The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
19 Points

States ought not possess nuclear weapons

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/16/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,474 times Debate No: 13389
Debate Rounds (1)
Comments (12)
Votes (4)




The major lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis is this: the indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will destroy nations."

It's because I agree with Robert McNamara that I affirm the resolution: "RESOLVED: States ought not possess nuclear weapons."
For the purposes of this debate I provide the following definition:
State: a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory; especially: one that is sovereign.
VALUE: Safety
CRITERION: Upholding international humanitarian law

CONTENTION 1: North Korea has nuclear weapons, and could be targeting the U.S.
Wolfsthal '06
… continued development of missiles should worry all Americans as over the past few years North Korea has acquired enough nuclear material to build a small arsenal of nuclear weapons and… they are clearly pursuing a system capable of holding American cities at risk of attack. Their success is only a matter of time… how can Americans be sure that some future "test" missile won't be fitted with a nuclear weapon and targeted on a US city? they can't… North Korea has succeeded in developing a nuclear arsenal and in advancing its missile programs… This only encourages more provocative behavior in the future.

Contention 2: Officials believe Iran is building nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration has persuaded Israel that it would take roughly a year for Iran to complete a nuclear weapon… American officials said the United States would detect an Iranian move toward breakout within weeks… Iran, would build nuclear bombs from a of nuclear material, currently enough for two weapons. Israeli officials have indicated that if they saw a race for the bomb under way, they would take military action and encourage the United States to join… Israeli officials remain suspicious that Iran has a secret enrichment site… in the tunnels it has dug throughout the country. Last September, Iran acknowledged that it had such a hidden facility near the city of Qum… Israel was particularly concerned that Iran's supreme leader could order that nuclear materials be dispersed to secret locations around the country…

Contention 3: Terrorists smuggle nuclear weapons.
Wolfsthal '05
… and terrorist groups cannot at the moment produce highly enriched uranium or plutonium--the key ingredients in a nuclear device… The International Atomic Energy Agency has documented two dozen cases of nuclear smuggling… Allison provides ample evidence that terrorists have opportunity to buy or steal either a nuclear device or the material to build one… with graphic images of recent terrorist attacks in Russia, reports of such opportunities communicate the gravity of the threat.

Contention 4: Nuclear Reduction addresses major problems without reducing deterrence.
Weber 7/13/10
The presidents of the United States and of Russia have signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which authorizes significant reductions of the nuclear weapons and delivery systems of both countries… Whatever deterrence the United States may require is provided by its awesome air and naval power… Any hostile state so foolish as to contemplate war with the United States will be deterred because it does not want to risk fighting the United States and confronting its massive conventional might, not because it fears being blown up by nuclear strikes. The New START will not compromise that deterrent capability. This architecture of deterrence was the basis of bipolar relationships. The treaty will help work against proliferation and will reduce substantially the number of weapons available to be targeted by terrorist theft operations… Cooperation between these two powers is essential… If they work different sides of these conflicts the political difficulties will grow worse and the temptation to nuclearize the conflicts will increase.

For the aforementioned reasons, a ballot for the Negative is a ballot covered in human blood.
Also, I would like to tell you why nuclear deterrence is bad for other reasons:
1.Nuclear deterrence is speculative. Just because nothing has happened in the past doesn't mean deterrence works -- the threat isn't credible.
2.Nuclear weapons don't deter against terrorists b/c they have no permanent base that will be threatened. Also, deterrence depends on rationality of deterree to NOT risk being attacked and rogue nation leaders and terrorists are irrational so they won't be deterred.
3.Deterrence only has to fail once. Even the strongest advocates of nuclear deterrence realize it cannot work 100% of the time, due to irrational, "undeterrable", and sometimes suicidal aggressors. This means when it fails once, nuclear proliferation occurs.
4.Deterrence can't prevent accidents which can escalate into global conflict
5.Link Turn: Deterrence is based on perception, so you don't actually need nuclear weapons to achieve same effect.
6.For deterrence to work, it is necessary for the attacker to find the cost of retaliation extremely high. If they don't, nuclear deterrence isn't effective.
7.Nuclear deterrence only works if the deterree is credible. This depends mostly upon the state leader's reputation and the state government's legitimacy.
8.TURN: President Kennedy made a deterrence threat against the Soviets, and failed miserably.
9.Deterrence can often be set in place after a nuclear decision has already been made. For example, President Kennedy set deterrence in place after the Kremlin decision had sent missiles to Cuba.
10.An aggressor nation could believe its actions are below the threshold of what could trigger a nuclear response. Then, the defending nation retaliates.
11.There often is not a certain threshold for when retaliation is necessary. Thus, the "nuclear threat" is often not set into action after an aggressor attacks, OR the deterring nation could proliferate nukes at the drop of a hat.
12.There's always the threat of "catalytic nuclear war." This is where a third party launches nukes on "country X," and blames it on "country Y." Thus causing nuclear war between these two countries. This was especially feared to happen during the Cold War.
13. Nuclear deterrence makes other countries want to possess nukes, leading to even higher danger.

