The destruction of Alderaan was justified
Debate Rounds (5)
In honor the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this a debate on one of the pivotal moments in the series history: the destruction of Alderaan.
Resolution and BOP
The resolution for the debate is "The destruction of Alderaan was justified". The burden of proof in this debate is split - that means that Pro (myself) must establish that the destruction of Alderaan was justified, and Con must establish that it was not justified.
For the purposes of this debate, all theatrical Star Wars movies (Episodes I-VII) are considered as canon. Other Star Wars sources (like the the Expanded Universe, or the Legends series, or Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows) are not acceptable sources. By nature, this means this debate is a potential spoiler alert. Since the only sources are the movies, direct citations are not required.
Voting will use the 'select winner' system. A minimum of 2,500 ELO is required to vote. Voting standards for this debate are the new 'opt-in' standards (https://docs.google.com...). By accepting this debate, Con agrees to the use of this standard, and that these standards are in place for all votes.
1. No forfeiture.
2. No plaragism.
3. All citations must be presented in the text of the debate.
4. No new arguments are allowed in the final round.
R2: Opening arguments
R5: Rebuttals/Closing statements
I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. May the force be with us both!
The Destruction of Alderaan was, without a doubt, the key moment in the Galactic Civil War. Rebel apologists have long used this moment to paint the Galactic Empire as an evil, oppressive entity. However, nothing could be further from the truth - far from an oppressor, the Galactic Empire was a mostly benevolent organization, and the destruction of Alderaan was completely justified.
Contention 1 - The Galactic Empire was as good or better than the old Republic
People describe the Empire as an oppressive dictatorship. In reality, that isn't the case. Throughout the entire original trilogy, there are only a handful of acts that the Empire does that could be possibly described as evil: the deaths of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and the Destruction of Alderaan. Other than these two actions, the Empire does nothing that could be described as truly 'evil'.
To give an example, in Episode VI, the Empire is building a second Death Star, and builds a base on the nearby forest moon of Endor. A truly evil empire would have done something evil with the native population, the Ewoks, like killing or enslaving them. However, we see no actual evidence of this: instead, we meet at least one nearby Ewok tribe who are undisturbed. They have a nice, large village in the trees with no evidence of imperial entanglements. The Ewoks are only swayed to fight the Empire after they are tricked into believing a god has commanded them to. Once the Ewoks attack, the Empire seemed utterly unprepared to fight them - like they never had a strategy to in the first place. Wouldn't a truly evil Empire at least have a contingency?
Another example is to compare the military of the Empire to the Republic. The Republic military was two-pronged: the Jedi, an order of religious extremists who kidnap children from birth to raise and indoctrinate into their religion, which leads to the child being forced to serve the Republic, and later the Clone Troopers, an army of humans raised from birth to do one thing (kill people), and genetically modified to do the task efficiently and obediently. The Empire, in contrast, fields a volunteer military. There is no evidence Imperial troops are kidnapped from birth. Even Luke Skywalker, a later rebel 'hero' who hated the Empire, wanted to join the Imperial Academy due to its great benefits.
Finally, if you compare the structure of government of the Republic and Empire, they aren't that different. The Republic was ostensibly governed by a unicameral legislative body, the Senate, which in turn would elect the Chancellor, the head of government; there was also an independent court system. However, the Republic was, in truth, run by unelected bureaucrats; the Republic government was so dysfunctional it could not handle a simple trade dispute, and so inept it could not respond to an invasion of a star system (Naboo), despite the fact that the system's Senator, democratically elected leader, and the ambassador the Senate itself sent,all attested to the invasion. The courts, according to then-ruler of the Naboo Padme Amidala, worked even slower than the senate. A dysfunctional government is bad, but not only was the government useless, so was its currency - Watto, a junk dealer on Tatooine, a planet outside the Republic, refused to accept them, calling them "no good out here". This is exact opposite of how credible currencies work. When a group of star systems, the Confederacy of Independent Systems, attempted to peacefully leave the Republic and form a government that was actually capable, the Republic immediately raised an army and declared war. The Republic, then, was corrupt, produced useless currency, and was completely incapable of performing the most basic of governmental functions - by all accounts, it was a failed state.
The Empire, in contrast, was a model of stability; despite being led by an all-powerful Emperor (one who gained his powers by consent of the Senate), it was more decentralized than the Republic, with many planets being left to their own devices; in fact, even lawbreakers like the illegal mining colony of Cloud City were allowed to remain, as long as they cooperated with a few minor demands. The Senate remained as an advisory board for nearly two decades, but was disbanded to provide more power to regional governors, who presumably would know more about their region than a group of rich people on Coruscant could. People could more or less freely travel, even from seedy locations like the Mos Eisley Cantina. Imperial credits were recognized as currency even on Tatooine; Han Solo and other pilots in the Cantina accepted them as payment, whereas they were useless on Tatooine as the Republic. By all accounts, the Empire was a drastic improvement over the Republic.
Contention 2 - The Destruction of Alderaan was necessary to avoid transmission of the plans and avert war
We've already established the Empire as preferable to the Republic. What can the Empire do to defend itself? Well, as a matter of fact, the destruction of Alderaan was a legitimate military operation. The Empire was facing threats from the Rebel Alliance - a small group of traitors to the Empire, aided by some rogue Imperial Senators, who wished to abolish the Empire in favor of the dysfunctional old Republic. These Rebels, while small in number, were a major threat to the Empire - they successfully stole plans to the Death Star, for instance, and abused the diplomatic immunity of Senator Leia Organa of Alderaan to try and smuggle them to Alderaan. Another major player in the Alliance was Bail Organa, also of Alderaan. In fact, it seems like many of the players in the Alliance were part of Alderaan's royal family, including Bail and Leia.
The Emperor, in his infinite wisdom, foresaw this threat. He knew the potential for a vast war - one that would place the galaxy in chaos and lead to many deaths. To prevent this, he commissioned the creation of the Death Star - a moon-sized battle station with enough firepower to destroy an entire planet. He placed Grand Moff Tarkin in charge of the project. Contrary to rebel claims that the Death Star would be used to destroy many planets, Tarkin stated that systems would be kept in line by "fear of this battle station". The Death Star was, in effect, a nuclear deterrent; a weapon designed to be so powerful, that war would not occur again because no one would dare risk it being used on them. However, Tarkin did obviously need to use the weapon at least once to prove its functionality. The Empire captured Princess Leia en route to deliver classified Death Star information, and attempted to determine the location of the rebel base through enhanced interrogation techniques - these proved futile. With no other choice, Tarkin moved the Death Star to the Alderaan system, and offered Leia the opportunity to reveal the Rebel Base's location. Although she claimed Alderaan was peaceful, with no weapons, why should we trust her? She lied about being a part of the Rebel Alliance, and then lied about the location of the base (being on Dantooine, rather than Yavin 4). Why should we believe here here?
In truth, the strategy for Alderaan was utterly necessary. The Empire knew that two droids, with plans and specifications for the Death Star, were dispatched from Leia's ship. These plans, if delivered to the Rebels could end the dream of a peaceful, orderly galaxy. Leia was en route to Alderaan before her capture. It would make sense, then, that the droids, as well as those that carried them, would be sent either to Alderaan or the Rebel Base. By eliminating Alderaan, they eliminated half of the potential places the plans could be sent to. And, in addition, the destruction of Alderaan would be noticeable to citizens of the Empire. This is a map of the galaxy:
http://www.debate.org... (for some reason could not upload image)
As you can tell, both Dantooine and Yavin are far from the Core Worlds; Alderaan was in them. In order for there to be an effective demonstration, it needed to be on a planet near the core. Alderaan, a fester of rebellion, was, unfortunately, the only real target."
Contention 3 - The loss of life on Alderaan was less than an all-out war
The destruction of Alderaan undoubtedly resulted in many deaths. This is unfortunate. However, it is absolutely preferable to all-out war. According to Obi-Wan Kenobi, he felt only "millions" of deaths. It would seem, then, that the population of Alderaan was not very large. In comparison, a full-out galactic war could have led to billions or trillions of deaths. Coruscant, for instance, was the Empire's capital and was one giant city. An attack on Coruscant would have been catastrophic. By destroying Alderaan, the Empire only killed a small number of people relative to galactic totals, possibly destroyed the Death Star plans the Rebels had stolen, and gotten rid of the planet that seemingly was led by the Rebel Alliance. This is, in practice, far closer to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than anything - the goal was to end a war, not begin one, avert an all-out ground war that would have killed far more, as well as to demonstrate the new weapon. In short, the destruction of Alderaan as a singular event was far preferable than all-out galactic war.
I thank my opponent for allowing me to accept this debate. This round I shall show why the destruction of Alderaan was not only unjustifiable, but unethical.
