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

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

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 10/31/2015 Category: Arts
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,087 times Debate No: 81864
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (35)
Votes (2)




First round is for thett3's arguments. He can use the last round too if he wants, as long as characters are evenly distributed (i.e. he must reserve characters for the final round from R3, just as lawyers must reserve time for rebuttal in appellate arguments).


Thanks for the challenge, Fourtrouble. Hopefully my 15 minutes of research paid off and I can make a cogent case.

In 1873 one of the most iconic weapons of all time, the Colt .45 revolver, made its way to the market. Despite being an incredibly deadly weapon by the standards of the time the weapon quickly acquired an unusual nickname: The Peacemaker.

Through this example we understand the concept of peace through strength. As Samuel Colt himself said, "The good people in this world are very far from being satisfied with each other and my arms are the best peacemaker." The adage "If you want peace, prepare for war" passed down from our Roman forebears for over 1500 years is still spoken today for a reason--the only way to prevent war and to enact lasting peace is through overwhelming physical force. Because of "muh feels", some would argue that the peacekeepers ought to be prohibited from implementing this kind of force and crushing those who would do evil under its stylish and multinational boot. This is an absurd position and throughout the debate I will prove it.

I want the Peacekeepers to be Peacemakers. As we will see, the only way to do that is through empowering them to offensively engage the enemy.

=Who are the Peacekeepers?=

Let's quickly take an overview of the status quo. The Peacekeepers are a toothless group of UN mercenaries who are prohibited from actually doing anything to keep peace unless they are directly asked to intervene and cannot use force unless they are attacked. Like the odious legal doctrine of "duty to retreat", this hands all of the control over to the wicked. Disempowering the "good guys" in a situation is never a good thing.

The UN website describes the three basic principles of the peacekeepers as such[1]: 1. Consent of the warring parties, 2. Impartiality, and 3. No use of force except in defensive situations.

One doesn't need to be a hard nosed realist to read those tenants and understand why despite ostensibly having a world organization with authorization to raise a military force we are still plagued by war. It's obvious. The Peacekeepers are like cops who can't intervene unless both parties call for them and cannot use force until they are attacked. That threshold for violence wouldn't even keep the peace between middle schoolers, let alone genocidal militia forces.

Without the empowerment to use physical force the peacekeepers are far from peacemakers.

I. Physical force is necessary

My sole contention is that physical force is often necessary to establish peace. Sun Tzu is rolling around in his grave right now--not in anger, but in laughter. An army that cannot engage the enemy until it has been directly attacked is nothing except an army of sitting ducks, except an army of ducks would probably do more to protect a people facing genocide than an army of peacekeepers who aren't peacemakers. At least ducks might get in the way.

Let's look at some examples of why we need offensive operations. The most obvious example is the Rwandan genocide. A genocidal war to the death broke out between the Hutu supremacist government and Tutsi people. Soon enough civilians were being murdered with machetes and by wars end an estimated 70% of the Tutsi population, nearly a million people[2], lay dead. Instead of immediately stepping in and ending the conflict with awe inspiring military power, the UN chose to send only a handful of peacekeepers to "help the parties implement the agreement, monitor its implementation and support the transitional Government"[3]. The UN sent its men to broker a peace that wasn't to come, and as soon as the violence got too thick the UN cowardly voted to withdraw--which predictably led to even more killings[4]: "The moment that the U.N. votes to withdraw, that's when we see a real spike in the violence...Because at that point it's clear to the Rwandans ... that there will not be any cavalry over the horizon."

Romeo Dallaire, commander of the peacekeepers showed grit and spine that seemed to be totally lacking at the UN and heroically disobeyed orders and remained in Rwanda, the guns of his men saving hundreds of lives. It wasn't nearly enough. Dallaire begged for more soldiers and less red tape so that he could use these soldiers, but the UN was more interested in patting itself on the back for being peaceful and nonaggressive than it was in saving lives.

As Human Rights Watch explains about the conflict[5]: "Some Belgian soldiers believed that there were virtually no circumstances in which they could legitimately fire their weapons—some attribute the capture of the ten peacekeepers who were later executed to that belief—and many Rwandan soldiers and militia believed that the UNAMIR soldiers would not fire, regardless of the provocation. The policy on the use of firearms symbolized the more general and long-established reluctance of UNAMIR to take any deterrent action. As Dallaire had predicted in February, some Rwandans perceived this reluctance as weakness and were emboldened by it."

Human Rights Watch has one thing wrong: it implies that the reluctance to fire was not weakness. It was. An army that refuses to fire upon the enemy is not an army in any meaningful sense and totally fails to even protect themselves, let alone keep the peace.

