred. [9] Well above a 99% success FOR DPT. Dems might go to war, but not with each other. EXTEND DPT, he misunderstood it!

Intrastate Conflict: TURN: Without voting “on ethnic lines” you have an autocracy, which necessarily means one ethnic leader rules over many. Dem is comparatively better. Plus, look to systemic analyses in terms of conflict: Mcfaul: Only 16% of democratizing states experienced civil war or interstate war between 1973-2004. [10] So overall, there is not much violence. Plus, this just means the U.S. should PEACEKEEP AFTER INTERVENTION to maintain stability. EXTEND dropped Collier evidence: violence drops from 38% to 7% if we stay to keep the peace after a conflict.


He fails: Sure, democracies could revert back into dictatorships. That would be bad. So (1) He concedes democracies are better and (2) if they are better, we should stay intervening until the democracies are stable eough such that they do not revert. So this just turns his entire case! 99% of deaths come from autocracies which means we should stay to make sure the democracy does not revert. Extend this benefit, I save more lives.


This is not topical. The motivations of the U.S. are irrelevant. I am arguing that the U.S. SHOULD intervene for democracy. What is and what should be are different, an I argue for the latter. If the U.S. props up autocracy, cool story, I am saying they shouldn’t, which is why we only look to the 1/3 which he conceded in the FWK section.


Foreign Aid: Professor Steven Finkel reports that based on existing USAID dollars in the promotion of democracy, ten million USAID dollars cause a 500% increase in the amount of democratic change within a country. [11] This is a form of intervention that is casualty-free, cheap and effective. I have met my burden in showing that we can, with little harms, intervene and that we should

cites in comments



Framework: Pro's description of his BOP is absurd. Arguing 'The US's good interventions are beneficial' is a tautology. Good things are good. Duh. It's as if Pro was defending the resolution 'The US should go to war in X', and tried to argue that the US should only do good things in the war, and not kill any civilians. Clearly, that would be a ridiculous argument--if he wanted to defend the US going to war in X, he would have to defend the way the US military *actually* wages war. The only way that this resolution is meaningful is if he defends the way the US *actually* promotes democracy.

Pro relies on a double standard. All his plans to take place in Fantasy Land where the US government is his puppet, but all my plans have to take place in the real world. He can say the “USA should only do good things,” but I can’t say "the rest of the world should just play nice". This double standard not only creates abusive argumentative asymmetry, it forfeits consequentialism because it does not apply to the real USA (which the resolution obviously refers to).

Military Interventions:
Sanctions - While the Iraq Liberation Act did not mention sanctions, it illustrates US attempts to remove dictatorship and promote democracy. Democracy had been a goal from the beginning. In 1991, Paul Lewis wrote, “Ever since the trade embargo was imposed on Aug. 6, after the invasion of Kuwait, the United States has argued against any premature relaxation in the belief that by making life uncomfortable for the Iraqi people it will eventually encourage them to remove President Saddam Hussein from power.” [1]

While the sanctions were under the UN, they were controlled by the US. The US specifically blocked things like children’s vaccines, and irrigation pipes and water tankers during a drought. [2]

Iraq War – Dropped, extend

The casualties are not independent of democracy promotion, because we were fighting in defense—our plan for defense was to create a friendly regime (Karzai) in Afghanistan so terrorists couldn’t hide there.

Pro tries to argue that people are dying for their freedom, in a struggle for democracy, comparing the deaths to deaths caused by a revolution. The difference, of course, is that revolutionaries choose to fight and die for their cause, while Afghans caught in the crossfire don’t.

Pro notes child mortality decreased in the past decade. He omits that the past decade’s decrease has been less than the decrease during the previous decade, during most of which Afghanistan was engaged in a civil war. [3] The benefits of the 2000s decrease cannot be attributed to US occupation, rather than improving technology or charity, because mortality decreased MORE than that in the 1990s.

Pro’s statistics don't show decreasing violence because they do not make a before/after comparison. Every year since the end of the initial invasion had been the deadliest year in Afghanistan for civilians, [4] Afghan security forces, [5] and coalition forces [6]. Violence is increasing.

