The Instigator
Krestoff
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
YYW
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

The hegemonic practices of soft power and hard power are immoral

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
YYW
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/14/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,804 times Debate No: 30279
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (3)

 

Krestoff

Pro

Since a second opponent has forfieted on this topic, I'd like to try this debate again. Please do not accept if you do not have formal debate experience or at least a few political debates under your belt here.

To limit the debate to a reasonable scope, I am hoping we can discuss this in the context of Western actors and Western philosophy - unless my challenger feels there significant issues that we need to touch on by non-Western actors and moral paradigms. If so, please mention which issues from outside of the "Western World" you wish to discuss so that I may do some background research.

Rules:
1. Citations & clarifications should be made in the Comments section
2. Semantic arguments past the R2 will be discounted, they're just a detrment to the discussion.
3. Independant moral frameworks for analysis are allowed (e.g. Pro uses Utilitarianism, Con uses Kantian Morality), both debaters should engage with the different frameworks if new ones are proposed. Limit 1 per debater.

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Constructive Arguments
Round 3: Constructive Rebuttals
Round 4: Final Rebuttals (no new arguments)

Definitions from Merrian-Webster:

Hegemony (n) - "Leadership or dominance displayed by a group over another group."

Soft power (n) - "A non violent approach to international relations, typically involving economic or cultural influence."

Hard power (n) - "An approach to international relations that involves the use of force or intimidation."

Western players (n, pl) - "The collection of specific nations located in Western Europe and North America, generally supporting UN and NATO resolutions such as democracy, global stability, and human rights, among other things."
YYW

Con

Many thanks to my opponent for his offering this debate.

I will begin by offering an analysis of the resolution only in Round 1, that any questions regarding each of our burdens of proof may be clarified before proceeding to debate Round 2.

Analysis of the Resolution:

The resolution states that "The hegemonic practices of hard and soft power are immoral." My opponent must first offer a moral framework by which to evaluate the practices he posits are immoral, and then offer arguments that demonstrate both the immorality of soft and hard power on the basis of whatever moral system he provides.

My burden as CON is to demonstrate that the hegemonic practices of soft and hard power are NOT immoral. This could mean that the hegemonic practices of hard and soft power are either morally neutral, morally permissible, morally justified or not evaluable on a moral basis.

I look forward to my opponent's case.

Peace out,

YYW
Debate Round No. 1
Krestoff

Pro


I'd like to thank my opponent for accepting this challenge and I agree to his interpretation.

As per the resolution, I am asserting that hegemonic practices are immoral as a whole and it is my burden to prove them both to be immoral.

In the actor of the United States, I will offer the implications of Hegemony as a case example. While there may be problems with focusing on this actor, we can see the implications of it's hegemony more clearly because of it's hegemonic strength. Finally, I will review how Hegemonic practice is immoral by interrogating the methodology of the practice and a indictment of it's harms.

Actions of Soft-Power:

The United States regularly takes a leading role in world affairs, utilizing it's position as the economic, political and military power house of the international stage. It uses the practice of hegemony to attempt to maintain it's dominance by spreading democracy.

Politically, using “Soft-Power”, we can agree that the U.S.A. displays dominance in the U.N. where it is both a founding member and a permanent member of the Security Council where it has veto power over U.N. resolutions. The U.S.A. has regularly used it's veto power to protect unpopular allies such as The State of Israel and South Africa during Apartheid, such as condemnations and termination of military & nuclear collaboration. [1] Additionally, the United States has used their veto power to protect themselves from scrutiny:
  • The 1999 resolution calling the U.S.A. to end it's trade embargo on Cuba, which by that time had been widely opposed by the international community.
  • The 1989 resolution condemning U.S.A. support for the Contra army in Nicaragua who were fighting the SNLF, a major democratic socialist political party in Nicaragua.[2]
There are a number of other examples but in the interest of brevity we will only cite these.