The UN, thankfully, learned something from this terrible mistake. When the UN decided to force peace on the Congo, they sent in men trained and authorized to kill and surprise surprise, attacks by the Lords Resistance Army fell by 75%[6]. Historical precedent supports the intuitive position that force brings peace. Paul Collier explained in War, Guns, and Votes[7] that when France guaranteed that any rebel groups in its African colonies would be put down with swift and brutal military force the risk of conflict declined by 75%. This should surprise no one who has even the foggiest idea of human nature: people follow their incentives. UN Peacemakers riding in to come and kill you if you don't surrender is a lot more threatening that UN peacekeepers coming to "monitor...the transition government" who won't fire their weapons no matter what the circumstances. There is a reason that bars hire burly, tough, massive men as bouncers rather than trained negotiators. There is a time and a place for talks of peace. There is a time and a place for restraint and defensive posture. Widespread civilian death by machete slaughter is not one of those times--when the enemy is at the gates it's our obligation to take a deep breath, aim, and treat them to a good dose of lead. Not wait until the fight is already lost to try and intervene.

Fourtrouble is going to argue a number of things. He's going to argue that the UN is largely ineffectual and he's going to bring up examples that he thinks proves that offensive operations don't work. While I'll refute these, it's important to note immediately that none of these arguments are compelling arguments against the practice of UN sanctioned, multinational offensive operations. I am not obligated to prove that offensive operations always work or are always the best solution. Rather I just have to prove that it's best to keep that option in our toolbox. Fourtrouble has to prove that we should throw that tool away. I have more than met my burden.

Empower the Peacemakers! Vote Pro.



Debate Round No. 1


This debate is about whether to have a mixed offensive/peacekeeping force, or whether to keep offensive and peacekeeping forces separate. While Thett would have us blur the line between peacekeepers and peacemakers, I argue that such blurring entails serious risks with no unique benefits.


The term "peacekeeping" isn't in the U.N. Charter, so there's no correct definition of the term. For purposes of this debate, I define U.N. peacekeepers as "a force authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter, composed of personnel voluntarily provided by member states, to assist with the maintenance of peace." In fairness to Thett, this definition intentionally leaves open the question of how much force a peacekeeping operation has the authority to use.

The term "U.N. enforcement" is also important. "U.N. enforcement" refers to "a situation where the Security Council uses Chapter VII authority against an opposing state either by imposing sanctions or through the use of physical force under Article 42." Thus, "enforcement" refers to a type of activity where the Security Council has authorized offensive force. An famous example of "enforcement" is Operation Desert Storm (i.e. the U.S.-led coalition to expel Iraq from Kuwait in 1990).

Traditionally, the key difference between "peacekeeping" and "enforcement" has been the level of force each mission was authorized to use. The U.N. peacekeepers were only authorized to use force in self-defense, which has traditionally included a defense of the mandate, but not offensive force. Meanwhile, enforcement operations have traditionally been authorized to use offensive force. The other important distinction between the two is that peacekeeping operations must recieve the consent of the host state, while enforcement operations don't.

What are the limits of the self-defense principle?

In 2003, the U.N. Secretariat described self-defense as "the right to protect oneself, other U.N. personnel, U.N. property, and any other persons under U.N. protection." Thus, U.N. peacekeeping operations have traditionally authorized the use of force to defend U.N. personnel or the mandate, where the mandate sometimes requires protecting civilians within the mission's area of operation.

The self-defense principle has been described as "integral to the whole concept of peacemaking." It's precisely what legitmizes U.N. peacekeeping as an impartial operation. So peacekeepers currently have the authority to use force in self-defense. And that isn't (or shouldn't be) at dispute in this debate. What the peacekeepers traditionally haven't been allowed to do is use offensive force (i.e. initiate the use of force). And Thett's arguing that peacekeepers should be given that authority.

What are the disadvantages of an offensive peacekeeping force?

There's four problems with mixing offensive/peacekeeping forces. First, giving peacekeepers the power to use offensive force means there will be fewer enforcement operations. This happens because offensive peacekeeping operations will let states who other would contribute to a U.N. authorized enforcement operation "off the hook." This is a major problem because enforcement operations have historically been shown to be better at protecting civilians than peacekeeping operations.

