The Instigator
Jifpop09
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Romanii
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

The Safavid's had a good chance at becoming a Great Power

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Romanii
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/20/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,154 times Debate No: 52935
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (33)
Votes (1)

 

Jifpop09

Pro

Hello everyone! I'll be arguing that the Persians under the Safavids had the potential to become a great power. Possibly even an imperial one. My opponent will argue otherwise.

Now its important to note that most scholars agree that the Safavids were a great power, but I want to argue that they had the potential to compete with the Eurupeans as an imperial power.The BOP will not rely on semantics. It will be shared as well


Great Power



            1. great power


            1. A great power is a state that is recognized as having the ability to exert its influence on a global scale.
po·ten·tial

pəd2;tenCHəl/
adjective



            1. 1.



              having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

              "a two-pronged campaign to woo potential customers"


              synonyms: possible, likely, prospective, future, probable; More
Voting Rules

- Whomever won the debate gets the argument points. Not who was the most convincing

- The S&G point will become the Source Point

- Terrible S&G will be a conduct violation

- Voters must address every argument in their RFD (Reason for Debate)




Romanii

Con

I accept this debate.

Good luck to Pro!
Debate Round No. 1
Jifpop09

Pro

Contention I: Internal Strength of the Safavid Dynasty

The Safavids created a great empire, built on the fundation of a strong monarch. But to fully understand what made the Safavids internally strong, we need to break up their strengths into a series of points....

(1) The Safavids were united by a sense of old Persian nationalism. The original Persian empires, had conquered kingdoms of vastly different religions, cultures, and ethnic groups. The old world Persian empires made it much easier to unite the various cultures and tribes that the Safavids retained at the edges of their borders. Turkish and Armenian peoples also often viewed themselves as Persians. [1]

(2) The Persians were strengthened by the Shia' religion. If you quickly anaylze the religious sects of the current Arab nations, then you will realize that Shia' areas were also once a part of the Safavid Empire. Often, in the other Arab nations, people would be killed or persecuted for the Shia' faith. Shiites fled within the borders of the empire. Its the main reason why the Ottomans and British were never able to gain any influence in Mesopotamia. The Shiite peasents would quickly dispose of the governors. Which is why Iran was never directly colonized. [2]

(3) The Safavids had developed a great system of beauracracies. The Safavids were known for creating a complex and sophisticated system of beauracracies. Something that was the envy of most of the west, mostly the Ottomans. Every part of the state was under control, which led to prosperity and wealth. During the early 1700's, nations were mostly under developed and divided into feudal serfdom. The Persians on the other hand, had used the complex administration to their advantage, developing farmland for most of Iran's peasents. [3]

(4) A philosophy that applied well to the Safavids, is that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. The Safavid Dynasty was strengthened by the disdain and failing administration of its neighbors. The Uzbeks, Indians, and Iraqi peoples all rose up in revolt over their respective rulers. They found much better homes among the Persians. [4] [5]

Contention II: Relative Strength Among Neighboring Powers

People generally agree that the Ottomans and Mughals, although failing, were still great powers. They both had extremely wealthy economies and large militarys. Despite this, the Safavid Dynasty was able to conquer large masses of lands from all its neighbors. Lets have a quick examination....

(1) Its intresting to note, that the Persians beat the Ottomans in 4 wars. They fought much more, but almost all of these were fought during the Ottoman height. The Persians carved an empire from the mesopotamian delta to Georgian Caucasus. Reaching the very border of the Ottoman homeland, Anatolia. These wars were so humiliating for the Ottomans, that many view the loss of Mesopotamia to the eventual decline of the empire. [6]

(2) The Safavids had a reputation of brutally taking Uzbek dynastic territory, in great shows of military strength. The once strong Uzbek empire had over half of its land under realpolitk control by the Safavids. The claims of the Uzbek dynasty hardly did anything to curve the massive Persian support in the region. [7]

(3) Perhaps in the greatest show of strength by the Safavids, was their campaign against the Mughals. The Safavid Dynasty paved through the Mughal armies, taking land all the way from the Persian strip (Area next to the caspian along the Meso-Persian Coast), all the way through Afghanistan to the Indo-Kush border (Nepal). The Mughals at the time, were not only at their height, but the wealhiest nation in the world. Another thing, was by the time of the Maratha rebbelion and European colonialism of India, scholars believe the Safavids had the power to destroy the Ottomans or the Mughals entirely. [8]

Conention 3: Cultural Powerhouse of the Safavids

When most scholars talk of the Safavids, they are ussually refering to its culture. Here are a couple points on Safavid learning and understanding.