Economically, using “Soft-Power”, again the U.S.A. displays dominance in it's economic policies. For instance, the United States has utilized it's economic Soft-Power over Cuba in order to prompt regime change through embargo. However, clearly, there has been none. Instead this policy has only served to hurt the people of Cuba, both in putting them at higher risk of death and socioeconomic suffering. [3] Additionally, the embargoes have actually empowered Fidel Castro by giving him an ever-present foreign enemy and an excuse for the failures of his command economy [4] causing opposition within Cuba to be nearly nonexistent because of the population's dependence on the Cuban government. This same scenario has been played out throughout the world; Iran, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and North Korea are a few examples of current and historic failures of economic Soft-Power that have only served to hurt the local population. Economic

Another form of “Soft-Power” is food aid. The examples here are numerous but a common trend between them all is that:
1. The food aid was captured and used by dominant political & military entities to enforce cooperation on their people. For an example, we can look to Somalia where local warlords intercepted food aid and used it in conjunction with their Monopoly on Death to enforce their will, which essentially meant they had the Monopoly on Life and Death.
2. The food aid had the effect of crippling local agrarian economies with demotivation and causing dependence on foreign aid in order to survive. “The primary concerns are that beneficiaries will lose the motivation to work to improve their own livelihoods after receiving benefits, or that they will deliberately reduce their work efforts in order to qualify for the (food aid).” [5]

Actions of Hard-Power:

“Hard-Power” is most often observed through the use of military force and deployment. This takes several forms; Conventional Warfare (Iraq & Afghanistan), Covert Warfare (the “War on Terrorism”) and Deployment of Intimidation (Turkey & Japan). All forms have similar effects so we will consider them together:

The typical implications of warfare are economic destruction (both instantaneous and continuous) widespread casualties, political unrest and cultural objectification by one party or the other. While the material implications of war are reason enough to shy away from it, the cultural implications are just as powerful because they have both a large scope and a multi-generational lifetime. What are these implications?

1. Objectification; during and after conflict, adversaries socially construct the other as an enemy, a threat. This creates unfounded prejudice upon all people associated with that “enemy”. For example, when George H.W. Bush implicated Muslims as the ones responsible for the 9/11 attacks, hate crime against people of Middle Eastern heritage and other groups such as Indians and Turks skyrocketed 3000%. This indicates a drastically shifted attitude that views persons from the Middle East, even other groups not even related to the issue, were reduced to a common denominator: brown people, "terrorists", an enemy. This stripped individuals of their humanity and enabled them to be treated as non-humans.


2. Threat Rhetoric; both sides of conflict use rhetoric that construct the other as an ever-present threat which enables two clear responses:


a. Asymmetrical Violence: The construction of threat rhetoric, in addition to the pains inflicted by warfare, creates cultural responses among subaltern populations that favor radical actions against the “other”. [6] This can be observed in the origin of Al-Queda and it's growth during the Iraq War and in response to efforts in Somalia:


“The U.S.-led war on Iraq gave Al Qaeda the opportunity to reinvigorate its weakened terrorist network with new recruits and more funding” [7]

“In response to the intervention of U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces (largely Christians) in July 2006, Somali Islamists looked to al-Qaeda for support.“ [8]

b. Fascism: Naomi Wolf argues that any state, including our own, can quickly move to fascism in ten steps, the most critical of which is “invoking a terrifying internal and external enemy.” [9] We can observe this in Iran currently and Somalia which is trending towards fascism in it's opposition parties. This has implications for U.S. citizens as well however as they (we) are subject to the same rhetoric that enables the development of fascism.


Moral Weighing:
So, how is this all immoral? In order to answer this, we will use a utilitarian framework: that which does the most good with the least harm is moral. While “harm” is a generic consideration, anything that causes suffering is a harm, we will evaluate what is “good” through the Western ideological championing of democracy, liberty and freedom. Essentially, if these ideas become manifest directly because of some action, then that action is “good”. These are ideals that, in some ways, Hegemonic practices attempt to spread. However, the harms caused by Hegemony not only inhibits this spread but reverses it. Now, while I will admit that the quantification of such comparisons of "most" and "least" are subjective, it provides our audience to use their own interpretations of our arguments instead of using a tit-for-tat approach which serves only to reduce the debate to "who can make the most arguments" instead of who can make compelling & educational arguments.