Thett expected me to argue that offensive operations don't work. But that's a massivley stupid argument. And I'm surprised Thett would think me that stupid. What I argue is much more nuanced: enforcement operations are far more likely to protect civilians than peacekeeping operations, when offensive force rather than self-defense is required. Unlike Thett, I don't feel like spending 15 minutes reseraching this sh!tty topic, but I'm 99% certain that were I to do the reserach, I'd find source after source proving that point.

Second, peacekeepers traditionally have received special protections under the Geneva Conventions. This is because international humanitarian law distinguishes between combatants and civilians. And the only legitimate use of force in an armed conflict is against combatants. Civilians are thus protected. Traditionally, peacekeepers are classified as civilians, because they only use force in self-defense.

But if peacekeepers start using force beyond self-defense (i.e. offensivel), then they'll become combatants under international humanitarian law. And that classification will eliminate a range of protections that is otherwise available to peacekeepers. It means peacekeepers will become legitimate targets. Of course, that'll lead to the routine targeting of U.N. forces, even if a particular peacekeeping mission isn't actively engaging in offensive force, because they'll be understood as combatants under international law (i.e. having the authority to use offensive force).

And the problem isn't just that peacekeepers will become legitimate targets, but it'll also compromise the ability of international laws to hold attackers accountable. From the perspective of forces on the ground, there will no longer be any need to distinguish peacekeepers from others in planning attacks. And that means peacekeepers will often be attacked simply as collateral, without having to apply any principles of proportionality (as required in attacking civilians).

Third, blurring the distinction between peacekeepers and peacemakers may undermine impartiality. And the importance of impartiality cannot be overstated. It protects the legitimacy and credibility of U.N. interventions, maintains the peacekeepers status as an independent third party to the conflict, and thus allows the U.N. to act as a meaningful independent monitor of conflicts. Impartiality is crucial to effective peacekeeping.

But when you have an offensive peacekeeping force, there's a risk that parties on the ground won't perceive the operation as impartial. This also has implications for authorizing peacekeeping in the first place (how do you know consent is still there if parties on the ground no longer see the force as impartial?) And how will parties know who is responsible for the use of force on the ground if peacekeeprs are allowed to use offensive force?

Finally, expectations. "In this world, with great power there must also come—great responsibility.” An increase in the U.N. peacekeepers power to use offensive force means increased responsibility. And increased responsibility means increased expectations. What hapens when those heightened expectations aren't met? The Rwandan genocide already demonstrates the harm to legitimacy when the U.N. fvcks up. Notably, if expectations aren't met, it compromises the entire peacekeeping mission. And related to this problem, how will peacekeeping commanders decide when offensive force is appropriate? Those decisions will be scrutinized, attacked, and ultimately will undermine the legitimacy and credibility of peacekeeping.

What are the advantages of offensive peacekeeping?

Thett argues that we need offensive operations. I agree. That's why we have enforcement operations. So the benefit of having offensive operations isn't unique.

Thett cites the Rwandan genocide. No doubt that was one of the United Nations' greatest failures. But that wasn't a failure to authorize offensive force. The peacekeepers in that case easily could have justified force in self-defense. And even if force in self-defense wasn't possible, the U.N. should have authorized an enforcement operation. The failure to enforce international law has nothing to do with failing to give the peacekeepers authority to use offensive force.

Thett doesn't really cite any other benefits to offensive peacekeeping that we wouldn't already get through enforcement operations.

Don't make peacekeepers into peacemakers. Let the peacekeepers do what they do best. And let the peacemakers do what they do best. Vote Con.


This debate is very simple.

Fourtrouble does not dispute the necessity of offensive operations, rather he only argues that we should prefer enforcement operations using the militaries of a multinational coalition. The distinction between military usage of Peacekeepers and enforcement coalitions is that the latter relies on a more traditional military alliance with UN sanction. The UN Peacekeepers are a collection of forces donated to the UN by member states--the Peacekeepers effectively serve as the UN's military.

Since FT doesn't dispute the necessity of force, this is an easy decision: all it takes to support a Pro ballot is the acknowledgement that we should keep the right to initiate force in our toolbox. All of FT's arguments obscure the simplicity of this decision: FT is comfortable with armed men standing by and literally watching as civilians are hacked to pieces with machetes because they aren't allowed to initiate force. It doesn't matter if non-Peacekeeper forces would generally be superior. We should always keep available the option for the Peacekeepers to take the fight to the enemy.

=Why coalitions fail=

Before going any deeper, we can already see why coalitions by themselves are insufficient: multinational coalitions take time to build. The queen may be a more powerful piece than the pawn, but if the pawn is in a position to attack the enemy only a fool would disallow it to and wait until the queen can be maneuvered into position instead. During the Rwandan genocide the UN had over 2500 Peacekeepers in position to strike the enemy--instead of attacking, they went with Fourtroubles plan and reduced their force by over 90%[1], instead hoping that maybe somebody else would do the job the red tape didn't allow them to. I want to empower every piece on the chessboard in our game against evil, FT doesn't.