The Safavids, were home to the largest and most prestigious universities in the world. This is how the world functioned in the 1600-1700's. Most Europeans left to the middle east to study philosophy and science. Persia had one of the highest literacy rates in the world at the time. Persia was renowned as a place where theology, philosophy, and science could be freely talked about. [9]

Even during the reformation, people were still persecuted on a regular basis for disscussing radical topics like these. Under the Safavids, such discourse was encouraged. The Safavids also built a culture based around artistry and mercantile creativity.

Under the European structure, poets, artists, and writers were not always accepted. In fact, capitalism was not even fully developed in Europe until the late 1700's. Persia was a home to the greatest artists in the world. Temples, palaces, and homes were adorned with unique and valuable gold and art. Anyways, I'm definitely running out of space, so I will argue the economic potential next round. [10]

Good luck Romanii!!!

[1] http://www.metmuseum.org...

[2] http://www.presstv.com...

[3] http://www.iranchamber.com...

[4] http://wps.ablongman.com...

[5] http://www.flowofhistory.com...

[6] http://www.worldology.com...

[7] http://books.google.com...

[8] http://historymedren.about.com...

[9] http://www.brill.com...

[10] http://www.metmuseum.org...


Romanii

Con

Thank you, Pro, for your well thought-out arguments!

For the purposes of organization, my contentions against this resolution are going to be sort of built into my rebuttals to Pro's contentions...

.

R1) Internal Strength of the Safavid Dynasty

(1) Persian Nationalism

Pro claims that the Safavid Empire was united by an old sense of Persian nationalism, but that only applies to ethnic Persians, who mainly only live in Iran and western Afghanistan [1]. However, the Safavid Empire spreads far beyond just that [2], so it can safely be assumed that the empire was very multi-cultural, including Arabs, Armenians, Uzbeks, Jews, and Turks, to name a few of its ethnic minorities.

Pro claims that some ethnic minorities in the Safavid Empire viewed themselves as Persian, but he doesn't really provide any evidence for this, and it is also counter-intuitive, seeing that those ethnic minorities were forcefully assimilated into the empire via conquest [3]. Thus, we have no reason to believe his assertion.

The Safavid Empire was multi-cultural enough that Persian Nationalism wouldn't be a significant unifying factor throughout all of it.

Also, on this note, Pro points out the unifying effect that Shia Islam had on the empire, but that ignores the fact that the Safavids committed lots of persecution against Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Christians, and Jews to keep it that way [4], and state-sponsored suppression has never been a good sign of political stability.

(2) Weak Neighbors

Pro argues that the weakness of the Safavid Empire's neighbors shows its own political strength.
However, this is not necessarily true. European colonial powers such as England, France, Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal were all able to survive despite the fact that they had very strong neighbors all around them (i.e. each other).
This displays a much higher degree of internal stability than that of an empire which is only able to survive because its neighbors are weak.
If anything, this contention only works against Pro's case.

.

R2) Relative Strength Among Neighboring Powers

First of all, I would just like to point out that Pro already conceded that all of these neighboring powers are weak... thus, logically, being strong compared to them proves nothing.
The only reason I'm addressing his points about the Safavid Empire's victories over the Ottoman Empire is because I don't agree with his assessment that the Ottoman Empire was significantly weaker than the Safavid Empire.

Safavids vs. Ottomans

Pro points out that the Safavid Empire has beaten the Ottoman Empire in a few wars, but he fails to take into consideration the fact that during most of those wars, the Ottoman Empire was simultaneously occupied fighting off the European navies in the Mediterranean, making it extremely difficult for them to win on either front.
Also, in one of the most important said wars, the Safavids managed to capture Baghdad, but only a few years afterwards, the Ottoman Empire recovered Baghdad and actually ended the war in a win! [5]

Additionally, the Ottoman Empire has won significant victories over the Safavid Empire, most notably being the Battle of Chaldiran [6]. In the said battle, the Ottomans easily defeated the Safavids, halting the Persians' rapid expansion and putting a dent in Safavid international reputation.

Thus, the Ottoman Empire is at least equal to the Safavid Empire in terms of military prowess, if not greater.

Again, the reason I am not responding to the contentions about the Safavid victories over the Uzbeks and Mughals is because Pro has already admitted (and is correct in saying) that those weren't very strong military powers to begin with, so being able to beat them is no big deal.

