The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,231 times Debate No: 68204
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (16)
Votes (3)




My opponent debatability and I have agreed to debate the January PF resolution. Sides have been pre-determined, and we will follow National Forensics League PF rules as follows.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Case/Constructive
Round 3: Rebuttal
Round 4: Sumarty/FF
Also, I propose a solution to lack of crossfire: after cases and rebuttals we each post three questions in the comment section. That way we have three per crossfire, more or less what would be involved in a normal crossfire.
Debate Round No. 1


First, thank you to Con for accepting what is likely to be an excellent debate. I'd like to start by letting Con and the voters know that my following arguments are nearly identical to the case my partner and I run in Public Forum, so it may seem slightly more like a traditional PF round rather than a traditional DDO round.

The best defense is a good offense. Since I agree with this popular expression, and so we affirm the resolved: United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations. I will prove our position through the following two contentions.

1.Offensive operations are more effective
2.Offensive operations increase UN"s credibility

Before returning to my first contention it is important to make note that as Pro, I do not have to prove that offensive engagement is the right strategy in every circumstance, but rather some circumstances.

Let"s return to my first contention, that offensive operations are more effective. For some time now, the Democratic Republic of the Congo"s eastern Kivu province has been plagued by the militia "M23". This group is extremely dangerous, and as put by the Human Rights Watch "M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are responsible for widespread war crimes, including summary executions, rapes, and forced recruitment." [1] This group is obviously a threat to the civilians in the region, and some action must be taken against them. The UN peacekeeping forces have tried and failed to defeat them while following normal protocol. An example of this is their loss of the city of Goma, which M23 rebels took over with little resistance from the peacekeepers. According to BBC "The 19,000-strong UN force in DR Congo, known by the acronym MONUSCO, did not intervene." [2] These troops could not intervene due to the reason that they were not authorized to use offensive force. However, following this debacle, the UN took drastic action and created the Force Intervention Brigade on March 28th, 2013. This brigade is far different from other peacekeeping operations because they were authorized to use offensive force, and this authorization has proven effective. On November 2nd, 2013 the Washington Post reported the success of the FIB, stating that "This week, the Congolese and U.N. forces [the FIB] pushed the rebels of the M23 movement out of major towns, including their last primary stronghold of Bunagana, near the Ugandan border." [3] The FIB, only 3,069 strong managed to accomplish what 19,000 strong unit of MONUSCO troops could not. They managed to not only defeat the rebels, but expel them from all of their strongholds in the DRC. In fact, there is such wide consensus of success that the Congo has asked for even more help from the UN in order to eradicate another large threat, a rebel group known as the FDLR. Offensive operations should be used because they have demonstrated extreme effectiveness when compared to traditional peacekeeping methods.

Now moving to our second contention, offensive operations increase the UN"s credibility. As I have previously mentioned, the organization M23 that the Force Intervention Brigade defeated were a horrible group, committing many war crimes. The defeat of this group by the FIB boosts the UN"s credibility, specifically as a peacekeeping institution. This credibility increase is very important, because it makes the UN appear as an institution whose purpose is to create and enforce peace. With this increased credibility, the UN will be able to do more in order to help more people, because more nations will begin to see the UN as an increasingly effective and credible institution. However, this credibility increase can only occur if the UN is able to engage enemies in offensive operations, such as the Force Intervention Brigade was able to do in Kivu against the M23 rebels. If we were to not allow the UN to conduct offensive operations, they will return to the traditional image of UN peacekeepers who stood by and watched as people were slaughtered in front of them. As PBS frontline stated during an episode titled 100 Days of Slaughter, the Triumph of Evil "Some U.N. camps shelter civilians, but most of the U.N. peacekeeping forces, [such as the] United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda stand by while the slaughter goes on." [4] Such ideas of inactivity do nothing to boost the UN"s credibility as a peacekeeping organization. So ultimately, going in offensively boosts the credibility of the United Nations so that they are continuously able to successfully negotiate peace in instances where they are needed.