There is absolutely no excuse for a so called "Peacekeeping" force to pack up and leave while civilians are suffering widespread machete genocide. If the UN listened to someone who could still be classified as a vertebrate, like me, the Peacekeepers would've been given full authorization to use any force necessary to kill the enemy. Instead they ran away with their tails between their legs, leaving women and children to be hacked to death. FT later argues that the use of force could've been justified as self defense but this is false. Unless the Peacekeepers themselves are attacked, they have to sit by and twiddle their thumbs as civilians are murdered.

The point? We cannot simply stand by and let evil run by unchecked. The UN Peacekeepers could've saved untold thousands of innocent lives had they stayed and had they had authorization to kill like the UN Peacekeepers in the Congo. How long would it have taken to build a coalition? Bush II took 6 months to build a coalition for the Iraq war[2], the Rwandan genocide was over in 4. The Peacekeepers were the pawn who was in a position to strike at the enemy, the queen would've gotten there far too late. And she never came.

FT later talks about the importance of impartiality--this is exactly why the Peacekeepers are likely to be more effective at stopping evil than coalitions led by nations who place priority in securing their own interests. How are coalitions working today? The US and Russia are both leading competing coalitions in their proxy war over Syria[3]. Russia is aiding Assad, the US is funding the rebels, and ISIS grows to fill the vacuum. All the while thousands of civilians die and the war rages on. FT brings up the Gulf War as an example of a successful coalition--this happened while the Soviet Union was free falling into collapse and there was no one to undermine US interests and render the coalitions efforts fruitless like Russia and the US are doing to each other in Syria. Moreover both the US and Russia prop up evil, oppressive regimes as long as the brutal dictator in charge is willing to be their puppet. Multinational coalitions will not be cobbled together to destroy evil and stop genocide but rather to secure national interests, and these things are only sometimes correlated.

Theoretically the UN could request that a nation such as the US engages in a unilateral intervention, but this defeats the purpose of the United Nations and a nation is only going to be willing to do something like this if it helped secure a national interest. A Peacekeeping force that is not attached to any national interest but rather the interests of mankind is often a superior alternative.

=Fourtroubles disadvantages=

FT lists four specific disadvantages to offensive operations. None of them are compelling.

First he argues that a policy of common sense would make enforcement operations less likely. This simply doesn't follow from either the resolution nor from my advocacy: the resolution does not say we should empower Peacekeepers to initiate force and disempower anyone else from doing so. My advocacy is simply that if the Peacekeepers stumble upon terrorists who are murdering civilians they should be given authorization to kill them even if they were not themselves attacked. Considering that multinational coalitions are typically made to secure national interests I find it hard to believe that allowing the Peacekeepers to have some humanitarian value would decrease these.

His second objection is even less compelling. I'm not sure what the implications of empowering the Peacekeepers to use force would be with regards to the laws of war, which are as complex as they are irrelevant in our world of post-conventional warfare. He says that they could be classified as combatants and therefore become legitimate military's the issue: they are already targets, as Rwanda shows. Indeed, because the genocidal maniacs knew that the Peacekeepers were reluctant to fight they were emboldened and attacked them with imputiny. The best defense is a good offense--the way to keep terrorists from targeting Peacekeepers is to kill them first. FT thinks that a boxing match where one combatant always gets the first hit, doesn't have to wear gloves, and can bring weapons into the ring would somehow be less safe for the other combatant if he takes off the kiddie gloves.

To circumvent these issues we could be careful with authorizing the Peacekeepers to use force to maximize our advantage. That doesn't mean that authorization of force is never appropriate.

Thirdly he argues impartiality. The big issue with this argument is that his alternative of enforcement operations is way, WAY less impartial. Moreover he doesn't argue an impact here: so what? I don't think it's good for the UN to be impartial in a war between a legitimate government and genocidal insurgents. In situations where impartiality is required to enforce an existing peace the use of force doesn't have to be authorized. That doesn't mean Peacemaking is never necessary.

His fourth objection regarding legitimacy can be easily turned. Legitimacy is harmed far more when Peacekeepers refuse to fight--this is why some were slaughtered with impunity in Rwanda. Considering that Peacekeeping operations that don't use force are impotent I see no reason to think that credibility is more undermined by fighting boldly than turning around and running away, leaving civilians behind to die. It's difficult to imagine any situation where my Peacemakers are less respected than Peacekeepers who refuse to fight, and it's highly unlikely that any ragtag militant force could ever prevail over trained Peacemakers with the intent to kill.

