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

The United States has a moral obligation to mitigate international conflicts

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/15/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,574 times Debate No: 40626
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (2)




On September 11, 2001, the United States experienced one of the biggest terrorist attacks of all times. This massive breach of national security, killing around 3000 people, reminded the government and the people how important national security was. This attack led to small yet sharp economic turndown, resulting in the stock markets crashing, and 40 billion dollars in insurance losses. Ever since, we now know how important national security is, and that is why my value today will be national security.
National Security is defined as "A collective term for the defense and foreign relations of a country, and protection of the interests of a country " Going on with some other definitions. Moral is defined as "concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior." Obligation is defined as "something that you must do because it is morally right" Mitigate is defined as "to cause to become less harsh or hostile" International conflict we will define as not just as a series of individual conflict, but as conflict as a whole. The complete term encompassing all conflict. So when we talk about mitigating conflict, we are talking about limiting international conflict as a whole.
And finally, I will define the United States as the US government since the population can not directly vote on foreign affairs. The government has the most direct relation with foreign policy, so we should define the US as the government of the United States.
My criterion today will be that of social contract. Social contract is defined as "an agreement, entered into by individuals, that results in the formation of the state or of organized society, the prime motive being the desire for protection, which entails the surrender of some or all personal liberties" In other words, it is when the people give up some of their freedom so the government can keep them safe and secure.

Ct. 1: Social Contract
This is extremely important in today"s round. The base idea behind social contract theory is that the people give up some of their freedom, for instance their privacy at airports, so the government can keep them and their nation secure. Now as a point of clarification, social contract theory is only the case in a democratic or republican form of government, where the people are represented in the government, and the government has agreed to uphold the national security of the people. That being said, the government has a moral obligation by social contract theory to uphold national security. But how can the government uphold the national security in an effective and reasonable manner? This leads me into contention two.

Ct.2: International Stability leads to national security.
One of the biggest factors in determining national security is the stability of the world around the nation. If the world around them is stable, meaning conflict is low or at a minimum, then the nation will be secure. For this I have 3 applications
Application 1: Pax Romana. The Pax Romana was a period in Ancient Rome under the rule of Augustus Caesar, where Rome was extremely stable and extremely secure. The main reason behind this security was because there was practically world peace. There were no large conflicts present, and as a result, the Roman Empire was very secure.
Application 2: The roaring 20s. As you probably know, this time of extreme prosperity, stability, and security, began shortly after WW1. After this large war, many countries around the world were extremely stable, making a large world power like the US, extremely secure.
Application 3: The 90"s boom. This stage of prosperity and security also was a result of the extreme international stability that was present. Most world powers around the world were at a state of stability, and as a result, the US was very secure.
This concept is extremely basic. If there are no or few countries currently attacking you, then you are secure and safe. And whenever there is war, there is bound to be international instability, but as I have explained in the last 3 applications, when there is not an abundant amount of war, then the world is stable, and as a result, countries like the US are secure, keeping people like you and me secure.

Ct. 3: Mitigation leads to international stability
It is very important that you keep in mind that mitigate does not mean "to get involved" or to "send military aid to" but instead means "to make less severe." This means that if we fail to make something less severe, we have not mitigated it. If we transfer this to the resolution, it means that we must make international conflict as a whole less severe, and if we fail to make it less severe, we have not mitigated it. But failure is not unavoidable. So what if we do mitigate, or "make less severe" international conflict? What does this do? As I briefly explained in my last contention, the less international conflict you have, the more stable the world is, which ultimately means the more safe people like you and me are.

So what have we seen today? We first saw how important national security is. We saw how important your safety, and my safety is. We then looked at the social contract theory, and that because of it, that the government is morally obligated to uphold our and our nation"s security. We then saw how international stability leads to national security, and how mitigation of international conflict results in increasing international stability. So overall, we saw that mitigating international conflict results in national security, which is what we are shooting for. So please, vote with me, vote for your security and safety, vote that yes the United States has a moral obligation to mitigate international conflict, and vote affirmative, thank you,


As an opening, I would like to welcome my opponent and extend thanks for providing this opportunity to debate.