Pro states that violence will decrease when the US defeats the Taliban completely, but fails to show that this will happen soon or ever.

The HDI includes Pro's metrics and more. Single statistics can be misleading, while the HDI is comprehensive and therefore more difficult to fudge. The HDI statistics I cite cover the last 5 years, but the most destructive part of the war was the invasion and mass bombing. Surely this period was the same or worse.

Collier- Not dropped. I showed it to be irrelevant. It doesn’t prove the US can effectively reduce violence by promoting democracy because that’s not what the study is about. It is about peacekeeping, which is much easier. The only relevant cases so far have been Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition, the Collier interventions were under the UN. The UN has a completely different set of incentives and goals resulting in different outcomes (see ‘Motives’), so this evidence is irrelevant.

Power Differentials:
1) Foreign aid may aid rebel movements, but the study does not show net benefit to the country.

2) Pro’s evidence that American intervention will reduce the total number of casualties in the Libyan civil war? None. His reasoning? None.

Gaddafi prefers exile to capture and execution by rebels. The dictators Tunisia and Egypt recently fled in similar situations. Gaddafi fought because he thought he could remain in power. But as the rebels became stronger, he would have fled to avoid capture. Now that we’ve threatened to kill him and his sons, called for him to be tried by the ICC, imposed a no-fly zone in his country, running is no longer an option. The USA's intervention changed his incentives. If he flees now, he’ll just be tried as a war criminal and executed. So he’ll just keep fighting until the bitter end and many will die needlessly.

DPT: Pro misunderstands. It doesn’t matter if democracies were historically peaceful. I object to Pro’s claim that, “This means that if the U.S. intervenes to promote democracy, it decreases the risk of future conflict between these states, and the U.S.”. Historical democracies have tended to be peaceful toward each other because of compounding variables, not democracy itself. Therefore, US imposing democracy abroad would not have the intended peaceful effects.

Markets- Pro drops, extend.

Autocratic Peace Theory- See ‘compounding variables’ above.

Cold War- The 29,000 figure in the paper is 29,000 democracy-pairs (like US-France, US-Canada, Canada-France, etc), not conflicts. And the paper concludes that DPT does not hold since the end of the Cold War. The author writes, “The analyses in this paper show that dyadic [between democracies] dispute rates converge after the Cold War, casting doubt on the idea that a democratic peace exists.” [7]

Intrastate Warfare- I mentioned a chart in my last round but forgot the URL.

"Only" 16%? That seems like a lot. Also, that number means nothing if it’s not compared the statistics for autocratic states. For Pro’s Collier point, see my earlier response.

Genocide: My point wasn’t just that democracies can revert to dictatorships; it was that they can revert to worse dictatorships than the ones that preceded them. Kaiser Wilhem II and Hitler were both dictators, but that doesn’t mean they were equally bad. Surely Hitler was far worse than the German monarchy.

He argues that we can just occupy the country to make sure that the democracy stays stable, but fails to show that the US would actually do that. They have no incentive to create a free and functioning democracy.

Pro also fails to show that the US would intervene to prevent genocide, rather than to advance its own interests. They clearly don’t care about human life, as evidenced by the Iraqi sanctions and other interventions.

Motives: Pro is arguing that the US should intervene to support democracy. The US government has propped up dictators, and he thinks they'll do a good job supporting democracy. But they don't care about democracy or helping people, so they're not going to comply with Pro's idealism.

Foreign Aid: Pro notes that US aid causes more democracy, but that says nothing about the overall effects of aid. First, the regimes in question often enact disingenuous reforms while continuing repression,[8] and often use false reforms to strengthen their regimes. [9] The statistic he cites is misleading—the USAID often counts these false reforms as more democracy if the regime sides with the US on other things.

Second, foreign aid has stagnated economic development by creating dependency in recipient countries. The overall data supports this argument, finding that foreign aid fails to aid economic growth. [10] [11] [12] If foreign aid did help democracy, it’s outweighed by creating poverty.

Conclusion: The US should not intervene to promote democracy because its interventions greatly increase deaths and lower living standards.