With that said, lets do some weighing:

Hegemonic practice causes a large amount of harm; the effects of embargoes and food aid on local populations which both serve to empower their leaders instead of causing uprisings, the effects of threat rhetoric and objectification.
At the same time, these effects are counter productive to the supposed "good" that the practices could do by enabling and encouraging fascism.

Therefore, the practices of Hegemony are neither good nor cause little harm. On this basis, they are immoral.

I look forward to my opponent's arguments.
YYW

Con

Many thanks to my opponent for his perspective.

Hard and Soft Power

As Wilson (2008) explains: “In international politics, having ‘power’ is having the ability to influence another to act in ways in which that entity would not have acted otherwise.” (Wilson, p. 114) Hard power denotes the strategic use of coercive force or the threat of force, whereas soft power is the capacity of persuasion in the absence of coercion and imply the absence of force. Methods of exercising hard power take the form of military intervention or economic sanctions to advance the interests of actors, whereas soft power is a concept developed by Harvard University professor Joseph Nye is exercised by getting an actor to change their behavior to suit one’s interests with neither the threat or use of force or coercion. Both hard and soft power are tools of statecraft, whereby actors attempt to influence other actors to advance their interests. Statecraft, simply defined, is the use of power in the realm of international politics; and comprises the methods and strategies states use to advance their national interests (Kaplan, 1952 at pp. 548). So, statecraft includes both hard and soft power which are exercised by state actors to advance their interests. If statecraft is the use of power (either hard or soft) to advance a state’s interests, to morally evaluate practices of statecraft requires (a) a consideration of the interests pursued, (b) the means utilized to pursue them, (c) the ends effectuated and/or (d) the intent of the pursuit of the interests advanced.

To begin, it cannot be said that a state pursuing its interests is immoral because by definition politicians are morally obliged to serve the interests of the constituents they represent whether the state is a democracy or not. So, because of the moral obligation of political leaders to act in the interests of their constituents, where measures of statecraft are exercised by political leaders to serve those interests, it must be said that states are adhering to their moral obligation. However, the means by which those interests are pursued may not escape scrutiny also. The basis on which to evaluate the means of a state pursuing its interest, however, must begin with a calculation of maximized utility to a state’s interests. If, for instance, the means of pursuing an end renders the attainment of the end impossible or more costly than the good the end’s achievement would hypothetically render, it cannot be said that the pursuit of the end in question is good. However, where the means by which an end is pursued requires less harm than the good of the end achieved, political leaders are compelled of necessity to pursue that end and therefore morally justified in doing so, because pursuing the good in question means advancing the interests of state and likewise the interests of its people. The intent, however, of a pursued end, must similarly be scrutinized. Where the intent of any state action is predicated upon the advancement of human rights, the intent of that action is itself good -perhaps to such an extent that the intent of state action to that end is beyond impunity.

Cases of American Hegemonic Statecraft Criticized by My Opponent:

Soft Power
1. Security Council Veto Power International law and norms proscribe the means by which security challenges are addressed in international politics. The US enjoys permanent membership status on the UNSC. Likewise, the US enjoys the freedom to vote for its interests and does so accordingly. Because the US’s votes on the UNSC are in pursuit of those interests, it cannot be said that those votes are immoral. (Let it be noted that because UNSC resolutions carry the threat of force from member nations, it likewise cannot be said that this is a measure of soft power -but this is the heading under which my opponent categorized it, so I will refute it as such.)

2. US Trade Embargo to Cuba It cannot be said that the United States is culpable for the economic failures of any nation with which US has not engaged in trade for more than five decades. Because the United States does not trade with Cuba, the US unworthy of blame for the economic status quo of Cuba or the impact to the Cuban people. Whatever spurious connection my opponent seeks to make is inexcusably devoid of a causal link, and as such reduces to the logic of post hoc egro propter hoc.

