The Instigator
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The Contender
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4 Points

That the CIA should rig elections in post Arab-Spring countries to ensure the moderates win

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,008 times Debate No: 23291
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




Challenger is Affirming.
"Rig" can mean a number of things and I am happy to let the challenger define it within the clear intent of the topic.

This is my first debate here, and I'm more used to Australs and WUDC style debating than LD, but hopefully my arguments will be clear anyway.


I thank my opponent for instigating this debate. As an Australs debater myself I'm sure this will be an interesting discourse. It's also always good to find somebody else from this half of the planet on this site.

I'm going to define "rig elections" as meaning "to conduct an election fraudulently so as to produce an advantageous result" (in this case for moderates).
CIA should not be seen in a restrictive sense, and should include all other relevant intelligence agencies and bodies.
"The moderates" should not refer to any individual party or candidate, but to all political groups and individuals who do not fall under a group I call "the extremists". "Extremists" shall be defined as anyone unwilling to compromise in the policy the government sets forth, if that is the will of the people. For instance, those who advocate Sharia law and will accept nothing less are extremists. Similarly, if there was a candidate who advocated complete anarchy and would be unwilling to work and negotiate with anybody else constructively, they would be classed as extremists.

Since my opponent has instigated the debate, to avoid me having an extra round, I'll allow my opponent to go first. My model should be fairly apparent from the definitions I have provided.

I wish my opponent good luck and look forward to reading his opening case.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank the challenger for accepting, and wish him luck for the debate.

For the past year and a half the Middle East has been in flames, people have been dying for a right that the western world is taking for granted, to self-determination and to a representative government. I believe they should have those rights.
I have three arguments. First I will show how the right to a legitimate government matters more than any utilitarian calculus. Then I will show that even if it didn’t, rigging these elections would make for bad governments in these countries, and lastly that it will almost certainly backfire and erode US foreign policy efforts.

So first, the importance of a legitimate government.
Democracy is not a practical means to an end, it is a right for the citizens of every country to their own self-determination.
Firstly, because of the fundamental importance that has to the people of these countries. Let’s not forget, they have been dying for this right. For months people protested against bullets and tanks in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and now Syria. The ability to have a democratic and accountable government is something more important to the people of this country than their own lives. That is why they should have that right even if it could be show to be harmful to them in the long run. They have shown that, to them, harm to themselves is worth it for the ability to be self-determining.
Secondly, the states claim to have power over its people in setting policy like policing and boarder control is predicated on a legitimate claim to represent the interests of those people, as those people see them. Even if the US doesn’t agree with where Egypt should go with its future, it’s Egypt’s right to decide it and a government that acts without that legitimate mandate is immoral for doing so.
Third, it cannot be an argument that we simply don’t trust the people of Egypt or Yemen or Bahrain to elect a leader who will continue the path to democracy. Aside from the fact that they have that right, if anyone can’t be trusted to determine that, it is the US. For decades the United States has been propping up the very extremist dictators that the Arab world is now trying to free itself from. If the US claims to be the defender of their rights then it has already failed in that charge.
Democratic rights matter, they matter more than a utilitarian calculus of preserving lives, because people are willing to die for it. But even if this debate were to be on purely utilitarian principles, the case for my opponent would still fall.

