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History Revisited #004: Indian Removal Act of 1830

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/14/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,129 times Debate No: 49108
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This debate is part of a series which I call "History Revisited." I as Pro will be arguing that the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the most morally depraved act in the history of American foreign policy.

Round 1: Acceptance Only.


I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Con for accepting this debate. Best of luck and I hope we have fun.

I as Pro have to argue that the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the most morally depraved act in American foreign policy history. The standard of morality I will be using to measure what is "morally depraved" is Christianity since it is the dominant religion in the United States. The burden of proof is shared if Con wants to show an act or event that was more morally depraved. The burden of proof is on me exclusively if Con decides to argue that Indian Removal Act of 1830 was not morally depraved at all.

The following are a list of reasons why the Indian Removal Act is the most morally depraved act in American foreign policy history.

1.Removal vs. Assimilation
The administration's that preceded President Jackson's adopted generally one or two policies towards Indian tribes. The reason for these policies was because of settlers who moved into Indian territories in mass. Previously under the British the attempt to stop the settlers from moving into Indian territory resulted in events like Bacon's Rebellion. The American administrations were not going to attempt to stop the settlers from moving into Indian territories so they adopted one or two of the policies which I am going to explain below.

Indian removal was a policy of moving the Indians who resided on certain lands. The removal was supposed to be voluntary[1].Indian assimilation was the idea of getting Indians to assimilate to the ways of the Americans. This would include assimilation in attire, behavior, religion, and etc. Both assimilation and removal were supposed to be voluntary but in practice, force was used often.


The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the largest Indian removal in American history. Indian tribes and nations in the Midwest and the South would be moved to places farther west. Previously, Indian tribes would be removed from parts of states but that would be too minor compared to the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Many tribes were removed from various states to regions they were unfamiliar with.

2. The Implementation of the Indian Removal Act of 1830
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was to be used to "negotiate" allegedly[1]. But such "negotiations" included threats and force on occasion. But on other occasions, one faction or one leader of a tribe would sign a treaty. Then the tribe would be expected to follow the treaty. This was manipulative and deceitful tactic on the part of the Americans would be considered illegitimate by the Indian tribe or nation[3]. On other occasions, Americans were aloof to whom the legitimate leader was of a tribe so they thought they had a legitimate treaty. The "negotiations" with Indian tribes and Indian nations would ultimately have horrific results for the Indians as I explain later in point #4.


If tribes would not voluntarily vacate their lands, federal troops would be used to force them to vacate. I describe this in further detail in point #3B.

3. The Betrayal
3A. Treaties
The creation of the Indian Removal Act was a betrayal of treaties that previously existed between Indian tribes/nations and the Federal government. A treaty consisted of territorial protections and obligations of the participating parties. For example, the Five Civilized Tribes had their own laws and ways of governing[4]. the Federal government was originally supposed to respect that. The decision not to respect Indian laws any longer came about as a result of the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia Supreme Court ruling[5]. The Supreme Court established the Indian nations who had their own formal laws and way of governing to be illegitimate because they were considered to be dependents on the United States.

3B. Wars
I mentioned in point #2 that if Indian tribes/nations who refused to move voluntarily would be forced to leave by the Federal troops. The threat of force from Federal troops was not enough to convince some tribes/nations to leave their lands. A war would ensue in order for the Federal troops to uproot the Indian tribes/nations from their lands. These wars to remove Indians would take place in the North and the South. For example, Abraham Lincoln received his only military experience during the Black Hawk War of 1832[6]. The Federal troops annihilated the Sac and Fox Indians in the war giving them five hundred or more casualties. While the Americans only had over seventy casualties. Similar wars would break out in the 1830s as a result of the Indian Removal Act.


4. The Removal
The cost of the Indian Removal Act is very well known in American history. The "Trail of Tears" would be the main cost. The "Trail of Tears" was the forced march of Indian nations in the southeast westward toward modern day Oklahoma. The Five Civilized Tribes(Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) combined would have over five thousand deaths[7]. People would die of starvation and illness while being marched westward.The actual death count is unattainable since many people were not even buried or listed as being dead.