Onto my opponent's case..

Contention 1: TURN: The globe is a much more dangerous place with nukes.
My opponent claims that nuclear weapons are the reason that no other countries have nuked us. This is untrue. He provides no empirical evidence on this. Do you know why? Because there is no empirical evidence saying that. There's a phrase called "the fog war." This means in war, there's too many variables to predict what your opponent will do, just like I don't know how my opponent will respond to this. This means we cannot conclude that MAD was the only reason we weren't nuked. When my opponent jumps to this conclusion, he actually commits a "Post Hog Ergo Propter Hoc" logical fallacy. And nukes have moved us past genocide? So... What about Darfur? Also, my opponent claims there has been no death in the U.S. What about 9/11? This is from a terrorist attack, and nukes certainly didn't prevent it. And if you're speaking internationally, what about the U.S. troops in Pakistan who have been victims of bombings? And it's moved us past the age of conquest? What about Palestine and Israel arguing over land?

Contention 2: TURN: Conventional warfare is better. This is because while conventional means might kill thousands or millions, nuclear warfare will cause 7 billion. Let's do a little math... And we can see that my impact calculus is much bigger, thus I outweigh. Also, the Holocaust isn't conventional warfare. That was a genocide, which is not synonymous with conventional warfare.

Contention 3: Nukes have been used with good reason??? I don't think so. When we nuked Hiroshima, we did so unnecessarily. Experts agree that the U.S. could have invaded with conventional means,



According to Random House Dictionary (2010), "ought" is "used to express . . . moral obligation." [1]

Burden of proof:

My opponent, as the instigator and the affirmative, has the burden to prove that states have a "moral obligation" to not possess nuclear weapons.

A con ballot is merited if you believe no such moral obligation exists.

What does the ballot signify?

An affirmative vote does not mean that nuclear weapons cease to exist in the world. My opponent cannot pretend to play God. He cannot wish all nuclear weapons away by fiat. An affirmative vote means that you, as the judge, believe that there is a moral obligation for states not to possess nuclear weapons. If this were to happen, only states that upheld moral obligations would eliminate nuclear weapons. Rogue nations (like Iran and North Korea) and terrorists empirically, and by definition, do not care about what is morally right or morally wrong. Therefore, an affirmative vote means that the only actors that would cease to possess nuclear weapons would be non-rogue nations. Terrorists and rogue nations would continue to possess such weapons, in violation of the pro's moral obligation.

Refuting my opponent's case:

My opponent presents no morality under which nuclear weapons possession should be considered "immoral." The debate is over at that point.

In addition, my opponent's criterion, "upholding international humanitarian law" does not uphold his value, "safety." Current nuclear weapons policies (post-Hiroshima) are that states will use nuclear weapons only in retaliation to the use of weapons of mass destruction against them or to retaliate against an existential threat (such as a military invasion that threatens to wipe out the entire country). States are safer by possessing nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan do not launch major military campaigns against each other for fear of nuclear retaliation. Rogue nations would not dare launch a nuke at the United States, for fear of nuclear retaliation. The world is a safer place because of the possession of nuclear weapons.

Group together his arguments about Iran, North Korea, and terrorists. An affirmative vote would not take nukes out of any of their hands. All three actors ignore "moral obligations."

Answering my opponent's deterrence argument:

His evidence about the New START Treaty does not assume a world where the U.S. has no nuclear weapons, simply a world where we have fewer. After New START, the U.S. and Russia would still have more than enough nuclear weapons to obliterate any potential aggressor. My opponent's author, Weber, would likely not write the same things if the treaty meant the U.S. would have zero nuclear weapons. The U.S. would need nuclear weapons to retaliate against rogue nations, who do not care about the pro's morality.

My case:

Looking at this round from a utilitarian morality, which policy results in the greatest good for the greatest number, nuclear weapons possession by non-rogue nations is preferable to the alternative. Non-rogue nations need nuclear weapons to deter rogue nations from launching a nuclear first strike. A world where only rogue nations and terrorists possess nuclear weapons would be a world where rogue nations and terrorists hold all the power and could bring great nations to their knees with nuclear threats.

