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Resolved: North Korea poses a more serious threat to US national security than Iran

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,378 times Debate No: 15684
Debate Rounds (5)
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This is a public forum debate. I will expect my opponent to know the rules of public forum before we debate. My opponent may ask any question regarding the rules in Round 1.


I thank my opponent for deciding to argue over an interesting global issue. I just want to clarify that the rules of public forum are simply that it is a policy debate over domestic and international policy and if there is anything more to it I'd like to be informed in the next round. Thank you,
I hope this turns out to be a good debate and I am willing to defend the position that the country of North Korea poses a more serious threat to the United States than the country of Iran
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. As I am not familiar with the rules of policy, I can't say whether the rules are similar. This debate is structured to be two speeches, each followed by a crossfire (where we ask each other questions to try to prove each other wrong).
My first speech begins here.

Two nations, one in East Asia and one in West Asia, are allegedly developing nuclear weapons. The US government is panicking. The purpose of this debate is to decide which country's nuclear program is more cause for panic. I negate the resolution on the grounds that neither is a threat to US national security, and that even if they were a threat, that Iran would be a greater threat than North Korea. I define national security as the condition of the nation in terms of threats (especially from outside), as defined by

Contention 1: Neither Iran nor North Korea is a threat to the US itself. They are a threat to certain US allies.

My first point is that neither Iran nor North Korea will attack the United States, or support people that will attack the United States. Iran does train terrorist groups, but according to CSIS, Iran trains terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Two dangerous terrorist groups...for Israel. Iran poses no threat to the US because it makes one important exclusion from its training camps: al Qaeda. Iran is Shiite, while al Qaeda is Sunni. These two branches of Islam have a history of killing each other, which means they will never work together against the US.
North Korea has ballistic missiles and bio weapons, but they are also not a threat to the US. Why? Remember when Teddy Roosevelt imperialized Latin America to keep the European powers out (source is American Pageant)? The same concept can be applied to this situation. In the Age of Imperialism, the last thing the US wanted was to have an aggressive world power like Germany in Latin America. Today, the last thing China wants is to have an aggressive superpower like the US fighting a war on its doorstep, which would happen if North Korea attacked the United States. Thus China would do everything in its power to keep North Korea from engaging in fights, and with a combination of peer pressure and a "big stick" (quoted from TR), they should be quite effective at it.

Contention 2: Iran's intentions are more dangerous than North Korea's

According to the Jerusalem Post, Iran plans to attack oil fields in other Arab nations, in effect working to control the oil market. This is bad for the United States since Iran already hates us and the rest of the West for our sanctions and support for Israel. Iran will probably raise prices high enough to hurt the US economy as part of their vengeance. North Korea, on the other hand, doesn't have control of the oil market or vengeance against the US in mind. All they care about is reuniting Korea under Communism (which doesn't threaten US national security). We can all agree that people who have non-threatening intentions are less threatening than people with threatening intentions, all other things being equal.


Contention 1: Threats against our allies are threats against the United States.

The U.S. is a large global power that seeks to protect and maintain it's military and economic interests world wide. The U.S. cannot accomplish such a task singlehandedly so we have strong ecomomic and military alliances around the globe including the Middle East and Asia. Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc aid in protecting our strategic interests such as oil in the Middle East and South Korea and Japan help protect our interests of sea trade and democracy in Asia. My point is is that our allies make up a large part of our security seeing as we see it fit to supply large quantities of aid and military equipment to those countries. Through our allies we are able to project a force to immediatley deter threats that we see as harmful to ourselves whether it cause economic or military damage. If we saw that no power abroad could somehow harm us then we wouldn't have alliances in the regions of the Middle East and Asia that benefit us while we have many that do. If any of our allies such as Israel, South Korea, or our European allies in NATO, were to come under attack, it may not affect us immediately but in the long run drastic consequences would come into affect. It would spark a sense of empowerment among our global enemies making them confident in attacking other various democratic, or capitalistic, or U.S. friendly nations knowing that that there would be no force to oppose theirs in such a conflict. When just a few of our allies such as Saudi Arabia or Japan out of the several we have around the globe, are defeated by enemies of the U.S., the world economy would immediately feel the blow of a handful of G20 nations being knocked out. We would also lose much of our ability to maintain the security of U.S. strategic interests in those regions and any attempt to do sou would result in a large devotion of military and economic effort on the part of the United States that would otherwise would have been divided amongst our allies.
Therefore we have alliances and therefore we have to be devoted to defend our allies and therefore national security threats to our allies are, in the end, threats to the United States as well.

Contention 2: North Korea's intentions and abilities are more dangerous than Iran's.

The U.S. has the obligation to defend their allies for the U.S.'s own benefit. The U.S. also has already proven to be very effective in dealing with conventional armies in the Middle East such as with Iraq where hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers stormed the oilfields of Kuwait and in response, were pushed back by U.S. led coalition forces in a relatively short amount of time. Iran has a smaller army and Saudi Arabia for example is also in possesion of a formidable fighting force as is Iraq. So even in the event that Iran were able to defeat the armed forces of nations such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iraq, which it might not be able to do in the first place and even if Iran were able to they would undoubtedly suffer heavy losses, the U.S. would be able to effectively defeat Iran probably even quicker than we did Iraq in the first gulf war.
North Korea on the other hand is in possesion of a multi-million man army with most of its forces near the DMZ on the Korean Peninsula. Despite having a defense budget of roughly only 6 billion USD, they have proven to be very, well, thrifty. They able to muster over 1 million men for active duty and up to 6-8 million in reserve forces. Along with their massive amounts of military man power North Korea is in possession of 16,400 land based weapons which includes Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Personel Carriers, Towed Artillery, Self Propelled Artillery, etc as well as over 1700 air based weapons such as Fighters, Fighter-Bombers, and Helicopters.
In short, North Korea has a better chance of taking over South Korea through military force even if we backed up South Korea, than Iran has in taking over Arab oilfields in which formidable Arab forces along with Israel will fight the Iranian military along with support from the U.S.
North Korea can stand a good chance against South Korean forces simply through sheer numerical superiority and any intervention involving the U.S. will turn into a second Korean war only this time more effective weapons will be used claiming tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of U.S. and South Korean lives.
We will be forced to defend South Korea. North Korea has proven that they posses nuclear and biological warheads and rockets that have the ability to deliver them closer and closer to the U.S. mainland as North Korea develops more and more, unlike Iran. With North Korea in control of a G20 nation and South Korea's vast economic resources they will undoubtedly develop a more advanced military force along with more advanced missiles capable of delivering nuclear and biological weapons to the heartland of the United States. Simply uniting Korea under communism does not threaten U.S. national security, taking control of a powerful economy to develop powerful weapons capable of devastating the U.S. that will be under control of an utter anti-american dictator is and must be avoided. North Korea has proven time and time again they have no regard for their citizens well being and have constantly committed acts of war such as repeated commando missions killing hundreds of South Korean soldiers and civilians, the sinking of a destroyer and the recent bombardment of a South Korean military installation. We cannot underestimate the DPRK's willingness to go to war and we must intervene to prevent the frightenly likely scenario above. We cannot allow South Korea to be claimed by North Korea for North Korea's own economic gain so we must intervene yet if we intervene North Korea just may launch nuclear and biological warheads on U.S. and South Korean forces. Either way, North Korea has us in one hell of a pickle.
Debate Round No. 2


1. True, attacks on our allies aren't beneficial to us, but how do they harm our national security?
2. How are our international interests equivalent to our national security?
3. What makes you think we would be forced to defend South Korea in a 2nd Korean war?
4. What makes you think that North Korea would want to launch its warheads at us?