The big problem with all of his disadvantages is that they only apply to certain situations. None of his arguments negate the resolution in all circumstances. To vote Pro, you just have to acknowledge that if a Peacekeeping unit stumbles upon a group of militants slaughtering civilians they should be empowered to offensively engage them.

Vote Pro.


Debate Round No. 2


This debate is not that simple. Don’t let Thett obscure the complexity here.

I’m not saying armed men should stand by as civilians are hacked to pieces. Nor am I saying that I support how the United Nations handled the Rwandan genocide. Both those positions are untenable. Again, I'm surprised Thett ascribes those positions to me. To be clear: I never said anything about peacekeepers letting civilians suffer. And I explicitly criticized how the UN approached Rwanda.

What I’m arguing is that peacekeepers should have the authority to use self-defensive force but not offensive force. Self-defense includes defense of the mandate. So if the mandate requires the protection of civilians within the mission’s area of operation, the peacekeepers have authority to protect these civilians as a matter of self-defense. Using force in that context is defensive, not offensive. And all this requires is intelligent drafting of mission mandates.

Of course, Thett misses this key nuance. No wonder he thinks this debate is “simple.” The only mention Thett makes of self-defense is in passing, suggesting that peacekeepers can’t do anything unless they’re personally attacked. But that’s not how self-defense works. Thett simply ignores the extensive literature defining self-defense to include defense of the mandate, where the mandate may (and should) involve the protection of civilians.

Self-defense also includes what’s called preemptive force to prevent an imminent threat. Under my plan, then, peacekeepers not only have the authority to protect civilians, they might even have the authority to strike preemptively, all without needing any authority to conduct offensive operations. So the self-defense principle is all that's needed to keep the peace, protect civilians, and defend the mandate.

Thett’s only substantive response is the notion that coalitions are less effective than peacekeepers. But that argument makes a number of false assumptions. First, Thett assumes peacekeepers can’t use force defensively to protect civilians. Of course, that strawmans my plan. As I explained above, if civilians are under attack, peacekeepers should have the authority to defend them.

Second, Thett’s response focuses on any coalition whatsoever, whereas I’m talking about enforcement coalitions authorized by the United Nations Security Council under Chapter VII, Article 42, of the UN Charter. The coalitions led by the US and Russia in Syria aren’t authorized under Chapter VII – so they’re not United Nations enforcement operations. In fact, the UN has totally botched the situation in Syria. It pulled out its peacekeeping operation in 2012 – and since then, it hasn’t authorized a Chapter VII enforcement operation. But I don’t feel like turning this debate into a discussion about how ineffective the UN Security Council is – because that’s applicable to both our plans.

Third, Thett assumes that peacekeeping forces aren’t supplied by member nations. The reality is that the United Nations doesn’t have its own army. Its forces are provided by member nations. So to the extent Thett wants a force that is independent of any national interests, his plan has the same faults as mine – the UN by definition borrows its forces from member nations. And to the extent Thett wants independent forces, I’m in agreement. But there’s no reason those forces must be peacekeepers; they could also include enforcers and peacemakers. So again, it’s a non-unique issue.

Now, let’s talk about the advantages of my plan:

(1) Civilian status

The divide between combatants and civilians is at the heart of international humanitarian law. In short, civilians have special legal protections from violence; combatants don’t. This distinction is important for two reasons: (a) it incentivizes armies to take into account the combatant/civilian distinction in planning their attacks (i.e. to use proportionality measures), and (b) it determine issues of accountability in criminal court after-the-fact. This distinction thus shapes the way armies conduct wars.

Traditionally, peacekeepers are classified as civilians, so targeting them has severe criminal penalties. Civilians may use force in self-defense. But using force offensively turns you into a combatant. So if peacekeepers are given authority to use offensive force, they’ll lose their protected status as civilians – they’ll become combatants. And that means it’ll become legal to directly target peacekeepers. So if the US or Russia or China wants to attack the peacekeepers directly, they could legally do so without facing any liability.

The impact is huge. Attackers won’t be held accountable for targeting peacekeepers, so armies won’t need to use proportionality measures (i.e. they won’t need to distinguish peacekeepers from their targets). That will inevitably lead to more peacekeeper casualties. It’ll lead to worse (and potentially escalating) conflicts. There won’t be any accountability. And there’s a danger that otherwise non-combatant peacekeeping personnel will become legitimate targets as well, due to their collaboration with combatant peacekeepers.

