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RFD for UN Peacekeeping Debate

whiteflame
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11/25/2015 11:05:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
This is an RFD for the debate between FourTrouble and Thett given here: http://www.debate.org...

For a debate that had a lot of components, there's only one truly important issue that comes out, and it really only becomes a solid point of contention in R3. Much of the rest of this debate is focused on other issues, and while those do matter (and they'll play a role in how I evaluate the debate), there's a distinct level of importance to this particular issue, since it defines what separates Pro's case from Con's. It's not that neither side makes an effort to define these differences " in fact, both sides spend a great deal of time here from R1 onwards " but the level of disagreement as to what this difference is makes much of the debate turn away from any substantive conversation about what those differences mean. I think both debaters would have been better served by a R1 where they agreed on what the particular limitations of status quo are and how Pro's case alters them.

So, to start, I'm going to get into this difficulty and what the resulting differences between the cases becomes, and then I'll get into comparing those cases directly based on the arguments each side makes.

The Case:

I'm not sure what led to this problem, but it's pretty clear upon reading this debate that Pro's case and its benefits weren't as clearly compared to the status quo as they should have been from the outset. Pro's case functions on the idea that the UN's inability to engage in offensive operations fundamentally destroys their ability to respond to humanitarian crises. I can see where the view is coming from. After all, self-defense seems like it would only include defense of UN peacekeeping troops.

However, Con makes it very clear from R2 onwards that self-defense encompasses two other facets, namely defense of the mandate and even the ability to engage in preemptive force. This is really important because it cuts the legs out from under Pro's R1 and R2 advantages, which characterize Con's argument as lacking in both of these aspects.

It isn't until R3 that Pro directly engages with the status quo that Con is presenting, which at this point seems the most reasonable way to view it. Its at this point that Pro starts really getting into why flawed mandates prevent engagement on the part of peacekeepers. It's mentioned quite a bit before this round that flawed mandates exist, and that they result in peacekeepers either being ineffectual or abandoning the mission, but Con convincingly paints that as a non-unique argument. It isn't until this round that I get argumentation from Pro that counters that statement, pointing out that mandates are crafted in the status quo to minimize peacekeeper intervention, and thus that a general allowance for offensive operations allows peacekeepers to go beyond the mandates when required.

It's not that the problem completely disappears upon implementation of Pro's case. Decisions to withdraw troops may occur in both Pro's and Con's worlds. The capacity to alter mandates in order to respond to a given problem persists in both worlds and, based on Con's analysis of what self-defense allows, altering the mandate could be effective in both worlds. Also, providing the ability for offensive operations to occur differs substantially from an actual likelihood for these operations to occur. Still, both the Rwandan and Congo examples reveal ways that changing the operational capacity of UN peacekeepers may have a substantial effect on certain circumstances, particularly in the short term as compared to the long term.

Con's argument that there are always enforcement operations becomes lessened as well by the end of the debate, as that alternative allows lengthy times between seeing a problem and responding to one. I do buy that all UN forces take a while to form, but there is a difference between organizing one and having it respond to all of the problems, and having to organize one force, seeing a problem, and then organizing another. I can see the benefit.

So I'm buying that Pro's case has some benefit. It could be clearer just what Pro's benefits mean with these in mind, as I feel Pro is always treating his impacts as far more substantial than they actually are. I'd like to know how this shift plays out. Will mandates simply be changed to allow more action by peacekeepers on the whole, since they're capable of doing more? Will there be less likelihood of retreat from a mandate when responses happen sooner and more strongly? Does it facilitate action on the part of peacekeepers to forcibly expand on mandates where needed, or to ignore mandates when they're clearly underserving? I'd like to know the answers to these questions, mainly because, while I do feel I have a clear view that Pro's achieving some solvency, I'm not clear to what degree.

Con's Disadvantages:

These vary in their effectiveness over the course of the debate, but I feel like the chief problem with Con's disadvantages is the lack of response to Pro's major source of mitigation, which was that all of the disadvantages only apply when applied to certain instances of the peacekeepers engaging in offensive operations. I felt it would have been relatively easy to respond to this: if you empower UN peacekeepers, then a) you can't simply fiat how they're going to act in any given instance, and therefore there can be instances in which offensive operations are used poorly, and b) it's even less controllable if there's the potential for peacekeepers acting against or to change a given mandate.

The one response Con gives that effective is that there is a perceptual change. It would have made some sense to discuss how this works no matter how few times the plan is implemented. That plays a role in the importance of these DAs for the debate, though the mitigation still factors heavily against Con's arguments. I'll explain how as I go through.

The first DA regards the importance of offensive operations, and explains how making peacekeeping operations offensive will reduce their number. I believe this. The problem is that I don't have any clear explanation as to why more enforcement operations are necessarily better than Pro's plan, which would essentially make more peacekeeping operations into enforcement operations. Perhaps there is a substantive difference, but within the confines of this DA, I don't see it.

The second DA focuses on the protections that peacekeepers are afforded as a result of their non-offensive status. This is the strongest of Pro's contentions, mainly because it's the one that bites Pro's mitigation argument the least and has the clearest impact: if we alter the way that peacekeepers are viewed, then combatants can justify shooting or attacking them on the basis that they were treating them as combatants. Pro's correct in arguing that they're often shot in any case, but Con does a solid job emphasizing what the difference is in terms of accountability and planning. I don't wholly buy this because it's rather difficult to believe that targeting peacekeepers is just overlooked post plan, but Pro really doesn't make that response. Pro's other response " that all we have to do to avoid this is to not engage in offensive operations against threatening foes " ignores the logic that the role of peacekeepers is fundamentally changed. It also calls further into question how this operational change will work, since this now seems to focus on not allowing individual forces to make that judgment call.
whiteflame
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11/25/2015 11:06:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The third DA focuses on impartiality. Again, I find that the perceptual shift matters, even if that shift doesn't play out commonly in conflict. On this one in particular, I'm left wondering just how much of an effect this would have considering that the main examples I get in this debate are of failed peacekeeping missions, which means impartiality hasn't garnered the UN much in the way of strength, nor has it been shown that it makes them a great arbiter. The perceptual change does still have impacts, but they're not well grounded in the history of the UN and how other nations perceive them. Pro's response " that impartiality ends up being detrimental in certain cases " shows what is perhaps some benefit. However, the idea that you can be impartial most of the time, but show your partiality in these few instances seems rather difficult to stomach. It's also difficult to tell how impartiality specifically leads to ignoring major dealers of death " not being on a given side doesn't require that you're treating one or both parties with kid gloves.

The fourth DA talks about expectations. This doesn't seem like a particularly potent, mainly because I'm not getting a solid idea of what harms I'm going to see from ending peacekeeping missions (especially when Pro is telling me they're virtually worthless in status quo), and because there's no great support for the UN in the status quo. It makes it difficult to tell how the increased expectations would actually play out. Sure, there might be more scrutiny, but I don't see that as necessarily harmful. The impacts of this mainly seem to be assumed, and as Pro doesn't levy much of an attack on them, that's how they stay. The point goes to Con, but the impact is nebulous.

Conclusion:

My perception of this debate has jumped back and forth quite a few times. When I started, I found Pro's argument to be more persuasive, as I viewed any potential solvency for the terrible crimes that were committed during Rwanda and other genocides as the biggest impact. I still do. The problem is that with my uncertainty as to how much solvency he's gaining, I don't really know how many, if any, of these instances will be solved for as a result of Pro's case.

Con's case is much clearer in establishing what's going to happen and why. Sure, he plays up the extent of these impacts, but it's clear to me that at least some of these impacts will occur. It's not at all clear what level of impact he's garnering in each individual instance, but I'm getting a clear idea that there will be problems, and that the perceptual shift may alter the effectiveness gained right now in peacekeeping operations (though it's questionable just how effective they've been and will continue to be) and cause deaths that would otherwise not occur.

So I've got a hefty but extremely uncertain decision to weigh against a much more likely but highly variable impacts. I could see voting for both sides because it really depends on what types of impacts you prefer. In this case, since I'm getting multiple ways in which things can go wrong from Con, that likelihood outweighs a vague, uncertain effect from Pro. While I might find Pro's arguments more persuasive on the basis that I'm getting clear examples from which I can draw impacts, I keep finding myself asking basic questions about how Pro's case would have altered those outcomes, and the more I do, the further I get from any solid solvency. With that missing, I just find that there's too many assumptions I'm forced to make with Pro's case, and I'm just substantially clearer on how things play out from Con's DAs, in large part because Pro spends so little time addressing the perceptual angle and how his case affects it. Thus, I vote Con.
thett3
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11/25/2015 11:31:50 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Thanks for voting, white flame!
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: At 11/12/2016 11:49:40 PM, Raisor wrote:
: thett was right
YYW
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11/26/2015 12:03:20 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/25/2015 11:31:50 PM, thett3 wrote:
Thanks for voting, white flame!

Meh... He clearly got the decision wrong and for the wrong reasons. Of course, people are free to disagree with this. But this debate was an explicitly clear win for PRO.
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