I would like to propose some counter-definitions, largely as my opponent failed to provide a reference for the source of his. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines national as "of or pertaining to a nation" and security as "the state of being protected" or "things done to make people or places safe" [1]. So we may conclude that national security, in terms of the United States, is the state or actions undertaken to protect the United States.

I accept my opponent's definitions of moral and mitigate.

I propose a counter-definition to obligation. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an obligation may be defined as "something that you must do because of a law, rule, or promise" [1]. I hold this to be important because not all obligations stem from morality.

My opponent's first argument rests on the social contract. However, his argument here only defines the social contract, limits it to democratic and republican forms of government, and establishes that the government morally needs to uphold national security. I take two issues with this. First, that the social contract itself, noted by California State University, recognizes morality as residing in, "the set of rules governing behavior...on the condition that others accept them as well" [2]. There can be a case made here for this including steps taken to preserve national security, but my opponent has the burden of proof of verifying this point. My opponent might argue that, because of the social contract, the government has an obligation to protect the people. This is true. However, this resolution pertains to international conflicts, and the social contract only exists within those societies that created it. It does not apply to people outside of its boundaries, thus it does not apply to other societies, thus it cannot be used as a justification for mitigating international conflict.

My opponent's second argument is that international stability leads to national security. I find more fault with my opponent's applications than this contention itself.

Application 1: Pax Romana. My opponent is correct in his description of the Pax Romana. However, the Pax Romana applies to an empire. My opponent negated empires with his limitation of the social contract to democratic and republican governments, so his arguments prove contradictory. Additionally, the Roman Empire maintained this form of peace by having conquered everything around it [3]. This was a period of peace maintained through force, and unless my opponent wishes to argue that the United States has a moral obligation to conquer its surrounding countries, then this application hardly applies to a free world.

Application 2: The roaring 20s. My opponent cites the roaring 20s as a time of international and national stability. One could argue that the roaring 20s were a period of national stability - for the United States. Germany, on the other hand, was in a state of ruin and instability. The Treaty of Versailles shattered Germany's economy [4] and ultimately contributed to a massively infamous period of global instability known as World War II. To accept such an American-centric viewpoint in a debate pertaining to a moral obligation to mitigate international conflicts presents a significant problem to my opponent's resolution. The United States was not stable in the 1920s because the world was; the US was stable because it was on the winning side of a war. On the other hand, Britannia notes that Europe had lost its economic vitality. Europe no longer held a role as the world's banker, and war debts owed by France and England to the United States severely weakened European currency [5]. And one can hardly pretend that countries like Turkey, shattered after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, was stable in the 1920s. In fact, as the Turkey and Greece actually went to war, as verified in the International Journal of Middle East Studies [6]. I reassert that the US stability and security then did not result from the mitigation of international conflicts but from other factors, namely, the money it was owed after World War I, and the prevalent isolationist attitude held by Americans.

Application 3: The 1990s. First of all, as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, to cite the 1990s as a period of international stability seems ridiculous. The satellite states it had left, as well as the Russian government itself, certainly underwent major reforms around this period. Change inherently excludes stability, as stability is a preservation of the status quo.

Contention 3:
His basic concept at first seems reasonable - "if there are no or few countries attacking you, then you are secure and safe." However, this does not hold up under scrutiny. Attacks do not have to be external, nor do they have to be backed by governments. The terrorist groups of September 11 prove an infamous example. America was not being attacked by another country but by terrorist organizations. In fact, it is America's intervention in mitigating international conflicts that sparks anti-American sentiments. Take the second Iraq War, for example. According to, even as far back as 2004, most Iraqi citizens did not want the Americans (and others) occupying their country [7]. If my opponent's definition of moral is concerning "right and wrong in human behavior," then how can occupying a country that poses no threat to national security where the majority of its citizens do not want occupation and, in fact, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting notes, cost well over "115,676" Iraqi lives [8] be considered moral? This attitude repeats itself. US News notes that US intervention in Syria would be the "most unpopular in 20 years" [9], the Wall Street Journal notes the rising anti-US hostility in Egypt, including the storming of the US Embassy in Cairo [10], and Princeton University notes the rising anti-Americanism throughout the Muslim world [11], the major source of debates over US involvement at the moment. None of the countries in which the United States intervened saw such intervention as a sense of moral obligation but of United States imperialism and occupation. Mitigation cannot lead to international stability if it fosters resentment and anger. Unless the United States violates its ideals and crushes the resistance out of other nations, it cannot guarantee international stability.

Note that I am not arguing against US intervention entirely. There certainly are situations in which the United States may decide to intervene. In an era of globalization, it becomes more and more difficult for a country, especially one as powerful as the United States, to adopt isolationism as a foreign policy. However, I am arguing against the idea that the United States has a moral obligation to intervene and mediate conflicts. I have disproved my opponent's notions that such interventions lead to security by proving they, in fact, do the opposite. In assuming that the US has a moral obligation, my opponent also assumes that the United States is infallible in its interventions. This is an absurd notion. No nation is perfect, and, like any other nation, the United States has made mistakes.

More than simple intervention, having a moral obligation to intervene, to mediate, increases the risk of national instability in the United States, not only by creating more enemies, but also by harming the United States economically. According to National Priorities, the total cost of the wars in which the United States has been involved since 2001 is "$1,489,213, 950, 461," and the last six digits are constantly rising [12]. This burden becomes especially heavy when one recalls that international instability is not the only danger to US national security. There are plenty of domestic instances to upset national security, such as school shootings and the financial status (though recovering) of the US.

There is no doubt that our safety is important. There is also no doubt that there are better methods of achieving stability. Though the United States may choose to mediate conflicts to preserve its own security, it does not have a moral obligation to do so. For this reason, as well as all the others I have listed, I urge you to vote CON.

I await my opponent's response.

Debate Round No. 1


To open, I am excited about this debate and hope we both have fun.

I have realized I have not presented sources for my definitions, as I failed to remember when I was writing my last speech. My definition of national security was from Random House Dictionary, and the others were from Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, except for obligation, which was from free I agree with his " correction" of the definition of the term national security, and hope that no more argument about that topic will take place. Moral and mitigate are pretty standard terms, and so I am glad we agree on the definitions. However, I do beg to differ with his counter definition of obligation. Both sources are credible sources, and I hope that we can find a way to work around this. It is true that not all obligations originate from morality, and I understand where my opponent is coming from. However, he is making an unsupported claim here. He has not proven that all obligations stem from morality. Although at close look you make think that that is not the case, I challenge my opponent with respect to bring up support so that we may further discuss this issue.

Under his first point under "Social Contract theory" He said that CSU defined social contract as something quite different then what I said it was. However, my "definition" of social contract was the principle and the way it was set up by John Locke, and the others that helped him develop it. My definition of social contract is not the "modern" form of it, as I originally defined it as the more "original" version of it. Under his second point, I must say he has not "proven" that social contract is only within the country. He failed to provide a source so this claim is not fully justified. Social contract theory, as explained by John Locke in his book "The Social Contract theory of John Locke," is keeping the people safe with the surrender of some freedom on the people's part. So its safety, and however we achieve safety, is what social contract justifies. SCT says nothing about keeping it "inside" the country. Safety is safety, and it is extremely important to everyone, and the reason social contract theory is so successful is because the government does most Anything, even if it is outside the country, to keep the people safe. For instance, earlier this year, North Korea was threatening the US with nuclear weapons. Clearly, our safety was on the line. The US sent troops to South Korea and Guam, making it an INTERNATIONAL affair, for the sake of our safety. Why did they do this? To keep us safe. So Social Contract theory is not limited to being "inside" the country.