Thett drops this analysis entirely, admitting he knows nothing about international law.

(2) Impartiality

Thett concedes that enforcement is "way, WAY less impartial." Of course, enforcement is explicitly about creating peace where a nation has emphatically broken the law, so impartiality isn't needed. But Thett advocates blurring the line between enforcement and peacekeeping.

Thett says there's no impact. But that's untrue. As I explained, impartiality is crucial to the legitimacy of UN peacekeeping. It ensures that peacekeepers are viewed as independent third-parties to a conflict. This is especially important when permanent members of the UN Security Council are involved in a conflict (e.g. during the Cold War).

Impartialtiy also reflects an important UN value, that no matter what side of a conflict you belong to, you're entitled to the same rights. This is what not only legitmizes peacekeeping missions but also the UN itself. This also allows peacekeepers to ask parties to comply with certain measures to create peace without either side feeling prejudiced.

Finally, a lack of impartiality creates confusion on the ground, as forces can't be certain whether they've been attacked by peacekeepers or a party to the conflict.

(3) Expectations

Thett's "turn" rests on a strawman of my position. The point is that greater power means greater expectations, which means the harm to the legitimacy/credibility of the UN is greater in cases where the peacekeepers fail.

(4) Less enforcement

Again, Thett's response rests on a strawman. The point is that there's a risk nations won't contribute to enforcement operations if they've already contributed to a peacekeeping force authorized to use offensive force. Nothing Thett argued shows otherwise.


Finally, Thett argues that these advantages/disadvantages only apply to certain situations. But the problem is that we don't know what those situations are. Thett's plan entails serious risks and substantial uncertainty about when those risks will become actual harms. So it doesn't matter if the risks won't always manifest. What matters is that these risks are real, they could happen in any mission. It's not like these risks are sometimes risks and sometimes not-risks. They're always risks, in every single operation, mission, sitaution.

To vote Con, you just need to acknowledge that Thett's plan has unique disadvantages with no unique benefits. I've shown that throughout this debate. Self-defense is sufficient to protect civilians, defend the mandate, and keep peace. There's simply no reason to take risks if there's no unique benefits. And Thett just hasn't proven any unique benefits to blurring the line between peacekeepers and peacemakers.



The essence of Fourtroubles position is the disempowerment of the good and the transfer of power to the evil.

=Why self defense is insufficient=

FT never really disputed much of my analysis. He agrees that force stops violence and that the UN's refusal to use force caused the Rwandan genocide. He says that self defense includes defense of the mandate, which is true but here's the issue with that analysis: Since FT's position has sway at the UN and mine doesn't, the mandates will always be crafted in such a way that minimizes the ability of the Peacekeepers to implement lethal force.

Let's look at the mandate the Peacekeepers had for the mission to Rwanda before the genocide began in earnest[1]. The mandate assumed that the war was over and was all about the transition to peace and implementing a new government. Once the genocide broke out, the mandate effectively became invalid. I'm not an attorney. It's possible that the use of lethal force in the defense of the mandate may have still been technically justified under the self defense principle but the use of force is incredibly unclear ("force" does not even appear in such a context in the document), and considering that the UN totally withdrew the troops it sent in to enforce the mandate I doubt it. As the New Internationalist writes[2]: "The UN troops did not use force to get past the roadblocks. They did not take on the killers because their mandate did not permit it. Their mandate was to keep the peace but there was no longer any peace to keep."

By now you're probably sick of hearing about the Rwandan genocide, but it's just such a salient example of why FT's position is not tenable. Here's the big takeaway: Because the Peacekeepers are not allowed to be sent on offensive missions, the UN chose to withdraw an army that could have saved thousands and possibly put down the genocide rather than change the mandate to "Kill the bastards." This is going to happen again if we go with FT's plan.

FT never responded to the Congo example: When we ignored his advice and sent in men authorized to kill, the problem was resolved very quickly. The impact of this can't be overstated: We have two experiments competing here. Which methodology do we choose? FT's, which leads to nothing but death and damnation, or mine, the real world effects of which he never even bothered to dispute? Vote Pro.

FT keeps us from using every piece we have on the chessboard.