5. The Results
5A. Displacement of tribes
Tribes would now had to adapt to their new environment. If a tribe were previously planters; they would have to adapt to the surviving on the Plains.Hunter/gather tribes would have to learn to hunt new game. Essentially, the tribes/nations that were placed in these new lands had to learn how to survive in an unfamiliar place.

I would say without hesitation that the Indian Removal Act is the most morally depraved act in American foreign policy history.


Moral Framework:

I will be using a broad conception of virtue ethics to determine if an act was morally depraved: a right action is conducive to human flourishing and is done for this purpose. A right action must be done for the right reason and done in the right way.

1) Indian Removal Act (IRA)

I will not defend that the IRA was moral, but I will present several factors that mitigate its immorality, i.e. make it “less bad” than other policies of the US.

a) Tribal territories in eastern states were unsustainable

First, the historical record of European seizure of Indian land and of conflict and violence created societal momentum for Indian removal or the seizure of lands by some other means. The expansion of the U.S. made coexistence of the two societies impossible. This is proven by the historical clashes between the two societies and by the conflict that would carry on throughout the end of the century. The IRA was just one stepping stone in a larger narrative of societal conflict.

Second, independent action by states such as Georgia and Alabama was forcing federal intervention. Georgia independently acted to seize Cherokee lands and strip Cherokee citizens of rights guaranteed by state law. [1] Jackson was already engaged in heated issues of state’s rights which would eventually lead to the “nullification crisis.” A hard stand against actions by Southern states to seize Indian Territory would have enflamed resentment against the federal government and would have been difficult to enforce.

b) Indian Removal was motivated by security concerns

President Jackson viewed the presence of large Indian territories in the southern US as a security risk to both the US and Indian tribes. He feared cross border violence, as well is the territorial integrity of the US in time of war. The historical legacy of violence between Native Americans and European settlers posed a threat to both parties. Jackson was concerned that should the US be attacked, the presence of Indian Territory would make fortification of borders impossible. He also feared Indian tribes could ally with foreign nations.

c) Integrity of Indian Territory had dubious legal standing

The status of many treaties with Indians in the East and the independence and sovereignty of those tribes was an unresolved legal question. For example, and 1823 Supreme Court ruling affirmed the supremacy of US issued chain-of-title over those of Indian tribes [2].

d) Magnitude of destruction was relatively small

About 46k Native Americans were relocated, approximately 6k died as a result of relocation. While the forced relocation was terrible, it pales in comparison to the results of other U.S. policies.



2) Hiroshima and Nagasaki

I maintain that the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was more morally depraved than Indian Removal.

a) Multiple alternatives to the Bomb were available.

President and General Eisenhower famously said that he believed the dropping of the bomb was totally unnecessary, in part because he believed the Japanese were defeated at that point in the war.

Several alternatives to the bomb were available:

i) The U.S. could have set up a public demonstration of the bomb’s capabilities as a threat and show of force. That the U.S. used the most powerful weapon in human history, a weapon capable of destroying cities, without warning and even without giving the enemy the chance to back away from the destruction is profoundly immoral.

ii) The U.S. could have backed away from the U.S. demand for unconditional surrender or allowed for the preservation of the imperial system in Japan.

iii) The U.S. could have waited for intervention from the Soviet Union on the Eastern front to end the war.

iv) The U.S. could simply have continued with conventional warfare by blockading and raiding the main Japanese cities.

b) Decision makers were profoundly racist

Top generals were profoundly racist, making any fair decision about the necessity of atomic weaponry impossible. President Truman frequently referred to the Japanese as “beasts” and “Savages.”

c) Logic of the bomb was morally depraved

The most morally depraved aspect of the dropping of the atomic bomb was the lack of any sort of decision making or consideration of consequences.

