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The United States Government Should Support Clandestine Operations to Force a Regime Change in Iran

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/6/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,270 times Debate No: 13937
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
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Definition of Terms
Iran - The Islamic Republic of Iran is an Islamist theocratic republic founded in 1979 in the wake of the Islamic Revolution
Clandestine operations - Activities performed by a state without any intended transparency
United States Government - Any one of, or all, of the three branches of the federal government and/or their subordinate institutions
Regime change - Change in the leadership of a government that will drastically affect its current policies

The current regime in Iran is simultaneously oppressive, corrupt, and belligerent. It is both desirable and necessary for the United States to pursue a change in this regime, especially through the use of clandestine operations.

I. Iran is oppressive
People living under the current Iranian regime are harshly oppressed and suppressed. Some might say that Iran has a democratic system, where government officials are elected by the people. Only an extremely na�ve individual would believe that the election process is either fair or open to participation by the Iranian people. To expect the Iranian government to fix itself is impossible in the current climate of public suppression and fear.

The best example of the status quo regime's oppression can be seen in the treatment of women in Iran. There are virtually no civil or political rights granted to women by the current Iranian regime, and they are one of the most deeply oppressed peoples on the planet. For instance, if a woman is unmarried she must be escorted in public by her brother or father, lest she face the consequences, which can include mutilation and death. This situation is one that is unsustainable, and the US needs to exploit the moral high ground to further democracy and liberty.

II. Iran is incredibly corrupt
Omnipresent corruption and greed in the current regime, combined with blatant incompetence and radicalism, have destroyed the Iranian economy. The public officials who decide what to subsidize are more often than not receiving a large portion of their personal income from subsidized industries. Taking a look at the illicit activities of the government shows a bad picture, taking a look at the licit activities shows a worse one. Iran is a country that receives roughly two-thirds of its income from the export of petroleum, but since the fall of the Shah after the Revolution, this resource has been incredibly mismanaged. Due to this mismanagement, the government nationalized a large section of the economy, resulting in further drops in efficiency and real income. Now, President Ahmadinejad's economic policy is focused on lowering interest rates on loans so that people can have easier access to them. Unfortunately for him and the people of Iran, however, the demand for these loans is already much larger than the supply. Ahmadinejad's solution? To print more money. It doesn't take an economics professor to see the problem with the current regime's economic policy, as corruption, declining efficiency, and massive inflation devastate the Iranian people, causing millions to live in abject poverty.

III. Iran's belligerent behavior is cause for concern
Iran continues to violate international law, especially by supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons technology. A common argument against Iran's obvious violation of international law is that there is no proof that they are pursuing nuclear weapons. Even if that were the case, and evidence will say otherwise, Iran is pursuing a policy of deliberate ambiguity which is just as dangerous as actually acquiring the weapons. Organizations that most industrialized nations consider to be terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, are financed with public funds from the Iranian treasury. Terrorism is one of the biggest and most challenging threats we deal with today. The Iranian people do not support this action by and large, but the few radical elites who actually hold power do. The overwhelming body of evidence supports the conclusion that Iran is in fact seeking nuclear weapons technology. The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, is currently being denied access to Iran's nuclear facilities. Not only is the actual pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons technology dangerous, but Iran's policy of deliberate ambiguity causes similar harm. A nuclear Iran is a disaster scenario, plain and simple. Israel has already guaranteed a military strike on Iran if they suspect a nuclear weapons program. Empirical examples of Israel's preemptive strikes can be found in Iraq and Syria, and in neither of those cases was there near as much evidence for a nuclear weapons program. Aside from the strategic consequences of a nuclear Iran, it can be essentially guaranteed that any efforts to pressure Iran based on violations of human rights or international law will stop. North Korea provides a perfect example of how nuclear weapons programs shield oppressive regimes from scrutiny. Because the consequences of allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons technology, it is necessary to act now and do so with overwhelming force.

