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Resolved, the US should shift the focus in Afghanistan toward peace-keeping rather than combat.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/8/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,260 times Debate No: 13596
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




Hello everyone, the topic is Resolved, the United States should shift the focus in Afghanistan from combat to peace-keeping, for which I will be arguing con, or against; incidentally, for anyone who is curious, this is my first debate, as I'm interested both in this topic and in testing my own skills.

To begin with, I'd like to preface my arguments with a history of the War in Afghanistan. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban regime was issued an ultimatum, to surrender bin Laden or face the consequences. A month after the aforementioned attacks, bombing runs began, and US Special Forces were inserted into Afghanistan. Fast-forward to 2002, after the capture of Kandahar and Kabul, and the Taliban seemed to have been destroyed; Coalition forces occupied the nation, and the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance had been greatly strengthened by US munitions and funds. It was at this point that US forces shifted more towards peace-keeping and state-building. Democratic elections were set up, and the UN authorised a security force (ISAF) and a political mission (the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). (1)

However, since then the situation has deteriorated. According to Paul Rogers, professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University:

"Even during a period when the number of foreign troops has increased, Taliban and other paramilitaries have actually gained control of more of Afghanistan.
This has been further accompanied by political regression in the country, reflected in the many accounts of widespread voting irregularities in the presidential elections of 20 August 2009; the collapse in women's participation in the polling across many parts of the country is especially notable. The flawed election reinforces the negative effects of endemic corruption and maladministration under the Hamid Karzai government in eroding the Afghan people's confidence in and support for the military and political strategy of their domestic rulers and foreign military backers." (2)

This leads me into my argument.

It didn't work the first time around, why try it a second time?

As I previously finished outlining, our original plan for Afghanistan was a "shock and awe" campaign followed by an occupation that turned towards state-building and peacekeeping. However, this was based on a flawed assumption that the Taliban had been eradicated, when in fact they had simply melted back into the shadows from whence they came. By 2005, they'd returned, unleashing extreme violence in the summer months directly after the opium-poppy harvest, with al-Qaeda also entrenched in the border districts between Afghanistan and Pakistan. (2) Between 2007 and 2009, they've shown themselves extremely capable and deadly, blending into civilian populations and relying on small engagements rather than large-scale battles (2)

In fact, this crucial flaw in the United States' approach to the War in Afghanistan is merely a repeat of past history, specifically the French War in Algiers. In November of 1954, the FLN, a militant group seeking Algerian independence, launched nationwide terrorist attacks and then retreated to the nation's mountains, awaiting the counter-attack. Instead, the French armies, focused in this case on peacekeeping, executed police actions in the major cities, arresting militants. By staying in the urban areas and policing the cities, the French forces gave up a crucial chance to sweep the mountains and eradicate the bulk of the insurgency, which was at that time weakened by a lack of support among the public. (3) In fact, throughout this War in Algiers, every effort to keep the peace in the cities via arrests, etc., met with utter failure and disgrace, while the only truly successful operations against the FLN involved large numbers of troops deployed in combat operations to cut off their supply lines. (3) Again, a clear parallel to the Afghanistan scenario. After driving the Taliban out of the cities, we were content to keep the peace there, allowing the Taliban, like the FLN, to build their strength and entrench themselves.

Even now, in 2010, the war is not winding down but instead intensifying, and the situation calls not for more peacekeeping, but rather for a military crackdown, for a refusal to let our guard down. US casualties this year as a result of terrorist actions are at a record high, 326 this year as of September 30. (4) The attacks are only increasing, because the Taliban are becoming more capable, and to shift focus from combating them to state-building and peace-keeping would be a serious mistake. According to a senior US counter-terrorism official in Washington:

"Most of the stupid Taliban are dead... Even in the south, the adversaries are becoming more tactically capable." (5)

The article cited went on to state that many of the "Afghan mujahideen" are at their strongest ever. Having had years to examine American tactics and technology, they are fighting better than ever despite heavy losses. US Special Forces, having also examined this situation, make it clear in this article that the Taliban, having been counted out many times before, are far too deadly for Green Berets to underestimate them or let their guard down; a constant stream of new recruits flows out of Pakistani madrassahs to partially recoup their losses, but despite being slowly worn down, the Taliban are still lethal. (5)

In conclusion, to shift the focus in Afghanistan toward peace-keeping rather than combat would represent not only a fundamental flaw in our understanding of the situation but a crucial mistake that could cost us the opportunity to prevent Afghanistan's joining the ranks of other "failed states." George Santayana once wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (6) If we shift the focus in Afghanistan towards peace-keeping without first fully eradicating the Taliban, we will be repeating the mistakes of the past, both the mistakes of our earlier operations in Afghanistan and the mistakes the French made in Algiers. Such a serious mistake would not only give the insurgency a chance to regroup, but would almost inevitably plunge the nation of Afghanistan into the darkness of oppression once again. For this reason, I urge you to vote Con.