Multiple decision makers later explained that the decision to use the bomb was a foregone conclusion. Doubt and criticism of the plan to use the bomb was ignored by decision makers because the bureaucratic momentum behind its use rendered debate irrelevant. Roosevelt had started the program to develop the bomb, and when the bomb was completed after Roosevelt’s death, Truman viewed the decision to drop the bomb as already made. An aide to Truman later said “Truman made no decision because there was no decision to be made…he could no more have stopped it than a train moving down the track.” This means that decision to annihilate two cities was made years before the moment came by individuals with no knowledge of the geopolitical conditions at the moment of detonation.

The moral depravity of the bomb comes from the fact that it was a manifestation of destruction for the sake of destruction. The use of a weapon of mass destruction was detached from any sort of human goals and critical decision making. Some scientists feared that if the bomb wasn’t put to use, the program would be viewed as a waste of money. Governmental bureaucracy trucked along with the decision to use the bomb ASAP. Despite the fact that the bomb was intended for the unique evil of Nazi Germany, once Nazism had been defeated the bomb simply shifted target. This illustrates the depravity of the program- the accomplishment of the goal the bomb had been built for was irrelevant to the use of the bomb.

d) The magnitude of destruction massively outweighs the IRA

The use of atomic weapons by the US killed between 150,000 and 250,000 people, most of which were civilians, wiped out two cities, and altered the course and psychological state of history. Thousands died excruciating deaths due to the effects of radiation poisoning.

3) Occupation of Philippines following Spanish American War

a) Occupation was motivated solely by imperialism

The U.S. hoped to gain economic power through expanded access to Asian markets and to expand its global influence by becoming an imperial power. Negotiations by the U.S. at the end of the Spanish American war explicitly pursued goals of economic expansion; this was what led to the U.S. pressing for Spain to hand over the Philippines in the Treaty of Paris. [3] The occupation was thus motivated purely by goals of imperial exploitation.

b) The Occupation was a stab in the back to revolutionaries who aided the U.S. in the Spanish-American War

The U.S. led revolutionary leadership to believe that the U.S. was fighting the Spanish-American War in an effort to liberate Cuba and the Philippines from Spanish colonialism [4]. Filipino revolutionaries fought in the war and coordinated with American forces. After fighting for their independence, the Philippines issued a declaration of Independence that was promptly ignored by the U.S.

As the U.S. set up a colonial government and ignored the leadership of the revolutionaries, the Philippines turned against the U.S., starting the U.S.-Philippine war. The same Filipino leaders that fought alongside the U.S. as liberators fought against the U.S. as oppressors.

c) Magnitude of casualties massively outweighs IRA

In addition to the 12k-20k combatant casualties, about 200,000 civilians died as a result of the conflict between the U.S. and the Philippines.

d) Atrocities were rampant and institutionalized

Not only were war crimes and atrocities rampant, they were ordered as official policy. War Secretary Elihu Root was shown to have knowledge of these atrocities and to have done nothing, and possibly encouraged them [4].

i) Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were forced to live in concentration camps. Discipline and order was enforced by wanton violence.

ii) Villages were burned to the ground to set an example to the local population. One U.S. Major issued the order: “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn: the more you kill and burn, the better you will please me…make Samar a howling wilderness.”

iii) Torture was routinely used as a means of interrogation.

e) Institutionalized brutality is especially depraved

i) It normalizes cruelty as a means of controlling populations. Institutionalization crystallizes cruelty into repeatable and expected behavior

ii) It is more difficult to eradicate than localized instances. Institutionalization protects those who practice cruelty and creates bureaucratic inertia to changing cruel practices.

iii) It forces those who would not engage in brutality to commit crimes against humanity. Institutionalization corrupts the moral constitution of all who fall under its power. This is visible in the letters sent home from U.S. troops serving in the Philippines:

“Last night one of our boys was found shot and his stomach cut open. Immediately orders were received from General Wheaton to burn the town and kill every native in sight; which was done to a finish. About 1,000 men, women and children were reported killed. I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger”




General Sources:

American Lion, Jon Meacham

Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb, Andrew J. Rotter

The Imperial Curse, James Bradley

Truman, David McCullough

Debate Round No. 2


I apologize to the voters who may get upset with us in the following rounds. It appears to me, that my opponent and I are disagreement about morality and whom it should extend to. This may and probably will take up the rest of the debate. I also I couldn't fix the spaces in between the paragraphs. I will report this bug because I tried to fix it seven times.