Contention 1: Kingdom of Ends
A key thing one must acknowledge here is the Kingdom of Ends. This is the simple, you cannot use people as a mean, but only an end. The Kingdom of Ends can only be described as a Utopic society of which everyone is in harmony. This is that no one uses other people as a mean, but only as an end.  Here during the attack and destruction of Alderaan, the disccussion and interrogation was over the location of the rebels. In which not only was the planet destroyed, but billions of innocent people were slaughtered who had done nothing to become involved in the Galatic War. What is the message the Galatic Empire has sent out after this destruction? That of murdering people of an innocent planet to interrogate one person. Keep in mind that after the Empire discovered the rebel base on Hoth that the invasion may have only dislodged the Rebels, but had not crushed the rebellion.
Kant stated that, "the Idea of the will of every rational being as a will that legislates universal law." So when we observe the event it showed the killing of an entire planet of innocent people for the interrogation of another. It is no doubt that they were looking into psychological torture for this method in order to get the information from Princess Leia. Though we do not have much from the Star Wars universe on the matter, we have to turn to Real life matters to discover this. Former CIA official Bill Harlow and former Guantanamo prosecutor David Iglesias have both, in a PBS interview in the face of the CIA release of torture reports, that the means of interogation, can be achieved the same if not more without torture than with torture, though this is for another debate on that matter.  So with that in mind, we can see that the planet of Alderaan would still be here if this had encured. When we attempt to use the will of the rational being and attempt to make it universal law then we can see that it would be justifiable to murder everyone on an entire planet that has nothing to do with something in order to get information on another thing. Kant had also had a writing on this matter. He had described that if a murderer were to inquire about information regarding family or loved ones any answer they would received would not be that of a valid and truthful one in the case when a truth is attempted under threat.  This is because it puts them into a state of no longer being a Rational being due to there shock. At this point she could have said they were on the Wookie home planet and the Empire would have half believed it. The same would have been said if she told them the true location. This taking them out of the Rational state is a truely harmful to soceity as it diminishes human, or in the case of Star Wars, Sentient ability and dignaty.
Contention 2: Veil of Ignorance
Here one must look through Rawl's Veil of Ignorance. In order to do that one's creed, race, sex, religion, political views, and generation does not matter. This in in order to eliminate bias from the viewer in order to view his two principles of Difference and Equality. The Equality Principle is that the greatest extent of Liberty for everyone. The other states that it must benefit everyone, including the least advantaged, must be open to everyone, and your enemy chooses your position in that society or scenario.  Not to mention that you do not know what time period you are from, so it could be past, present, or future.
When we look at this situation we can see that when you remove the bias one can see that this is completely unjustifable. For one, since your enemy gets to select your place in soceity which means that the place your enemy would select is on Alderaan when the Death Star destroyed the planet. We can also see that this is a completely violation of the Equality Principle as it shows that there is no equality of the people in this situation. With everything kept in mind the oppertunities and liberty for all is shifted all across the board where the people of Alderaan are slaughtered senselessly and have none.  It is more likely than not that if Princess Leia even stated the true whereabouts of the Rebel army then the planet would still be destroyed. This is also an obvious violation of the Difference Prinicple as it does not benefit the people on Alderaan which are the least advantage in this situation. Thus making this situation both unjustifiable and unethical.
Contention 3: Ethic of Care
Here we have to focus on the Ethic of Care, or more commonly known as Feminism. In this argument we have to observe that we must care for our future generations and care for the world, galaxy in the case of Star Wars, for our future generations.  Again, this also involves not being awhere of what generation that you are appart of which strikes trouble as you would also want to preserve everything, since you do not know if you are in a future generation. Of which, you would want to keep as preserved as much as you can. Here, since you do not know what planet or anything you would be you would be against on Alderaan.
If you were on the side of the Empire you would be against it as the millions of Alderaanians who were off world immidiately joined the Rebellion, not to mention that Master Chief Gunnery Officer Tenn Graneet, stalled so long that he allowed Luke Skywalker to destroy the Death Start. Not only did this cause severe harm for the entire Galaxy, but if backfired against them leading to a huge downfall.  If he didn't freeze we would have destroyed the Rebel planet Yavin 4 and the war would have been over, but the destruction of Alderaan had caused him to freeze up and the Death Star was destroyed. This had not only caused a great deal of people to die, but has caused the war to continue which made things worse for the entire Galatic Empire.
1. The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanual Kant
2. Ibid pg. 432
4. On a Supposed Right to Tell Lies from Benevolent Motives, Immanual Kant
6. (Fleming, J., (ed.), 2004, Rawls and the Law, Fordham Law Review 72 (special issue).)