3. Food Aid My opponent argues that American food aid to foreign countries is immoral because it was mishandled by non-Americans upon delivery to foreign countries. If we are to assume that this is the case, we must hold Americans responsible for actions which they did not themselves commit. That America intends to feed the world’s hungry does not make them morally culpable for the actions of those who hold ransom the benevolence of the United States. Also, where the United States has recognized a negative economic impact of food aid to local producers, it has discontinued providing the form of aid which caused harm, and employed alternative methods to at once economically empower local producers and advance the nutrition of the world’s hungry. Indeed, “U.S. food aid programs are more than a hand out, they are a hand up, improving living conditions, incomes, nutrition and agriculture.” (foodaid.org)

Hard Power
1. Islam, Rhetoric and 9/11 My opponent argues that Bush (I’m sure he meant George W. Bush, not H. W. Bush) fostered American prejudice against all muslims and socially constructed an terrorist enemy of “brown people.” This is factually incorrect. During his Address to the Nation on September 20, 2001 and thereafter Bush made direct distinctions between Islam and the perversion of it practiced by the terrorists who perpetrated the September 11 attacks. Moreover, even if this fictitious “social construction” of threats did take place, because it’s formulation does not entail the coercive exercise of force on other actors, it cannot be properly described as an exercise of hard power.

"The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam." -GWB


2. Fascism My opponent’s point has no bearing on the moral culpability of the United States.

Moral Weighing

The question of moral evaluation must begin with one of moral obligation, which is to ask: “To whom are political leaders obliged?” given that it is indeed political leaders who exercise measures of statecraft. Because political leaders are only morally obliged to serve the interests of their respective states, where exercise of state power in international politics is in the pursuit of state interest, it must be said that those measures of statecraft are moral. Moreover, while my opponent has listed gratuitous examples of US statecraft in various forms, with all examples he either failed to offer sufficient evidence to indicate the moral culpability of the United States for its exercise of power or perpetrated historical falsehood. However, even if it were the case that he did offer sufficient evidence to indicate the moral culpability of the United State’s use of state power in international politics, the mere American use of power in that manor is insufficient to indicate the moral worth of the exercise of state power itself. case because the exercise of state power transcends the United States both in the present and across the years of time. Simply stated, even if one accepts that the United States makes immoral use of statecraft, that is not sufficient to indicate the immorality of all statecraft. So, my opponent has confused the definitions of hard and soft power. He has offered invalid examples to evaluate the morality of state power, none of the examples he has cited -even if they were valid- would be sufficient to affirm the resolution, which states that hegemonic practices of soft power and hard power are immoral.
Debate Round No. 2
Krestoff

Pro

Krestoff forfeited this round.
YYW

Con

My opponent has forfeited his last round.

Extend all arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Krestoff 4 years ago
Krestoff
My bad. Thanks for accepting YYW.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
The quote is from the home page, but if you do decide to challenge me on it, I'll cite articles published in academic journals which prove the claim.
Posted by Krestoff 4 years ago
Krestoff
To simply condense you're moral weighing, would you say you are using the duty of leader's intent a la Kant?

Is there a specific article for the foodaid.org cite or is your intent to use the homepage?
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
SOURCES:

Kaplan, Morton A. "An Introduction to the Strategy of Statecraft." World Politics, Vol. 4 No. 4 (Jul., 1952), pp. 548-576.

Wilson, Ernest J. III. "Hard Power, Soft Power, Smart Power." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 616, Public Diplomacy in a Changing World (Mar., 2008), pp. 110-124. Sage Publications, Inc.

http://www.presidentialrhetoric.com...

http://foodaid.org...
Posted by Krestoff 4 years ago
Krestoff
Just realized that I made the debate 3 round instead of four.... doh
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
I do have a bit of background in this area...
Posted by Krestoff 4 years ago
Krestoff
I'm just glad someone that knows what they're doing accepted.
Posted by YYW 4 years ago
YYW
Ehh, we'll see.
Posted by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
Looks like a promising debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
KrestoffYYWTied
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Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by 1Devilsadvocate 4 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
KrestoffYYWTied
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Vote Placed by Heineken 4 years ago
Heineken
KrestoffYYWTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF