The Instigator
ModerateLiberalism
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
jtreyzman43
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The United States of America should unilaterally disarm its nuclear arsenal

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
ModerateLiberalism
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/18/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,104 times Debate No: 42594
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (3)

 

ModerateLiberalism

Pro

First round is for acceptance only. I am new to this site; this is my first debate on here ever, so if I do anything out of the ordinary, let me know. But for this debate, rounds 2 and 3 will be the constructives for each debater, and round 4 will be for rebuttals. Please DO NOT make any new arguments in round 4! New analysis is fine, new examples are fine, but NO arguments that are entirely new, and no new sources. I'm not sure if that's normal on this site, but obviously, if you make a new argument in the last round, I have no way of responding to it, so you could just save your best argument until the end and win outright. However, I will be allowed to address your new arguments from round 3 in my final round, and you will be permitted to attack my rebuttal there as well.

By unilateral, I mean that our disarmament ought not be contingent upon the simultaneous disarmament of other nations. So if Russia is disarming as we disarm, that's fine and works with my argument, but they don't necessarily have to be.

By disarm, I mean that the United States should pursue an eradication of warheads, however the specific time frame would be variable and unimportant to this debate. You can assume it would be reasonably spread out but not excessively dilatory.
jtreyzman43

Con

Hello! This too is my first debate, and might I say, this is an excellent topic for a debate. I accept!
Debate Round No. 1
ModerateLiberalism

Pro

Thanks for accepting the debate. Looking forward to a fantastic first experience for the both of us. I see that many of you have already made up your minds in the comment section, but please refrain from deciding the winner before the debate occurs and judge solely on the outcome of this debate and the clash between opposing arguments brought to the table.

I'd like to start by placing a few burdens on my opponent for this debate that he must fulfill less he be defeated outright. My opponent must prove that the prospective benefits of this disarmament do not outweigh the harms, and that the harms are both likely and deleterious. He must also provide a coherent and logical argument explaining why nuclear weapons provide us with a unique, reliable benefit that we cannot afford to lose.

Now to begin my constructive argument.

1. Cost

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the cost of maintaining the massive arsenal of the United States between the years 2010 and 2018 will amount to somewhere around 179 billion dollars [1]. Combine this with the opportunity cost of not converting this highly enriched uranium and plutonium into fuel, and we find that maintaining this arsenal is rather prodigal. I'll put the true number somewhere around 200 billion dollars with the opp. cost (con is welcome to challenge that), which amounts to about 23 billion dollars per year. This may not seem like much, but that is more than we spend on foreign military aid yearly. If put into the economy with a tax adjusted MPC of just .33 (just a low estimate), this amounts to an extra 35 billion dollars in GDP or a reduction of the deficit, depending on your palate. You also, of course, run the risk of poor management, accidental detonation and/or launch, etc. Con will have to negate these immense costs with unique benefits to win this debate.

2. International Policy

a. Rogue Nations

We are very persistent in our attempts to prevent proliferation at all costs; ie: North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. But telling sovereign states that they must not build so much as a single warhead while we sit upon a stockpile of thousands gives the US the semblance of a nation that operates on hypocritical values. It damages a country’s image when it is simultaneously vociferous in its opposition to nuclear programs in other nations, sanctioning them and going to war with them over the most specious accusations, while maintaining such a large stockpile. How would you feel if a man with a cache of thousands of firearms told you that you can’t have but one, alluding to the possibility of harming others? You would either think that this man is an outright hypocrite or that he believes that he is more worthy than you of these weapons. And this is the image that we’re perpetuating worldwide. One in which America believes it is superior to other sovereign states and gets to have privileges that they don’t. Which in turn fuels a stereotype of the arrogant, hypocritical hegemon. This makes it easier for nations such as Iran and North Korea to demonize us and to convince the masses that America is looking out for the good of itself rather than the good of the world. When a country is told that it cannot have something by a country that has a superfluous amount of said thing, it can create resentment and even a recalcitrant desire to obtain said thing.

This hypocrisy also leads to apathy. Iran probably takes our demands less seriously than they would if we weren’t being such hypocrites. Would you listen to the man with a thousand firearms telling you not to buy just one? Or would you want to prove to the world that you are capable of making your own decisions and deserve an equal status as far as weapons go? Insofar as our stockpile prevents us from having productive conversations with other nations about disarmament, we lose out on the opportunity to hold more sway internationally on con's side. He may rebut with the assertion that these nations would build a stockpile anyway, but he still must contend with this fueling of a hypocritical image, as well as the notion that modern proliferation is reciprocal inasmuch as incentives to develop nuclear arsenals are augmented by nuclear arsenals of perceived competitors or potential enemies.


b. Nuclear Powers

America also has a vested interest in pursuing global disarmament, especially of our closest nuclear competitor, Russia. If they see that we are pursuing disarmament in a meaningful way, other countries will be more incentivized to do the same, as their fear of America cheating on quotas and protocols will be assuaged. It would be prudent for the United States to disarm its nuclear weapons with the goal of eradicating all warheads in a unilateral manner. In other words, our disarmament should not be contingent on the disarmament of, say, Russia. We cannot keep waiting for some idealistic bilateral arrangement. Both have the incentive to cheat on such an agreement, and both are aware of this incentive and thus are duly wary about any sort of agreement in the first place. This answers the question of "why unilateral?" The simple response is that bilateral or multilateral agreements that are actually substantial are unlikely to ever occur.

3. Image

Con is presumably going to talk quite a bit about how this diminishes the perceived strength of America, but you should not accept this argument. America has the most powerful economy and military in the world by far. The notion that nuclear weapons somehow add an invaluable element to America's perceived strength is unfounded and the strength of America is not contingent upon our nuclear stockpile, so this point, if made by con, would be non-unique and therefore not acceptable when it comes time to vote. I have already outlined many ways in which eradication helps our international image, including a mitigation of perceived hypocrisy. Our chastisement of other nations for building warheads would actually be legitimate and not quintessentially hypocritical. This will improve the image of America as well by both reinforcing our position as a global leader and by displaying that our desire for a more peaceful world is not contingent upon the desires of other nations. We consistently fail to abide by the resolutions formed by international bodies, of which America is a part of, and this enormous and unprecedented leap towards global eradication and peace would undoubtedly convince everyone that America is willing to lead the world by example, not by hegemony, which would ultimately make for a comparatively stronger image of America on a global scale.

4. Ethics

The purpose and inherent wrongness of nuclear weapons is certainly a salient issue as well. The impact of nuclear weapons is primarily on innocent civilian non-combatants. All weapons can theoretically be used against civilians, but the nuclear weapon is designed to be deployed against them. In fact the death of innocent civilians can be pinpointed as the primary goal of nuclear weapons. Insofar as this is true, we cannot possibly justify the existence of such a weapon. We as autonomous actors must value the autonomy and inherent right to life of all humans, even if they happen to have been born in a different country. Killing innocent civilians for political, tactical, or even reciprocal goals is ALWAYS in violation of any ethical calculus, especially the Kantian deontological framework which I'm operating under and which Con is welcome to challenge. The use of nuclear weapons on another nuclear power is also MORE likely to cause retaliation than to not, especially if we strike first. This is the notion of MAD, and I assume my opponent will utilize this concept, as the ethical argument relegates nuclear weapons to a mere deterrent rather than weapon to be deployed. I'll save my rebuttal of MAD for round 2, assuming my opponent utilizes it.



These arguments have outlined the immense and unique benefits incurred by this suggested action. They have also relegated con's position to a defense of nuclear weapons as a deterrent. He must prove that, while nuclear weapons should never be deployed, we should maintain our nuclear stockpile as a deterrent that is unique, necessary, and sufficient in its ultimate goal. He must contend with the notion that our international interests would be far more attainable, that our image would improve on an international scale, that the cost, both explicit and implicit, of maintenance is outweighed by the benefits, and that maintaining these morally reprehensible weapons is somehow justified morally, because if he loses the moral argument, there is no possibility for victory.

I hope this exceeds debate expectations, and I look forward to an invigorating debate about a very important issue. I read the comment about my burden to counter my "fatal" flaw, but rest assured, when con's constructive argument is produced, I'll do my best to "dig myself out of my own grave".



1. http://www.nti.org...
jtreyzman43

Con

To begin my constructive argument...

1. "Nuclear Deterrence"

As a Superpower, it is important to have better weapons than all other nations on Earth (hence the 682 billion dollar budget). Nuclear weapons are the most powerful weapons mankind has created or fielded in history. With the recent height of tension around the world, particularly the Korean Peninsula, the Persian Gulf, and the China Sea, If the United States were to go to war, it would be against nuclear armed enemies. Sometimes in history, just possessing nuclear capability has been more important than using the bomb itself. Think about it, only two bombs have been used in history, bombs that are not nearly as powerful as today's bombs, but nuclear weapons have had a large impact on the way governments and people in general perform. Therefore the cost of maintaining nuclear weapons is more like a cost of deterring other countries.

2. Power Projection

Being able to put a nuclear weapon pinpoint on any place in the world sends a simple message, "We have Power". This kind of power is more important than any other military strength. Being able to take out a nations infrastructure without ever putting boots on the ground is a tremendous advantage in any war. Putting a fleet off the coast of our enemies, a fleet containing destroyers, aircraft carriers, and nuclear submarines, all of which are able to deploy a nuclear weapon, can quickly destroy an opposing governments ability to act. Putting enough assets in a region containing an enemy nation can hold a lot of power over diplomatic solutions, the kind of power that can be attributed to advanced and powerful weapons, like nuclear warheads.

3. Security

Although nuclear weapons have devastating power on the battlefield, the most important aspect is that they maintain security. Knowing that we have the most powerful weapons on Earth, most nations will not be willing to fight against us. This is sort of a perk or bonus of a nuclear warhead. They, especially the nations that do not poses nuclear weapons, have the slightest ability to attack our shores, besides cowardly acts of terrorism, and this frankly helps me to fall asleep at night. Knowing how powerful and determined the American people are, we have a strong sense of security. We will not tolerate attacks on our home ground. And even if a country shall be as mad as to attempt to make some sort of attack against us, we will respond with whatever means necessary, including nuclear warheads. If smart, a national leader must know that they will never destroy the American people, as even in our time of hurt, we will come back and defeat our enemies. Knowing this that leader will most likely not attack us, unless the want a couple of nukes down their throat the next day.

4. Image, Ethics, and Morality

War in itself is not very good for a country's image, ethics, and morality, and although nuclear weapons are not good for image, they are just as necessary as any other weapon or component in war. Nuclear weapons play a role as a psychological weapon of today's modern battlefield. Just as scary as it must have been witnessing the first chemical attack as a British soldier sitting in a trench during the Battle of Ypres, it is equally scary for a soldier of today to see a nuclear bomb go off. Knowing that you have a weapon that can destroy the enemies will to fight, well, it can actually save lives from the standpoint that the enemy will surrender. Therefore, the war can be saved from being prolonged, and less acts that go against our morality and ethics can be committed.

These arguments have highlighted why I believe that keeping a certain amount of nuclear weapons could prove more beneficial than destructive for our nations power, security, and image.
Debate Round No. 2
ModerateLiberalism

Pro

Hello, and thank you for posting your arguments. I'll take this time to reconstruct my own points when necessary and deconstruct your arguments in preparation for the rebuttal rounds.

To all who vote on this debate, let me remind you that I set forth very specific and unchallenged criteria that my opponent must meet to win this debate. To reiterate, he must demonstrate that nuclear weapons grant the United States immense and unique benefits, and that these nuclear weapons will be unique, necessary, and sufficient in their ultimate goal. During this round I'll be primarily focusing on how my opponent did not satisfactorily meet these criteria and I'll cover some of the dropped points and what their current status as concessions mean for the round.

Con actually offers us three independent points about the same topic, that is the power of the United States, and then offers a distorted moral calculus by which we should judge these weapons. I will cover all of these individually.

1. Deterrence

Con states that it is better for us to have the best weapons on the face of the planet because we are a superpower. He makes his first mistake when he judges our status as superpower based solely on the potency of our weapons, and then draws the conclusion based on his own unsubstantiated premise that we need these weapons because we are a superpower. But he forgets what actually makes us a superpower. We have the most powerful economy in the world. We spend five times more than our closest competitor on defense annually. Countries whose currencies fail take up the dollar because it is so stable. Nuclear weapons themselves do not make or break our status as a superpower, so voters should judge this round based on the unique benefits that nuclear weapons provide weighed against the costs and opportunity costs of maintenance. Con makes this point about deterrence but never really clarifies why the weapon does a better job of deterring than the other aspects I've mentioned. Why doesn't China attack us? Is it because of our nukes? Of course not! China doesn't attack us because there is no earthly reason good enough to invade the United States of America and engage in protracted warfare with the most powerful military in the world. There is no good reason to wage war on the nation that your country's economy is ridiculously dependent on. Con fails to warrant the uniqueness of nuclear weapons as a deterrent and never actually explains why these other elements are insufficient alone.

2. Power Projection

Con goes on to assert that this gives us unique power because we can instantly blow people up and kill millions of civilians. He then impacts this point by suggesting that this gives us power in diplomatic situations. This is interesting, because Con presents this distorted view of diplomacy as though threatening other countries is the best way to get what we want. A few contentions come to mind right away. Con acts as though we frequently use threat of nuclear holocaust as leverage in diplomatic talks, but I challenge him to name a recent situation in which we have threatened to use nukes or even insinuated the possibility of deployment. To gain leverage in Syria, we threatened to send troops in or utilize our dominant air force. In Iran, we sanctioned them economically because we have great economic leverage. Con ignores my point about how power politics are likely to fuel the image of an arrognat hegemon bent on pervasive regional influence, and instead chooses to assert that nuclear weapons bring a unique element to the table that cannot be done without. However, as I've shown, we really never use them as leverage. All Con has left from this point is the notion that, in the back of the minds of foreign diplomats, they know we have nukes, but they also know we never really intend to use them in essentially all modern foreign affairs. Con must first justify the effectiveness of power politics and then he must somehow prove that nukes can and have achieved, in recent history, what our military and economy cannot.

3. Security

Con again asserts that other nations will not want to engage in warfare with us as a direct result of our nuclear arsenal. Not because of our economy on which much of the world is dependent. Not because of our military, which is so bloated that it takes the next 14 countries to match its funding. Not because of our strong alliance with the majority of Europe, Canada, and Australia. But because of our nukes. I stated that Con must show evidence of unique benefits that nuclear weapons provide, and he has failed to do so. I'm sorry, but if it's the offensive weapons that can potentially kill millions of innocent civilians in another nation that helps you sleep at night, and not our powerful economy or elephantine military, then you need to reasses your sense of morality. Which brings me to my next point.

4. Ethics

Con seems to have no grasp of what is ethical and what is not. He doesn't even attempt to challenge my Kantian framework, nor does he seem to understand the difference between a consequentialist and deontological moral lens. Because nuclear weapons destroy the will to fight, and because, as Con specifically states, a good leader would use nuclear weapons in times of war, acts that go against our ethics can be ostensibly prevented. That's interesting. I'd like to know what ethics Con is referring to here. Because if the ethics are "don't kill people". then Con is endorsing killing people to stop people from killing people. But is he endorsing killing soldiers who are fighting against our men? No! He is endorsing killing innocent civilians to prevent others from killing troops! This is a grossly distorted view of morality! As was stated, Kant asserts that we have a categorical imperative not to act against what we view to be moral truths. This weapon isn't just designed to use one man as a means to an end, but millions of innocent civilians! This is in direct violation of Kantian ethics, which my opponent did not really challenge. He only justifies the usage of nuclear weapons through the prevention of immoral acts, when, in reality, he is endorsing immorality to prevent immorality. Therefore, Con is endorsing a contradictory moral calculus which cannot and should not be accepted by voters. Con cannot on one hand say that it is wrong to allow troops to die and proceed to state that we have an obligation to prevent their deaths by wantonly slaughtering innumerable innocent men, women, and children in other nations, directly violating their autonomy and thereby their dignity, spitting in the face of the moral compass of any sane man.

Con also interestingly defends the use of nuclear weapons during war time while ignoring the fact that he is attempting to argue that nuclear weapons deter war. If we were ever in war with a nation that had no nukes, it would mean that deterrants had failed, even the threat of slaughtering citizens in the event of an invasion. If we were ever in a war with a nation that DID have nukes, then the same conclusions can be drawn, but we can also cross-apply my point regarding escalation in nuclear war. The point, as Con seems to believe, is deterrence, but what is the deterrence? "If you nuke me I'll nuke you", essentially. So if we nuke another country, and that country decides to retaliate, we find ourselves engaged in an escalating nuclear war that would result in the deaths of FAR more people than it would ever save.

Allow me to frame the round:

Con warrants none of his assertions. His entire argument is predicated on the notion that nuclear weapons deter war. He doesn't even explain how mutually assured destruction works, nor does he impact this to warrant his point, but he also fails to meet the criteria I've set for him. I specifically stated that the uniqueness and the necessity of the nukes must be warranted, and Con has unequivocally failed on this account. Sure, nukes are threatening, but so is the idea of a protracted war with the most powerful nation on the planet whose economy fuels the economies of many nations (including China). Sure, I guess nukes could be used as leverage, but Con cannot name a single case in recent history in which diplomatic relations have been improved by utilization of this leverage, as his point is non-unique. The United States uses its preponderant military and economic influence to gain power over the decisions of other nations, not its nuclear arsenal.

And as I stated, if he does not win the morality point, he cannot possibly win the debate. Con provides us with this distorted, misapplied, and contradictory consequentialist framework that asserts that death is bad, so we should prevent these harms by doing what he just stated is bad and slaughtering countless innocents. If his ends require preservation and respect of the autonomy of human lives, then how does he justify the taking of lives, rendering his moral calculus inconsistent? More importantly, how does he warrant his moral calculus? Mine is backed by actual philosophical literature, which I'll post below [1], while his is some unsubstantiated, contradictory nonsense.

Con, most importantly, never addresses the unique benefits that I provide. He hopes to outweigh these benefits, but as I've shown, my benefits are uniquely realized through the resolution, while con's are non-unique and dubious at best. We will save money, we will improve our image, not as a hegemonic, power-hungry nation, but as a nation willing to take the initiative to pursue peace and a nuclear-free world. We will have a better chance at convincing other nations to disarm as well, as I've stated. We save money and reduce the chances of a nuclear disaster/accidental launch, more points which Con ignores. Con must coherently address my moral framework as well as warrant uniqueness and necessity of nukes to grant us a dubious benefit, weighed against the tangible benefits I've provided.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
jtreyzman43

Con

jtreyzman43 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
ModerateLiberalism

Pro

Extend all rebuttals as well as dropped constructive arguments and vote Pro. Even if Con returns, he cannot make new arguments.
jtreyzman43

Con

jtreyzman43 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by ironmaiden 3 years ago
ironmaiden
I have only done two debates, but I didn't forfeit once during either. In the first one, however, my opponent forfeited in almost every round.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
Unfortunately forfeits are becoming the norm around here. :/

A couple days ago I pulled up 5 debates to vote on with resolutions that interested me, and every single one of them had forfeited rounds. I do not remember that being the case when I first perused this website.
Posted by ModerateLiberalism 3 years ago
ModerateLiberalism
Hope that Con responds soon, would hate to see his and my first debate dropped like this.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
Let's see where this goes. It seems everyone (including CON) has already pointed out the fatal flaw in the resolution, so it should be interesting if PRO can actually dig himself out of his own grave.
Posted by ModerateLiberalism 3 years ago
ModerateLiberalism
Wait for the debate denizens of DDO before propagating this pseudo prescient snobbery. This topic makes for an excellent debate if you handle it right, and I believe I have a good grip on it. Should be fun for a first debate.
Posted by ararmer1919 3 years ago
ararmer1919
Had you said the "world should" then I can kinda see that, but the fact that you specifically state that the US should solely disarm itself even if other nations like Russia weren't is utterly ridicules. I would love to see your reasoning behind this. But I'm not expecting anything more then some anti American rhetoric.
Posted by ararmer1919 3 years ago
ararmer1919
Completely ubsurd and out if the question. Only a completely moron would think of this as a good idea.
Posted by jtreyzman43 3 years ago
jtreyzman43
yeah i agree i wouldn't mind reducing the stockpile, but until other countries disarm, we need some nuclear weapons to maintain security.
Posted by ironmaiden 3 years ago
ironmaiden
If the US disarmed itself, we would be open to attack.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
ModerateLiberalismjtreyzman43Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 3 years ago
Zaradi
ModerateLiberalismjtreyzman43Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
ModerateLiberalismjtreyzman43Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF