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

The United States Should Intensify Economic Sanctions On North Korea

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/10/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 813 times Debate No: 52181
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




I would like to begin saying that , this debate will consist of three rounds,
1. Your Case
2. Rebuttals
3. Closing Statement

Here are the definitions of today's debate (ALL from
Should: used in auxiliary function to express what is probable or expected.
Intensify:to become intense or more intensive : grow stronger or more acute.
Sanctions: an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc.

With that I will negate the following resolution: The United States Should Lift Economic Sanctions On North Korea.

Contention 1: War Threats
We all remember the two years of North Korea's constant threats to attack the US. These were mainly nuclear threats as NK believes to be the worlds' strongest nuclear power and wishes to conquer the world, basically. But due to North Korea's growing nuclear program as it spends more than 40% of their GDP on their military. And due to the fact that their nuclear program is getting stronger, heavy economic sanctions must be placed on this country, as they are a menace to the world. If we are to intensify these sanctions on N. Korea, we could see a decline in their growing program. It poses a threat to not only the US but to the whole world, we need to intensify these sanctions to help the world. Regardless of the sanctions in place, we need this to happen, as N. Korea is spending more money and putting their military before their people. Plus, North Korea has constantly shot off missiles towards Japan, a great ally of ours. These acts of aggression and threats to the world must not go unpunished.

Contention 2: Back In Time
This is a basic history lesson, back in the early 50s, N. Korea went to war with the US and S. Korea, after their defeat, heavy economic sanctions are now put in place. You must pay for your actions, even if it has been decades into the future. North Korea is constantly threatening the world, like said in my first contention, and must ultimately pay for what this oppressive country has done. Many would argue that enough is enough, but is it really enough? Do we really want to place billions of lives in jeopardy because we made the mistake of not intensifying sanctions? Think about this voters as this will be my main concept in this debate.

Contention 3: Politics
Just like Russia and Crimea, the international community has put many sanctions on Russia for an action that could have not gone unpunished. And Russia has continued to decline political talks and has been revoked from the G8. North Korea has left the 6 Party Talks and has yet again, focused on their military instead of helping its people and cutting down on their military. We have to intensify these sanctions in order to pull NK into the diplomatic realm, have safer world, and even save their people.


Alright, I'd like to thank my opponent for proffering this debate " I've been meaning to have one on sanctions and North Korea, so it's nice to see the combination. With that, I will do as he has and launch right into my case.

Before I start in, however, I'd just like to both clarify what we're arguing, and ask my opponent to clarify his case in the next round based off of some vague aspects.

The topic at hand is "The United States Should Intensify Economic Sanctions On North Korea" and as such, I assume that Pro's position is in support of further sanctions rather than maintaining sanctions at their current level. This is made somewhat more confusing by his statement that he will negate the resolution "The United States Should Lift Economic Sanctions On North Korea," a substantially different topic. As such, it is not my burden in this debate to argue that economic sanctions on North Korea should be lifted, though if I prove that that is net beneficial, it would be sufficient to win this debate. I may simply prove that it is net beneficial to support current sanctions, as this would not intensify them.

But here's the concern. Much as Pro has stated the definition of intensify, he needs to state what he means to accomplish specifically here. What trade does Pro intend to reduce specifically? This is essential, because the total volume of trade between the two countries is currently $1.2 million, 95% of which is humanitarian assistance from private agencies.[1] Does he mean to cut off humanitarian assistance to the nation? This would mean directly asserting controls over private agencies within the U.S. to prevent it, and so Pro would have to explain how that policy would work. Maybe he means to address the other $70,000 that goes to the country, but then he would have to prove that that amount of export is sufficient to make a difference in our interactions. Speaking on effects...

Contention 1: The failure of economic sanctions to influence action

At its most basic level, this debate is about whether economic sanctions work. Pro spends the entirety of his R1 arguments assuming this to be true, but realistically, it is not. Multiple reasons. Let's start off with why sanctions are ineffective in general.

1) They simply don't work

"Sanctions have failed ot dissuade Iran from continuing to enrich uranium. They haven't dislodged NK's repressive and erratic leaders or forced a rollback of their nuclear and missile programs. For all the international pressure on Syria's Assad, the regime is getting more ruthless, not less, and the policy debate in Washington has moved on to how much military support to provide the rebels."

This is the reality " it doesn't affect policy. As Daniel Drezner, a professor at Tufts University's Fletcher School says, sanctions "tend to work when the demand is incredibly well-defined," but essentially requires that "some sort of decent relationship" exists with the target state. It's because those governments know each other well enough to not worry that the country imposing the sanctions will keep demanding more of them.

Let's look to Cuba. We've had an embargo with them for 50 years, and yet that entire time, the Castro brothers have been in charge. This shows that no amount of sanctions over no length of time can truly be effective, especially with a state we are already at odds with.[2]

2) What it actually does

It increases defiance. I'll get into this more on the specific case of NK, but from a generalist standpoint, this makes logical sense. A country is getting income, whether necessary or not, from trade. That country loses trade. That country's leadership gets upset that they're losing said trade, and that another country is trying to supplant their sovereignty. Leaders who are losing their economic pedestal and their grip on leadership tend to be upset, making them more prickly to negotiate with.

3) Masking the problem

Countries have a general policy of engaging in sanctions rather than negotiating with the country directly. As veteran U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering has said of Iran, the U.S. has "Spent a huge amount of time and attention developing a sanctions regime and far less on trying to work out a negotiating approach to take advantage" of that pressure. Negotiations should be first on our list, but they're not, because this is viewed as a more powerful approach, in spite of its ineffectiveness.[2]

This leads to two problems. One, lawmakers focus on this in meetings, meaning that just based on time constraints, there will be less efforts made towards the ends of negotiation. Pickering reminds us that sanctions are a tool, not a strategy. Two, it masks the problem, effectively making lawmakers believe that just by addressing it, even ineffectively, that they are done, or at least sufficiently far along that they need not immediately push for other actions. It slows our progress and builds more enmity, making negotiations all the more difficult.

Now, let's focus on NK as a specific case.

1) China

Bilateral trade between China and NK has sharply risen since 2007. As of 2013, that trade had gone up to $3 billion in exports to China and $3.6 billion in imports to NK.[3] Even if Pro wishes to end all trade between the U.S. and NK, the trade with China is over 3 magnitudes higher. They simply won't care. Essentially, China's going to keep on enabling them, and any economic action we take against NK will mean nothing next to them.

2) Passing off the costs

We already have cut off any the sending of any military materials to NK.

The problem is that many of these sanctions simply don't affect the leadership at all. Remember that the vast majority of what the U.S. sends to NK is humanitarian aid. That means that the leadership is getting scant little of it, and they care little for it. It's not a major benefit for them to abscond with the humanitarian aid, though sometimes they do.

However, the harm of erasing humanitarian aid is higher. Kim Jong-un is the supreme leader, and holds his leadership by releasing vast amounts of propaganda that spreads lies regarding the U.S. and western powers. This guarantees his hold on leadership by providing actual proof that the U.S. is willing to cut off aid to a starving people.

3) Circumventing

"NK is using sophisticated techniques to circumvent UN sanctions, including the suspected use of its embassies in Cuba and Singapore to facilitate and illegal weapons trade, according to a UN report. The report, compiled by a panel of 8 UN experts, said NK was also making use of complicated financial countermeasures that make the country's purchase of prohibited goods more difficult to track."[4]

Contention 2: International side effects

This is quite a bit simpler. We can look to China and Russia as two examples of major countries concerned with U.S. involvement in NK. China already has strong economic ties, so strong that it's shown a willingness to break international sanctions,[5] and Putin is making moves to create those ties.[6] Why are China and Russia concerned with NK? The main concern is that our placing our influence in the region is harming their influence.

"North Korea is China"s sole ally in East Asia and a buffer state facing hostile powers as the US, Japan or South Korea. It is worth recalling that the Chinese army intervened in the Korean War in 1950 to prevent the occupation of North Korea by US and South Korean forces. Thus, it prevented the creation of a pro-US state directly on China"s border and a future US invasion of China itself...

China understands that it cannot abandon North Korea from a strategic perspective especially at a time when it has become the target of a policy of containment and strangulation by the US and its allies."[7]

In other words, any excess power we push on them, soft or hard, is going to make China dig in further, and I would argue, make Russia all the more likely to entrench itself as well. This will strain our relationships with those nations, putting us in a similar staring match to the one we faced in Syria, with war a very dangerous possibility. Moreover, this will ensure that NK has continuous access to large trade partners, enough so that the loss from the U.S. is even less significant.

With that, I turn the debate back to Pro.

Debate Round No. 1


Cjulian98 forfeited this round.


Well, hopefully Pro will be around to post for the final round at least, I'd be disappointed if it stopped here.
Debate Round No. 2


Cjulian98 forfeited this round.


Well, so much for this debate. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by LaughingRiddle 2 years ago
Who has propped up NK and has kept it from collapsing and uniting with SK?


You can sanction N. korea all you want, but the Chinese will break sanction to prop them up, they have even given them weapons against UN sanctions.

In reality, sanctioning NK is entirely moot and pointless. You must sanction China instead.

China's is a much bigger threat than NK will ever be or has been anyway, they are very expansionist, aggressive, arrogant, and have militarily threatened EVERY single country with which they share a border. And even many others they do not share a border with. Their government stands for autocracy, oppression, propaganda, cronyism, corruption, and ultra nationalist expansionist outlook.

There exists no rights in china, talking about human rights possibly is a good way to attract the attention of secret police who will arrest you. Many times, these people 'disappear' or mysteriously die while held in custody.

China also follows a severely extortionist economic policy, fixing its currency rates and refusing to allow fair competition why extracting know how, intellectual property, and money from companies who it lures to do business in China.
Posted by Cjulian98 2 years ago
That negate was supposed to be an affirm :3 my bad
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Cermank 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by tylergraham95 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con fully rebutted Pros case, and Pro proceeded to forfeit the remaining rounds. Easy Con victory.
Vote Placed by Romanii 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a rather easy debate to judge... Con completely dismantled each of Pro's contentions and put in some very strong arguments of his own. Pro forfeited the last half of the debate, never responding at all to Con's arguments and rebuttals. I really do hope Con eventually gets to redo this debate with someone else; this had the potential to be quite an interesting one :(