Under his response of my Application of the Pax Romana, I want to clarify that this is solely proving that international stability leads to national security. This is a claim that is purely political. This does not relate to Social Contract theory, so the fact that Rome was an empire does not matter for the purposes of this claim. Indeed my opponent is correct in saying that this "stability" was achieved through force, but once again, we are talking about this claim and this claim only. This application proves this claim and this claim only to be correct. This is not support for other claims, but only this one. So no I am not upholding force, but still, this application supports this claim. I never said this application supports my other claims.

Under his response of my 2nd application, he said that it was a period of national stability, but not international stability. Let me clarify the definition of international stability. The fact that Germany was unstable does not say the world was unstable. International stability is stability internationally, so stability BETWEEN countries. The fact that Germany is unstable just shows that Germany did not have NATIONAL stability. For instance, after WW1, many countries were in debt, making the countries unstable. However, because they are in debt, they intentionally are not in any conflicts, and intentionally are just focusing on growth. What does this mean? Conflict is at a low. If conflict is at a low, then this keeps the whole international picture more stable. So international stability is not the stability of each country, but the stability of countries as an international picture. I can explain in more detail if needed. Moving on to some other points, it was Germany that caused WWII, not the world. Germany was unstable, upset, and so they caused a war. But after WW1, International Conflict was at a low, because so many countries were in debt. The US was stable because of this minimal conflict. I believe the rest of his argument is based on the fact that international stability is a result of the particular stability of certain countries being stable.

Indeed, the Soviet Union did collapse in 1991, but did not result in conflict, not upsetting the peace and tranquility of there set of the world. Stability is not exactly the preservation of the status quo, but International Stability was not upset greatly because of the Soviet Union collapsing.

Even if it is a terrorist group, it is still an international conflict, because the terrorist group has some base and military storage in another country. Indeed Iraqi's did not want American's occupying their country, but we were doing it for OUR OWN safety. And I doubt my opponent would like to argue against our safety. If the country poses no threat to national security, we should not mitigate the conflict, it is only if it does. I never said otherwise. I think my opponent is not quite understanding the definition of "mitigate," which, is understandable, because it is a somewhat difficult term to grasp. Mitigate is to "make less severe" so if we mitigate conflict, we make it less severe. However, if we get involved, and it makes people mad, and another war breaks out, we have not made the conflict less severe, thus we have not mitigated it. If we fail to make something less severe, than that may or may not lead to international stability, however, if we fail to make something less severe, we have not mitigated it.

I'm not saying the US is infallible in its interventions. But if we get involved and failed, then we HAVE NOT mitigated it, and therefore does not apply to the resolution. Mitigation I would also like to say is not intervention. You do not have to get involved to make something less severe. In the Gulf War, we sent a minimal amount of troops, costing only a small amount of money, and these troops were soon pulled out. The main mitigation was not by getting involved, but by political big talk.

For all these reasons, please vote for Pro, thank you.


I hope we both enjoy ourselves as well!

My opponent says that I have not proven all obligations stem from morality. True. This is something he has to prove. My counter-definition argues that obligations may come from various sources - law, morality, promises, etc. My opponent's definition, if you recall, was "something you must do because it is morally right." Therefore he must prove that all obligations stem from morality.

My opponent argues that he was using the Social Contract as John Locke intended it. I will overlook the obvious problem this creates of governing society based on times as they were centuries ago. Even Locke's social contract extended only to those who had given permission to live under it. Other communities would have established separate social contracts, so to speak. Locke's contract inherently excluded those without property, for example - hardly a benefit to national security. But we're not here to argue about Locke.