1) "Afghanistan: Peacekeeping without Peace." Accessed 08 Nov 2010.
2) "The Afghan Dilemna." Accessed 08 Nov 2010.
3) "French Counterinsurgency in Algeria: Forgotten Lessons From A Misunderstood Conflict." Accessed 08 Nov 2010.
4) "Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians." Accessed 08 Nov 2010.
5) "Taliban in Afghanistan may be rallying despite General Petraeus' insistence they are worn out." Accessed 08 Nov 2010.
6) " Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it." answers. com. Accessed 08 Nov 2010.


The control of Afghanistan is approximately 25% by the Taliban. The rest of the country is not seemed at a high risk. (April 2009)

Voting irregularities were called for a recall vote, for it was a suspected fraud. To further this irrgularity, it is dangerous to vote for a legitmate leader, but it is easy to vote for the leader who is corrupt and commands troops that could kill you and your family.

The collapse of women voting is likely due to the control that the terrorist group has over them. All they have known is violence and maltreatment. To promise them peace and safety would likely break the control of both women and children, who are the pinnicle of bombings and intelligence renessance.

This election process will not be fully established for a long while, friend. There are people still in fear of the control that others have over them. The promise of peace without violence can change a nation. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. and his inspired teaching from Ghandi. Through poverty, peace, and faith, they impacted the world and set free millions of people. Not only that, but they charted a better course in the world's future, which is today. If Mr. King didn't maintain peace-keeping strategy, I doubt Obama would be president right now. Accomplishing the impossible must start with the improbable.


1) It would work the second time, because, like you said, we underestimated them and were not equipped with the proper intelligence to succeed in our strategy. History will only repeat if you do not learned. I would say we have learned much since the 1st time.

a) Let's face it, most of our troop have been killed by bombs. The amount of deaths by trip-wire bombs and other booby traps have lowered significantly. Why? It is simple of course and perhaps a bit silly. The answer is Silly String. A student using his ingenuity thought of the idea, and it saved countless lives. Mr. Schneier states: "I'm a former Marine I in Afghanistan. Silly string has served me well in Combat especially in looking for...booby traps. When you spray the silly string in dark areas, especially when you doing house to house fighting. On many occasions the silly string has saved me and my men's lives." We must look for every option avalible, because it is only then we will find a resolution, and this option of peace may be silly...but then again, silly works.

b) Other wars can be flawed when used as examples, for they can have factors that alter the analogy. For example, major difference in the US is that the public doesn't approve, but we're still over there. The government does what's best for the country, and attacking the Taliban's Headquaters in Pakistan would NOT be a mistake. After all, you stated the French missed an oppritunity to eliminate thier enemy. Well, this is our chance, and we must take it by establishing peace in Afghanistan and attacking thier headquarters!

c) First of all, friend, war and fighting is never "truely successful". As Ghandi and Mr. King have demonstrated, peace is truely successful. It is easy for fight for the majority, but it takes courage to stand up to the odds. War should be considered a last resort. This change to combat was nessicary at the time, a retalitation until we could figure out more about the terrorist groups and know what we're up against. A principal of war is 'know your enemy'. We know them now, and we have strong evidence saying that thier base-of-operations is in Pakistan! It does no good fighting in Afghanistan when we can attack them at thier core. "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." Henry David Thoreau. We must strike at it's roots, lest the branches return. THAT was our true mistake. Keep the peace and divert the terrorists attention and efforts to thier base to allow us to set-up a legitimate government in Afghanistan.

d) I agree we should not let our guard down. That's why I purpose a concentrated effort to subtle rennisance to find out more of thier base-of-operations, and to attack with the element of surpise, another principal of war, but the time for peace is now, and this is the fastest way of achieving it. (By the way, war is always intense. It doesn't get more intense, it just grows, like a poison.) It would not be letting our guard down unless we did not take further action; we wouldn't be sitting ducks to detract attention to ourselves, a logistical defense.

2) The adversaries, if they are more tactically capable, is only because they can predict our war efforts in Afghanistan. We need to strike them with a different strategy. Pakistan is already trying to push them out of the country, and we can assist them and accomplish our goal more effectively by working with them in combat.

a) Can you specifically cite your source for where you say and define "better"? (Please label as 2a.))

b) Of course they are still lethal! Anyone with a gun is lethal, even a baby; However, these people (for the most part) do not have military training aside from the military "recruits" in the beginning. If they recruit and funnel as rapidly as you say, they do not have the training to handle our supirior forces. Like I said, they kill through bombs. We should focus our intelligence to find a way to detect these bombs. We found that Silly String was a great solution for detecting bombs. It is possible that the answer is right in front of us, but we can not see it.

c) Afghanistan terrorist have already spread to Pakistan, and continue to grow. We are not as present in Pakistan as in
Afghanistan. It is seriously doubted that the "heads" of the operation would hide where the fighting is. Hence, we must attack thier base-of-operations in Pakistan.


Taliban operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly in provinces around the Duran Line border, possibly so that they obtain weapons and the like where it is not as monitored in Pakistan for lethal 'goods', then smuggle it to Afghanistan. We must monitor Pakistan's trade.

U.S. officials say their headquarters is in or near Quetta, Pakistan. We must find out more about this and "strike at the roots of evil".

The Taliban received training, supplies, and arms from the Pakistani government.

It has regained some amount of political control and acceptance in Pakistan's border region

Pakistan has launched an offensive to force the Taliban from its territory. Which is all the more reason to concenrate more combat effort there and not Afghan!

Ahmad Shah Massoud, who still represented the legitimate government of Afghanistan as recognized by most foreign countries and the United Nations. This is because we helped him rise and it was recognized that he was legitimate.

I conclude that we maintain peace in Afghan, withdrawl troops (easing our financial expense), and maintain Pakistan. The resolution allows me this, for it states that only combat in Afghan must be stopped and peace maintained. For the reasons above, I heavily urge you to vote in my favor. Thank you for the debate.

Henry David Thoreau, The Civil Movement (Mr. King), and Ghandi.
Debate Round No. 1


1) Merriam-Webster defines better as "more advantageous or effective; improved in accuracy and performance." (1) My source for that, which you wanted me to label, is approximately halfway down the page of this news article, when retired Army General Jack Keane states "But morale problems are actually rare among the "Afghan mujahideen," as the Taliban call themselves, and they are fighting better than ever - and apparently a lot smarter - despite taking years of heavy losses and facing 100,000 G.I.s on the ground in President Obama's surge. (2a)
2) We are not very further advanced technologically or tactics-wise than we were approximately 8 years ago, while the Taliban are better equipped and much more intelligent- if we follow the same pattern we did 8 years ago, odds are the consequences will be even more drastic than they were.
3) Other wars can be flawed, but that does not mean they should be ignored. In fact, public sentiment was strongly against the French War in Algiers for much of the same reason public opinion has turned against the Afghanistan War: civilian casualties and a general war-weariness. The French War mirrors the situation in Afghanistan too well for us to ignore the mistakes the French made and the lessons they learned from those mistakes.
4) Not trying to offend, but I fail to see how the Silly String idea relates to peace-keeping versus combat in Afghanistan. Most of our casualties do come from bombs, it is true, but the fact of the matter is that the increasing numbers of bombs and casualties in 2010 show that the insurgency is actually strengthening in Afghanistan. Your article actually supports this, as it shows that two British soldiers have actually died quite recently, that the insurgency is still strong enough to interfere with the elections, and even states that "British forces have spent billions trying to shore up the legitimacy of President Hamid Karzai in the face of a strengthening insurgency." (3)
5) You state both that war is never truly successful, and that we should keep the peace in Afghanistan while we strike at Pakistan. But the fact is, there is no peace in Afghanistan to keep yet. There seemed to be a peace in 2002, after the Taliban had melted away into the mountains, but they returned; you yourself stated that the Taliban now control 25% of Afghanistan, while the rest of the country is not "deemed a high risk." Clearly, the Taliban are regaining territory, despite the 2008 troop surge. If we sit complacent in Afghanistan and concentrate our efforts in Pakistan (which by the way would rather handle its own problems instead of bringing in foreign soldiers), the Taliban will retake Afghanistan. According to this article, the previously thought secure northern provinces of Afghanistan are experiencing increased insurgent attacks; worries are that if NATO forces begin withdrawing, the insurgents will simply flood into the southern provinces. (4) Just recently, according to that same article, Coalition forces have had to sweep Kandahar province yet again, where the Taliban insurgents have returned and begun their attacks.
6) Parliamentary elections, as you say, are failing because it is easier to vote for the corrupt guys with the guns than to vote fairly. This is just another reason why we need to focus on combat; we need to drive these corrupt men out of power, eradicate their support, wipe out their strongholds. You say we should fight in Pakistan, keep the peace in Afghanistan. I say we continue to fight until the Taliban have been driven entirely out of Afghanistan, and then wipe them out in Pakistan, where you state that their headquarters are.
7) The Taliban are weakening, but they are not finished yet. This article makes two points. First, the Afghan National Army, according to Department of Defense chiefs, should be ready to take over by 2014. (5) What is the significance of this to the combat role of the United States in Afghanistan? Imagine for a moment that we did not continue fighting in Afghanistan, that we secured cities and allowed the insurgency to fester in the mountains, continue growing their illegal drugs and regain its previous strength. And now imagine that in 2014, the newly trained and equipped, fresh Afghan National Army must contend with a fresh, newly equipped Taliban that has replenished its ranks with warriors knowledgeable in the tactics of guerilla war. It would be a force that the Afghan Army would be unable to contend with. These next few years are too crucial to the success of Afghanistan for the United States, to pull back and assume a peacekeeping, security role. If we do not continue to actively hunt down and expunge the Taliban, wipe them out, keep them on the run, they will strengthen again. The second point that the article made is that the Taliban must be further weakened for success. "Although eager to underscore that claim of progress by handing over some security control, military officials are worried about backsliding." (5) Again, the article states, "Gates also said that although he welcomes preliminary talks between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government, the insurgency isn't likely to cut a deal unless it is weakened further. The Taliban need to clearly see that the prospects for success have diminished dramatically, and in fact that they may well lose." The Taliban are starting to weaken, finally. We are sweeping their primary areas of hashish and opium production, driving them away from their primary source of revenue. (6)