My Responses to the Indian Removal Act (IRA)
1a) Tribal territories in eastern states were unsustainable
1b) Indian Removal was motivated by security concerns
1c) Integrity of Indian Territory had dubious legal standing
1d) Magnitude of destruction was relatively small
I disagree with Con because the tribal territories in the East were not unsustainable. As I said in Round 1, the settlers moving into the Indian territories was the main problem. This goes back to when the British governed the American colonies. Allgedly, this is why some people(notably poor farmers in the South) joined the American Revolution. These people would be able to expand West without the British stopping them. These incoming settlers caused a variety of problems which eventually led to the Indian Removal Act and the constant removal of Indians.
My opponent goes on to to discuss state intervention. I won't disagree with this point because it is a fact that the states intervened.
Con goes on to say that President Andrew Jackson viewed the Indians as a security threat. This may be true but Jackson had other reasons like the fact that he hated the Indians[1]. Jackson had personally fought the Indians numerous times[2]. President Jackson was not the source to show that he cared about the Indians.

My Responses to Hiroshima and Nagasaki
2a)Multiple alternatives to the Bomb were available.
2b)Decision makers were profoundly racist
2c)Logic of the bomb was morally depraved
d) The magnitude of destruction massively outweighs the IRA
I respect my opponent's morals and values but I severly disgaree with them. His claim about Hiroshima and Nagasaki are soley based on the presupposition that the United States has a moral obligation to an enemy(Japan) in war. I strongly disagree with this entirely.
War is an entity where people attempt to take an opponent's life. This may mean destroying villages and cities in order to stop your enemy; hence the term total war. Is it to be celebrated? Absolutely not. We must keep in mind war historically has not been civilized where people follow rules. I will quote one of my favorite military heros, William Tecumseh Sherman: "War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over[3].” Let us also keep in mind, during the time when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was no promotion of human rights and regulated wars[4].
War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
The only document of significance to try and regulate war before World War II was an internatioanal set of laws signed at the Geneva Convention in 1929[5]. But those laws only related to prisoner treatment, not combat. I know my opponent may attempt to portray the image of innocent ciivlians being killed. But innocent civilians were killed in Dresden, London, Marseille, and Warsaw as well when bombings happened. I think it was World War II is what lead to war being "regulated." Too many innocent civilians were bombed throughout the war along with their families and residences.
My opponent said the Americans were racist. I simply reply the Japanese were prejudicded as well[6]. I will only admit that the magnitude of deaths Hiroshima and Nagasaki far surpass that of the IRA. However, I will not give my opponent this point about Hiroshima and Nagasaki at all because I don't see any reason why the United States should of not droppoed the bombs on those two cities. There was no moral obligation because Japan was an enemy in a war; a total war actually.

My Responses to the Occupation of Philippines following Spanish American War
3a)Occupation was motivated solely by imperialism
3b)The Occupation was a stab in the back to revolutionaries who aided the U.S. in the Spanish-American War
3c) Magnitude of casualties massively outweighs IRA
3d)Atrocities were rampant and institutionalized
3e)Institutionalized brutality is especially depraved
My opponent claims that the American "occupation was motivated solely by imperialism." I simply retort, "What is wrong with imperialism?"I don't see how there is anything wrong with imperialism because every notable country engages in it. I don't know of any major country of significance or any great empire that had not tried to exert influence over their bordering countries and other foreign countries. Imperialism was not the only motivation for US entry into the Philippines[7]. There were many who specualated on whether the Philippines could even be governed by Filipinos. Geniune concern of stability was a significant reason for the Americans retaining control of the Philippines after defeating Spain.
Imperialism: "the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas. [8]"



The United States did not have any moral obligation to the rebels led by Emilio Aguinaldo. There was no contract or written agreement. TThe rebels only had helped the United States against Spain. But the rebels did not have a govening body. It was a rag tag band of rebels who were unorganized on any central principal other than overthrowing the Spanish. Than many united against the United States. If the United States had acknowledged the rebels; who would of been considered the legitimate represenattion of the Philippines? There are many people who would of never tolerated Aguinaldo as the leader of the Philippines[9]. This would of only brought about decades of conflict.


I don't see how the United States had a moral obligation with the rebels because there was no treaty or contract signed for such an obligation to exist. Versus the Indians under President Andrew Jackson had their treaties with the American Federal government reduced to meaning nothing[10].


I will address the rest of my opponent's concerns in the final round.



Moral Framework:

Moral Framework (FW) is a PRIOR ISSUE to evaluating the resolution- a moral framework is required to evaluate the resolution. What this means is that Judges ought to FIRST evaluate which side has better argued FW and THEN evaluate who has better argued their case using whichever FW is better supported. Thus, if I win FW, judges ought to evaluate who has won the debate using my broad conception of virtue ethics as a standard of moral depravity.

a) Pro has no unique right to define “morally depraved” – it wasn’t defined in terms and conditions (R1), thus the matter is up for debate.

b) Pro’s standard of “Christianity” is hopelessly ambiguous. Christians disagree on all sorts of moral issues and Pro gives no way to use this standard to evaluate this debate. As an example, Pro says there is NO moral obligation to the enemy in war- this principle directly contradicts the Catholic doctrine of “Just War Theory.”

c) Pro is internally inconsistent. He argues that imperialism is ok because everyone does it and war crimes were ok before post-WWII human rights campaigns. Pro is using relativistic principles while claiming “Christianity” is his standard.

d) My standard best accounts for moral intuition- right actions are done for the sake of and result in human flourishing. This excludes lying and torture while affirming loyalty and courage.

Prefer my FW because it is the only clear and consistent standard.


I took the time to organize my arguments in R2, if Pro could stick with my organization it will make the debate more focused and easier to follow.


1a) Tribal territories in eastern states were unsustainable

Pro agrees that the main problem was “settlers moving into the Indian territories” and explains that this has deep historical roots. This is EXACTLY MY POINT. Conflict with the Indians was inevitable due to Western expansion. The only way to prevent dissolution of the territory would be to halt the growth of the U.S. - an impossibility. The same societal forces that caused the IRA caused the many policies before and after the IRA that virtually erased the Indians in North America.

This lessens the moral depravity by narrowing the scope of available action and by shifting the moral responsibility of the effects of the act.

1b) Indian Removal was motivated by security concerns

Pro does not refute that Indian Removal was motivated by security concerns.

1a) and 1b) show that even if the effects of the IRA were bad, they had morally acceptable motivations.

1c) Integrity of Indian Territory had dubious legal standing

Pro doesn’t refute that the legal status of Indian Territory was uncertain- Pro has the burden of proof to show that the U.S. acted illegally in passing the IRA. Recall that existing Supreme Court cases supported the primacy of the federal government over Indian Territory.

1d) Magnitude of destruction was relatively small

This point was conceded.

1e) Jackson did not hate the Indians

Jackson did fight against Indians, but he also fought alongside them in the Seminole War. Jackson vehemently condemned as “base, cowardly” Georgia militiamen who attacked the village of his Chechaw allies “whilst the warriors of that village were with me, fighting the battles of our country.” [p. 50, Meacham]. Jackson also called the Indians his “Red Children.”

In fact, Jackson believed the Indians he fought against in the Seminole War were aided and incited by the Spanish. This underscores the fact that the IRA was motivated by security concerns.

2) Hiroshima and Nagasaki

2a) Multiple alternatives to the Bomb were available.

My opponent doesn’t dispute that the Bomb was unnecessary and that ethical alternative existed.

This means that use of the bomb was unjustified. The unjustified use of a weapon of mass destruction is morally depraved.

2b)Decision makers were profoundly racist

Pro concedes that key decision makers were racist.