.

R3) Cultural Powerhouse of the Safavids

This contention is irrelevant... Having a rich culture has very little to do with exerting influence on a global scale.
The Mughals, Ottomans, and Ming Chinese all had very rich cultures as well, yet all of them fell prey to the cultural influence of the Europeans. Military, political, and economic power is what paves the way for the exertion of cultural influence, and I have already refuted most of Pro's contentions concerning those aspects of Safavid power.

.

With that, I hand the debate back over to Pro.
Good luck, Jifpop!

SOURCES
[1] http://www.britannica.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://ic.galegroup.com...
[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...(1623%E2%80%931639)
[6] http://historyofislam.com...


Debate Round No. 2
Jifpop09

Pro

Pro claims that the Safavid Empire was united by an old sense of Persian nationalism, but that only applies to ethnic Persians, who mainly only live in Iran and western Afghanistan [1]. However, the Safavid Empire spreads far beyond just that [2], so it can safely be assumed that the empire was very multi-cultural, including Arabs, Armenians, Uzbeks, Jews, and Turks, to name a few of its ethnic minorities.

Actually, old Persian nationalism extended from Anatolia to Indo-Kush. Nationality is the pride of the nation, and should be differentiated from the pride of an ethnic group. The greatest empires in the middle east, were the old Persian ones, which time and time again conquered the lands. [1]

Cyrus and Darius were a universal part of Middle Eastern life. Pro-Persian movements existed in every nation during Safavid rule. Even so, almost everybody in the Arab world has Persian blood in them, which made cultural integration smooth. Its an equalivalent of the racial integration seen in western Europe. Actually, the intergration of Cyrus's empire was so great, that all ethnic groups in the Arab world became seperated by language, and not skin. So, basically what I'm trying to point out, is that the Arab world is rooted in the foundation of Greek and Eastern Mountain peoples. The Arab people are considered Pan ethnic, so I guess this is your source [2]

One last thing I forgot to point out, is that the Safavid dynasty was multi ethnic. Even though they had a largely Persian tribal bloodline, they had Armenian, Kurd, and Uzbek blood. Consisting of most of the places they conquered. [3]

Also, on this note, Pro points out the unifying effect that Shia Islam had on the empire, but that ignores the fact that the Safavids committed lots of persecution against Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Christians, and Jews to keep it that way [4], and state-sponsored suppression has never been a good sign of political stability.

This point is quite baseless. Iran was able to keep political stability, by keeping the state pure Shia'. The points about Christian or Jews really aren't supported, as there weren't many to begin with, and most Sunni muslims kept out of the Safavid empire.

Simply putting this into a realist perspective. Persecution kept the empire pure of religious and other cultural movements, a trait exercised by all nations at the time. Tying this to the US, the GOP has been trying to close down immigration. Regardless of the true intent, it is a fact that most immigrants end up voting democrat. So, by that alone, you must ask yourself.....Would Persia truly of been better off with other influences in the country? [4]

Pro argues that the weakness of the Safavid Empire's neighbors shows its own political strength.
However, this is not necessarily true. European colonial powers such as England, France, Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal were all able to survive despite the fact that they had very strong neighbors all around them (i.e. each other).
This displays a much higher degree of internal stability than that of an empire which is only able to survive because its neighbors are weak.

I never admitted this as a sole reason, but it very well worked in their favor. The Safavids, as I already pointed out, had resisted European attempts to colonize Iran. They were simply to strong and hard to conquer.

Shah Abbas, was able to formulate a modern army, based on gunpowder weaponary. European powers didn't develop modern gunpowder based armies until the 18th century. His army, which combined the Ottoman tactic (A quite successful one) of levying peasents armys, combined with organized and structured forces of the west, gave the Safavids a world wide military advantage. [5]

First of all, I would just like to point out that Pro already conceded that all of these neighboring powers are weak... thus, logically, being strong compared to them proves
nothing

Audience, I didn't concede any of these points. I actually argued that the Mughals and Ottomans were in their golden age. The Mughals were the wealthiest in the world, and had its largest concentration of armies along the Safavid border. The fact that they were able to make brutal advances, and double their land in both invasions, has to count for something.

I would even say they were already a great power. The Mughals and Ottomans were no joke in the 1600's. The Timurid dynasty and Ottomans, were at the height of their conquests.

Pro points out that the Safavid Empire has beaten the Ottoman Empire in a few wars, but he fails to take into consideration the fact that during most of those wars, the Ottoman Empire was simultaneously occupied fighting off the European navies in the Mediterranean, making it extremely difficult for them to win on either front.
Also, in one of the most important said wars, the Safavids managed to capture Baghdad, but only a few years afterwards, the Ottoman Empire recovered Baghdad and actually ended the war in a win! [5]

I don't really find the contradiction that funny. We are arguing that it was possible for the Safavids to become a great power. By conceding the Ottomans were over extended, then you are conceding that the Iranians had great potential to take over other lands.

And the battle of Chaldiran, the one you are referencing, took place in 1514.This was near Isthals creation of the empire, and the Safavids took it back at their height. It was actually the Mamluks who ended up controlling Mesopotamia, who were *technically* autonomoius of the Ottomans, but were officially a Safavid puppet, and the Ottomans never had any real control over Mamluk policy. Eventually, the Mamluks became so rebellious, that after the fall of the Safavids, massacred them all. [6]


Again, the reason I am not responding to the contentions about the Safavid victories over the Uzbeks and Mughals is because Pro has already admitted (and is correct in saying) that those weren't very strong military powers to begin with, so being able to beat them is no big deal.

I'm just restating that I never brought this up. I'll also restate that they all had reformed armies. While also restating that it only goes to show that they could of easily took land from the worlds wealthiest nation. Showing obvious potential. [7]

I would like to end by saying, that the BOP is in my opponents hands as well. My strategy is to argue they already were a great power, so if even half of my points were true, then its apparent they had the potential.

[1] http://www.cyrusthegreat.net...

[2] http://thesocietypages.org...

[3] http://www.iranchamber.com...

[4] http://thinkprogress.org...

[5] http://www.iranicaonline.org...

[6] http://www.historyworld.net...

[7] http://www.pbs.org...



Romanii

Con

Thanks to Pro for his counter-rebuttals.

First, there's something I'd like to get out of the way:

"...the BOP is in my opponents hands as well. My strategy is to argue they already were a great power, so if even half of my points were true, then its apparent they had the potential."

As clarified in Round 1, Pro is arguing that the Safavid Empire had a good chance at becoming strong enough to compete with European imperial/colonial powers politically and economically.

I HAVE put forth contentions that negate that resolution; they are just built into my rebuttals, since they would have become rather repetitive if I separated them into "contentions" and "rebuttals".
For example, my rebuttal to Pro's points about Safavid victories also served as a contention about Safavid military defeats.

So, to anyone who may be reading, please do not get fooled by this; I AM fulfilling my BOP, showing that it is unlikely for the Safavid Empire to have become a "great power" capable of competing with the European powers.

.

R1) Persian Nationalism

"Nationality is the pride of the nation, and should be differentiated from the pride of an ethnic group. The greatest empires in the middle east, were the old Persian ones, which time and time again conquered the lands."

There is very little evidence to suggest that the sense of nationalism that may have been created by the Persian empires from around 500 BC-200 AD [1] continued to exist even among non-ethnic Persians all the way through to the 1500s AD. Pro has not provided any such evidence; he has just said that the Persians used to be successful a really long time ago...

To suggest that Arabs share any sort of sense of nationalism with the Persians is absurd; they are part of two different sects of Islam (Sunni and Shia, respectively), which have remained diametrically opposed to each other since their split in the 7th century and have remained so even to this day. They simply do not get along; sharing a common heritage means nothing to them [2].

"Simply putting this into a realist perspective. Persecution kept the empire pure of religious and other cultural movements, a trait exercised by all nations at the time. "

This is false. When studying the history of Europe during the time period in question, we can see that the greatest amount of prosperity was reached under rulers exercising policies of religious tolerance, such as Elizabeth I in England and Henri IV in France [3]. The suppression of minority religious groups within the Safavid Empire shows that its internal stability wasn't as good as that of the greatest European powers.

"The Safavids, as I already pointed out, had resisted European attempts to colonize Iran."

So did Ming China, Japan, the Ottoman Empire, and Mughal India (at first). Being able to ward off European colonization in the 1500s was something that any semi-advanced military power was able to do.

.

R2) Safavid Military Strength

"Audience, I didn't concede any of these points."