IV. Clandestine operations are the perfect way to solve the problem
"Smart" sanctions have failed to pressure Iran, mostly because they aren't effective against Iran's government. Smart sanctions target individual members of Iran's elite, but since they don't affect policymakers it does little to pressure the government. That rouge states are inherently difficult to persuade by economic sanctioning doesn't help either. In the case where they have been used in the past on Cuba, North Korea, Libya, and Egypt, sanctions did little to the target nation than cause increased poverty. Clandestine operations have, on the other hand, proven highly successful and cost-effective in the past. One thing that is almost universally agreed upon in the debate over what the United States should do about Iran is that military action is undesirable. The alternative to large-scale military action is to pursue a policy which utilizes clandestine operations, providing the significant benefit of plausible deniability. Plausible deniability allows the government to deny the existence of any efforts to force a regime change, which provides powerful domestic approval and diplomatic benefits. Additionally, in the event of failure the United States can deny involvement and not have to face the consequences of its actions. In the past the CIA has used clandestine operations to force regime changes in many nations, including Iran. Benefits gained from the use of clandestine operations to force a regime change in Iran are invaluable. Solving a humanitarian crisis like the one that exists in Iran will not only be the "right" thing to do, it also boosts American soft power. In turn, soft power can be used to strengthen ties with other nations. Getting rid of the obvious military threat that Iran poses, as well as its nuclear ambition, makes the world a much safer place (Bolton 118). Morally and ethically, the United States is obligated to take action to stop human suffering and increase happiness and liberty.

There's much more than just a small advantage to using clandestine operations in order to force a regime change in Iran. Anytime that the United States government can, at little cost or effort, take down an opponent that demonizes us and twists a holiday for freedom into anti-American propaganda, it should take the opportunity. It's more than a good suggestion to change the current policy of engagement and sanctioning, it's a practical necessity.


Definitions: agreed

Framework/Burdens: This round should be judged with a utilitarian scale; if the affirmative team can't prove clandestine efforts to topple the Iranian regime/the toppling of the Iranian regime harm more people than they help, they lose.

1. Econ
Our opponent needs to prove that clandestine efforts to topple the Iranian theocracy could actually be successful--otherwise affirming the resolution just wastes money in a time when we have a 13 trillion dollar debt and a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit. The massive populist uprising-- known as the "Green Revolution"-- which occurred last summer, exerted tremendous amounts of political pressure on the Iranian government, but they were able to crack down on opposition, and retain power. The U.N. has levied the harshest trade sanctions in history against Iran, exerting tremendous economic pressure against the Iranian regime, but the Iranian regime still persists. What "clandestine actions" does our opponent plan on taking? If our opponent can't explain what clandestine actions the government will take and give us some guarantee that they can be successful voting aff just throws money down the drain.

b)Oil Shocks
Even if clandestine actions could topple the Iranian regime, the consequences would be dire for global energy prices-- which in turn would be dire for the global economy. Iran is located in the Persian Gulf, which supplies the United States 24% of our oil reserves. A regime collapse in Iran would surely destabilize this region, leading to spikes in oil prices. This would be bad for two reasons
1. Higher oil prices increase unemployment. When gas prices go up, the radius a worker is willing to travel to seek out work decreases, because long commutes become economically unfeasible.
2. Oil Shocks(or rapid spikes in the price of oil)
Our economy is very susceptible to oil price shocks; 11 out of the last 12 recessions were preceded by oil price shocks. In fact, the last time Iran's regime collapsed--in 1979--the resulting oil price shock drove inflation up so high that the Paul Volcker, chairman of the Fed, induced a recession through raising interest rates to stave off hyperinflation.

2.Damages U.S Credibility
a)clandestine action unpopular
My opponent discusses how clandestine operations in Iran would endear us to the rest of the world. Really? The United States is HATED across the world for its clandestine interventions. Do you really think that the Iran Contra Affair boosted our credibility with the Latin American world because we were assisting "freedom fighters"? Do you really think our clandestine assitance to the "mujadeen"-- which later morphed into the Taliban and Al Qaeda-- really endeared us to the world? According to David Canon, proffesor of Politcal Science at the University of Indiana, the result of further clandestine activities "will be the further decay of American credibility and prestige abroad... "Indeed, with 'CIA' a knee-jerk phrase evoking anti-Americanism around the world with the CIA's real record of bloodshed, blunder, and ineptitude from Chile to Iran, a return to that kind of intervention makes little more sense than re-running the Bay of Pigs."
b)Overthrowing sovereign governments isn't kosher
What gives the United States the right to determine which governments are legitimate? I understand that my opponent doesn't agree with the policies of Iran, but the international order would plunge into absolute chaos if every country tried to depose the leadership of every other country which had policies they didn't agree with.

Case Arguments

Group my opponents entire case together. Apply my analysis about how clandestine operations in Iran woudn't lead to a regime collapse. My opponent cannot access any of his impacts in today's debate, because he has no evidence that increased clandestine operations in Iran would actually catalyze a regime collapse. In fact, according to Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations, clandestine operations against the Iranian regime wouldn't be successful, and could actually strengthen the Iranian government because

1.The Iranian people don't really like us. We propped up the Shah, who ravaged the Iranian people with his secret police for 30 years. The Iranians view their fight for democracy as a domestic concern, any American intervention into Iran's internal affairs would be viewed as uninvited meddling.