7. MacGregor, Sherilyn (2006). Beyond mothering earth: ecological citizenship and the politics of care. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 286
I'd like to thank my opponent for his opening round.
In his first contention, my opponent argues on the basis on Kant's Kingdom of Ends. My opponent contrasts this utopian idea of a kingdom where everyone is in harmony, because people are the end, with the Empire, where people are the means. He argues the Empire's destruction of Alderaan was wrong because it was part of an interrogation tactic. To quote him:
"Here during the attack and destruction of Alderaan, the discussion and interrogation was over the location of the rebels. In which not only was the planet destroyed, but billions of innocent people were slaughtered who had done nothing to become involved in the Galactic War. What is the message the Galactic Empire has sent out after this destruction? That of murdering people of an innocent planet to interrogate one person. Keep in mind that after the Empire discovered the rebel base on Hoth that the invasion may have only dislodged the Rebels, but had not crushed the rebellion. "
This is a flawed argument on two levels. The first, of course, is that such a Kingdom is impossible. Governments exist to facilitate the needs of their citizenry - not all citizens can be satisfied all the time, however. This is why, regardless of if government is a democracy or an Empire, decisions will not please everyone. The people of Alderaan, in this case, were not a means. Their fate was already decided before Princess Leia was brought to Grand Moff Tarkin's room. She was, after all, interrogated by the Empire prior to the destruction, and revealed nothing. Tarkin only implied that Alderaan would not be destroyed if she revealed the location - moreover, Leia revealed a false location. Alderaan was not destroyed as a negotiation tactic - it was destroyed because it was a haven for rebels, was possibly the place the stolen plans for the Death Star would be delivered to - plans that could cause the Death Star, the tool for galactic peace, to be destroyed. Alderaan facilitated its destruction by providing material aid to the rebels. The fact Alderaan wasn't destroyed as a negotiation tactic makes the second half of his argument moot.
In his second contention, my opponent argues on the Veil of Ignorance. He says "since your enemy gets to select your place in society which means that the place your enemy would select is on Alderaan when the Death Star destroyed the planet. We can also see that this is a completely violation of the Equality Principle as it shows that there is no equality of the people in this situation. With everything kept in mind the opportunities and liberty for all is shifted all across the board where the people of Alderaan are slaughtered senselessly and have none". I disagree. While the death of the Alderaanians was unfortunate, it was not senseless. It was a broad-picture, greater-good decision, like nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Did people die? Yes. Did it end the war? Yes.
He also says "It is more likely than not that if Princess Leia even stated the true whereabouts of the Rebel army then the planet would still be destroyed. This is also an obvious violation of the Difference Principle as it does not benefit the people on Alderaan which are the least advantage in this situation. Thus making this situation both unjustifiable and unethical". I disagree. Alderaan would have been destroyed regardless of if she revealed the location of the rebel base, because the Empire had no idea if the plans were at the base or on Alderaan. Alderaan's destruction was a direct result of its leadership's decision to harbor terrorists; if they didn't steal the plans, it would still exist. Keep in mind that the Death Star was not supposed to operate willy-nilly - the goal was peace through strength, not through action. The Empire's hand was forced by Alderaan's decision.
My opponent's third argument is the Ethic of Care. He argues that "we must care for our future generations and care for the world, galaxy in the case of Star Wars, for our future generations". This argument actually supports my case. Why? Well, as I established earlier, the Empire was substantially better than the Republic, and the destruction of the Death Star posed the risk of launching a galactic civil war that would kill many more people than on Alderaan. To give an example, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we learn a new group has arisen to replace the Empire: the First Order. This powerful group is a substantially worse than the Empire - it kidnaps people from birth to become soldiers, slaughters innocent civilians for no reason, and creates a superweapon not with the intention to end war, but instead to start it and destroy the entire New Republic. If the Empire were still around, there would be no First Order. The Republic the Rebels wanted to create? Thoroughly ineffective. Their entire navy was based on one planet and destroyed instantly. Oops. The Death Star actually helps cause the Ethic of Care - by aiming to end war, it saves lives. By ensuring peace, justice, and order, it ensures future generations live in a safe, secure galaxy. By ensuring the continuation of the Empire, it ensures the continuation of peace and order.
As a side note: the character my opponent mentions, Tenn Graneet, is not from the movies - thus, it is not canon per the terms of this debate. It is not even canon even in terms of the broader non-film canon - he was a character under the old Star Wars EU, which is no longer canon. Judges should, accordingly, disregard this portion.
lannan13 forfeited this round.
I extend my arguments.
lannan13 forfeited this round.
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