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

Should the United States (have) intervene(d) in Rwanda? (See further details below).

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/23/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 795 times Debate No: 59444
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




I need to test a debate case I have been working on, and, in doing so, am going to use a format not common to DDO.

This case is time-space, meaning that neither side can use arguments that involve information beyond the information available at the time this debate is set.

This case is also opp-choice, meaning that my opponent, in his first round, shall choose which side to debate on. Thus, ignore the normal Pro/Con designations.

I shall also be arguing in parliamentary style, meaning that arguments involving source material that would not be "common knowledge," (known as the New York Times standard), are banned, though I will allow some flexibility with this.

The full resolution: It is April 20, 1994. The United States now, unequivocally, knows that a full-scale genocide is taking place in Rwanda. With this knowledge, should the United States unilaterally intervene in Rwanda to stop the genocide and restore peace?


- The United States knows that around 300,000 Tutsis have been killed thus far.

- The rebel RPF has taken over around 1/5 of the northern territory in the country, and has been against intervention.

- The United States will unilaterally intervene with a force of between 5,000 and 10,000 soldiers, which will take between 3 days and a week to fully deploy.

- The United States will intervene neutrally, operating on behalf of neither the Hutu-led government or the Tutsi-led rebel RPF.

- United States' soldiers may only engage with either side if killings are either being witnessed or about to occur.


Round 1: Accept, and state position
Round 2: Constructive material (no rebuttals)
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Conclusion (no new material, other than responding to new material from Round 3)

I hope you all enjoy this case, and I hope whoever accepts has interesting arguments, as I need input to better my case.

Thank you, and good luck!



This argument seems interesting, is this a project that you are doing?

I'll argue against the topic, just to keep it simple for me. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Awesome, I'm so excited to do this debate. I've been creating cases for my parliamentary debate league, and this is one that I have been working on.

Note that the BOP in this round is obviously shared.

I will argue that the United States should intervene in Rwanda. I have two reasons to present for doing this.

I. The United States is obligated to prevent genocide.

A. The United States is morally obligated.

Right now, in the wake of the Cold War, the United States is the sole superpower in the world, the hegemon. This means that, in some way, the United States is responsible for ensuring that egregious human rights violations not take place, because it is in the unique position of being able to do so.

This stems from the basic concept that killing is wrong, and killing on a massive scale is exponentially more so. Thus, not intervening amounts to a tacit condoning of the genocide, which, in any moral code, would be a horrible violation. What is important to note is that this genocide is unprecedented since World War II; no genocidal killing on such a massive and systemic scale has occurred since then. Even worse, more lives could be lost if the conflict escalates, which I will discuss later. I do not feel that this argument is particularly complex, so I will leave it there. If I need to, I will elaborate further later on.

B. The United States is legally obligated.

Let's note that the United States was one of the founding members of the United Nations, which was founded in response to World War II. One of the founding documents of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, explicitly commands the UN to uphold basic human rights, which life would qualify as.

Even more importantly, the UDHR requires intervention when a genocide is taking place, a reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, after which the world vowed it would never again stand idly by. However, the UN has been hamstrung by France, which, because of imperial colonial ties, refuses to agree to any intervention, other than one by France (which would likely back the genocidal government).

This means that, as the hegemon, the United States ought to uphold the word and the spirit of the United Nations, since it is unable to otherwise. Again, this is fairly straightforward.

II. Stability is in the best interest of the United States.

A. The genocide is likely to escalate.

The situation within Rwanda and neighboring countries, right now, is incredibly precarious. A genocide has begun in Rwanda, spurred by the downing of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents' plane. What is important to note is that other countries in the region have interest and ties into this conflict ongoing in Rwanda.

What this means is that allowing the genocide to continue risks an escalation in the conflict, which risks evolving into a regional conflict. This is possible for two main reasons.

The first is that large Hutu and Tutsi populations reside in countries like Zaire and Burundi. Animosity between these groups expands beyond Rwanda, and has spurred (albeit smaller) killings before. This leads to further civil war and instability in these countries.

The second is that other African countries have stakes in the Great Lakes region. Uganda, for instance, is currently backing the RPF rebels in Rwanda, and Angola is backing anti-Tutsi groups in Zaire. Thus, any increase in stability could lead to non-humanitarian interventions on both sides, which would likely lead to an intercontinental war.

B. Such an escalation will likely be detrimental.

This domino effect is dangerous because the main United States allies in sub-Saharan Africa, namely Zaire, are in the direct line of fire here. Any instability in the region leads to massive losses in two forms.

The first is that the United States stands to lose massive amounts of money from mining operations in the Great Lakes region, which tangibly restricts the ability of American businesses to produce basic products, like pipes.

