The Instigator
Edam-Dutch
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
SolaGratia
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points

The War On Terror is justifiable and effective.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
SolaGratia
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/21/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 14,510 times Debate No: 6293
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)

 

Edam-Dutch

Con

The War On Terror involves the military, political, legal and ideological conflict against Islamic terrorism (specifically in reference to the United States' operations) in response to the 9/11 attacks.

To argue that it is justifiable, one must prove that it is possible to find reasonable and adequate ground for the overall operation of the War. To argue that it is effective, one must prove that the overall operation of the War has been successful in either destroying or severely curbing the threat Islamic terrorism poses to the Western world.

The onus of proof is on he or she who believes the War is justifiable and effective, as the burden must always be placed on advocacy for action, rather than inaction, and must also be placed on the evidence of such an action's result. Thus, if my opponent can produce no reasonable justification or evidence of effectiveness of the War, or if they can produce such justification and evidence that I competently refute, then I should emerge as the victor of the debate.

My intention is to argue that the War On Terror is neither justifiable nor effective. My position is a fairly obvious one; unless in extreme circumstances (i.e. under arbitrary provocation or attack from a hostile power with no reasonable alternative), war is never justifiable. My view is that the War was not conceived under extreme circumstances; rather, its sole justification was the premise of retribution. Retribution is not sufficient justification; the seemingly most powerful western democracy in the world and its allies should hold itself to higher standards than those who seek to thwart them.

I also intend to prove that the War is neither the most effective tool in curbing Islamic terrorism's threat, nor effective in any sense. Not only have the War's subsequent policy shifts and occupations often fueled the insurgency they sought to quell, they have more often than not been misdirected at both the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and those who are viewed as the "real threat." Furthermore, my view is that such policies and occupations have pushed the United States and its western allies closer to the standards of the enemies it seeks to combat, and thus closer to losing all it is worth protecting.

He or she who takes up the challenge of this debate receives a heavy task; not only is the burden of proof placed upon them, they are charged with the task of defending some of the most unpopular occupations and deprivations of traditional liberties in the history of democracy. Nevertheless, it is my sincere hope that he or she who does take up such a challenge may conduct themselves in a manner befitting of this debate, and avoid the traditional slurs of "liberal," and "sympathizer," that all too often invalidate their argument before they utter a single word further.
SolaGratia

Pro

Thank you for starting an interesting debate.

The War on Terror that has followed the 9-11 attacks is not only justifiable and effective, it was and remains the only solution to the threat posed by militant Islamic fundamentalism.

The War on Terror is justifiable.

1. To prove that the war is justifiable, I must prove that the cause of it merited action, and that the action taken was the correct one. The causes of the war on terror have been not only the September 11th, 2001 attacks that left thousands of American civilians dead, but the bombings in Madrid and in London as well. The 9/11 attacks were the original cause of the war; the subsequent bombings the cause to continue it. The 9/11 attacks are to the war on terror what Pearl Harbor was to the Pacific Theater of World War II. My opponent argues that war is never justified except in extreme circumstances, "arbitrary provocation or attack from a hostile power with no reasonable alternative."

If my opponent believes that Pearl Harbor was arbitrary attack from a hostile power, he must believe that World War II was justified; at least in the Pacific theater. If he accepts that 9/11 was equivalent to Pearl Harbor, it follows that he must also accept the War on Terror as justified.

9/11 is equivalent to Pearl Harbor because both were arbitrary, preemptive provocation and attack from a hostile power--and in neither case was a reasonable alternative to warfare found. If anything, 9/11 was far worse an attack than Pearl Harbor because (1) the targets were almost entirely civilians, and (2) the tactics used are equivalent to armies from centuries past marching with hostages in front of them to act as a shield. So, if my opponent believes that 9/11 was a more atrocious and underhanded attack than Pearl Harbor, and accepts that Pearl Harbor was a just cause for Franklin Roosevelt declaring war on Japan, he must again accept that 9/11 was a just cause for 9/11, making the war on terror justifiable.

2. The war on terror was conceived under the extreme circumstance of the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor.