1. I stated that the U.S. has international interests that involve our security and economic interests. We have very important strategic intersts abroad in regions such as the Middle East and in Asia. Our allies such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and South Korea help secure our interests and relieving much of the burden so we don't have to put forth as much military or economic effort on our part to make sure strategic interests such as oil, free trade, etc aren't threatened. If we lose the ability to maintain strategic interests such as those then our economic and military stability abroad will be severely compromised

2. This is a very well connected globe and what occurs abroad often directly affects the United States. If a good amount of our oil supply in the Middle East was gone then gas prices would soar and compromise our economic might as well as our ability to fuel a military. Having a strong economy that is not easily manipulated is essential to national security.
In Korea's case if South Korea were to fall and have their massive economic might subjegated to the whim of North Korea, a nation which already has the ability to launch nuclear missiles close to the U.S., their ability to launch nuclear strikes against the U.S. will be increased tenfold. If North Korea were a stable nation in possesion of nuclear arms such as India, China, or Russia, this would not be so problematic. However North Korea is under control from a lone dictator who has made it clear that he has a clear disdain for the U.S. as well as his own people. He has no regard for human life and well being and when he makes threats against the U.S. and South Korea while he has formidable nuclear capabilities then it should be regarded as a severe threat to the United States's own soil

3. For the reason I explained in number 2 the U.S. cannot allow North Korea to gain the ability to launch a good amount of nuclear weapons with the ability to hit in a good amount of the U.S. Therefore if South Korea's vast economic resource comes under attack then the United States should be fully prepared to defend South Korea more for our sake than theirs.

4. Simply google "Kim Jong il threatens the U.S." and you will see several reports of incidents showing that North Korea has continued to vow to attack and wipe out the U.S. This is coming from Kim Jong il himself and in a country like North Korea where there are no safeguards whatsoever preventing an absolute dictator from using nuclear weapons then the possibility of whether or not North Korea will use nuclear warheads against us rests on the word and whim of Kim Jong il.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent has focused on the argument that attacks on our allies are a threat to our national security. He explains that our allies help defend our interests internationally, but he forgets that America was once a country without allies. America pre-World War I was one that valued isolationism. We didn't like to stick our heads into other people's business, especially European business. Thus we had no allies. Latin America hated us for forcing them to pay back the Europeans they were indebted to. Europe respected us but wasn't interested in our friendship. Our relations with Japan and Russia soured after we helped them make a treaty ending the Russo-Japanese war that weakened both sides. Yet we seldom had to worry about our national security. National security is called national security for a reason. National security is security at the national level. What my opponent is talking about is international security.
My opponent also argues that North Korea's military strength is greater than Iran's, and thus North Korea is a greater threat. I concur that on the surface it seems like a strong military is a threat. However, we spend more on our military than the next 9 countries combined. Our military is among the strongest in the world. No country is foolish enough to mess with us if we don't provoke them ourselves. North Korea's threats to attack the US is a response to the US threat of defending the South with nuclear weapons. Even if they were to attack, our anti-ballistic missiles would be more than enough to stop them. Knowing this, it really doesn't matter how much the Korean dictator hates us. He can rage and languish with his hatred, but he does not have the capability to act on his rage.
My opponent makes a good point about the possibility of South Korea's vast economic resources landing in North Korea's hands. However, such a possibility is slim, as South Korea can easily use those vast economic resources to increase their military power. A united Korea is still far in the future. The US doesn't have to lift a finger to contain North Korea, even if it does have nuclear weapons.


