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The Contender
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The USFG should substantially increase its military capability in Southeast Asia

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/25/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
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This debate is the second DDO team debate and will cover the resolution:

RESOLVED: The USFG Should Substantially Increase Its Military Capability in Southeast Asia

This will be a 3x3 debate with the following teams:

Pro: Team Y

Con: Team X

R1 is for introductory comments/acceptance

R2-R4 are constructive rounds for presenting cases and rebuttals.

R5 will be a half length round for closing remarks- no new arguments or evidence may be presented in R5.

Thanks for all the members or competing and for the judges who took the time to read this debate.


Thank you to Team Y for this challenge. We gladly accept.
Debate Round No. 1


1) The U.S. military must balance a growing threat from China

The Obama Administration policy of a “pivot to Asia” continues the policies of the Clinton and Bush Administrations to redeploy forces from Europe to the East Asia. The collapse of the Soviet Union removed the threat of invasion of Europe, while at the same time the rise of China as a major power brought about the change. The emergence of North Korea as a nuclear power has added to the urgency.

a) China is rapidly expanding its military

China is spending huge sums expanding their military power. [1.] The Chinese military strategy has two objectives. “China has effectively split ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] into two groups – the countries with South China Sea claims that are engaged in disputes with China over the boundaries of territorial waters, and the landlocked countries that share land borders with China and in some cases are fast becoming Chinese client states.” [2.]

b) China’s aggressive behavior threatens global stability- multiple flashpoints for conflict
China has long wanted to take over democratic Taiwan. Taiwan defense officials warn, “China will be able to successfully invade Taiwan by 2020 as it gains military strength and develops technology to prevent allies such as the U.S. from coming to the island’s aid, the Taiwanese defense ministry said." [3.]

China has claimed airspace rights to the disputed Senkaku Islands. [4.] To show U.S. and Japanese resolve, the U.S. is responding with joint carrier group exercises and a B-52 overflight.

China seized Tibet after WWII, and it now maintains North Korea as an unstable client state. North Korea has evolved as major threat to South Korea and Japan. The North Koreans periodically shoot missiles over Japan. [5.] The Japanese have warned they may shoot down overflying missiles. "The North's Korean Central News Agency said that such a 'provocative' intervention would see Tokyo - an enormous conurbation of 30 million people - 'consumed in nuclear flames'. .. 'Japan is always in the cross-hairs of our revolutionary army and if Japan makes a slightest move, the spark of war will touch Japan first,' KCNA said in a commentary." [6.]
Dictators like North Korea's commonly start military incursions to solidify the public behind their rule. (For example, Argentina invading the Falkland Islands.) As a nuclear power, North Korea uses extortion and is developing a long range missile capability to reach the U.S. [7.] China could reign in economically-dependent North Korea, but thus far the Chinese have refused to do so.

c) U.S. interests require re-balancing power now
If the US fails to provide a convincing deterrent to China and North Korea, it could set off a nuclear arms race in Southeast Asia. It is in the US interest to minimize the spread of nuclear weapons, because the more nuclear powers in the world the greater the chance of a country's leader indulging in adventurism under the belief that all attack is deterred.

The Obama Administration “pivot to Asia” was to begin with the establishment of a base with 2500 marines in northern Australia. Preoccupation with the Middle East, the military sequester, and the President's need to attend to the budget crisis has stalled action so far. China has used the delay to aggressively increase its influence. [9.] Nations in the region want the balance of power maintained between the U.S. and china so that they can develop peaceful and open trade relations with both sides. The U.S. similarly benefits from free trade with countries of the region. The re balancing of U.S. military power has substantial bipartisan support. [8.] It should begin immediately.

2) Non-state Security: Piracy and Terrorism

a) Piracy is on the rise in Asian shipping routes, most notably in the Strait of Malacca. Historically, Southeast Asia has been a breeding ground for terrorist cells such as Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah, which have threatened attacks on oil tankers [10]. In November 2013, the second hijacking of an oil tanker in the period of one month dramatically drew attention to the piracy problem in Southeast Asia [13]. Even as local authorities work to secure certain areas, piracy shifts to area of lower security presence. [14]

b) The Strait of Malacca is a vital international shipping lane, carrying 40% of global shipping. The strait is crucial to Asia’s energy supply- up to 80% of China’s and 90% of Japan’s crude oil imports pass through the strait. The strait is also a key naval lane for U.S. sea power. [10] Piracy imposes a high cost on international trade due to rerouting and insurance premiums- a conservative estimate puts the cost at $12 billion [15]. A terrorist attack could have even larger economic impacts by inflating the cost of international security measures and disrupting global trade in the immediate aftermath of an attack.

c) Naval power is key to deterring and stopping in-progress piracy. Increased presence of naval power has proven effective in fighting piracy around the horn of Africa. [11]

d) The U.S. is uniquely situated to manage international cooperation in responding to the threat of non-state actors. Small regional actors have proved unable to effectively coordinate due to territorial disputes and fears of power imbalance [10]. China is perceived as a bully by southeastern Asia and so lacks the diplomatic credibility to manage multinational security initiatives [12].







3) Disaster Response

a) U.S. military is key to international disaster response and aid during crisis. By their very nature, natural disasters disrupt local infrastructure for rapid response to major crises. Additionally, many countries in Southeast Asia lack the means and expertise to coordinate efficient disaster response programs. The U.S. military proved indispensable in responding to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines- transporting hundreds of tons of supplies, moving thousands of aid workers, and airlifting thousands to safety. [16] Rapid disaster response also prevents the spread of infectious disease and collapse of civil order.


b) U.S. Disaster Response capabilities have proven reliable so far but are threatened by sequestration and budget cuts. [17] A strong U.S. presence in Southeast Asia ensures U.S. response capability does not deteriorate.


c) Disaster Response boosts U.S. Soft Power and draws countries to closer military partnerships with the U.S. The Response to Haiyan has underscored the need for closer ties between theU.S. and Philippines [18]. Historically disaster response has helped build U.S. partnerships, as it did after the 2010 Pakistan earthquake [16].


d) Regional power in Southeast Asia have proven unable or unwilling to take up the challenges of disaster response. China sent no troops and little aid in response to Haiyan and has shown a similar lack of response in the past [16].



First of all, we thank audiences and Team Y for engaging in what we foresee as an interesting debate.

We will offer our own case by providing background on the region and assigning our own conditions for the resolution.

As we are constructing our own case, we reserve the right to rebut PRO's arguments later in the debate. Please do not count them as dropped points, thank you.

Introduction - SEA

History and Heritage

PRO has forwarded a case about Southeast Asia without discussing Southeast Asia. We will frame the discussion around the region in question, and demonstrate that both the US AND China are unwelcome, foreign intruders into this region.

Southeast Asia (hereafter SEA) is comprised of peninsular Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, and archipelago nations Brunei, Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore. The peninsular section of SEA has a long, established, and unified political and cultural history, and the archipelago region is primarily bound together by Islam.

In the peninsular area, for several hundred years, the Angkor-based Khmer Empire achieved political unity in what is currently Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam, achieving its zenith around 1200AD:

During King Naresuan's reign around 1600AD, the Ayutthaya Kingdom achieved a greater territorial extent and included parts of Burma: did the Chakri Dynasty around 1800AD:


During the colonial era, the peninsular political unity suffered quite a bit of a disruption:

...and especially at the turn of the 20th century, colonialism seeded deep resentment against foreigners stemming from patronizing ideologies such as "the white man's burden" and social Darwinism, which imparted deeply biased racial discrimination against the peoples of the SEA colonies.

Only Thailand proper was spared from the colonial yoke...all of the other SEA nations had to fight for their independence - Vietnam in particular won independence for itself, Laos, and Cambodia from French Indochina only by fighting and winning three wars over 30 years against France, the US, and China at devastating costs to human life. [1]

This iconic picture of a Vietnamese girl fleeing from a US napalm attack during the Vietnam War encapsulates the extent to which the colonized Vietnamese were willing to bear any costs to get rid of foreign influence and claim independence:

Pathway to Modernity

From the literal ashes of human suffering and indignities resultant from their colonial experiences, SEA has risen to become economically potent and once again a unified entity. Organizations like ASEAN fully reflect SEA's cultural and political heritage pre-colonialism:

Furthermore, there is ample evidence that SEA very much prefers to take care of their own problems internally. When faced with maritime disputes, SEA has had numerous successes implementing Joint Development Authorities (JDAs) in the regional waters like the Gulf of Thailand to divide revenues from sea-based economic activity amongst all claimants. ASEAN aims to extend these successes to the current spates with China in the South China Sea. [2]


The purpose behind this presentation is to demonstrate how this region simply does not care for any foreign military influences.