2. The Iranian government would galvanize support among the Iranian people by characterizing America's clandestine operations as an external threat. One of the best ways to unite a country--especially a country as nationalistic as Iran-- is to drum up fear about foreign "invaders".

On contention "I"

a)My opponent argues that Iran is oppressive. However, implementing clandestine operations in Iran would just increase tensions within the country, and the government would be forced to crack down even harder on it's citizens to retain power.

b) Even if clandestine operations could remove Iran's government from power, my opponent has no way to guarantee you that a Jefforsonian democracy emerges in Iran. Anarchy, or totalitarian rule are possible outcomes-- neither of these are preferable to current government--as flawed as it is.

c) I agree with my opponent; Iran's women are horribly treated. However, a regime collapse doesn't mean that they would suddenly be treated as equals with men. An enmity towards women is entrenched in rural, tribal Islamic culture-- from the plains of Iran to the mountains of Pakistan and the deserts of Saudi Arabia. The government passes laws that discriminate against women because their constituents support them. A regime change in Iran won't turn back thousands of years of tribal tradition.

In response to their second contention

Yes, you're right, Iran is corrupt. However, a regime collapse doesn't solve. Voting for the Affirmative doesn't place my opponent at the helm of Iran's government to direct the management of Iran's resources.
Debate Round No. 1


VladimirPutin forfeited this round.


Since my opponent did not have time to respond, I'll let him respond to my round 1 responses in round 3
Debate Round No. 2


Unfortunately I will have to forfeit the debate because I have set the round times too short. I thought 12 hour time limits would be plenty; now that I see what my schedule will be like for a good while longer I am afraid that that time limit is simply not going to work. In the near future, assuming I have time, I will restart the debate and notify my opponent in case they would like to pick up later. Again, sorry!


negrodamus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


VladimirPutin forfeited this round.


negrodamus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


VladimirPutin forfeited this round.


negrodamus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by mcc1789 5 years ago
@Vladimir Putin

Well, you did mention the previous Iran coup d'etat. See my comments on the danger of such clandestine operations, many of which have used methods other than violence (black propaganda, funding opposition groups, manipulating elections, etc.) Indeed no violence was directly committed by any US agents that I know of while performing clandestine operations against Mossadeq, although they did induce others into violent action.

I don't know what you have in mind, your argument doesn't say. I do not deny the last year's elections were obviously rigged, but as all power is in the hands of the unelected Guardian Council, headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, who is the head of state, the Presidency is not able to change the regime anyway.
Posted by VladimirPutin 5 years ago
Just letting Con know that I might not be able to post my Round 2 arguments because of college courses, but hopefully it won't take that long.
Posted by Revolution 5 years ago
VladimirPutin: A conservative for Obama (I'm for him too)! That's not something you see too often.

P.S. I would take this debate, but I kind of agree with you.
Posted by VladimirPutin 5 years ago
The primary difference between the '53 coup and the one I advocate is that we're replacing an authoritarian institution with a democratic one. The 2009 presidential elections in Iran were proof that the current regime does not intend on increasing the political/civil freedoms of its people, or handing over power any time soon. Another major difference is that the clandestine activities I advocate are not necessarily going to involve terrorist organizations or even violence.
Posted by mcc1789 5 years ago
Funny you should mention this, as the Islamic Republic of Iran frequently alleges that the US already supports "clandestine operations" against it, designed to destabilize and overthrow its regime. Jundullah and People's Mujahedin of Iran, the groups allegedly supported by the US, are terrorist organizations and have been so designated, including by the US itself. which have launched bomb attacks that kill Iranian civilians.
Of course there was also the US-backed coup d'etat against Iranian Prime Minister Muhammed Mosaddeq, a nationalist who had seized foreign-owned petroleum enterprises, which angered them, bringing the CIA in. After the Shah assumed full control once again, Iran moved from a democratic regime into dictatorship. This led to a strong dislike of the US, along with the secularism the despotic Shah pushed on them, which became tarnished by association. In the end as we all know this led to blowback in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution, and the present-day regime.
If you read the rest of those pages, it details some of the consequences such operations have in countries, whether indirectly or directly conducted. Such is, as I said, a significant reason for anti-US sentiment in the world. Supporting terrorist attacks does not often lead to a dictatorship weakening or loosening its reigns, but the opposite, since as we know this makes fine propaganda in their favor. Iranians that might otherwise not support could not feel compelled to, faced with deadly violence, especially when supported by the US, which fits neatly in with the official view there.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by negrodamus 5 years ago
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