Quote(s) from Pro: "The Safavid Dynasty was strengthened by the disdain and failing administration of its neighbors. The Uzbeks, Indians [Mughal Empire], and Iraqi [Ottoman Empire] peoples all rose up in revolt over their respective rulers... People generally agree that the Ottomans and Mughals, although failing, were still great powers.... The Mughals and Ottomans were no joke in the 1600's."

These contradictions on Pro's part are making me confused as to what the basis of his arguments are...
Since Pro doesn't seem to be able to decide whether or not the Mughals and Uzbeks were strong or weak, I will just concentrate on the Ottoman Empire, since, for the most part, he has stuck with the contention that they were strong enough to pose a significant threat to the Safavids.

"His army, which combined the Ottoman tactic (A quite successful one) of levying peasents armys, combined with organized and structured forces of the west, gave the Safavids a world wide military advantage."

If the Safavid Empire really had that great of a military advantage, then how come it never turned up any results? They never completely defeated another very strong power in a war, nor did they ever do much imperial expansion aside from its initial conquests upon inception.
If we are looking at that great of a military advantage, even if it's just military "potential", we would have seen at least SOMETHING hinting at its existence.

"We are arguing that it was possible for the Safavids to become a great power. By conceding the Ottomans were over extended, then you are conceding that the Iranians had great potential to take over other lands. "

False. My point in bringing that up was that the Safavid Empire conquering Baghdad doesn't show anything about its military potential, since the Ottomans weren't even able to concentrate their full power on them. Seeing that the Ottomans won the war EVEN under those conditions, it is very likely that the Ottoman Empire's military in full force was significantly stronger than that of the Safavid Empire.

"And the battle of Chaldiran, the one you are referencing, took place in 1514.This was near Isthals creation of the empire, and the Safavids took it back at their height"

I can find no historical record of the Safavids taking back Chaldiran, and seeing that Pro has not sourced this claim, it should be disregarded.

"it was actually the Mamluks who ended up controlling Mesopotamia"

That is factually incorrect. According to Pro's own source, the Mamluks were the ruling dynasty of Egypt around the early modern age, and they virtually nothing to do with Mespotamia... I don't know where Pro is getting this information from.

.

Conclusion

I have refuted all of Pro's contentions and provided some of my own within my rebuttals, showing that the divisions within the Safavid Empire, as well as its unremarkable military record, greatly lowers the chances of the Safavid Empire having become a great imperial power comparable to European nations.
The resolution has been negated.

Thanks to Pro for an interesting debate!

.

SOURCES
[1] http://www.ancient.eu.com...
[2] http://www.bbc.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...

Debate Round No. 3
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Romanii
I'm surprised my elo only went up 40 points with this... you have like 500 points more than me XD
Posted by Jifpop09 2 years ago
Jifpop09
No, he did that on his own. I told him about how you should only vote S&G if you have significant spelling errors, Then we got in a long conversation about how we were going to debate on thursday.
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Romanii
Oh... you had him add in the part about the straw man and factual inaccuracies lol XP
Posted by Jifpop09 2 years ago
Jifpop09
I'm not. I asked him to edit his RFD though.
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Romanii
@joepbr: thanks for voting!

@Jifpop: I didn't ask him to vote, and he gave a valid RFD, so I hope you're not complaining...
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Romanii
Why? Because she's already said she'll probably vote for me?
Posted by Jifpop09 2 years ago
Jifpop09
Absolutely not
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Romanii
I'd consider ESocialBookworm a good voter, but sure, I'll ask first.
Posted by Jifpop09 2 years ago
Jifpop09
Lets slow it down. Only ask someone who is a good voter, and make sure you clear it with me. Mkay?
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Romanii
If no one votes by tomorrow I'm going to ask people to do so.

ESocialBookworm said that she's already read it but doesn't want to vote because of your anticipated reaction.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by joepbr 2 years ago
joepbr
Jifpop09RomaniiTied
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 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a great debate that surely deserved more attention. Both Pro and Con had good arguments. Although Con creates a straw man when he claims that pro recognizes the weakness of Safavid Persia's neighbors, most of his other rebuttals are sound (except for some minor historical inaccuracies in the end of the last round). The biggest problem of the debate, however, is that in most of his arguments, Pro fails to clarify how exactly they support the resolution. Pro argues that Persia had elements that could have turned them into a great power, but China, the Ottomans and Mughals had similar characteristics and didn't become such powers, so there is no reason to believe that those elements are enough to make a "potential" power, unless he can prove that the reasons why these elements didn't turn those countries into great powers were outside their control.