Yes when the U.S. was isolationist and a weak global power we were isolationists. Much of what occured in the globe didn't affect us. However nowadays we have cars, planes, ships, electricity, all of these require oil. Therefore it is imperative that oil trade is open to the west.
The U.S. economy is also based on shipping goods, services and ideas abroad especially to countries in Asia. Much more North Korea does have nuclear weapons with the ability to launch them. The only thing keeping nuclear missiles from being fired from North Korea at the U.S. is only prevented by the whim of the current dictator and their inability to currently develop a long range rocket. Due to the severe lack of basic safeguards all nuclear states have regarding situations when nuclear weapons are used, the most reliable prevention method is that the DPRK can't build a long range rocket. If they do either by inevitable figuring out how to do so without having to even invade South Korea or invading South Korea for their economic resources, they have to be stopped since by then, the mere whim of Kim Jong il, a fanatic and undoubtedly insane anti-american with no regard for our lives or his own people, is the only thing holding back such an attack requiring the U.S. and South Korea to intervene.
North Korea managed to build nuclear, biological and chemical weapons all without having to invade the South and they have also been developing rockets with longer and longer strike distances. Invading South Korea is simply one method to speed up the process. You've even hinted that a major obstacle holding back the DPRK is South Korea. We do need their alliance and North Korea currently threatens South Korea as we speak and will directly become a threat to the United States in the not so distant future. The only thing preventing the North from taking over the Souths economic resources is the South Korean military and since the takeover the South's economic resources directly threatens South Korea as well as the U.S. combined with the fact North Korea is run by a single fanatic with nuclear weapons, the DPRK should be regarded as a severe threat to U.S. national security.

I'm not saying you think that North Korea is more of a threat than Iran but you did say that Iran was not a threat so I don't think I have any questions to ask you trying to support the notion that Iran is not a threat any further.
Debate Round No. 4


1. How are you so sure that the mere whim of the North Korean dictator would be the only thing preventing him from launching nukes? You also have to factor in that North Korea's only ally, China, does not want a war on it doorstep and that the US can easily crush North Korea in a nuclear war, providing an effective deterrent.
2. When have I ever hinted that we need the South to hold back the North? I only said that the US doesn't need to lift a finger to contain North Korea.
3. What makes you so sure that North Korea will be a direct threat to the US in the near future? All they care about is reuniting Korea, something that won't happen any time soon.
4. If North Korea doesn't have long-range missiles, how are they a threat to US national security? You are arguing that the potential to be a threat is threatening. So if you have a dog, that dog is a threat because it can go outside and get rabies from a raccoon?


1. China did not encourage the North Korean invasion of the South in 1950, the North Korean's continous violations of the DMZ, North Korea's continuous skirmishes with the South killing their soldiers, police, and civilians along with U.S. soldiers, the North Korean assasination attempt of the South Korean president in the Blue House Raid, the North Korean sinking of the South Korean destroyer or the recent bombardment on the South Korean military base. North Korea has and will make several acts that constitute as acts of war without China's approval.

2. Who else will hold back the North if we don't need the South to do it and we won't lift a finger? China certainly hasn't stopped them from committing acts of aggression in the past and now neither will anyone else?

3. They also have vowed to destroy the United States. Reuniting Korea might be the first step to quickly acquiring nuclear weapons with the range to attack the U.S. Also do to our vast amount of military installations world wide to serve our global strategic interests such as the ones we have in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, etc, many of our armies are able to be struck by North Korean rockets. Again, this would not be a big deal if North Korea had safeguards regarding nuclear weapons such as Russia, Pakistan, India, China, etc some of whom are U.S. enemies but are not a threat do to their nuclear weapon arsenal. North Korea again, is run by a single mad man who cannot be stopped by his own government system if he feels like he wants to launch a bomb at San Francisco.

4. Currently they threaten U.S. military bases but the fact that they have nuclear weapons, rockets that can strike very close to the U.S., and aren't very far from developing rockets that can reach the United states shows that they are much more a security threat than Iran.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by BillBonJovi 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were more convincing to me
Vote Placed by sydnerella 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro made the more convincing arguments and better explained their arguments. Good debate from both sides though.
Vote Placed by RougeFox 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct- resolution asks for a comparison, con doesn't provide. Although I vote for that argument, I hesitate to in PF Arguments- Con put himself at a disadvantage from the get go by saying that North Korea is, in fact, a threat to allies. It is really easy to show how that affects our national security. Con did not respond to the fact that we now live in a global world. It doesn't matter that we were fine alone back in the day we look to the present. If needed I can further explain in comment