The second is that the United States stands to lose political sway in the region. The RPF has not been friendly to the West, and similar groups that could form in other groups would likely take on a similar character. Thus, the United States allies in the region, including the governments of Burundi and Zaire, are likely to fall if the genocide is allowed to continue unabated, which would lead to a complete dearth of friendly governments in one of the most resource-laden places on Earth.

These two impact to a loss in American hegemony in sub-Saharan Africa, which has dire political and economic impacts.

All of this is notwithstanding the massive humanitarian costs a war of this kind would result in, which would be footed, mainly, by the United Nations, with the United States paying a large portion.


When we compare the massive costs the United States stands to bear, from both moral and political sources, with the small cost of sending a few thousand troops, we see that the United States should intervene to stop genocide. The United States would benefit from increased international legitimacy, and increased hegemony, both of which allow the United States flourish in an increasingly-globalizing world.

Thank you, and I look forward to reading Con's arguments.

Note: No sources, per parliamentary style.


Well, I wish you luck for your parliamentary debating thing, I hope this will help. Let's go.

I appreciate that the Rwandan Genocide was a tragedy for the Tutsi people, but I also have two main reasons that the United States shouldn't have taken part in the Rwandan Civil War and Genocide.

Not all foreign intervention works
I have four examples of this, all of which include the United States.

Korean War - After 3 years of fighting and 40,000 deaths, North and South Korea are still divided at the most militarized border in the world.

Vietnam War - 58,000 casualties happened for the US to lose control over Vietnam completely. Vietnam remains a communist nation today.

Unified Task Force - This was a US mission into Somalia when the civil war had just started. The US left Somalia with no stability, and to this day there is no legitimate or recognised government in Somalia.

War in Iraq - Sure, Suddam Hussein lost his dictatorship over Iraq, but the US forces who left in 2011 left Iraq in a completely worse state than it was in 2003.

Nearly 100,000 American lives were lost in these 4 wars alone, all of which failed to achieve their objective. Now imagine what would happen if the US got into a war with the Hutu, who had similar guerrilla tactics to the Viet Cong.

Soldiers probably wouldn't want to fight
We saw this in the Vietnam War, the US troops got so demoralised that they didn't want to fight any longer. This was partly caused by the guerrilla tactics that the Viet Cong were using (and don't forget that the Hutu's, seeing how to win a war against the US, would probably use similar tactics), and partly because they were fighting in a war in a far off land (Vietnam is a similar distance away from the US as Rwanda is).

Also, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the most painful things that a human can get, and the most common way that people get PTSD is from traumatic events during times of war. I remember seeing a documentary when a soldier was talking about an event that happen during the Unified Task Force mission in Somalia. A soldier is one of the hardest jobs to have, you have to be one of the toughest people in the land to get it. This man was one of them, and he was weeping uncontrollably on the camera.

It isn't just the cost of the war on the governments, and the political careers of the people who start it. There are people who have to carry out the orders, and fight the war. The personal effects of these men would scar them for the rest of their lives, and the people who see them would definitely be less likely to support the war.

I am under no doubt that this would have happened in Rwanda. If soliders happen to see the actual genocide taking place, they would have a lot of PTSD. At the time of 1994, the United States had never entered a war knowing about the genocides going on.

The effects of war aren't just political, they are personal as well. One bad experience, and a lifetime of sadness for the soldier and his family. It is for these issues that I believe that the United States were right to stay out of the war in Rwanda.

Thank you for reading this argument.
Debate Round No. 2


Hello, had computer problems, will try to get in whatever response I can.


Not all foreign intervention works.

I would like to dispute this point on face in two ways:

1) Some foreign intervention not working is not grounds for never intervening at all. Interestingly, during this time, foreign intervention is working, or has recently worked, in Panama and Yugoslavia.

2) None of these conflicts are analogous to the Rwandan one. This is a genocide, with two fairly disorganized sides fighting, and US intervention, unlike any of the others, would be strictly neutral. This gives more reason for success, because a peace process would come organically between the two sides, as opposed to a continued cycle of military coups and killings.

To respond to individual examples:

1) Korea: Interesting that my opponent chooses this as an example where intervention fails, since the US did stop China and North Korea from completely annexing and occupying the South. The border might be militarized, but peace has held, more or less, since the 1950s, saving millions.

2) Vietnam: Of course Vietnam did not work, but it was a poorly planned mission, founded on a false premise, with massive soldiers on the US side. The US also intervened on behalf of the South Vietnamese, as opposed to operating neutrally. All of these served to cause disaster to the US. However, none of these factors are present in the Rwandan conflict.

3) UTF: Again, this was strictly a civil conflict, and the US operated against one faction specifically, while not taking part in the peace process at all. These factors led to the situation in Somalia.

4) Iraq is outside of time-space, since, as of April 20, 1994, it has not happened. Interestingly, what has happened is Operation Desert Storm, which was a RESOUNDING success.

Finally, the Hutu did not use guerrilla tactics; rather, they simply created mobs to kill Tutsis. They operated on an ad hoc basis, without any real central authority, which makes them much more vulnerable to a neutral intervention.

Soldiers wouldn't want to fight

US troops got demoralized in Vietnam because of the massive casualties caused by a well-organized, Chinese and Soviet-funded and armed opposition. We have none of that in Rwanda. No power is funding either side, unless you consider Uganda and Zaire world powers. Both sides operate on an ad hoc basis without much, if any, central organizing authority. The US is also not really fighting, as they are simply fostering peace, rather than fighting one side specifically.

Yes, PTSD happens, and it is a tragedy; however, hundreds of thousands are getting killed, with an innumerable amount of others getting injured, perhaps with PTSD. There is also a massive refugee crisis. PTSD among soldiers is clearly outweighed here.

Finally, while soldiers would likely suffer emotional trauma, this needs to be outweighed by saving thousands upon thousands, perhaps millions, of lives by intervening. Sadness does not outweigh death.

If ever there was a situation ripe for a neutral intervention, with ill-organized sides operating on an ad hoc basis, trying to hide killings from foreigners, this situation seems clear as one that would be effective. Neither side in this conflict has close to the firepower and organization necessary to be a threat to the US, and, as such, would likely rather succumb to a peace process with minimal US casualties, with the effect of saving millions.

Thank you, and I look forward to reading your rebuttals.


The United States is morally obliged
What my opponent has said is that killing is wrong, so the United States should send in soldiers to kill people, instead of sending in aid workers to help the victims.

Also, my opponent said if the conflict escalates then more lives could be lost. Who said that the conflict would escalate? And if it did, why wouldn't the African Monetary Union, with Rwanda as a member state, put large sanctions on the Hutu government?

The United States is legally obliged
France, a country that was a victim of the Holocaust, would not agree to genocide.

Also, if there is a legal obligation to stop genocide, why hasn't there been an intervention in North Korea, and more specifically, the concentration camps discovered in 1990, where Christians, Buddhists, the disabled, Japanese soldiers, South Korean soldiers and American soldiers are being tortured and publically executed? If this isn't on the same scale as the Rwandan Genocide, it must be bigger (It's bigger, but that information hadn't been released in 1994). Why was Egypt the only country to step in during the Nigerian Civil War, where 1-3 million of the Nigerian Igbo population were slaughtered by Hausa and Yoruba soldiers?

The genocide is likely to escalate
A good point, but don't forget that some African countries wouldn't want the same violence in their countries, and they might even stop it on behalf of the United Nations.

Such an escalation will likely be detrimental
It isn't called the domino effect, it's called the domino theory, and the word theory implies that it is just a hypothesis or scenario, not a fact. And if it did happen, it was caused by the United States in the partition of Korea. And it didn't even happen to the extent that they thought it would in Asia. No government has even hypothesised that it would happen in Africa either, so it isn't a valid excuse to intervene.

And if it did escalate, especially into Zaire, then their sizable military would be able to stop the threat by its own.

I still maintain that there is no reason for the United States to intervene in Rwanda. Thank you for your time.
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you, Con. Your arguments have been very useful in refining this case.

With that in mind, this is an easy Con ballot. To demonstrate this, I am going to rebut Con's rebuttals, and then I am going to walk you through the ballot.


I. The United States is obligated.

A. The United States is morally obligated.

Con has two responses here, and neither are adequate:

1) "Killing is wrong, so the United States should send in soldiers to kill people, instead of sending in aid workers to help the victims."

Firstly, the only reason the US would engage either side is if killings were actively occurring or about to occur (see caveats), so the likelihood of killing innocent civilians, rather than aggressors, is fairly low. Secondly, if killing some aggressors can help to save thousands, if not millions, of lives, this is clearly justified. This is a genocide; that is the immoral action here.

Note that Con has not (and cannot, now) respond to the idea that lack of intervention is equivalent to moral culpability, since the United States is in a unique geopolitical position to intervene and stop the spilling of innocent blood. This is a critical drop, and must extend through.

2) "Who said that the conflict would escalate?...Why wouldn't the African Monetary Union...put large sanctions on the Hutu government?"

Firstly, my opponent does not rebut the idea that the conflict is likely to escalate because surrounding areas have similar militias and ethnic populations, and have had unrest in the past. This is a critical drop, as my opponent had to rebut the concept, not just claim "well, who said it's gonna escalate?" He cannot respond to this point, per rules, and, as such, has conceded that millions upon millions will be killed, and regional instability lost, if the US fails to intervene.

Secondly, the UN HAS put sanctions on the Hutu government, with no avail. The African Monetary Union has not yet come into existence. This demonstrates that sanctions are insufficient to stop the genocide, and that something more must be done.

