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

This House would Rather be in than Out.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/24/2011 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 825 times Debate No: 17234
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Quick Note: This is a parliamentary style debate, and I am the proposition. My interpretation shall be Resolved: The United States ought to join an international criminal court designed to prevent crimes against humanity.

I hereby declare that a value and value criterion should be used in this round for two reasons.

First, as the proposition debater, I am allowed to determine the grounds for this debate, and I choose to include values in this framework.

Second, since values and criteria force debaters to filter their arguments and clash in the impact calculus, values and criteria are necessary for debate education.

Since the resolution specifies a state as the actor, and states are social institutions, according to Professor John Rawls of Harvard University, the inherent value for the round is Justice, defined as giving each his due.

The resolution charges us to determine whether joining such a court would be just. To assess this question, we must examine natural rights. Natural rights, specifically life, liberty, and property, are possessed by individuals simply because they were born human, and not because the government chooses to grant these rights to anyone. Because states are composed of individuals, and individuals have the obligation to protect people's rights, the primary obligation of any state is to ensure that all people receive the rights and protections that they are due. So, in order to achieve Justice, we must ensure that natural rights are preserved. Thus, my value criterion for this round is the preservation of natural rights.

Observation: The resolution specifies that the United States must join "an international criminal court designed to protect crimes against humanity", but does not select a specific court for the United States to join. This means that any evidence or arguments that pertain to specific courts, such as the ICC, cannot be used in the round because the United States could join a hypothetical, yet currently nonexistent, international court that was created for the same purpose. Prefer this interpretation over my opponent's objections because it is directly in line with the wording of the resolution.

Contention 1: Joining an international criminal court would increase national security by decreasing the likelihood of terrorism. The United States has historically refused to bow to the wishes of the international community and has continued to act in a unilateral and highly unpopular manner for the last decade. For example, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was condemned by many in the international arena, but President Bush decided to pursue the invasion anyways. This has, in turn, created an image of imperialism and unaccountability for the United States across the globe, and has allowed terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda to recruit people who turn into militants because they are disgusted with the actions of the global superpower. If the United States were to join an international court, however, terrorist networks would have more difficulty manipulating the populace because the United States would display a commitment to global human rights and would prove that it is willing to submit itself to multilateral efforts for peace. Thus, by minimizing the terrorist's ability to recruit others, the United States promotes the right to life of its own citizens, the right to life of other citizens, and its own self-interests across the globe. This means that joining an international court would preserve natural rights and thus achieve Justice.

Contention 2: Joining an international criminal court would promote state accountability. Realist theory indicates that the reason that states should act in their own self-interests at the expense of rights is because the international arena is in a state of anarchy, and no actor exists to hold states accountable. An international court designed to protect crimes against humanity would full such a gap, and an endorsement by the world's most powerful nation would grant it the legitimacy needed to act as an actual check on state abuse. This, in turn, would cause states to act in an proper fashion because a higher actor would exist that could prevent nations from pursuing devious ends. Pursuing state accountability protects human rights by minimizing the abuse of state power/tyranny. Thus, by joining the international criminal court, the United States would promote Justice.

Note that the United Nations is NOT an appropriate international body because any one nation in the Security Council can prevent it from acting. An international criminal court would not have any such hindrance, so any disadvantage that exists in the U.N. cannot crossover to the hypothetical court in discussion.

Contention 3: Joining an international criminal court would isolate other malefic states and force them to renounce human rights abuses. Many states successfully avoid being indicted for human rights abuses by pointing to the United States as a hypocritical actor. For example, China has long been able to garner support in the international arena despite U.S. condemnations of its failure to protect human rights because it has been able to point out that such accusations are hypocritical and unfair. If the United States were to remain in isolation, this sentiment will continue to spread because each state can justify committing atrocities on the basis that other states are conducting themselves in a similar manner. If the United States were to join an international criminal court, however, it would mitigate the basis for these claims because it would be forced to adhere to the human rights standards that it projects on others. This, in turn, would isolate tyrannical states like China and Iran and would magnify the international pressure on them to reform their regimes. This, in turn, would cause a global cascade for human rights protections. Thus, by joining an international criminal court, the United States would help the people of other nations receive their natural rights, and thus would achieve Justice.

Overall, joining the international criminal court would promote Justice because it would promote human rights. Thus, I strongly urge an affirmation of today's resolution.

Thank you.


(In the following I will refer to my position as either "the negative"—or, sometimes, as is fitting for parliamentary debate, "the opposition.")

My opponent's presupposing a causal basis for any intended effects is the problem inherent to the resolution (and on a note about effects, this is something that necessarily has to be answered for by my opponent since, as Rawls' definition of justice put forth by my opponent—in a criminally simplistic manner—requires that agents are given their due); the first contention laying the groundwork for the second and third clearly exhibits the problem of causality undermining any claim to impact: the affirmative has not established how joining this court will deter terrorist recruitment—that is, how does A give rise to B?— Or, simply put, how does a court prevent crimes to humanity? I only know of courts that convict crimes against humanity post facto.

Moreover, the question of why terrorists would find the United States' joining this court to be appealing, such that their motivations for carrying out violent acts is quelled, has yet to be addressed--Why would accountability make it difficult to recruit terrorists?—Has the affirmative considered that the motivations for joining a terrorist organization are much more complex than keeping a country in check?—On second thought, perhaps the affirmative has a point, maybe it's simply desirable to make recruitment efforts "more [difficult]"—but wouldn't their strategies for "manipulating the populace" merely adapt, should the United States join this hypothetical court? Their selling point would just differ in content, but not in motivation or content.—Thus, Justice doesn't seem like it would be "achieved" in this superficial act of accountability, for even the most corrupt organizations modify their justifications so as to continue their efforts (which, on this last point, is implicitly my argument against the alleged policing through pressure, from a membership nonetheless,--if, for supposition's sake, tyrannical regimes justify themselves through American hypocrisy, why wouldn't they just modify their justification for tyranny, my opponent assumes these individuals to be more stupid than they are).

Should the clearly fallacious causal basis of my opponent's plan not have been convincing, or the absurdly simplistic assumption of motivations and justifications not have been convincing, perhaps the complexity of raising the issue of uniqueness ought to suffice.

If the state's primary obligation is to ensure the right to and protection of life, liberty, and property, I'd like to ask my opponent if the United States is, in fact, already doing so (what's the status quo?). Are there protections of life in the United States such that there are no monetarily poor individuals who, because they are human and have a right to live, receive the care they require in order to maintain that right?—That is, what's meant by "right to life"?—For one may argue that a fetus has a right to life, and yet one may argue that the poor man on the corner who is starving to death does not have a "right to life,"—furthermore, though this is not an argument advocated by the opposition, has the affirmative considered the famous sentient being argument made by Peter Singer where Dr. Singer claims that what's really due in the instance of, say, a child whose born with cognitive impairment, is to terminate newborns, who lack personhood. Why, you may ask? Because, according to Dr. Singer's claim, lacking personhood—rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness, aspects that will not be developed in the case of said newborn—means having no life whatsoever, cattle has more sentience than said case. And don't mistake here that this argument about right to life here cited is not the argument of the opposition, but it highlights the great defect in my opponent's argument: what do you mean by "life"?—What do you mean by "right to"? Because many would argue that the United States' policy on euthanasia is inhumane since it is a natural life, something anyone is due, to end their life—because it is their own!--This is a crucial issue, my opponent claims that there will be something righteous about joining the hypothetical court (the one with the magical powers of preventing crime), since the United States will be able to clean up the world of bad-guys by putting pressure on allegedly totalitarian regimes—but, this is completely mislead, in fact, it serves to be quite imperial (thus perpetuating the problem my opponent claims to solve), because it will impart occidental-centric values upon the rest of the world—I mean this in all seriousness, why is it that my opponent assumes we must condemn these other nations? Has my opponent considered that in, say, a nation like Saudi Arabia, where, according to we narrow-minded Americans, a woman' rights to liberty are violated, but do not assume that the rights to familial life are in fact protected by Saudi law? The family, simply put, is an integral part of that nation's culture, and those dictates about, say, dress, are family's right in Islamic life, the appearance of the mother of the child, the appearance of the wife of the husband, is private.

Given that it's evident my opponent operates under a pipe-dream (or, simply put, unfounded) causal basis, my opponent has negated the plight of those who resort to inflicting terror, and my opponent doesn't even understand the problem of Justice, I will now propose the better plan.

The opposition's plan is quite simple, in fact it treats all of the faulty presuppositions of the opponent's by not assuming a value system that the United States can export; the United States ought to be the first nation to start a debate league of politicians, from any nation or political organization, to debate issues for the purposes of producing dialogue about values and justice, under the stipulation that none of the views expressed are to be assumed to be an official policy of those nation's participating. This plan would give what's truly due: a moment to discuss why one's values, policies, legal system, foreign policy, is the way it is or ought to be the way it is—had anyone, prior to the invasion of Iraq, bothered to ask Sadaam Hussein he thought would happen if he reformed his country?—did anyone bother to ask whether such a state wouldn't split due to a power struggle between those who have long ties of bad blood and quite different outlooks on what is the good life?—Perhaps the United States may show some humility for a moment, if it decided to engage in transparent debates with others, perhaps this might show that the United States has something to learn, especially since my opponent clearly exhibits its lack of valuing the field of inquiry known as Comparative Justice.

This problem is exhibited quite clearly in my opponent's speech and will be in this subsequent debate: what is justice?--What is right?—What is equitable?—Whose vision of the good life is best?—How can one assess differing value systems?—And so forth.
Debate Round No. 1


Let's start with the value analysis. You can extend the observation at the top of the case that explains that I am allowed to present a value because I am the proposition, and because values promote debate education. Insofar as my opponent has dropped this observation, as well as the value and the value criterion of Justice and the preservation of natural rights, we must view this round in terms of the filters that I have provided. Impacts that do not link to the preservation of natural rights are irrelevant to this round because they do not link back to the overarching standard that has not been challenged. Thus, both sides must attempt to prove that they better uphold natural rights. Unfortunately, my opponent has failed to prove that his counter plan better upholds natural rights than the affirmative case, so you can affirm due to the fact that his impacts are irrelevant.