The entrenched racism of key decision makers makes ethical motivation impossible, adding to the depravity of the policy.

2c) Logic of the bomb was morally depraved

Pro ignores this.

My 2c) shows that even if the Bomb COULD be justified, the actual motivations and decision procedure were profoundly immoral. The logic of the bomb is antithetical to human flourishing, as it detaches ethical consideration from war and conduct in general.

2d) The magnitude of destruction massively outweighs the IRA

Pro explicitly concedes this. Killing thousands of people is evil.

2e) Total War, and by extension Pro’s FW, is morally depraved

First, my entire 2) argument demonstrates why Total War is an evil concept. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, women, and children died unnecessarily. Total War justifies destruction for the sake of destruction, violence without consideration or calculation of the costs to humanity. My FW allows for war but requires that all action in war be done for the sake of humanity and advance the cause toward that goal.

It is irrelevant that Human Rights (HR) weren’t considered in international law prior to WWII. Plenty of people working on the bomb strongly objected to its use- James Franck, a lead scientist at Met Lab, argued that the bomb would elicit “loss of confidence and [a] wave of horror and repulsion.” A petition circulated Met Lab opposing use of the bomb on “moral grounds.” These efforts were not considered because the logic of the bomb left no room for moral decision making- the petition was never even seen by Truman or other top officials.

3. Occupation of Philippines

3a) Imperialist Motivations

If imperialism is immoral, it is irrelevant that other countries engage in it. Pro makes no argument that imperialism is moral. I argue that imperialism is inherently exploitative- the imperial country attempts to extract wealth at the expense of indigenous peoples. The Philippines bear out this assessment, as the U.S. brutally repressed the locals.

Pro asserts that the U.S. took control over the Philippines out of concern that Filipinos did not govern. First, his source doesn’t support this claim. His source says McKinley didn’t want the Philippines; he only wanted Luzon but then was forced to take the Philippines in entirety. This SUPPORTS MY POINT. My R2 source indicates that were it not for the coal and natural resources of Luzon, the US would have made no claim to the Philippines. The motivation for the occupation was extraction of natural resources- any justification for seizing control from the Filipinos was an after the fact matter of how to manage US property. The occupation was motivated by imperialist designs but entailed consideration of how best to manage the local population.

Additionally, even if occupation of the totality of the Philippines was in fact motivated by concern that the Filipino's could self govern, the U.S. explicitly wanted to keep Luzon for economic purposes. Luzon is the richest and largest island in the Philippines, so the US was fine with occupying the most important parts of the Philippines for profit.

Moreover, the belief that the Filipino’s could not self–govern was based solely on hearsay. My R2 evidence shows this assessment was based on clipped telegrams and rumors from U.S. admirals. The US made no attempt to discern whether or not Aguinaldo’s Filipino government was stable. Rather than reach out to Aguinaldo to establish a stable government, McKinley made is proclamation of Benevolent Assimilation and kicked off another war.

3b) Betrayal of Filipinos

While there was no written agreement, the US certainly had a “gentleman’s agreement” that the Filipinos could self-govern. The Filipinos had been revolting against Spanish rule prior to the Spanish-American War and would not have allied with the Americans unless they believed it would result in independence.

The Filipino leader Aguinaldo used rhetoric that clearly indicated his belief that he was fighting for independence, the Americans knew that was Aguinaldo’s understanding. The Americans betrayed their allies. This is morally depraved regardless of whether an agreement existed in writing.

The Filipino was in fact stable. Pro’s source about domestic opposition to Aguinaldo talks about events that happened before Aguinaldo’s election as president and before the Spanish American War even began. My R2 source indicates that Aguinaldo had an established central government in Luzon, and was able to coordinate his navy throughout the Philippines and manage the cessation of territory by the Spanish.

3c) Magnitude of casualties massively outweighs IRA
3d) Atrocities were rampant and institutionalized

3e) Institutionalized brutality is especially depraved

All points conceded by Pro.

Even if the US was totally justified in occupying the Philippines, the atrocities committed during the occupation are independently depraved. The Institutionalization of torture, brutality, and mass destruction outweigh the casualties caused by the IRA. Again, compare the hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths caused by the occupation to the 6,000 dead due to the IRA.

Debate Round No. 3


I apologize but I will not be able to finish this debate. I have had migraines on and off this week for some strange reason starting Tuesday. I struggled to post the last two rounds. I started typing a few hours ago and just deleted it all because I could not concentrate. When I started the debate I wasn't sick but I have started getting more sick, my headache is too bothersome, and I definitely won't be able to finish. Again my apologies.


I regret that my opponent was unable to post his final round and hope he recovers from his migraines.

I will briefly summarize why I have won this debate.

Moral Framework:

Pro has offered no defense of his moral framework, nor does his framework provide a means to evaluate the depravity of US foreign policy. Thus judges ought to evaluate the extent to which acts are morally depraved based on a) the extent to which they are motivated by concerns contrary to human flourishing and b) the extent to which they harmed actual human flourishing.


I have shown that the motivations behind the IRA where not contrary to human flourishing. The IRA was motivated by a concern for the security of the U.S., i.e. the safety and prosperity of a large growing nation. The IRA was a response to factors outside the control of the federal government- the U.S. was forced to act by Georgia state policies that were injurious to the Indians and the federal government. The IRA harmed the society of the Indians, but bodily harm was limited and the harm done to Indian society was inevitability.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

I have shown that dropping the bomb was unnecessary since there were several military alternatives to winning WWII and the Japanese were already defeated by the time the bomb was dropped. I have shown that the bomb resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians, women and children and permanently altered global psychology. Dropping the atomic bomb caused massive and unnecessary harm; this is morally depraved.

I have also shown that use of the atomic bomb came out of motivations totally contrary to human flourishing. Use of the atomic bomb came out of a psychology of “total war” which allows any and all means to achieve military victory. This decouples critical evaluation of the morality and efficacy of violence from warfare. The decision-making process involved in dropping the bomb shows that decision-makers were not considering the welfare of mankind and were instead operating under bureaucratic momentum.


I have shown that the motivation for the occupation of the Philippines was imperialism marked by a desire to increase the prosperity of the U.S. at the expense of indigenous peoples in the Philippines. The U.S. carried out the occupation in a cruel manner, institutionalizing violence and racism towards native people. The institutionalization of acts such as torture are especially harmful to human flourishing since institutionalization normalizes cruelty, coerces individuals to act cruelly against their will, and is more difficult to eradicate than isolated incidents of cruelty. Hundreds of thousands of native Filipinos died due to the occupation. Additionally, the U.S. betrayed its allies in occupying the Philippines.


The damage done by the occupation of the Philippines and the dropping of the atomic bomb is orders of magnitude greater than that done by the IRA. Additionally, the IRA was motivated by at least partly ethical motivations. The use of the atomic bomb was marked by amoral motivations and the occupation of the Philippines by imperialism.

Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by whiteflame 6 years ago
Oh well, looks like you have a very worthy opponent. Maybe we can do a repeat or something similar at some point.
Posted by whiteflame 6 years ago
I figured as much, thanks for the clarification!
Posted by Tophatdoc 6 years ago
Yes, actions by the president and declarations of war can be used. But not doctrine because that is too vast.
Posted by whiteflame 6 years ago
Last question - does it have to be a specific congressional act or law, or could it encompass actions taken by a sitting president, declarations of war, or the setting of a doctrine?
Posted by Tophatdoc 6 years ago
Strictly American foreign policy only.
Posted by whiteflame 6 years ago
Oh, and by the way, are we talking all of American policy, or simply all of American foreign policy?
Posted by whiteflame 6 years ago
I am very tempted, haven't had a really good historical debate since I came here and this one looks like very fertile ground. If it hasn't been taken by the end of the day, I'll likely take this one on.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Actionsspeak 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession (That was caused on by migraines based upon Pro's words.) I feel bad for choosing a winner, but concession is still concession regardless of the cause.

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