Debate Round No. 3


He fails here since I am not arguing “The U.S.’ good interventions are beneficial.” I am saying that we should intervene to promote democracy. You can use this analysis against him, since HE must hold that even “good interventions that are beneficial” should not be done. He has only negated bad interventions (if you assume they are bad) in this debate. There are multiple avenues of intervention and he has to deny all of them. If I win one form of interventionism, that is a way in which the U.S. should intervene, therefore negating his stance that the U.S. should not intervene. Showing Iraq and Afghanistan are bad wars is NOT a warrant for non-interventionism; it’s a warrant for not going into those countries. This is why HE DROPPED the analysis that I gave that says systemic analyses should be preferred over individual examples. Obama did not agree with Iraq. Is he a non-interventionist? No. I can agree Iraq was bad and still advocate for demo promo. Thus, his entire case is premised on TWO EXAMPLES that do not support the claim that we should not intervene.

Military Interventions:

EXTEND: (1) Analysis that says systemic analyses should be preferred to individual examples and (2) the Peceny evidence. This is the best evidence in the round since (a) it isolates the 1/3 of interventions in which the U.S. went in for the main goal of proliberalization and (b) since its conclusion is that the U.S. is over 70% successful in military interventions. Thus, even if Iraq and Afghanistan are bad, it does not disprove the claim that we should end ALL INTERVENTIONS, since we are net successful.

Sactions- (1) His new evidence is from 1991, the Iraq Liberation Act was the stated U.S. foreign policy in 1997. His evidence makes no mention of removing Hussein in favor of a democracy, just the removal of Hussein. In fact, William Clark, in his book “Petrodollar War” (he agrees w/ opponent on Iraq) that the U.S. probably would have even initially accepted a Baathist replacement! (2) They were enforced by the U.S., but they were UN sanctions having nothing to do with demo promo. (3) The demo promo that DID exist was the Iraq Lib Act, which GRANTED AID to democratic movements in Iraq.

War- I did not drop. I said it at best proves that we should not have gone into Iraq via total war for WMD, it does not prove we should not have intervened in Iraq as we did with the Iraq Liberation Act of 97, which he did not point out was wrong. Remember, Obama was opposed to the war, BUT HE IS AN INTERVENTIONIST. LF is NOT proving his side with this argument.


1.He concedes we went in there for defense, not necessarily demo promo. This is exactly why you prefer the Peceny (70%) evidence since its ONLY talking about demo promo

2.Revolution: Except he DROPS the evidence where 80+% support the Karzai gov, only 4% the Taliban. So they are struggling for dem and we are helping. The same poll notes that aroun 65% think NATO is doing a good job.

3.Health: Yes, they absolutely can be attributed to the U.S./NATO. He drops the warrant that HEALTH ACCESS has increased from 9% to over 80%, which CAUSED a 25% drop in mortality. His own source shows that overall life expectancy increased by 5 years after stagnation under the Taliban. Plus, my source also says vaccination for polio eradication and TB also exponentially increased. Health has improved, and they prefer now to the Tban.

4. I show decrease in violence for most Afghans since its concentrated which is an indication that we are winning. Remember, Tban control, and he drops this, went from 90% to 4%. We just have to stay until the government is self-sustaining. The people want us too, so its not seen as an occuptation.

5. He DROPS education, because its just true. Now Afghan girls and boys go to school. Basic human rights, probably why they like us.

6. HDI: He cannot cite any HDI for comparison under the Taliban. For all we know it could be significantly higher now than it ever way under the Taliban. Plus, now is what counts: in 2010, from just 2009, Afghanistan jumped 12 placed in HDI, which shows progress. So this TURNS his argument.

Collier: Again, extend this. He is not answering my argument. All of his violence arguments at the bottom of his case are about what happens once a country becomes a democracy. Collier IS talking about peacekeeping. That is the point. It proves if we stay in after conflict to maintain the peace, violence reduces by 30%, mitigating his harms which happen WITHOUT further intervention. Plus, a plurality of UN troops are U.S. troops so its still a form of U.S. intervention, especially since he uses the UN in the sanctions argument.

Power Differentials:

1.It is analyzing a struggle for democracy, which means the people want it. All of the benefits of dem follow.

2.Actually I did produce evidence U.S. reduced casualties. The source I provided makes it clear that if we did not intervene, Gaddafi would have routed the rebels in Benghazi with his superior arms (tanks). That is the whole point of this argument, which he drops. Without our support, they have a 5% chance. With it, 79% chance. The rebels were NOT getting stronger, they were on the verge of defeat. That is exactly why Obama intervened (lol). They would have been slaughtered because they were using WW2 weapons, we bombed his tank blitz toward the east. Also, Mubarak was ousted peacefully, now he will stand trial so this argument is empirically denied—his people wanted him to be held accountable. Less deaths, vote for me.


He drops the turn I used on autocratic peace argument. The study he cited said similar regimes tend to war less. This is true of dem and aut, the difference is dem is better. Plus, in places where WE intervene to help their democracies, even if DPT fails, they still are more likely to be peaceful with their new allies.

Intrastate War: Extend the McFaul evidence: only 16% of new democracies experience this conflict, whereas 84% do not. He says 16% is a lot? So what, 84% democratic peace is better than 100% of autocracy which would be the case otherwise. The violence is probably because of the aggression of threatened surrounding AUTOCRACIES. In any case, Collier works well here: if we stay, we can ensure stability and a decrease in violence.


Here he confuses what is and what should be. This resolution deals with the latter. Even if the U.S. does not intervene to promote democracy to stop genocide, it should. In any case, he drops my analysis. He concedes (1) working democracies are better (and he drops the 70% evidence, overall less deaths therefore) and (2) if they are better, we should continue to stay until they are stable enough such that they do not revert. So his argument is a reason to intervene further, it’s a reason we should expand intervention to stop genocides, 99% of which come from autocracies. So democracy=less death.


Remember, he drops the analysis. He is talking about what is and this debate is about what should be. I am saying the U.S. should do X. He is saying the U.S. won’t do X. So what? That does not refute that the U.S. should do it! That’s like saying a murderer should not murder because he is not going to stop murdering.

AID: He actually does not answer this at all. The evidence I cited is aid that is given WITH CONDITIONS, which is why the democratic change happens. This means leaders must comply or they don’t get the aid. He says “disingenuous reforms” but USAID and the U.S. government deside what is meant by compliance, so they have to enact reforms. His Easterly evidence even says that we should give aid under certain conditions. USAID controls for over 40 variables and is considered to be very reliable. Moreover, the data is independently confirmed by Freedom House and Polity: 5x increase and 33% increase in democratic/freedom change respectively, of which market reforms are included.



Framework: Pro is correct when he states that I have to defend complete non-intervention by the US. I’m not disputing that. The problem is that he thinks that he should have to defend a fairy tale about US intervention against non-intervention, rather than the reality of US intervention.

Recall my analogy about the war debate from my last round. If we were debating the resolution, “The US should go to war with country X”, I, as Con, would have to defend not going to war with country X at all. But Pro would have to defend the US going to war the way the US generally goes to war with countries. He couldn’t say, “Yeah, I think we should go to war, but not the killing civilians and destroying infrastructure part, the military should only do good things.” And that is exactly what Pro is trying to do with this debate—he is Pro on the resolution ‘The US should intervene to promote democracy’, but refuses to defend the way the US *actually* promotes democracy, preferring to cherry pick what he sees as good interventions, and say the US should only do those.

Military Intervention:
Recall that “success” in Pro’s 70% statistic just means success at making the country more democratic, not “success” as in the interventions actually being beneficial. Iraq, for example, would count as a successful intervention under this metric, even if the benefits didn’t actually outweigh the costs. It may be the case that the benefits did outweigh the costs in some or even many of these interventions. But Pro fails to provide evidence of that.

Sanctions- Here, Pro argues that while we did want to use the sanctions to remove Saddam, we didn’t necessarily want to replace him with a democracy. But, also, we did aid pro-democracy movements with the Iraq Liberation Act, because we wanted to replace Saddam with a democracy. The two aren’t unconnected—the US had a single foreign policy toward Iraq. They wanted to replace Saddam, and, as evidenced by the Iraq Liberation Act, they wanted his replacement to be a democracy.

War- It doesn’t matter what other reasons the US had for going to war with Iraq, the Iraq war was still obviously one of democracy promotion, because that’s what the US did there.

1. Pro says this as if having other reasons for a war, in addition to democracy promotion, makes it not a war for democracy promotion. In addition, see point about “success” meaning creating democracy, not the intervention being beneficial. Afghanistan would count as one of those successes—if it was beneficial on net is relevant.
2. The civilians dying are fighting for democracy? No—they just got caught in the crossfire. Clearly not the same thing as revolutionaries dying.
3. So Pro agrees that the fact that child mortality decreased less during the 2000s than during the 1990s can be attributed to NATO. OK, I accept his concession. Pro also argues that life expectancy increased more in the 2000s than during the 1990s, but the 2000s increase is about the same as the increase during the 1980s, according to the same source. Did the Soviet invasion that killed millions help the Afghani people? Obviously not—there were other factors that caused the increase.
4. Pro counts more concentrated violence as a decrease. I’d say that a better way to measure a decrease in violence is by the amount of people killed. I’ll leave this up to the voters’ own judgment.
5. OK. See HDI, comprehensive vs. cherry picking.
6. It could be. But, as I said before, it’s absurd to expect that the first 5 years of the war were better for the Afghani people than the last 5, since the first 5 were when the initial mass bombing was. Also, a 1 year jump shows nothing, as the HDI has increased and decreased over the past few years. And even if it was starting to improve now, that wouldn’t show anything, since we’re talking about the benefits of the war as a whole, not about withdrawing now.

1) Pro said “rebel movements,” not pro-democracy movements. Not all rebels are democrats. He has to separate the two, and compare the costs of the pro-democracy rebellions to the benefits if he wants to prove anything.
2) Pro states that the rebels were on the verge of defeat, and then, 3 months ago, we intervened and now the fighting continues. This is hardly evidence that the intervention reduced casualties.

Mubarak was arrested, but only because he didn’t leave his country after he stepped down. The dictator of Tunisia did leave, and wasn’t arrested. So Gaddafi still had the option of leaving and not being arrested before.

Pro states that I dropped his autocratic peace turn, but only because it’s irrelevant. The point of that evidence was to show that even if making a country a democracy made it more peaceful toward other democracies, it would be less peaceful toward autocracies. And the evidence Pro dropped showed that making a country a democracy wouldn’t make it more peaceful toward other democracies—democratic peace was due to democratic countries tending to be rich and working together during the Cold War. Pro drops evidence that shows that among poor countries, democracies tend to be more warlike, which is particularly relevant to US interventions, since they’re always in poor countries.

Intrastate violence: Pro argues that intrastate violence in democracies is because of the aggression of surrounding autocracies. Of course, he fails to explain why aggression of surrounding dictatorships is the cause of INTRAstate violence (violence within a single state, not between states). Also Pro drops my point about not comparing his 16% figure to a figure for autocracies, conceding that his statistic is meaningless.

Genocide: First, Pro has failed to show that democracy necessarily leads to less genocide. It’s possible that, after controlling for democracies that led to worse dictatorships than the ones that preceded them, democracy does lead to less genocide. I don’t know. But Pro failed to show this, so it can’t be assumed.

Second, Pro failed to show that if the US were intervening to promote democracy, it would do so in a way that reduces genocide. The resolution is not, ‘The US should intervene to promote democracy in the places and ways that I want them to.’ Pro must accept American democracy promotion as it is, not as he wishes it to be. And American democracy promotion has tended to be in areas strategically important to America, not areas that necessarily needed the US the most. See Motives and Framework.

Motives: “I am saying the U.S. should do X.”
Note the bolded part. Advocating the US government do something implies that you are advocating the US government that actually exists do that thing, not the US government Pro wishes existed. See Framework.

AID: Pro drops my point about aid perpetuation poverty, conceding the point. As Pro points out, one of the authors I cite for this evidence does say that aid can be beneficial, if the US did it differently. But it doesn’t matter if the US could help people with its aid money. If Pro wants the US to give out aid money, he must accept the US as it actually is. And the US as it actually is gives out aid money in such a way that perpetuates poverty.