If we relent now, retreat to the cities, secure them and attempt to proceed with elections and state-building without driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan entirely, we will ultimately unravel all that we have accomplished in that state, and damn it to another oppressive regime of Taliban rule in the near future. It is for this reason that I urge you all to vote Con.

Works Cited
1) "Definition of Better." Accessed 09 Nov 2010.
2a) ""Taliban in Afghanistan may be rallying despite General Petraeus' insistence they are worn out." Accessed 09 Nov 2010.
3) "Two more British soldiers killed in Afghanistan as election turnout drops." Accessed 09 Nov 2010.
4) "U.S.-Led Forces Chase Taliban From Kandahar." Accessed 09 Nov 2010.
5) "DoD Says Afghan Handover in 2014 Realistic." Accessed 09 Nov 2010.
6) "Terror Finance Blog: Severing the Taliban Lifeline." Accessed 09 Nov 2010.


Itsallovernow forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


As my opponent has not posted any arguments for me to counter, I'm just going to highlight my main points real quickly.

1) There is no peace to uphold in Afghanistan, so why would we switch to peacekeeping?

2) We've already tried going from combat to peacekeeping, when we thought we had won the war in 2002- the situation has deteriorated since then, proving that the switch to peacekeeping was ineffective.

3) The Taliban are weakening- if we pull back, switch to peacekeeping now and allow them to regain their former strength, the less-capable Afghan Army will ultimately fail to defend the state when it is given control of the situation in 2014, after the United States has pulled its troops out.

It is for these reasons that I urge you to vote Con in this debate.


Itsallovernow forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by GA717 7 years ago
Heh it's fine I actually am prepping a debate for a school event and this was mainly to test out my arguments so I do appreciate that you responded at all, it gave me some feedback- and in the future, I'll make it more than 24 hours :P
Posted by Itsallovernow 7 years ago
Yep. Too much things in my day to circle around just 24 hours. And you responded so quickly! Eh, I probably shouldn't have done this while I have strep anyways, but I've had nothing to do
Posted by Itsallovernow 7 years ago
Mmm...24 hours, eh? Should be tough :)
Posted by Sieben 7 years ago
No way. Kill everyone.
Posted by zach12 7 years ago
What if peace-keeping and combat are one and the same?
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