=Why coalitions fail=

FT makes no response to the fact that coalitions take too long to build. The Rwandans put down their genocide themselves in less time than it took to build a coalition to go into Iraq. They would've put it down a lot sooner had they had an army of Peacekeepers at their side, but impartiality and pacifism were more valuable to the UN than human lives. FT doesn't really dispute that coalitions often undermine each other but rather argues that a piece of paper granted by the UN fundamentally changes the incentive structures of nations. He does however note that the UN hasn't authorized a coalition since it withdrew from Syria. Is there any place where the UN doesn't turn and run at the slightest threat of force? Considering that the UN is incredibly reluctant to authorize coalitions, we really should be willing to use every asset to its full capacity if we want to stop evil.

FT notes that soldiers are provided by member states, which is true, but he argues that the same conflicts of national interest apply. This really isn't true. For one, the conflicts of national interests that often occur are rather petty. The US did not fund the Taliban when the USSR invaded Afghanistan because it wanted them to win, it funded them because it wanted the world to see the USSR to lose. A coalition where no nation gets the glory is completely irrelevant in the propaganda/proxy wars that make up conflicts between nations in the current world. Indeed, if the US donated forces to help stop a genocide it would be in the national interests of China and Russia to donate even more. Moreover, the UN still has substantial political pressure among member states and substantial coordination power that other nations simply do not have. It's far easier for the UN to convince nations to act that it is for the United States or anyone else.

We had a ready made army standing there, begging for authorization to stop the genocide in Rwanda. FT thinks its better to withdraw them, spend several months cobbling together a coalition, and hope that the survivors understand that it was important for the Peacekeepers to not engage in offensive force because that would've been mean.

=FT's disadvantages=

Despite his attempts to rehabilitate them, these objections are still incredibly frivolous and uncompelling. Remember that these are all specific to certain situations, and thus not really relevant. The resolution is not "Peacekeepers engaging in offensive operations are on balance preferable to coalitions", it's asking us if there are any scenarios where offensive operations are appropriate. And it's been made clear throughout this debate that there are many.

FT argues about the totally irrelevant "rules" of war. It's incredibly easy to circumvent this disadvantage: don't use the Peacekeepers offensively in wars where this is a threat. It defies all reason that China or the US would've bombed the Peacekeepers if they had stopped the Rwandan genocide. The people I've advocated fighting against are not national armies but rather insurgents, terrorists, and militants who do not observe the rules of war. That the Belgian Peacekeepers were non-combatants did not stop the scum from murdering them. It did, however, stop them from fighting back.

FT continues to argue about impartiality. I really don't care if the UN favors the side in a civil war that doesn't murder women and children with machetes. The credibility of any army stems from its force of arms. The Peacekeepers won't fight no matter what, which is why they have no credibility which is why insurgents can just murder them. The credibility of the UN was destroyed for years when they fumbled Rwanda so badly--when one side is a legitimate government and the other side consists of genocidal militants to be impartial is to be a coward.

The other two disadvantages are even more frivolous: considering the FT believes that the UN Security Council is impotent it shouldn't matter if nations are less likely to support enforcement operations under my plan. They won't authorize any. It doesn't matter, though. The plan is not even for offensive force to be used that often. The plan is to keep the option on the table.

That these objections are so frivolous tells you all you need to know about the Con position: it's totally untenable, relying upon legalese and obscuration in the vague hopes that some judge will fall for it and deny the obvious point that armed men shouldn't stand by and let a literal genocide happen. Don't fall for it.

To vote Pro you just need to acknowledge that a skilled chess player doesn't ignore a piece in the position to strike just because it's a less conventional move. FT would not allow armed men to step in and stop civilians from machete murder. That's really all you need to know about the Con position. Vote Pro.

I have 650 characters left to reserve.



Debate Round No. 3


The resolution is about whether to blur the line between peacekeeping missions and enforcement missions. I'm not required to argue that the UN should never engage in offensive operations. Nor am I required to argue that offensive operations are ineffective. The issue at stake is whether to have mixed peacekeeping/offensive missions. And I have proven throughout this debate that mixing peacekeeping/offensive missions entails serious risks with no unique benefits. That alone wins me this debate.

Thett's argument assumes that self-defense is insufficient. But Thett concedes that self-defense includes defense of the mandate. And Thett concedes that mandates should include the protection of civilians. And Thett concedes that nothing precludes the UN from protecting civilians defensively through peacekeeping mandates. So why is self-defense insufficient? Thett offers no answer.

In fact, Thett concedes my point about preemptive self-defense allowing peacekeepers to strike preemptively when under an imminent threat. And that ends the debate, as peacekeepers even have the ability to initiate force defensively, all without any need to give them the power to conduct offensive operations. Self-defense is a robust principle that affords the peacekeepers all the authority they need.