Next, let’s talk about how this effects the governments that get elected through this process.
Obviously I can’t criticise the precise party from the precise country that my opponent intends to support until he names them. However, the process of elections provides a means of accountability which is extremely necessary, especially in new democracies, for the government to act in the best interest of its people.
Firstly, because these governments will be implicitly beholden to the US intelligence community. Their decisions won’t have anything to do with what the people of Egypt or Tunisia want because those people didn’t do anything to get them into power. The decisions of that party in how they govern will never be “what is in the interests of the people” because the people were not the ones who put them there. Instead, the party will ask themselves “what is in the interests of the US intelligence community?” This means that their policy agenda cannot act in the most effective manner for their own countries freedom and prosperity, because that is no longer their primary concern if they want to be re-elected.
Secondly, the interests of the country and of the US intelligence community are divergent, and the party will always have to prioritize the interests of the US. This means that any treaty the US wants, the US invariably will get from these countries, regardless of whether it is in fact in the best interest of the people. This means in acting to secure the best use of these countries oil wealth, or in debating social issues and determining rights to abortion or the death penalty, these countries are no longer able to lobby for their own interests, because the governments think that if they don’t do what the US says then the US will just replace them.
Lastly, this creates a huge moral hazard in these countries for the party put into power. This is because the government is no longer accountable to the people. Aside from the issues which the US denominates as important, or which they believe are important for the US, these governments no longer have any incentive to do what their people want. This is especially important when the US has clearly said to these parties “democratic rights are not important.” Without accountability to the people the governments are likely to act in the most expedient manner for themselves, rather than in their people’s interests.

Third argument, this will backfire on the US.
First, we have to acknowledge that it will be very difficult to get away with this. Until my opponent describes the mechanism of how he believes the US should do this I obviously cant attack that mechanism. However, no matter which way it is done it will be very difficult to disguise the fact that the winner of the election is not the candidate with the highest popularity. Exit polls will show a noticeably different result from the electoral vote, and there will likely be a large amount of scrutiny and suspicion because of that.
Secondly, there is already a huge amount of suspicion in post Arab spring countries over the process of replacing their old governments. In Egypt Mubarak was replaced by a military council who is now overseeing the elections. Egypt continues to see protests against the unfair treatment that they perceive from the military council. The suspicion created by the unexpected results will be disastrous for a country that will have a hard enough time trusting the government that they are going to get as it is. We are likely to see more public disorder which further damages the lives and welfare of people in those countries.
Third, anti-western sentiments are still rife in many of the post-Arab spring countries. This is why the US cannot be seen to have or be credibly suspected of interfering with the internal policies of these new democracies. The Egyptian people are much less likely to be willing to support American foreign policy goals in the Middle East (RE: Israel) if they believe the US is taking from them the democratic rights they fought and died for.
Fourth, the backlash continues outside of the post Arab spring countries. The US has moral standing the world because of its clear ideal that democracy and self-determination matter. That is eroded when it becomes clear that these things don’t matter, that only a commercial utilitarian calculus about the best thing for America’s foreign policy interests matter. This is especially important in the context of the revolution in Syria. Why would Syrians fight for their freedom against their cruel dictator if they believe that the freedom they gain will be illusory? Especially when America has historically supported dictators to further its forging policy objectives in the past, anything that smells like a colonialist narrative will be disastrous for the furtherance of democracy around the world.

Democracy matters. People are dying for it and with good reason. In this debate I stand for the ability of a people to determine their own fate, to exorcise their right to meaningful political expression and legitimate government, not a continuation of the colonial narrative that has condemned these countries to tyranny in the past, and will condemn it to bad governments in the future.


I thank my opponent for opening his case.

The civil conflict that we have seen around the middle east has not been for some arbritrary ideal of democracy. That's why there is so much support for anti-democratic extremists, and the very reason why we're having this debate. These are people who've been oppressed for generations. They've been living under the shackles of cruel dictators. For them, the key release from this haven't been the democratic governments of the world, who have only supported the dictators. It has been religion. God is just, so if the state absolutely submits to God the people will be free and happy. That's why the unofficial anthem of the Arab Spring was the chanting and shouting of "Allahu akbar", not "democracy akbar".

The problem is that this is a myth. History teaches us that theocracies are just as cruel as dictatorships. Sharia law is nothing short of mysogynistic, cruel, and dangerous. Most importantly, however, it's uncompromising. At the heart of all democracy is the need to reach mutual consensus and agreement - it is prima face irrational to use democracy as the basis for allowing anti-democracy parties to win an election. The harm is twofold - first, democracy is undermined, and secondly, the welfare of the people, as measured by commonly accepted human rights, is also undermined.

I agree with my opponent that democracy should be absolutely encouraged - I disagree that my model undermines it. If anything, CIA rigging supports democracy in the world of the Arab spring.

Legitimate governance
First, my opponent argued that a legitimate government is important, because through democracy the people can achieve self-determination. That relies on two things. First, it must recognise that the people might want to change their mind. That's why democratic countries hold regular elections, not just one-off events. This requires that the parties in power need to actually respect democracy. If they do not, then the right of the people to self determination ceases with that election. Secondly, it must mean that the election was conducted fairly in the first place. Since the extremists do not respect the political process, they are the most likely to commit voter fraud, undermining the actual will of the people. We have seen this happen in numerous other post-war countries in that part of the world, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The people have not been dying for democracy, they have been dying to be free of dictators. Extremists are essentially the same. There is no moral issue as the country still makes the decision of which moderates get elected. Many moderates oppose the USA, something the CIA is unlikely to support, but they should still assign votes fairly to these candidates to allow Egypt the right to self-determination. Remember that the only requirement for being non-extremist is the willingness to compromise, so you can have both self-determination and no extremists in power. The people cannot be trusted because they have a false impression of the nature of religious governance as outlined in my context. The US can, at the very least, give them their right to self-determination back by not allowing another dictator-like party to take control.

All this does not stop extremists being a part of the government, so they can raise issues from an alternative perspective etc. That is important. However, they should never become the ruling party so that the ideals of the revolution continue to be upheld.

Effect on election
I agree that elections provide much needed accountability. That's why I think it's strange my opponent want uncompromising candidates to win, who are unlikely to allow future elections as they would compromise their policy.

I disagree that this will make people suck up to the US, as this won't increase their chances of getting elected. I'm not advocating US-favorable parties winning, I'm advocating moderates winning. If they say they will not compromise on their platform, they should not win the election. Beyond that, the US should not interfere. This ensures also that the governments are still accountable to the people.

Effect on USA
The mechanism is really simple - subtract the required number of votes from extremist parties if there is a statistical probability they will win, and add them equally to all the moderate candidates. The statistical methods for rigging elections are extremely robust so I don't think they're a major point of contention in this debate. Exit polls generally only show up if rigging has been significant, while the sort of rigging that would be required here is only a few percentage points (given the number of candidates in these elections one can expect them to be close). I think we'll just have to take the CIA's word for it that they're very good at covert operations.

But even if the USA was totally honest and open about rigging the elections, I don't think that will instantly translate into anti-USA hatred, because the USA will be protecting their freedom and interests in doing so. If the people want democracy, then US operations to ensure the continued survival of democracy can only be a good thing. If people want no dictators, then stopping dictators from coming to power is cool too.

What will actually happen
Under my model, you're likely to see the religious candidates saying that they will compromise in any post-election scenario. Since Islam places such a great importance on honesty, simply paying lip-service to this is enough to turn extremist candidates into moderate candidates.

Why is that good?
I'm a little short on characters so please forgive me if I just list the reasons. I can elaborate on this in later rounds.
  • More accountability for government, as it ensures elections happen (better to intervene now than wait for another Arab spring)
  • Compromises will moderate any concessions made to human rights
  • Compromises will ensure foreign powers (particularly Israel) do not see reigeme as a threat, minimising wars
  • Compromises will ensure more freedom for the people
  • These factors combined will mean a higher standard of living and better economy (especially since tourism is so important to the economies of that part of the world)
  • Compromises will allow for more issues to be brought to the table, meaning a greater focus on things like environmental issues
  • Compromises are democratic, which is my opponent's big principle
The basic point is that compromises are awesome.

Effect on the CIA
Under normal circumstances, the CIA engages in torture, assassination and kidnapping in the name of US security. My model provides an assurance to the citizens of these countries that the CIA will not do these things to their political opponents. They will simply stop them winning elections. Rather than engaging in violence, the CIA can thus redirect their efforts to promoting peace through peaceful means. This is beneficial for the intelligence agency as
  • It promotes trust, ensuring better-quality intelligence
  • It is more consistant with both the US constitution and the executive orders relating to the CIA
  • It affirms human rights
  • It protects democracy and good diplomatic relations
  • It provides a model for other agencies to generally make the world a freer place, and a model within the USA for justice (ie supporting anti-USA candidates fairly)
If my opponent really opposed the colonial narratives of the past, he would not allow candidates who espouse them to be elected. The arab spring presents both an oppertunity and a threat. The threat is that a extremist will come to power, take it all away, and then as has happened so often before, crack down on the population with ridiclious human rights abuses to prevent them from rising upagainst his rule, as they did with their predecessors. The oppertunity is for a new paradigm for politics in the region - for true democracy. Replacing one tyrant with another is always dangerous. True democracy is always good.Let us protect it.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for his opening remarks.

At the start of this debate I said two important things that went without response from my opponent. The first was that the continuing struggle for democracy requires the people involved to believe that they are getting something at the end of that struggle, not just another rigged election from the US. If you actually care about the fight for freedom and self-determination around the world then don’t undermine it with the perception that the US is both capable and willing to make that struggle meaningless.
But the second thing was that the people in these countries value democracy above the price of their lives. For them to accept a government it cannot be put in place through a CIA vetted process. Why would you trust an election that has already been revealed to be controlled by the CIA, as my opponent seems happy for it to be? Why respect that government, why believe that government is acting for your interests? Even if it’s not the reality, it will be perceived as having happened. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

But let’s look at the arguments my opponent has given.

He gave this argument about turning the extremists into compromisers.
1, The logic of this point went like this: Extremists are bad because they never compromise on anything. If we do this, they will say they are willing to compromise; extremists will do that because extremists are susceptible to rational argument like this and so will compromise on their extremist views. Once they say they will be willing to compromise, we can trust them! Why? Because they are extremists, who never go back on anything they say, or lie or deceive in any way.
Either they can’t compromise or they can. Tell me which you believe it is, and why.
2, This argument relies on us trusting the very people you say can’t be trusted. The way the logic for these guys work is that they can break their religious laws themselves if it is in furtherance of their jihad/religious duty/whatever, that’s how terrorist cells disguise themselves.
3, What is most disturbing here is my opponent saying that if someone verbally promises they are not an extremist he believes that evidence is sufficient for the CIA to trust that individual. That is frightening. When I gave an argument that this would make parties change their actions to be favourable to the US, it was under the assumption that the CIA doesn’t just take your word for it when you say you will behave, and might require some evidence. Not to mention the obvious point that whether or not the US just trusts people, these parties will believe that they have to suck up to the US, it’s a perceptions thing.
4, If it was really the case that extremists are incapable of lying, then just get them to take an oath of office, don’t rig elections in a convoluted scheme to manipulate them into statements about willingness to compromise.

Then there was this argument that if we allow extremists to win there will never be free elections.
1, Under my model they will at least get one free election; you can’t even give them that.
2, There are accountability mechanisms in place to preserve democracy. An enforceable constitution, an independent judiciary, impeachment. If someone tried to get rid of elections then they would be booted out and put in jail. Ditto if they tried to rig the elections as you say extremists would.
3, The people in these countries have shown that they in fact do want elections. There was, in fact, no anthem for the Arab spring movements, official or otherwise (they were not unified enough for that), but by far what they were most shouting was a decrying of their respective tyrants, and demands for freedom. The idea that this was all motivated by a desire for theocracy isn’t analysis, that’s just a lie, and places on the Arab Spring a homogenized narrative that it will not bare.
4, If they do become tyrannical, then there will be another revolution. The people have shown they are not willing to stand for that, and that is the ultimate level of accountability.

Then this idea that the rigging won’t be obvious.
1, That relies on the assumption that there won’t be a clear favourite, which you can’t guarantee
2, The top candidates go into a run-off election anyway, so the analysis on there just being so many candidates no one will care doesn’t hold.
3, Let’s look at this mechanism. For this to work the CIA needs to break into the election counting offices, hack into the computers, steal the data, analyse it, manipulate it in a way that isn’t obvious, replace every back up copy, bribe or blackmail everyone who knew the results before they were announced, and get out undetected. The CIA needs to do this between when the votes are counted and when they are announced. Since results are announced by county/region/state/whatever as they come in, it is in fact impossible for an election to be rigged in that manner. It is certainly impossible to do it in a way that isn’t obvious from the statistics.
4, Of course this will translate into anti US hatred! You have stolen an election that people have died for, and are still dying for! If you don’t think that this will cause a stir, then you are sort of conceding that the extremists are not going to win anyway. Or are the extremists all reasonable people at this point in the logic again? I find it hard to keep track.

Last argument, the CIA will now be a force for good!
1, If it were true that CIA election rigging meant that it was no longer a violent agency, then why wasn’t that true when they were rigging elections all over South America?
2, It is unlikely that people will trust the word of the agency that just admitted to rigging an election.
3, It is unreasonable to believe that the CIA is going to give up every other tool it uses in order to focus on election rigging, because those other things it does are actually somewhat important.

Lastly, ask yourself this question, how would the US react if the republicans won the next election, but then British Intelligence decided that they would change those results, because they thought that the republicans were extremists? Do you think it likely that the republican supporters are going to shrug their shoulders and say “gosh, I’m glad that foreign, historically imperialist power took my right to vote away, now democracy is protected!” or do you think it more likely that there would be some sort of violence? Do you think they will believe their vote mattered when they are told, “you could have voted for anyone other than the republican, therefore you had a free vote"? or do you think, maybe, that free voting means you can vote for whomever you damn well please? Do you think Americans are more likely to trust British Intelligence services now because, hey, it was a non-violent method of effectively taking over and dictating policy to their country?
Here is another example; the Democrats win the next election fairly. Then it is revealed that British Intelligence had hacked into the vote counting machines, and was ready and willing to change those results if it had been for the Republicans. How do we know they didn’t actually rig the election? How effective do you think Obama would be in his second term? How legitimate would his government seem? The real worst case scenario here is that the best party for Egypt wins fairly, but then is so tarnished by the stigma of the model my opponent proposes that they are forced out.
These elections must be fair; they must be seen to be fair.


My apologies for the delay in getting this round up. I thank my opponent for his excellent refutations, and I'm glad he seems to agree compromises are good. The difference between my case and his is that I actually want to do something to ensure compromises happen, whilst my opponent wants to see one set of brutal dictators replaced by another.


It's a little unfair to say that my opponent's two contentions went without response from me. I even answered the contentions using the same headings he did for ease of reference. On the first point, the struggle for self-determination, I showed why certain candidates winning would undermine self-determination because they wouldn't allow the people to determine anything ever again. On the second point, I showed why democracy was not what they were fighting for, but freedom from autocracy, which only a rigged election can deliver. I also challenged my opponent's characterisation of CIA rigging as vetting or controlling - extremists can still be a part of government under my model, just not the winners of the election. That will allow the government to have legitimacy. Now my opponent needs to stop ignoring me and start responding.

Effect on extremists

My opponent questions whether extremists can compromise if my model has them changing their mind. If they cannot, then there is no problem and they will not get elected. If they can, then there is no problem with them being elected. Either way my model will allow for compromise.

Secondly my opponent questions if we can trust these people. In doing so he is ignoring my analysis as to why we can - religious extremists are honest because honesty is what their religion commands. Again, sucking up to the US will not help candidates or hinder them in any way - it's not like there is much subjective interpretation that goes on when one candidate says "I want to impose uncompromising Sharia law" and another says "I believe in democratic Islam", nor would the parties think they need to suck up to the US more than they need to suck up to their own people, whose demands are exactly the same as what the US demands. If my opponent truely fears trusting these people, he is only showing that these people can't be trusted, contradicting his own point that the people of these nations can.

Thirdly my opponent suggested the alternative - an oath of office. The problem is that no such oath of office exists. Until one is written and adopted by a democratically elected body, the CIA should help out.

Free elections

I explained to you last round why the freedom democracy allows for needs to be qualified, listing two reasons. I can offer the post-Arab-spring nations 100% free elections so long as their president won't be a dictator. I also explained to you why this was a better understanding of democracy than my opponent's idea of totally free elections - democracy in these places is not like democracy in the west. My opponent claims he is giving them one free election - I claim my model will give them elections for many years to come that are democratic, consistant with the ideals of the Arab spring, and dictator-free.

I agree that accountability mechanisms would work better, but until these exist and are working, the CIA should be stepping in. In many cases where a dictator rose to power democratically they did so in spite of working accountability mechanisms (see every single facist government for examples).

My opponent accepts that their demand was for freedom from tyranny. To say that the alternative for many of them, theocracy, is a lie is not rebuttal, it's assertion. I even gave you strong analysis why - these people have been demotivated by the democracies of the west through their association with the dictators. Democracy is good for the CIA to encourage, but for many people it isn't the alternative they're after. They want theocracy.

Finally my opponent says that tyranny leads to revolution. I told you last round that tyrants know that and will prevent it using violence. It doesn't matter if they're stopped 10 years later, what matters is that in the mean time they'll be killing thousands of people. Revolutions always take some time to organise, and in that time there is no shortage of oppertunity to harm the people.

Rigging obviousness

First my opponent claims I can't guarentee there won't be a clear favorite. I ask him to point to a single example of a "clear favorite" in any of the nations we're talking about. Again, random sampling is extremely robust.

Second my opponent talks about run-off elections. The simple solution to this is to make sure extremist candidates do not make it to the run-off stage when there is one.

Third my opponent questions the mechanism. This may come as a shock to my opponent, but in many parts of the world votes aren't counted overnight and broadcast on "election night specials". Election vote-counting is likely to take several months, and votes are unlikely to be transmitted electronically from many polling stations like is the norm in other parts of the world. Such elections are rigged all the time - consider that even big, well-established democracies such as the USA have election scandels, and you'll see how easy it is for the most professional espionage agency in the world to rig such a "simple" (for want of a better word) election.

Fourth my opponent reasserts the people in the Arab spring are dying for democracy. Restating the same thing over and over won't win the point - he actually needs to refute my analysis.

CIA goodness

The difference between this rigging and South American rigging is that in South America, the CIA was rigging the election to serve their interests. In the Arab spring under my model, the CIA would rig to serve the people's interest - NOT the CIA's, NOT America's, not even the Western world's! I know it sounds cliche, but selflessness is surest path to peace.

If people don't trust the agency is actually good, who cares? Nobody trusts the CIA under the status quo. My contention is only that there will be some marginal trust as a result of my model, not that everybody is going to immediately reverse their long-held beliefs about the CIA. Skepticism is good and healthy, but surely the CIA will be given an oppertunity to prove they will have changed.

Finally my opponent insists torture, murder, kidnapping etc are all "important". My opponent has clearly not heard of human rights. Maybe he should look them up.


Republicans are not extremists, they're stupid. There's a subtle difference. Stupid means you're just wrong, or ignorant. Extremist means you'd be unwilling to compromise on any government policy. My opponent has already accepted compromise is good. Democracy means you have the right to make stupid decisions about your future - but you must ALWAYS have the decision.

We must not allow tyrants to hijack the oppertunity the Arab spring presents. The motion must be allowed to stand.
Debate Round No. 3


qweerty650 forfeited this round.


Disappointingly, my opponent has forfeited this debate. This is a shame - I was really enjoying it.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro gets conduct/arguments for Con's forfeit