Next, look to the observation in which he claims that I must prove that the court will actually deter crimes against humanity. The main problem with this analysis is that the resolution stipulates that the court is designed to do this, so we must already presume that the court does so. The issue is whether the United States should join such a court, and not how the court should function, meaning that the observation is irrelevant. Moreover, even if you disregard this, the court would prevent crimes by creating a system of accountability that currently does not exist in the international arena. This would force leaders to protect their people rather than initiating genocides against them because a higher actor could punish the rogue states.

In contention 1, I explained that joining the court would force the United States to display a greater commitment to human rights and would show the world that we are willing to dismantle our outdated image as imperialists and thus would reduce the ability of terrorist networks to manipulate and recruit members of target populations. His only response to this is that they could change their selling point. This response is fallacious for two reasons. First, it is entirely unwarranted; he has given you no analysis as to what the new selling point could be and how it would be more effective than the current one. It is just something that he asserts. He has also provided you with no examples, so there is no empirical evidence that terrorist networks could just change their tactics. Second, the target population only becomes conducive to joining terrorist networks when they are harmed by U.S. imperialism and because they believe that they are not receiving their human rights. Steven Coll explained in a well-known article in the New Yorker that terrorist recruitment has increased 5-fold in the last year simply because the United States rejected a human rights approach to Afghanistan and favored a counterterrorism approach that harmed innocent members of the population instead of the networks themselves. So, even if the networks change their "selling point", members of the populace are less likely to be persuaded if the United States were to improve its image by joining the international court. Thus, you can extend the first contention about terrorism because my opponent has no substantive response to it.

He next critiques the language of rights that I use in my case. To create a fair debate, I think that natural rights should be defined as those set in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, since almost every nation in the world has signed it and has thus agreed to its standards. This solves his interpretation about the language of rights and also shows that in the status quo, the United States does not protect all of the rights that it must guard, both for domestic residents and for people abroad.

Please extend contention 2 about promoting state accountability because it was completely dropped in today's debate. This is important because if the United States legitimizes the court by joining it, then the court could act as an external check on state abuse of power and thus minimizes violations of rights in all nations. This means that joining the court achieves Justice, so you affirm.

He then attempts to turn my analysis about imperialism to use against contention 3, and claims that states could simply change their justifications for abuse. First, please cross-apply my analysis on contention 1 about how this is just and unwarranted assertion. Then cross-apply the analysis about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how that mitigates the rights critique that he uses. Third, look to the fact that rights must be prioritized. For example, a serial killer cannot use his right to liberty to slaughter five innocent children because the right to life is a prerequisite for every other right and is thus protected before the other rights are guarded. This solves his "Saudi Arabia" analysis because we must work to safeguard specific rights, like a woman's right to liberty, over the "right to family" that he proposes is important; in the case of rights conflict, some must be prioritized over others. Finally, even if states change their reasons for committing tyranny, that does not mitigate the fact that they will be isolated and that the rest of the world will place more pressure on them to reform. My opponent claims that this is imperialistic, but that does not matter because a dictator/government's right to rule is secondary to the protection of natural rights for the people. Thus, you can extend the third contention about the global cascade to protect human rights. Because the pressure would force other nations to change, by joining the court and renouncing human rights abuses, the United States preserves natural rights and thus achieves Justice.

Lastly, let's look at the counterplan that my opponent offers, namely creating an international debate league. The first problem with this analysis is that such a league already exists in the form of the United Nations, which is completely ineffective. This means that his counterplan is nothing more than the status quo. Second, even if he clarifies that he meant something else, there is no reason that we simply cannot join both the international court and craft an international political debate league. He has not proven that the two plans are mutually exclusive, so I am going to perm his counterplan and advocate taking both actions. Thus, I solve both the negative case and the affirmative case. Finally, such a league would not be enough to prevent human rights atrocities because it would have no ability to mobilize against rogue states and condemn their leaders for their actions; it would only create an arena in which politicians would meet and debate each other without taking any action. This means that the counterplan will never be able to protect natural rights on its own, and thus is not just unless done in conjunction with the affirmative case. This means that you should vote affirmative because the negative has failed to uphold the basic standards of the round.

Thus, I strongly urge an affirmation of today's resolution.


poppinoffgrounds forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Please extend my case because my opponent dropped the entire thing. This means that you should affirm the resolution. Thank you.


poppinoffgrounds forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Thaddeus 7 years ago
Stick your left in, stick your left leg out. In, out, in, out, you do the hokey cokey and you turn around. Thats what its all about.
Posted by Thaddeus 7 years ago
When I read the title, I had hoped this debate would be on the important topic of the Hokey Cokey.
Posted by lddebater540 7 years ago
I don't think there is a need for one-do you?
Posted by Awed 7 years ago
No plan text?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by thett3 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.