That North Korea threatened the United States in a case directly involving the US and thus naturally justifying mediation. The safety of the United States was directly on the line. Its social contract was threatened because it was threatened. But what if North Korea had threatened, say, South Africa? Or Mongolia? How does the US, without a direct threat, have a moral obligation to mediate that conflict? Its social contract is not threatened.

The Pax Romana supports international stability leading to national stability only through force. Unless force becomes part of my opponent's argument, then this claim is irrelevant. I move that it be dropped.

My opponent's response to my critique of his 2nd application is interesting. However, he contradicts himself. If international stability leads to national stability, and international stability existed, why were countries like Germany, Greece, Turkey, England, and France unstable? Since my opponent acknowledges the instability within these countries and claims that international stability promotes national stability, then he must explain why, then, these countries were not stable.

He dropped my point about conflict existing when Greece and Turkey went to war in 1920. Please extend this argument. This is an clear instance of conflict that would prevent a sense of international stability existing.

The collapse of the Soviet Union may not have sparked any direct wars, but is my opponent really going to argue that it did not instigate disorder? Any time a superpower collapses, a vacuum fills its place. And, related to application 2, there are plenty of other instances of national instability in the 1990s. As noted in the Journal of International Money and Finance, Latin America launched several economic reforms that were ultimately failures in many aspects [1], and, as the Journal of International Affairs notes, Pakistan went through nine different governments in the 1990s [2] - hardly indicative of national security. If international stability promotes national stability, how did it fail for all these countries?

My opponent claims that we invaded Iraq for our own safety. However, we know that there never were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. How, then, was it in our safety to stay as long as we did?

My opponent now claims that "if [a] country poses no threat to national security, we should not mitigate the conflict." This contradicts the entire resolution - that the US has a moral obligation to mitigate international conflicts. Nothing signifies that the US must be involved prior to mitigation. My opponent's point is my argument, and if he believes it, then he may as well concede the debate to me. I am arguing that the US does not have a moral obligation to mitigate international conflicts.

I challenge my opponent to explain how the US can mitigate a conflict without becoming involved. Whether the US sends one soldier or hosts peace talks, it is becoming involved in the affairs of other countries. My opponent argues that if US involvement makes the conflict worse, they have not mitigated it. True. But my opponent must stand by them having a moral obligation to try or else lose the debate. My argument is that US attempts to mitigate conflict have resulted in larger, more severe conflicts. Whether or not mitigation failed does not impact whether or not the US had a moral obligation to try, though my opponent falsely claims it does. Unless the affairs directly concerned the US, I do not believe they had a moral obligation to get involved and mediate the conflicts. Under the resolution, for example, if Scotland were to declare independence and begin a war with Britain, the US would have a moral obligation to get involved. I am arguing against that idea. However, when the affairs present a clear and present danger to the United States, the US certainly has an obligation, though not necessarily a moral one, to intervene. Again, my opponent must prove that obligations only come from morality.

My opponent completely dropped my arguments about alternative threats to national stability besides international conflicts; therefore he concedes these arguments. Please extend them.

I look forward to my opponent's responses in round 3! As it is the final round, I shall try and refrain from constructing any new arguments. For all the reasons above, please vote CON!

Debate Round No. 2


Nathaniel2840 forfeited this round.


I'm a little sad my opponent forfeited the last round. I was looking forward to a great debate! Oh, well.

Please vote CON.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: This debate had great promise until Pro forfeited the last round. As such Con wins conduct points. Arguments were close, as Pro argued well however Pro did not answer all Cons counter arguments so points go to Con. Con used sources and as such gets source points. Pro and Con both showed good grammar. Real pity Pro forfeited the last round.
Vote Placed by Tophatdoc 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: The Con side provided refutations of the Pro's claims. The Pro side also failed to acknowledge some of Con's claims entirely. I gave the source point to Con. I gave the conduct point to Con because Pro forfeited the last round. Good debate, good luck to you both in future debates.