B. The United States is legally obligated.

Pro's responses here are again inadequate.

1) "France...would not agree to genocide."

Except they did. They backed the Hutu government in order to further their imperialist agenda in the region, similar to their support of tyrannical governments in Algeria, Cote d'Ivore, and many other locations in Francophone Africa. As of April 20, they have shot down several proposals by the Security Council to intervene, because of their interests in the region.

2) "Why hasn't there been intervention [elsewhere with killing"

All this means is that the United Nations and the United States has failed in their pledge to never again permit genocide. Why should the United States continue this tradition of bloodshed, when it could easily intervene and stop the conflict? This is not a response.

II. Stability is in the best interest of the United States.

A. The genocide is likely to escalate.

"If these nations cannot stop the escalation, then the entire region, and, indeed, the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa, threatens to become embroiled in a catastrophic war, with millions of casualties and a massive economic impact.

B. Such escalation will likely be detrimental.

Domino theory, as my opponent is referring to, discusses increase in Communist influence. This is not what I have discussed.

I have discussed the idea that the genocide could, and likely will, spill over into neighboring countries with similar populations. My opponent, again, has failed to sufficiently rebut the central idea that escalation is likely.

"If it did escalate...Zaire...would be able to stop the threat by its own."

This is not a bad idea in theory, but is not practical in reality. Zaire's military IS large, but has been slowly rotting for decades after the US stopped funding their military. Zaire has had issues even PAYING their military, as seen by an uprising in 1990, and they have not been able to ensure stability in the Eastern half of the country for some time now.

This is compounded by the fact that the dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, has been embezzling millions from foreign economic and military aid, and has allowed the civil and military service to be completely infiltrated by corrupt agents more concerned with lining their own pockets than ensuring safety. As such, Zaire could not possibly stop it, and, indeed, it seems more likely that they will become the site of massive killing and conflict as the genocide spreads, especially since several refugee camps are currently located on the Zaire-Rwanda border.


I have shown that it is in the United States best moral, legal, and geopolitical interests to intervene in Rwanda.

I have demonstrated that the United States has a moral and legal impetus for intervening and, especially in the face of failure to do this in the past, should make a statement by intervening, gaining much-needed global credibility as the hegemon. This has not been effectively rebutted by Con.

I have shown that the genocide will likely escalate into a regional war, which has never been rebutted by Con. This escalation will cost millions, if not billions, in lost precious metals and mining interests, in humanitarian aid necessitated by casualties and refugees, and in lives lost. Such instability only serves to weaken the United States' influence in the region.

I have demonstrated that this intervention is substantially different from past interventions, in that it is neutral, without organized opposition on either side of the conflict, thus mitigating any possible risks.

However, if the United States were to intervene, they could stop the killings with little force, maintain regional and moral legitimacy, and send a valuable political message, that the United States will not permit wholesale slaughter of a group of people, saving future lives through deterrence.

Thus, it is clear that the US should intervene in Rwanda. Failure to do so amounts to blood on the hands of America. Proud to propose.

Note: remember, no new arguments for Con in this speech, except rebuttals to new material from my past two speeches. This means any drops from my initial arguments flow through to Pro. In this particular case, these drops from morality and likely escalation are critically damaging to Con's case.


Thank you for your arguments in this debate, and good luck for your parliamentary debate league.

I would just like to rebut some of your arguments in Round 3. This will have to be quick, I am going to a physiotherapist later.

Not all foreign intervention works

1) The cost on the locals in Panama and Yugoslavia were large, meaning that foreign intervention is also hardest on the locals. The Yugoslavia war also caused a different war, the Kosovo war.

2) The Bosnian genocide is still going on (as of 1994) despite US intervention in Yugoslavia.

North Korea recently refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, meaning that they might develop nuclear weapons to attack the south with. It is still an unstable place.

Factions of one part of the country (Vietnam had communists in the north, Rwanda has Hutus in the south) attacking the other (democrats in the south, Tutsis in the north). These factors are present.

The fact is, Somalia is still unstable despite US intervention.

Desert Storm was a success for the West, but it still made the Middle Eastern region unstable.

The fact is, PTSD would have been massive with soldiers maybe seeing Hutu mobs attacking them with machetes. If PTSD gets to one solider, it can severely drop the morale of other soldiers, and morale is a factor of success in warfare.

Sorry that this was a short argument, I am really in a rush.

Call me a pacifist, but there has not been a single year of peace in the world since WWII. There is no need for another war in a far off land to America.

Once again, thanks for doing this debate with me.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: An interestingly structured debate. Pro gave solid reasons for intervention. Con gave some possible arguments against, but with a shared BoP I don't think he fulfilled it sufficiently--Pro showed a moral obligation, and noted that an argument that *some* intervention doesn't work doesn't really address whether *this* intervention would work. As always, happy to clarify this RFD.