Should the United States Continue Targeted Airstrikes Outside of U.S. Combat Zones?
I would like to thank my opponent for allowing me to accept this debate. As he has provided no regulations or rules, nor specified the burden of proof, I will take the liberty to do so myself.
The BoP will be shared between myself and my opponent, as each must sufficiently convince voters of their stance. To clarify, I am opposed to further airstrikes from the U.S. as my opponent is in favor of continuing and even increasing the number of airstrikes.
Before continuing, it is essential to recognize the confines of the debate, and what exactly the debate will entail. The resolution gives hints towards the U.S. involvement in the war on terror, specifically in regards to the Islamic State. Thus, the Islamic State and terrorism itself attains relevance to the topic. Accordingly, such aspects will be discussed in this debate. With that out of the way, allow me to begin argumentation.
Contention 1: Airstrikes are inherently ineffective in combating terrorism.
The normative and predominantly majority of airstrikes conducted in various areas have proved inefficiency and minimal impact in accomplishing its initial intent. Specifically, airstrikes conducted against the Islamic State (IS, ISIL, ISIS) have not been even relatively close to their intended success. The Christian Science Monitor confirms, “The US military has been flying between 15 and 30 strike sorties a day, “a very, very low level of activity” likely to garner only “minimal effects, both strategically and tactically,” argues Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.”  The article later explains that, “While the US-led coalition “has strategic momentum,” the statement said, it also acknowledged that, “ISIL has tactical momentum on several fronts.” Essentially, while the U.S. airstrikes have reputable intentions and have been correctly conducted, they have not been effective in preventing the advance and expansion of the Islamic State.
Vishay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College, describes the problems with airstrikes. He quotes, “[ISIS] will not be destroyed by aerial bombardment. I think that's the first point to make is that the United States, when tackling this group and groups that its allied with, for instance, the Naqshbandi Army, etc., the United States has already been at war with these organizations during the battle of Falluja, in the battles in Ramadi, in the battles of Tal Afar. I mean, U.S. Marines have been fighting them over the last decade before they left Iraq. So it's very unlikely that from 30,000 feet the Americans are going to be able to cower this very sophisticated and incredibly brave fighting outfit. So this idea that U.S. involvement is somehow going to change the tide of the Islamic State's progress seems to me a little illusionary.”  In essence, Prashad is explaining the impossibility of wiping out such a sophisticated and effective group of warriors from way above ground. Instead, he implies his support for ground attacks, to thoroughly and efficiently defeat the terror groups. That said, we see the inherent flaws in combating terrorism through airstrikes. Specifically, we have noted that A) empiric historical evidence shows its inefficiency, and B) it is neither a thorough nor an effective solution.
Contention 2: Airstrikes have an adverse and opposite effect on terrorism.
Often times, politicians and military officials attempt to combat terrorism by using airstrikes. However, on equally frequent occasions, this attempt to detain and derail terrorism only strengthens it. Journalist Michael Crowley of TIME Magazine notes, “The American air strikes against a militant group in Iraq could motivate the fighters to retaliate with terrorist attacks against U.S. civilians, experts warn.”  This general statement is later more thoroughly explained in the article. “[Airstrikes] could increase the likelihood that ISIS or somebody inspired by ISIS, would strike against the homeland,” says Seth Jones, a terrorism expert with Rand Corp.” Though not particularly specific, we see that multiple experts warn of the detrimental and irreconcilable effects. Essentially, this means that A) terror threats still exist, and B) terror threats are increased. Inevitably, attempted airstrikes meant to help will likely have antagonistic effects on not only the people affected by current terrorism, but also individuals not yet affected by terrorism.
Equally, we find that antagonizing our antagonizers is irrefutably contradictory to peacemaking. If we wish to attain peace (as many Americans do) we should not engage in counterterrorism operations such as aerial bombings. Conclusively, these airstrikes are compatible to Newton’s law: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If we choose to react hastily without properly preparing ahead of time, the follow-up will be equal to our attack. In the end, we find two primary reasons as to why airstrikes will have a clashing and mutually exclusive effect. Firstly, terror cannot be fought simply by terror, and secondly, a contradictory action is positive to have an equally opposed consequence.
Contention 3: The United States is not currently prepared to face the consequences.
Airstrike operations are very powerful in many scenarios, but understanding and knowledge is an absolute necessary component prior to launching such devastating attacks. The complication is that residing intelligence is not sufficient to host such an attack. Senior fellow of Foreign Policy and Director of Research for Foreign Policy at Brookings University Daniel L. Byman affirms, “Yet bombing has many downsides. Currently, the United States lacks the intelligence on Iraq and ISIS necessary to carry out anything more than opportunistic strikes. The United States has begun the process of gaining this intelligence, but getting a comprehensive picture will take months, if not longer. ISIS is an irregular army that does not rely on tanks or other mechanized forces to achieve victory, making it hard for air power to deal a decisive blow. Although its convoys flying black flags would be easy targets, it would quickly adapt -- becoming more discreet and traveling in smaller units if U.S. aircraft threatened to attack.”  If the United States isn’t fully aware of what is going on in the areas in which they intend to bomb, it can result in dire consequences. This includes not only missing the threat in its entirety, but also the death and devastation of civilians and their homes.
Furthermore, aerial bombardment has consequences lasting far longer than anticipated. Freelance writer Louise McEwan explains, “On the surface, bombing ISIS appears to be a moral ‘no brainer’. The group must be stopped, but without a concrete, workable and sustainable plan beyond airstrikes, the coalition of nations fighting ISIS may find itself mired in war for years to come, engaged against the next malevolent group to rise from the ashes.”  The impact of bombing will continue long past the explosion. The United States doesn’t have adequate information to have a long-term plan, and aerial bombings and airstrikes are not the solutions.
All of my opponent’s points have been thoroughly covered throughout the course of my claims. However, I would like to mention that my opponent used no sources to back up his claims whereas I have backed each point up.
Though my opponent would love you to believe that airstrikes are good and that they actually work. But the sad fact is, they aren't effective, and don't necessarily work. My opponent brings up the supposed correlation between airstrikes and terror activities in regards to presidencies. However, this mere correlation doesn't prove the causation behind the decline in terror activities. However, we still have terrorist acts happening all over America, more specifically in Oklahoma.  This, remember was during Obama's presidency, and actually shows that terrorism is heightened because of airstrikes. If you recall, this beheading was in direct correlation to ISIS, during a time period in which Obama was ordering airstrikes. This shows a correlation and causation between both terrorism in the US and the airstikes being conducted during that time. He also mentions that the airstrikes have killed the main leaders of ISIS. Still, though, there is definitely more casualties suffered from those strikes that are innocent citizens. His last point is where he mentions that airstrikes are the safest and most effective route to deterring and even preventing terrorism. However, I've proven on multiple occasions that this is not the case. And his emotional appeal at the end is not well founded. An airstrike cannot simply do all the work that an elite military force can, and will only cause more casualties of innocent and uninvolved citizens. Thank you.
"There are great advantages to airstrikes, they are there to protect the United States."
1. If airstirkes were in place to protect the United States, they would also protect US citizens.
2. Airstrikes conducted by the US have killed US citizens.
3. An article by PolitiFacts cited Times magazine records, "The Times wrote of al-Awlaki’s death, "For what was apparently the first time since the Civil War, the United States government had carried out the deliberate killing of an American citizen as a wartime enemy and without a trial."  The article goes on to explain that a total of 4 American citizens were killed, and three of them were not intended targets.
4. If airstrikes do not protect American citizens, they in turn do not protect America.
5. If airstrikes do not protect America, they don't have the supposed advantages.
6. If there exists no advantages, they should not be used.
"We can cancel them at any time."
1. If missiles are sent off and explode, they cause unwarranted damage.
2. Damage is irreversible.
3. Harm is already caused if damage is irreversible.
4. If unwarranted damage is caused, it has negative effects.
5. If airstrikes have negative effects, they should not be used.
"They are working, being effective, depleting terrorist forces, and keeping the world safe."
1. I have already shown how the effectiveness is not present.
2. I have already shown how airstrikes do not keep America safe.
3. America is part of the world.
4. If airstrikes do not protect America, they do not protect the world.
5. If they do not protect the world, they should not be implemented.
6. Airstrikes can indeed deplete terrorist forces.
7. However, other methods are more effective and are more guaranteed to keep the rest of the world safe.
8. If there are superior methods to defeat terrorism, they should be used instead.
I am the only opponent with arguments left standing, unattacked. I will list those now:
1. Airstrikes are inherently ineffective in combating terrorism.
a. Empiric historical evidence shows its inefficiency
b. It is neither a thorough or effective solution
c. A and B make it impractical
d. If airstrikes are impractical, they should not be conducted.
2. Airstrikes have an adverse and opposite effect on terrorism.
a. Terror cannot be fought simply by terror.
b. A contradictory action is positive to have an equally opposed consequence.
c. If there are opposite consequences of equal severity, airstrikes will only cause more harm than good.
d. If airstrikes are more harmful than good, they are impractical.
e. If airstrikes are impractical, they should not be conducted.
3. The United States is not currently prepared to face the consequences.
a. The impact will last longer than the explosion.
b. Adequate information is not available.
c. If adequate information is not available, then the US is not prepared.
d. If the US is not prepared, they cannot effectively conduct airstrikes.
e. If the US cannot effectively conduct airstrikes, they should not conduct airstrikes.
In conclusion, there are three important arguments that I have presented that still stand, unrefuted. For these reasons, you should vote Con.
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