There are no harms to possessing nukes. Permissive action links prevent both theft and accidental launch. A permissive action link, or PAL, requires an activation code (which only the president of a country possesses) in order to activate a nuclear weapon. Without the correct activation code, the nuclear weapon would be useless. This prevents both an accidental launch and theft. [2] In addition, PAL's will render the nuke inoperable if it is not stored at ultra-low temperatures. This makes theft impossible. Environmental Sensing Devices, or ESD's, prevent the weapon from detonating unless it experiences the correct acceleration and free fall. Using a launch system other than the one designed for the nuclear weapon would not result in a detonation. [3] Lastly, nukes are designed to engage a conventional explosion of they are tampered with or broken open. [4]

In addition, John Mueller writes that there is no real black market for nuclear material, since theft is so rare (has only happened twice, like my opponent points out). In both previous cases, the CIA's undercover agents were the only prospective buyers. [5]

Since nuclear possession has no downsides for nations, then any risk that nuclear deterrence might work merits possessing nuclear weapons.

Answering my opponents pre-empts:

1. Nuclear deterrence is not speculative. The fact that there has never been a nuclear first-strike proves its success.
2. Rogue nations are not irrational to the point of suicide, else Kim Jong-Il would have attacked South Korea by now. Terrorists cannot credibly access nuclear weapons anyway.
3. Deterrence has never failed. There's no reason to believe that a nation would ever be stupid enough to launch a nuclear first-strike. If they did, the nuclear retaliation that ensued would reinforce the credibility of nuclear deterrence.
4. Accidents are no longer possible with PAL's and other safety features.
5. Deterrence is based on perception. If a country had no nukes, other countries would be aware of this fact, thus deterrence wouldn't work. You can't "pretend" to have nuclear weapons, or else countries would successfully do so now.
6. The cost of retaliation is high – massive civilian casualties.
7. Deterrence credibility relies only on possessing nukes and being willing to use them to retaliate against a nuclear first-strike.
8. Not cited. The Russian's didn't nuke us, thus nuclear deterrence works.
9. Deterrence is an ever-present concept.
10. Nuclear first-strikes are understand to always result in retaliation. Also, the fact that there was never a major confrontation between the Soviet Union and U.S., besides a few minor proxy wars, proves that deterrence works to deter major aggression. Stalin could have easily invaded Western Europe, but chose not to because of the fear of nuclear retaliation.
11. Countries routinely state when they will and won't retaliate. Obama recently made one such revision. [6]
12. GPS and satellite technology is sophisticated enough to tell where a nuclear launch originated. This deception is not actually possible.
13. This is empirically denied. The U.S.'s nuclear umbrella has prevented countries like South Korea and Japan from obtaining their own weapons. If the U.S. had zero nukes, worldwide nuclear proliferation would likely increase, not decrease.

Contention 1:
Nukes are not intended to stop genocide in Darfur or 9/11. They are intended to deter nuclear first-strikes and major military campaigns between Great Power rivals. The "fog of war" also applies to conventional threats as well, which is why scholars like John J. Mearsheimer believe we need nukes – because we can never know the true intentions of countries around us. For example, is China's military buildup truly defense or could it one day pose a threat to the U.S.?

Contention 2:
Conventional warfare is not better when nukes can deter major conventional wars from starting in the first place. Turn my opponent's argument back against him.

Also, on a technical note, a nuclear war, even between the U.S. and Russia, would not destroy the globe or either the entirety of either country, just major cities. [7] But the possession of nukes actually decreases the prospect of nuclear war.

Contention 3:
I don't advocate a modern nuclear first-strike.

[3] Ibid
[4] John Mueller, Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda
[5] Ibid
[7] Mueller, ibid
Debate Round No. 1
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sobriquet 6 years ago
Maybe. This is a tournament resolution so chances are the preempts are just a part of his pro case that he is actually using.
Posted by bluesteel 6 years ago

I hope not - since that's already happened to me twice now, although the others were 3 or 4 rounders.

I also doubt he would trouble with that many pre-empts if he just wanted free information.
Posted by Sobriquet 6 years ago
A 1 round debate? I'm assuming pro used this for information..
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
Yea basically.
Posted by bluesteel 6 years ago
Haha, thanks.

Is that what the conduct point comes from - too mean a strategy? lol, cuz I'm okay with that
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
That was mean. Good job :P
Posted by bluesteel 6 years ago
If it says "you have 5 minutes to argue," does that mean I have to post my argument within 5 minutes of accepting?

Cuz that would be lame - I'd have to write my case first, and then if someone else accepts first, it'd be a waste of my time.
Posted by CiRrK 6 years ago
oh and the refutation points r poorly warranted anyway
Posted by CiRrK 6 years ago
Posted by CiRrK 6 years ago
he put spikes into his case, and then he refuted the most common points for the neg on this resolution. the neg should just run a inherent realism case which would circumvent all those spikes.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by LaissezFaire 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05 
Vote Placed by CiRrK 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by m93samman 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:15 
Vote Placed by JLMPilot 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06