Conclusion: Pro tries to use comprehensive studies to prove his points, but either uses studies that aren’t about the US promoting democracy, or are about the success of democracy promotion, rather than whether the interventions are beneficial overall. He’s failed to show even a single pro-democracy intervention that was net beneficial. He tries to show that democracy will make countries more peaceful and less likely to commit genocide, but fails to show this. And, in fact, the evidence shows that democracy makes countries less peaceful. There may be benefits of democracy other than DPT and genocide, but since Pro didn’t mention any of them, they are not part of this debate.
Debate Round No. 4
47 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ExNihilo 5 years ago
el oh el you lose...nub
Posted by rodimusprime 5 years ago
To promote democracy, it seems only fair to actually be a democracy doesn't it? The U.S. has never been a democracy. We are now and have always promoted the intrests of the U.S.'s economic elite. The Representative Republic in which we live does not allow for the amount of choice necessary to ever even go to war, more or less interject a govrenmental system on a country. This country does not try to bring democracy for the good of the people. It is and is always in the intrest of monied elite, including the U.S. itself which is in eternal debt and is therefore legitemately owned and paid for.
Posted by Sieben 5 years ago
Juggle doesn't care about this website. They made a few minor changes when they acquired it but seem content to increase DDO's value by packaging it with their other services.
Posted by Ninja_Tru 5 years ago
Its refreshing to see other people on DDO who take a lot of time with their votes too, and especially who are very CX-y. Im going to stay out of the last 10 or so comments of RFD, but I do like one thing ExNihilo said. "One vote per person like the do in real debates." What if we had an option to choose traditional DDO voting or for a one-vote system on each debate? And who do we call to suggest something like that?
Posted by Sieben 5 years ago
"No. He even admits he must reject all types of interventions as a non-interventionist. "

Where? He rejects all types of >> US << interventions on the basis that the good and bad are inextricable.

"You obviously cannot read since proving that the U.S. has engaged in bad interventions does not prove the burden he places on himself. "

It doesn't matter if he fails his own burden.

"In order to show we should not intervene at all you need to give some external, general warrant about how interventions in general fail. "

There can't be any general warrant because you'll just cop out of all the bad stuff. He would need to prove a negative - that there is no possible good democratic promotion.

"On blowback: No, I could not have said that idiot. If you have ever researched blowback, it happens EVERYWHERE we intervene. From central and south America to the MIddle East to Southeast Asia. My burden would have been to outweigh the impacts of blowback against the benefits of demo promo."

Oh so you're saying that your intellectual honesty would kick in? You don't take yourself to your logical conclusion? That's your problem.

You still reserve the right to cop out of bad interventions. You can just say "well maybe there would be blowback but we'd only intervene if the benefits outweighed the blowback" Zzzzzz it is a purely semantic argument.

"He just gave examples about how TWO INTERVENTIONS went bad, which did nothing to refute the 70% success evidence I gave. HE DROPPED IT COMPLETELY. lol"

Actually your evidence either doesn't have anything to do with democratic promotion, or doesn't show net benefit after promoting democracy.

You also didn't do an overall cost benefit analysis. It doesn't matter if you have a 70% success rate because the negatives from the 30% can still outweigh.

You also dropped all my arguments about abuse and stuff. So I extend those to justify my ballot.
Posted by ExNihilo 5 years ago
Also, whoever concocted this voting system is a moron. A vote should be a vote, nothing more. A person thinks someone wins, they give their vote to that person. One vote per person like the do in real debates.
Posted by ExNihilo 5 years ago
No. He even admits he must reject all types of interventions as a non-interventionist. You obviously cannot read since proving that the U.S. has engaged in bad interventions does not prove the burden he places on himself. Barack Obama opposed Iraq as LF did. Does that mean Obama is a non-interventionist? No. It means he opposed Iraq. In order to show we should not intervene at all you need to give some external, general warrant about how interventions in general fail. (He just did not do the research. There are studies that say U.S. fails 95% of the time. I have my refutations to these, but there are easy ways for him to USE EXAMPLES TO PROVE A SYSTEMIC TREND. Examples alone don't outweigh.).