3. The cause of the war was not, in fact, retribution--retribution would mean that we had stooped to the tactics of the Islamic terrorists and said to ourselves, "The terrorists killed 2752 of our civilians; we must kill 2752 of theirs." However, it is obvious that US policy has never been to harm civilians in any way. The justification for the war was, in fact, to prevent something similar from happening again. Certainly there was anger, a desire for retribution after the twin towers were destroyed--just as there was at Pearl Harbor and after the sinking of the Lusitania. Did we act primarily out of vengeance? Certainly not. Vengeance has never been a just motive, but the goal of the war on terror was not vengeance. to paraphrase Jeane Kirkpatrick, it was "making war to keep the peace." If warfare is ever justifiable, the motive must be to make the world better in some way--such as bringing peace. Warfare is never good--but it is necessary.

4. To prove that preventing a similar occurrence was the motive of the war on terror, we need only look at why people have said it to be effective. They do not say, "This war was effective because we killed 2752 Muslim civilians." No, they say, "This war was effective because we have freed two countries and prevented another terrorist attack on U.S. soil." For something to be effective, it must fulfill its goal. The latter sentence is frequently used by everyone, in support of the war or against it, as the motive (e.g.: the war on terror was ineffective because it did not prevent terrorist attacks in the rest of the world.) So whether or not the war on terror is effective, it's motive was to prevent a similar attack occurring. If my opponent believes this to be an unjust motive, then we are back to square one. But he must accept that vengeance was not the motive of the war on terror.

The War on Terror was effective.

1. The War on Terror has been effective because it has achieved its stated goal of no further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. My opponent may argue that the military exploits of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan did not contribute to this; that it was instead increased border security post 9/11. This is, however, immaterial because the increased border security, no less than the material drives and arms buildup of World War II, is part of the War on Terror effort, and thus part of the war. So if my opponent accepts that increased border security has been effective in preventing further attacks on U.S. soil, he must accept that the war on terror has been effective in some ways.

2. The War on Terror has freed two nations from cruel dictatorships. The role of the US in the world is controversial, but everyone agrees that our powers should be used for good. So even without the attacks, it may have been justified to invade Iraq and Afghanistan in the interest of increased liberty in the world. The Taliban and the Ba'athists were most certainly not majority, elected governments as we have in the west. My opponent could argue that it is none of our beeswax whether the littler countries in the world languish and die under cruel regimes, and I would say that would contradict the liberal and admirable ideas of a "united earth" and compassion to less fortunate people. Remember that Saddam Hussein carried out a chemical weapons attack on his own people, members of the Kurdish minority, that killed almost 10,000 people and is the largest chemical weapons attack on civilians in history. Talibani attacks in 1998 killed 8,000 Afghanis, and women could be beaten for showing any skin besides their hands. This is what we liberated the Iraqi and Afghani peoples from. We have given them the choice of freedom.

My conclusion, then, is that the war on terror has been both justifiable and effective (within reason.) My opponent apparently expects war to be without casualties, and that all casualties were unjustly made casualties. This is unrealistic. If war is fought for the right reason, then casualties are regrettable but necessary to achieve the just goal. People are perfectly entitled to have no stomach for warfare; it takes courage to make war. The US and its allies had the courage to make war, and with a few stumbles they have succeeded. Whatever happens in Iraq and Afghanistan after we pull out, we have freed them from some of the worst dictatorships the world has seen; Hitler and Stalin and Mao, but on a smaller scale. And yet my opponent believes that those actions were unjust. I believe he is wrong; and it will be up to the voters to decide.

Thanks again for this debate.
Debate Round No. 1
Edam-Dutch

Con

I have to extend my sincere thanks to my opponent for taking up the opposing side of this debate. To attempt to defend actions so unpopular and so often parodied and ridiculed within popular circles marks a person who holds great passion and belief that such actions are right.

I must admit that I sincerely looked forward to this debate. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I came to the realization that my opponent's arguments are merely the exact arguments millions of us have heard (and discarded) before. My opponent has displayed no great ingenuity in his dialogue; he has merely thrown the same wild, disconnected statements about, hoping to equate the War as a moral crusade against terrorism, hoping to persuade people that upon meeting with a "necessary evil," the aim is to focus upon its necessity, and not its evil. His hope is to subjugate criticism of the War's operations in highlighting its perceived mission; preserving the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. And always- ALWAYS- wrong.