Throughout the debate, Thett harps on the Rwanda case. But Rwanda is irrelevant. I admit the UN fvcked up. Sh!t happens. But why did the UN fvck up? Because the mandate was poorly drafted. And because the Security Council stupidly decided to withdraw the troops instead of pursuing other options (e.g. telling the troops to defend civilians).

Thett also says some stuff about coalitions. But again, it's irrelevant. This debate isn't about independent coalitions. We're talking about what the UN should do. And the UN should authorize enforcement missions when offensive force is necessary. In other situations, the UN should use peacekeeping missions, where force should only be used in self-defense. Don't let Thett distract you with irrelevant points about Rwanda, independent coalitions, and Syria. Focus on the actual issue: peacekeeping.

Thett's point about "taking too long to build" is also irrelevant. If a peacekeeping force is already deployed, they're able to justify the use of force in self-defense. So my plan has the same benefits as Thett's plan.

In short, I win this debate because Thett's plan simply doesn't have any unique advantages; my plan does. In particular, Thett concedes the negative legal effects. Thett seems to think those effects are irrelevant. But the law changes how armies conduct war. And it effects how we assign liability after-the-fact. Both these points have massive impacts that Thett simply ignores.

Finally, Thett's point about the UN being scared to authorize offensive force actually works against him, because it suggests the UN will authorize less peacekeeping missions than they already do. If the UN is truly a bunch of cowards, as Thett argues, they're going to be scared to use peacekeepers, lest the peacekeepers use offensive force where the UN doesn't want that. This ties into my point about expectations, as well as my point about how we'll actually end up with less enforcement under Thett's plan.

This debate isn't close. Thett hasn't proven a single unique benefit to his plan, while I've proven multiple advantages to my plan. As long as you don't get distracted by Thett's totally irrelevant observations, this should be an easy decision. Vote Con.


This is a debate regarding the full utilization of our assets in the fight against evil. This is a debate where one side clearly and consistently advocated for a reasonable reform of giving authority to armed men to do what's right. This is a debate that the Pro side has won.

We've seen the competing impacts. We've seen what happens to people when those we trust to keep the peace aren't given the authority to do their jobs. And we've seen what happens when they are given this authority--FT never had anything to say on the example of the Congo, a vindication of my side.

An army should not stand idly by as civilians die. Don't let them. Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
35 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 10 months ago
Con wins.
Posted by bsh1 10 months ago
Regarding the post below, I meant "any objections to my vote after it's cast".
Posted by bsh1 10 months ago
Cool. I'll cast my vote shortly, then. If you guys have any objections, you have 72 hours to take them up with me, and then the result is final.
Posted by thett3 10 months ago
Fine by me
Posted by bsh1 10 months ago
I will call the debate in the comments section, and the person for whom I vote will win the tournament, though the results of the debate itself will be unchanged. Is this acceptable for everyone?
Posted by fire_wings 10 months ago
I knew I made the vote wrong. When I tried to fix it, my ELO started dropping to 2400's when it was to the 2500's.
Posted by FourTrouble 10 months ago
I don't care who votes. If it were up to me, I would have left fire's vote. Hilarious as hell.
Posted by thett3 10 months ago
Whoops, sorry I missed your comment bsh. I don't mind if you vote so as long as FT is okay with it you can call the debate in the comments section?
Posted by whiteflame 10 months ago
>Reported vote: fire_wings// Mod action: Removed<

7 points to Con. Reasons for voting decision: RFD in here.

[*Reason for removal*] As the voter decided to make their decision based on where they would have allocated points on the 7 point system, I'll assess it on that basis. (1) Conduct is insufficiently explained. While the voter is allowed some discretion on this point, the use of curse words in the debate is not sufficient as a reason to afford this point. Conduct is about poor treatment of the opponent or others on the site, not about how many bad words each side fit into their arguments. (2) Sources are insufficiently explained. The voter needs to do more than just say that one side had sources while the other didn't. If one side was the only one that had sources, the voter merely needs to point to the importance of those sources in their arguments, but without that, the voter just seems to be voting on who had the most sources rather than any substance. (3) Arguments are insufficiently explained. On a 7 point system, the voter can simply leave out these points. On a select winner system, the voter cannot. The voter must show some assessment of the arguments given, even if that assessment leads to a tie on this front, and then explain how conduct and sources tipped the balance.
Posted by YYW 10 months ago
In reality, you should vote because Fire Wing's vote should be removed. The debate will be tied when his vote is removed, if you don't vote.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 11 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Given here:
Vote Placed by YYW 11 months ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: See RFD: Clear win for PRO.