On blowback: No, I could not have said that idiot. If you have ever researched blowback, it happens EVERYWHERE we intervene. From central and south America to the MIddle East to Southeast Asia. My burden would have been to outweigh the impacts of blowback against the benefits of demo promo. He just gave examples about how TWO INTERVENTIONS went bad, which did nothing to refute the 70% success evidence I gave. HE DROPPED IT COMPLETELY. lol

An Caps to the rescue!
Posted by Sieben 5 years ago
"He does NOT want to intervene even in the good interventions. So not only does he have to give reasons for not doing the bad type, he has to explain and articulate why we should not even go into the good ones. Its the burden he places on himself by being a non-interventionist."

First, no. He doesn't have to distinguish between good/bad interventions because the resolution asks for US-interventions. He thinks you have to take the good with the bad, and that the bad far outweighs.

"And I am surprised. He could have avoided this all by running blowback as a reason we SHOULD NOT go in since its pretty much empirically confirmed. I would have had to outweigh.""

No. You would have just been a little faggot and said "well I want to intervene without blowback". There's no way he can make you bite into anything negative because you are defending only "good" interventions. OF COURSE GOOD INTERVENTIONS ARE GOOD YOU STUPID CU­NT.

"You apparently do not read. I said what IS is not necessarily the same what SHOULD BE. We are debating whether or not the U.S. should do X, not whether or not it DOES do X."

"If EN wins the framework argument, it means he auto-wins the debate because there is no way for LF to prove a negative. No matter how bad LF makes democratic promotion look, EN's strategy is purely semantic because he can just say "well I want to promote democracy WITHOUT bad things happening". So that's abusive. LF told me it was abusive. I can vote him down."

Oh man who can't read now?
Posted by Sieben 5 years ago
You guys should also recognize that if you're pressed up against character limits, it implies that the debate no longer depends on who has the best arguments because you both have to pass an "word-economization" hurtle.

I also maintain that the way you all used sources is totally abusive. It only takes 1 line to say "casualties increased/decreased [1]", and a whole paragraph to explain why the study is bad. Your burdens are to PROVE something about casualties, and you're just forfeiting the burden by running it off an external website (that sounds authoritarian).

This only matters if you care about being judged by argument quality. If you just want debate to be a masturbation in technicalities, keep it up.

(I don't know who's fault it is that you went up against character limits. One debater can force it to happen, but so can both)

Posted by ExNihilo 5 years ago
You are dumb. Its not abusive since THAT IS WHAT HE IS ADVOCATING. He does NOT want to intervene even in the good interventions. So not only does he have to give reasons for not doing the bad type, he has to explain and articulate why we should not even go into the good ones. Its the burden he places on himself by being a non-interventionist. And I am surprised. He could have avoided this all by running blowback as a reason we SHOULD NOT go in since its pretty much empirically confirmed. I would have had to outweigh.

You apparently do not read. I said what IS is not necessarily the same what SHOULD BE. We are debating whether or not the U.S. should do X, not whether or not it DOES do X.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by awatkins69 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Very good debate from both pro and con. Though I'm more sympathetic to con, I think he did not sufficiently falsify pro's evidence. Just one example: Con says, "Did the Soviet invasion that killed millions help the Afghani people? Obviously not—there were other factors that caused the increase." Maybe there were other factors, but it simply does not follow that in this case demo promo by US therefore is not the factor which caused the increase. You didn't show that there was some other factor.
Vote Placed by Sieben 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments
Vote Placed by CiRrK 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: See comments.
Vote Placed by Ninja_Tru 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Good debate! The framework db8 was important, and I give the Con the vote on that. The phrase that should be used is "normal means." When we fiat this resolution, we assume things happen as they usually do. Im convinced that USAID is usually suckered away (though I wish it wasn't). And im convinced (by a hair) that military intervention is not net bene. I didnt see an arg that peacekeeping is necessarily part of an intervention, and I buy Cons arg for risk of reverting to a worse autocracy.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Very close round, but Pro ultimately won. Pro showed how quality of life improved, and how democracy benefits the U.S. and Con was a strong Opponent, but didn't properly refute this.