In conclusion, UN peacekeepers need to be able to engage the enemy offensively because it is more effective than the alternative of defensive engagement, and the tool of offensive engagement will allow the UN to boost credibility as an organization. Thank you.



I negate the resolution which states resolved: UN peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.


Peacekeepers- provide security and political and peacebuilding support to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace. They are guided via three basic principles: impartiality, consent of parties, and only use of defensive operations (what the debate is over)
Power - legal or official authority, capacity, or right
Offensive - more robust mandates that go beyond self defense or defense of the mandate given to peacekeepers

C1: Offensive operations have failed in the past and will continue to fail.
Sloan explains: “UN peacekeeping operations are ill-suited to operations requiring the use of offensive force: they lack the personnel, the equipment, and the effective leadership required (1).“
Point A: Peacekeepers do not have the personnel or the equipment.
Global Policy explains, “The UN experiences difficulty in recruiting a sufficient number of well-trained peacekeepers, and providing them with the appropriate equipment (2).” Lacking troops and equipment has been a long standing problem for the UN. The UNDOF mission dealing with Syria and various rebel groups brought these problems to light in 2013. Besheer documents 900 lightly armed troops being caught in a cross-fire and armed opposition, resulting in both abductions and injuries (3). Offensive operations require more personnel and weapons, as they are more dangerous. Seet performed a meta analysis encompassing all of the deaths of UN peacekeepers and found a significant increase in the past 40 years. The analysis documents that on average, death by hostile acts for a UN peacekeeper has increased by over 50%. Seet explains that this increase in deaths happened due to increased use of force and offensive operations (4). These statistics show that offensive operations are risky. Thus, the UN should not engage in such operations when they are already lacking in personnel and equipment.
Point B: Peacekeepers do not have effective leadership.
Transparency International made a report of corruption and peacekeeping, documenting 28 corruption risks stemming from political framework, troop contribution, and mission operations. Mission operations, the most relevant category, documents problems with bribery, theft, trust funds, resource exploitation, sexual exploitation, and asset disposal among other things. The report explains, “Mandates rarely mention it, and training centres currently do not provide any meaningful guidance on how peacekeepers can prevent corruption from becoming more entrenched in the host nation and in the mission itself (5).” Such a corrupt force can hardly be expected to execute offensive operations well.

C2: Failed offensive operations have decidedly negative impacts.
It is important to remember than any donor to the UN can withdraw their forces at any time. Thus, once a particular country suffers losses of troops in an offensive operation, they have an opportunity to remove their troops from the peacekeeping force, thus causing the peacekeeping force as a whole to become weaker. This happened with the US in the Somali Crisis, one of the most profound UN failures. Somalia was left without a central government in the 1990’s, resulting in the need for UN intervention in the form of an offensive operation. On October 3, 1993 rebel forces shot down two helicopters, causing the death of 18 US soldiers, 25 peacekeepers, and hundreds of Somalis. This led to something researchers call “Somalia Syndrome.” Patman defines this syndrome as, “a risk averse approach to intervention in civil conflicts, especially if such involvement ran the risk of US casualties (6).” This newfound reluctance the US developed towards sending troops to dangerous areas contributed to the Rwandan genocide and the Srebrenica massacre because the US simply stopped sending troops and getting involved. Thus, these events were not caused solely by the UN’s inability to perform offensive operations; rather, these events were caused by the UN’s fear of engaging in operations due to unsuccessful ones in the past. All it takes is one unsuccessful operation for donors to start withdrawing troops, making the use of defensive force only preferable and necessary if the UN is to maintain a functional peacekeeping force.

C3: The aftermath of offensive operations negatively impacts the UN.
Offensive operations are undoubtedly of a higher caliber than other UN mandates, meaning that peacekeepers will most likely be unable to perform such operations without doing significant damage to a country. Once the damage is done, it must be fixed (and the responsibility to undo the damage lies with the peacekeepers). Peacekeepers are then forced to devote their resources to nation building during the aftermath of a conflict. Thus, something known as a mission-creep is created. Mission-creep can be defined as “a gradual shift in objectives during the course of a military campaign, often resulting in an unplanned long-term commitment.” Mission-creeps cause two problems. Firstly, mission-creeps drain the UN peacekeeping force of resources, pertaining to both money and personnel. Nation building expenditures cost more than one would think. The UN spent 13 billion dollars on nation building in Kosovo and Srebrenica, a very small area. Also, personnel are often deployed for an unnecessarily long time due to mission-creeps. Bacevich notes that troops can be deployed for 5 years longer than intended due to the shifting of objectives. Secondly, even the thought of a mission-creep will deter donor countries from sending troops (similar to Somalia Syndrome) Mincieli, when talking about the UN’s offensive operation in Congo, explains that “Potential host countries may bar the UN from deploying peacekeepers due to a fear of mission creep, sidelining UN peace operations from exercising responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security (8).” This exacerbates the UN’s perpetual struggles pertaining to lack of personnel. Thus, even if an offensive operation is successful, it still will have a decidedly negative long term impact.

Cross Examination Questions:

1. Is a force with low personnel and weapon shortages capable of performing more dangerous operations? If yes, why?
2. Have the UN peacekeepers actually increased the quality of life for those in Congo? How do you know another rebel group won’t take M23’s place? Would you agree that the long term impacts of the offensive operation are unknown?
3. Would you agree that the UN cannot perform offensive operations on a regular basis? If not, what sources support the idea that the situation in Congo can be replicated frequently?

Since my sources were already saved as screenshots on my computer for easy access in irl debate rounds, I uploaded my sources to and put them in an album. All the URL's should be seen at the top of the source and I have the link to each screenshot below.
Debate Round No. 2


I'd hoped to have my crossfire questions answered before I posted this round, so Con please answer them despite the fact that I've already posted this round.

Now to begin with my rebuttals.

To my opponent's first contention I will have five major responses.
1. Offensive operations have succeeded in the past. Refer back to my case. I have proven that the UN's Force Intervention Brigade was able to successfully defeat the M23 rebels in the Congo [1], and the mission was so effective that the UN and Congo are already laying the groundwork for a mission to defeat another major rebel group, the FDLR. [2] Obviously offensive ops can be effective.
2. The UN can overcome a lack of resources. Modern offensive peacekeeping is often supported resources from international and regional coalitions which allocate their troops and supplies to the UN. [3] With the support of these other multinational organizations, the UN can overcome this problem.
3. UN resources are expanding. China has become an increasingly large supporter of the UN by donating larger and larger numbers of troops. China has the largest number of troops in the UN when compared to all of the other permanent members of the Security Council (1,900 at time of article) and is only going to continue to grow in their number of donations. [4]
4. The success in the DRC will convince more countries to join. Obviously, everyone wants in on success. That means that since the FIB worked so well, countries will be more likely to allocate troops.
5. Leadership will improve. The UN is always looking for ways to improve, including self-investigation. The most prominent example is the Brahimi Report, where the UN looked into nearly every problem within it's structure and offered solutions which it quickly began to implement. [5] This means that the UN is continuously going to put better people in better positions, and will eventually return to strong leadership nearly free of corruption. Additionally, this "failure" in the ranks has obviously not stopped the FIB from succeeding in the Congo, so this argument falls flat.

For the second Con point I will have three major responses.
1. Military engagements all have consequences. This point is non-unique to UN offensives but rather applies to military involvement altogether. It is better that we attempt to get involved and stop the crimes against humanity carried out by the M23 rebels rather than sit by and do nothing.*
2. Victories in offensives minimize the impact. As I have proven, the FIB was successful in the Congo. Successful missions mean less damage.*
3. Con's Somalia example is inaccurate. The US military was in Somalia at the same time as the UN, but the two remained separate entities. [6]

Now for my opponent's final point, I will have two responses.
1. Again, victories minimize the impact. When the mission is successful, the UN has minimal reparations.*
2. Mission creep is more prevalent in defensive mandates than offensive. Defensive missions suffer from mission creep because the original mission is defense... Then humanitarian aid... Then nation building... The mission shifts objectives. The example Con cited was the Congo, but this falls flat because the mission since 1999 has been purely defensive. The offensive mission was quick and got to the root. M23 is gone. FDLR was quickly made the new target. Once stabilization is achieved, the FIB will pull out, the mission is clear: Defeat the rebels.*

*All starred responses are logic-based.
[1] (This one was already cited in my constructive, so if you wish to read into each source, this link will be repetitive)
[6] There is no link for this one, it's from the novel "Seal Team Six" by Howard Wasdin. Autobiography of a Team Six sniper that was deployed in Somalia.


I'll start by attacking my opponent's case. I'll then move on to rebuild my own. Also sorry for being dumb and not realizing that CX goes in the comments.

The Pro Case

Offensive operations are more effective:
Pro's point relies on the success of one example: Congo. There are several reasons why the use of an offensive operation in Congo doesn't justify the long term authorization of offensive operations.
Firstly, the situation in Congo isn't any better. Reuters states, "Tens of thousands of civilians are likely to be forced to flee their homes during a planned offensive by Congolese and UN forces against the Rwandan Hutu rebels." Now that M23 has been disarmed, another rebel group has emerged. The problem is, there are a multitude of other rebel groups in the Congo besides FDLR and the fact that FDLR has stepped up after the elimination of M23 shows that actually fixing the situation in Congo will take multiple successful offensive operations. Every offensive operation sufficiently weakens the UN, as I have demonstrated in my second and third contentions. If an operation fails, donors will withdraw their troops, exacerbating troop shortages. Even just having an offensive operation drains the UN of funds and troops due to the mission creep that is created. So, since there is no way for the UN peacekeepers to actually improve the situation in Congo without multiple operations, and since the UN in it's current state is unfit to perform multiple offensive operations, Congo does not justify the continued authorization of more robust mandates.
Beyond this, Congo is only *one* success. Under mandate VII, peacekeepers have actually been using offensive operations for around 60 years, and most of them have been unsuccessful. Firstly, reference the Somali crisis, documented in my second contention. The UN-ordered attack caused the US to withdraw many troops from the peacekeeping forces, thus worsening the Rwandan genocide. Sloan documents ONUC (a mission in Congo, 1960), one of the first offensive operations by the UN, as a failure. Dorn elaborates, “The Congo mission highlighted many organizational difficulties for the United Nations. As a mission of unprecedented complexity, cobbled together in a rush, it experienced difficulties with command and control, intelligence (at least initially), and the application of force.” Another example would be UNPROFOR: a failed peace enforcement operation charged with protecting civilians in ‘safe areas’ in the former Yugoslavia (including, tragically, the ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica where some 8,000 thousand men and boys were murdered while peacekeepers were pushed to one side).

Offensive operations increase credibility:
A more truthful way to phrase this would be *successful* offensive operations increase credibility. Cross apply all my examples of failed offensive operations: they all decreased UN credibility. Since I am winning that offensive operations are unlikely to be successful, pro must lose on the point. Moreover, the UN currently isn't a credible force. The UN deals with a multitude of corruption issues within peacekeeping leadership, and doesn't have enough well-trained troops or weapons. Thus, in the UN's current state, they must increase their credibility before engaging in offensive operations to preserve diplomatic ties.
Pro specifically talks about the Rwandan genocide. Reference my second contention in my constructive. The reason the UN was so uninvolved was a result of not their inability to engage in offensive operations, but rather the UN's reluctance to create broader mandates due to the fact that Somalia syndrome weakened the UN. Also, just because the UN peacekeeping forces were successful on a small scale mission in Congo doesn't mean that the UN peacekeeping forces are likely to be successful on a large scale mission during the time of a mass genocide.

The Con Case

C1: Offensive operations will fail.

First pro references Congo as an example. Cross apply my attacks on his case where I explain why the success in Congo doesn't mean the UN is fit to have the authority to engage in offensive operations.

Ignore pro's arguments about the likelihood of the UN gaining the needed resources to engage in offensive operations. (specifically his responses 2, 3, and 5) The resolution implies that this debate is over the current state of the UN. Whether or not the UN is able to engage in offensive operations in the future is entirely irrelevant. Right now the UN is unfit to engage in such operations, thus such operations should not be authorized. If you, as a voter, do not buy this, look to the fact that pro hasn't shown that the UN *will* overcome the current problems. Pro has only shown that the UN *can.* This argument is uncompelling. I could easily argue that it is possible for the US to overcome the deficit, but the likelihood that the US actually will is overwhelmingly low.

Pro's claim that the more troops will want to join the peacekeeping forces due to the success in Congo is absurd. My Seet meta-analysis has shown that death through hostile acts for UN peacekeeping has increased by 50% due to increased use of force. Few countries will want to bring more troops into an unnecessarily dangerous environment. Also, I'll extend my Mincielli evidence that shows donors are deterred from allowing their troops to engage in operations that increase the chance of a mission creep.

C2: Failed offensive operations are bad.

Pro's claim that this argument is non unique is trumped by my Seet evidence which demonstrates the increased danger that offensive operations cause for the troops involved. Military intervention can happen without the use of offensive operations, invalidating the claim that the UN is "sitting by and doing nothing."

Victories in offensives do not minimize the impact. Extend my third contention. Regardless of how successful a mission is, the UN will still have to undo the damage they have caused in the form of nation building. 13 billion was spent in the small country of Kosovo alone. Moreover, the UN has to make a huge commitment if they want to better the area dealing with rebel groups. Cross apply my attack on pro's first contention where I showed that such a commitment will drain the UN of resources even if the first few attacks were mildly successful. One unsuccessful offensive outweighs a successful one because donors withdrawing their troops is something the UN cannot easily overcome.

The event in Somalia was UN ordered but US lead. However, the leadership behind this attack doesn't actually matter because I'm not using it to gauge the UN's chance of success (although keep in mind that the UN was highly involved). I'm using this example to show the aftermath of a bad offensive operation.

C3: The aftermath of all offensive operations are bad.

The UN will have an equal amount of reparations in a successful mission as they will in an unsuccessful mission. Regardless of how well a mission goes, the use of force is still increased. When the peacekeepers use air strikes and tanks and other effective weapons in an offensive operation, they are given the task of fixing the damage done. Humanitarian aid is an entirely different area that the UN deals with that is unrelated to the topic at hand so don't buy pro's claims that defensive operations create mission creeps due to humanitarian aid.
The example I cited in Congo happened right before the offensive in Congo happened. Donors withdraw their troops because they didn't want to deal with the inevitable mission creep that would be created, as well as it's consequences.

The resolution has been negated.

Debate Round No. 3


I'll be focusing today's round into two key voting issues, but first be reminded of the observation I made during the constructive round. Pro doesn't have to use this power in every situation. In fact, I advocate not using it in most situations. The BoP for Pro is to prove that the UN should have the power to do so when it's the appropriate course of action. Pro has fulfilled its BoP by proving both of the following voting issues.

1. The Pro and Con have agreed that when offensive operations are successful, the UN's credibility is increased. The mission in Congo, the first offensive one in about twenty years, was a major success. The M23 rebels have been nearly eradicated, and the Congo has already asked the UN to work with them to fight the next biggest threat, the FDLR rebels. The UN's credibility has been boosted in the DRC, especially in the wake of years of unsuccessful traditional missions (as stated in my constructive). When 3,000 men can do in a year what 19,000 couldn't in over a decade, it boosts UN credibility. My example is about twenty years after the most recent Con example, so it should be preferred.

2. Offensive operations can be successful. I have again proven the success of the FIB in Congo, to the extent where the Congo already wants the UN to intervene again. Again, 3,000 men did in a year what 19,000 couldn't in over a decade. When the most recent implementation was a major success, eliminating the largest threat to the Congo. The fact that the most recent example of an offensive operation has been overwhelmingly successful means that the UN is justified in using offensive ops, therefore should have the capability, and is enough of a reason to affirm. For these reasons I urge the voters to go Pro.

Great debate Con, and thanks to both my opponent and the voters!


debatability forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
Incidentally, when I first joined, this was in the challenge period ... it was the first debate I read =)
Posted by 1harderthanyouthink 1 year ago
*Facepalm* @the votebombs
Posted by thett3 1 year ago
Despite the forfeit, this debate still goes to Con because Pro's only example of the M23 rebels was significantly mitigated. Con shows how even though these rebels were defeated, just more groups grew in their place. Even if this point stood, it would be a tough sell to vote Pro when Con cited so many failed operations. When combined with the multiple failures Con cites and the credibility argument, there's little reason to believe that offensive operations are on balance beneficial. Both sides tell me that success/failure impact credibility, and with more failures than successes, the credibility argument goes to Con.

The only thing that gives me pause was Pro's framework that he only has to prove offensive operations are effective in certain situations, not all of them, but he didn't really frame his arguments to win the debate under this. If he had given a solid example of a beneficial offensive operation and had a stronger 4th round, I probably would've voted for him on the framework alone.
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 1 year ago

"United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda stand by while the slaughter goes on" - Pro, Round 1.

"With the support of these other multinational organizations, the UN can overcome this problem." - Pro, Round 2.
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 1 year ago
The quote below shows that Pro (intentionally or unintentionally) made an argument to change the "rules of engagement," and NOT expand the UN peacekeeping mission.
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 1 year ago
"UN peacekeepers need to be able to engage the enemy offensively because it is more effective than the alternative of defensive engagement," - Pro, Round 1.
Posted by debatability 1 year ago
@jingle_bombs the entirety of your rfd consists of arguments to reject the con that pro didn't actually make
Posted by Jingle_Bombs 1 year ago
Pro wins do to the fact that he (intentionally or unintentionally) limited his advocacy to the use of "offensive force" by UN peacekeepers and a simple change in the "rules of engagement" vs something instead like "offensive war," which would have saw a repeat of the bizarre UN peacekeeping mission to Korea (1950-1953). This simplification by Pro allows for much simpler justifications to be made for UN peacekeepers to be able to "fire back" at declared enemies without having to actually expand the mission of UN peacekeepers to formally engaging in offensive wars, which of course would have involved tremendous funding, coordination, and huge standing armies. Given Pro's short-list of proposals then, I see no reason to believe that UN peacekeepers would be ill-equip for the type of limited "offensive operation" that Pro talks about. I also see no reason to believe in the political liability or mission creep arguments that a change in rules of engagement would entail, given the fact that a UN mandate is one of the most recognizable political entities there is (where contributions are made by multiple nations) and that the ultimate "mission creep" is actually to allow genocide, disasters, and human rights abuses (like Rwanda) to continue without intervention.
Posted by debatability 1 year ago
crap... i was just too busy and i forgot :(:(
Posted by warren42 1 year ago
1. There is no way to ensure it, but it can't be proven that they won't, either.
2. a) Yes. b) True, but it doesn't need to be constant.
3. Eliminating the biggest threat is a step in the right direction.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by bsh1 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Pro for not forfeiting. Arguments to Con. Ultimately, all of the arguments in the debate hinge on the efficacy of offensive operations. If they tend to fail, they won't increase the credibility of the UN mission, for example. I find that the sole example of the Congo was not sufficient to show that peacekeeping missions tend to succeed. As Con writes: "peacekeepers have actually been using offensive operations for around 60 years, and most of them have been unsuccessful." This indicates to me that offensive operations are not going to generate the kinds of goods Pro talks about, and are in fact inclined to generate net harms. While there may be instances of success, these appear to be outliers. Had Pro had more evidence than just cherry-picking the Congo, my mind might have been changed. As it is, I vote Pro. Good was close! [Disclosure: I was asked to vote by Con.]
Vote Placed by thett3 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: see comment
Vote Placed by Jingle_Bombs 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Rfd in comments.