1. My opponent hoped to equate the War On Terror with America's entry into the Second World War- making parallels between 9/11 and Pearl Harbour. This, I concede- not only was 9/11 the worst attack on America's soil since Pearl Harbour, it was, as my opponent so eloquently puts it; "a more atrocious and underhanded attack than Pearl Harbor." (My spelling is in the Australian module). To hijack aircraft and plummet them into buildings, killing over 2000 innocent civilians, is universally an inexcusable act, and no amount of rhetoric will be able to even slightly shift that affirmation. I also concede that the Pearl Harbour attacks were justification for the US's entry into the Second World War.

However, my opponent's next statement, I must disagree with-

"if my opponent believes that 9/11 was a more atrocious and underhanded attack than Pearl Harbor, and accepts that Pearl Harbor was a just cause for Franklin Roosevelt declaring war on Japan, he must again accept that 9/11 was a just cause for 9/11, making the war on terror justifiable."

This equivocation misses one step of logic- for me to take the two agreeable statements and then come to the same conclusion, I must also agree that the US's entry into the Second World War can be made equivalent with the War On Terror. This is incorrect. The US's declaration of war on Japan was against a sovereign power, with its own controlled army, with a fixed structure, and broadly connected to a worldwide fascist movement that at the time posed an incredibly serious threat to the stability of the free world. Furthermore, it was the undoubtable perpetrator of the attacks. The US's foreign operations against Afghanistan and Iraq were misdirected; latest intelligence from 9/11 suggests that 15 of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, 2 from the United Arab Emirates, 1 from Egypt, and 1 from Lebanon. (1) Even Al-Qaeda, the broader plotter of said attacks, is not a sovereign state, and was not even present in Iraq prior to US occupation. Afghanistan and Iraq themselves posed no threat to US themselves; only insurgents within- insugrents easily stopped with more practical border control, less blanket hostility towards the Middle East, and the President actually reading the reports that cross his desk. (2)

Once one accepts that the War On Terror is misdirected against those who actually organized the attacks, and those who might organize such attacks in the future, it becomes readily realized that the War On Terror is not justifiable.

2. My opponent believes that the War On Terror does not operate primarily from the urge of vengeance. If so, he need only explain why such occupations, as I have already argued, were carried out (and continue to be carried out) with seemingly no direction towards those who perpetrated the original attack. He also must explain why the US has resorted to such overzealous methods of war to achieve its ends. Surely the increase of border and airport security (as already carried out), combined with a more pragmatic and peaceful foreign policy, would be enough to prevent such attacks from ever occurring again.

War is never made to "keep the peace." It only maintains "peace," for an extremely short period. After such a period, one side must inevitably wage war again to claim the debts for the original war. And again and again, an eye is claimed for an eye, and the Shakespearian drama unfolds, where everybody lies dead on the floor. A far better solution is the Chekhovian drama; everybody is upset and disollusioned, but remains alive come the end. We need a Chekhovian solution to the threat of terrorism.

Subtly put, my opponent is attempting to paint me as soft on terrorism- "it's (sic) motive was to prevent a similar attack occurring. If my opponent believes this to be an unjust motive, then we are back to square one." It is far from an unjust motive. But the actions do not stem from such a motive. The actions stem from retribution, and that is an unjust motive. If the real cause were prevention, then policies already suggested would be far more reasonable in achieving that goal.

3. My opponent seems to suggest in his argument an admittance that neither war in Afghanistan nor Iraq is effective in halting radical Islamic terrorism- "the increased border security, no less than the material drives and arms buildup of World War II, is part of the War on Terror effort, and thus part of the war." That, I disagree with also. If I took the increased security (and the President reading certain reports) to be part of the War On Terror, then I would have to concede that it has been effective in some manner. But by pointing to this to be a cause of less terrorism, my opponent has conceded that the US already possessed the means of stopping the 9/11 attacks prior to the declaration of War. After all, war or not, the President can up airport security and read reports he's meant to read any day of the week. Thus, I don't view this as part of the war.

4. It's irrelevant to point to the so-called "liberation," of Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence of the war being effective, as such "liberation," was never the aim of the War On Terror. If it were, my next question consists of four words; China, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Chad. If my opponent wishes to debate the US's role as the world's policeman with me, then that's fine, but the US should show us some consideration and be consistent in its policing.

Unfortunately, until my opponent can move past the mainstream, strawman remarks that he seems to use with such ease, and until he can find proper justification and evidence of effectiveness for the War On Terror, then it falls the the audience to cast his morally indignant argument aside, and vote for the con side of the argument.

It falls to you to look past his reasons. The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. And always, as ever, wrong.

(1) http://query.nytimes.com...
(2) http://www.wanttoknow.info...
SolaGratia

Pro

Again, Edam-Dutch, my most heartfelt thanks for posting this debate. To argue for a position so overwhelmingly accepted in the intellectual community must take gargantuan amounts of courage; and real independent thinking.

My opponent is indeed someone to be reckoned with. He has countered my arguments with nothing less than one of the most blatant chronological snobbery fallacies I have ever seen. He muses: "Imagine my disappointment, then, when I came to the realization that my opponent's arguments are merely the exact arguments millions of us have heard (and discarded) before." My world-weary opponent expects to be surprised, caught off guard by every argument I make? My debating skills, alas, are not up to that task. I humbly beg your pardon for expostulating my beliefs, not unsupported by the evidence I might add. What possible bearing does the number of times you've heard these arguments have on this debate? Socrates used to repeat questions many times, searching for the right answer. Why, then, can I not use arguments that have been used before if they have not been contradicted by the evidence? And if my opponent insists on making this an issue, my opponent has been very environmentally friendly in this debate: his arguments, too, have been recycled and resurfaced from his forebears on that side of the debate. We are walking already-treaded ground, my friend. Do not expect to see no footprints.

My opponent is desperately attempting to gain the high ground in this debate: the New York Times quotes, gleefully pointing out my fallacies real or imagined, the near-perfect capitalization on one of my (few) spelling errors in a quote. My opponent is certainly entitled to this strategy; it's one that I've used in the past. I wish him more success with it than I had.

My opponent wholeheartedly affirms my statement that the 9/11 attacks were "inexcusable." Good. That's a step in the right direction. For if my opponent admits that the 9/11 attacks and all terrorist attacks are "unjust," how can he fail to admit that action must be taken to "right the wrong?" Unjust actions require justice, no? And what form should justice take in this case? Fruitless "economic sanctions" which have been employed with such (ahem) success in the cases of Iran and North Korea? Or real action; taking the fight to the enemy and righting the wrong? I would think any reasonably person would agree to the latter choice; but of course therein lies the crux on the debate, since my opponent apparently believes the former to be the sensible course of action.

The august Edam-Dutch says that the motive of the war on terror is "retribution." I agree that it was one of the motives, if not the central one. Retribution means punishment, or payment; "dispensing punishment." (http://www.merriam-webster.com...) He goes on to say that retribution is an "unjust motive." Does my opponent believe that dispensing punishment for a wrong is an unjust motive? Justice is only effective if there are penalties for injustice--that's just the way the world works. Wagging a finger at the terrorists and saying, "naughty, naughty" is not going to do anything, as my opponent surely acknowledges. Action is needed. This is why criminals in society must pay fines or go to prison; to punish them for their crimes and to prevent them from doing it again. People who might otherwise commit a crime are less likely to if they have an idea of what the consequences are. My opponent and I agree that retribution was a motive in the war on terror. Retribution, punishing a wrong, is an essential part of justice. Yet my opponent says that retribution is unjust. How can seeking justice be an unjust motive?

My opponent does not accept that increased border and airport security is part of the larger "war on terror." On this, if not on anything else, he is dead wrong. These measures were instituted to prevent terrorist attacks; just as the war on terror was instigated to prevent more attacks (among other things.) They share the same motive, they are both in response to the same incident, instituted by the same governments (the U.S. and its allies), and part of the larger fight against terrorism worldwide. The military operations of the war on terror would basically be irrelevant if airport security did not evolve in response to 9/11--as World War II would not make sense without shipping convoys or army hospitals. My opponent seems to think that war is only offensive. In fact, war is also defensive. The increased airport and border security, then, is an instrumental part of the war on terror. Whether or not the US possessed the means of stopping the 9/11 attacks before the fact is, by the way, completely irrelevant. They happened; and whether out of the element of surprise or incompetence, the government failed to stop them.

The liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan is irrelevant because liberation was never the aim of the war on terror? On the contrary, some of the stated aims of the Iraqi and Afghan invasions were to "eliminate terrorist sanctuaries and havens," by destroying and replacing governments that harbor terrorists, and to "interdict and disrupt material support for terrorism." (http://www.whitehouse.gov...) Osama Bin-Laden was in Afghanistan at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and the Taliban refused to turn him over..."harboring terrorists." Saddam Hussein, whether he had nukes or not, also harbored terrorists and gave them material support. But my opponent claims that the liberation, by eliminating the Taliban and Saddam factors from the Afghan and Iraqi equations, was "never the aim of the war on Terror." Au contraire.

I am called on to explain why the Iraqi and Afghan occupations have continued, with "seemingly no direction towards those who perpetrated the original attack." That would be Al-Qaeda, and if my opponent believes that the U.S. and its allies are not seeking Osama Bin-Laden and his confederates, he is deeply, deeply misguided. The occupations have continued so long simply to set the Afghans and Iraqis up on their feet, able to defend themselves from terrorist bullies.

My opponent believes that, one a cycle has begun, war will not end until everyone lies dead on the floor. Wrong. War lasts until justice has been served. Consider World War II. The U.S. occupied Germany and Japan for years, pouring billions of dollars into them; just as we are now doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet are the Germans and Japanese plotting secretly to make war on us again? I don't think so. When war is a tool for justice, there is no endless cycle: sometimes all sides can accept justice with a little compassion thrown in (see the Marshall Plan.) The comparisons to Shakespeare and Chekhov are poetic but misguided. What if this life is not a drama, but a farce? Or a romance?

I am deeply sorry to trouble my opponent with more "wild, disconnected statements." I hope with all my being that he will forgive me.

Simply put, the war on terror was justifiable because it was seeking justice, and effective (at least in part) because it has achieved some of its stated objectives. My opponent believes that justice is never part of any war, and that no part of the war on terror has ever been effective. Let the people decide who is right! You, the voters, are charged to weigh the arguments of either side. I hope that you can see past my "wild, disconnected statements" and my opponent's blustering self-importance and recycled arguments.
Debate Round No. 2
Edam-Dutch

Con

Edam-Dutch forfeited this round.
SolaGratia

Pro

By prearrangement, my opponent and I are both forfeiting the final round. Please vote based on the two arguments available to you. Sorry we didn't get to the third round; the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season you know. May the best man win!
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by SolaGratia 8 years ago
SolaGratia
My opponent has been negligient or generous or perhaps merely busy; whatever the cause, I thank him for sparing me the indignity of missing a debate argument. I will forfeit the third round so that voters may judge on the two they have now. Thank you, once again Edam-Dutch, for a scintillating debate.
Posted by SolaGratia 8 years ago
SolaGratia
I will probably be without internet from later today until New Year's, and so I will probably miss the last argument of the debate. A great debate, Edam-Dutch. If you are feeling Christmasy, perhaps you will skip your argument as well and let voters judge on the two we have now. Just a thought.

Merry Christmas!
Posted by EugeneZ 8 years ago
EugeneZ
...Hmm
Terror is a state of fear, an overwhelming sense of imminent danger.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

The term "terrorism" comes from Latin terrere, "to frighten."
---
Good idea however without normal security at home - such as good border protection system with good border security personal.
Otherwise- it will be a never ended story...

It is very difficult to justify war on Terror (let say war in Iraq) and calculate effectiveness of the war...
good luck
Posted by jjmd280 8 years ago
jjmd280
Very good start.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Renzzy 8 years ago
Renzzy
Edam-DutchSolaGratiaTied
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Vote Placed by EugeneZ 8 years ago
EugeneZ
Edam-DutchSolaGratiaTied
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Vote Placed by SolaGratia 8 years ago
SolaGratia
Edam-DutchSolaGratiaTied
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