This is the regional paradigm. SEA wants China only when the US misbehaves, and they only want the US when China misbehaves. They will not welcome us with any sort of open arms, will default to not supporting any long-term commitments, and will be wary of any suggestions of base facilities and garrisons within the region, thereby making any substantial increases in US military capability a pipe dream. This is the legacy of colonialism upon the colonized.

Conditions for Increased US Military Capability

Before WWII, America left the world alone, and made very few overseas ventures. After WWII, America successfully occupied most of Europe and significant countries in Asia. Our experiences taught us one key lesson:

There must be a military crisis in order for there to be a military opportunity.

We occupied Japan because we were at war with them. We occupied most of Europe as a direct result of the world's deadliest conflict, WWII. We occupied South Korea because they faced an existential threat from North Korea. We occupied Saudi Arabia because they were afraid of Saddam after he invaded Kuwait. Because there was already an ongoing crisis, typically a full-blown war, our presence was seen as a positive.

An example of the opposite: there was no crisis in Iraq in 2003, except for the numerous crises we created by occupying them without their permission, from sectarian violence to dramatic increases in terrorist recruiting [3], so they kicked us out.

There is simply no current military crisis in SEA, therefore, there is no opportunity for US military deployment into the region. The main issues in the region, China's trade disputes in the South China Sea (hereafter SCS), are peaceful and non-military. Therefore, our military presence will be seen as unwarranted, unwelcome and will be negative, as it was in Iraq.


1) SEA Impact - SEA impacts trump other impacts - If SE Asia rejects a US security capability, then their perspective will trump any and all US interests in the region, unless the US is willing to wage total war in SEA like we did in Iraq. Unlike Iraq, such a war in close proximity to China's borders will trigger a Chinese response and may easily escalate to nuclear conflict and mutually assured destruction (MAD). Total war is an unthinkable act in this region.

Therefore, short of total war, SEA nations' sovereignty and stability are primary considerations for a US deployment into the region.

2) US Impact - CON is more appropriately advocating for US interests than PRO - PRO's stance is overly aggressive and will actually work against US interests. We need to consider SEA nations' perspectives and adjust our security footprint to compensate, otherwise we may find ourselves in another situation where we deploy troops for a decade only to get kicked out of the country in a humiliating fashion, i.e. Iraq.

A US military presence is inherently destabilizing and inherently challenges national sovereignty - in Japan, they dealt with this by stationing US troops far off from the mainland on a tiny island called Okinawa [4], thereby minimizing the destabilizing aspects of a foreign occupation.

In Korea, we have already dramatically cut our troop count, and are continually pestered about removing our presence from their capital. [5] This is because after decades of occupation, even our staunchest allies are growing weary of the burden.

3) China Impact - In this region specifically, China is only relevant to this debate to counter US aggression. Yes, that's right, US aggression...this resolution advocates an extremely aggressive US strategy, and SEA will seek a counterweight to balance our push into the region.

We will demonstrate these impacts in detail when we rebut PRO's case.


Debate Round No. 2



SEA Impact

1) Con’s analysis is not very good for multiple reasons.

i) The U.S. can increase military capability without approval and without escalating to “total war.” This is because the U.S. Navy can be stationed at friendly naval bases, e.g. in the Philippines, and operate over huge area via international waters. The U.S. already has security capability in SEA- the status quo disproves Con’s argument.

Expansion of US military presence in the region does not involve putting troops in the ASEAN bloc. The strategy includes posting a contingent of 2500 marines in northern Australia, adding a second carrier group to the region, and potentially strengthening forces in Japan and South Korea. Contrary to Pro's assertion, there are already US bases on the Japanese main islands.

Increasing military capability can also take the form of prioritizing deployment of new military assets- e.g. ensuring that new military intelligence tech, radar systems, and sub-ocean equipment are strategically placed in the Pacific rather than elsewhere.

ii) Con says regional disputes are “nonmilitary” and cites the South China Sea disputes as evidence. But china has used military force to intimidate SEA countries into backing off of territorial disputes. [1] We also have a slew of evidence in R1 showing how China is ramping up militarization and increasingly using force in dispute.


iii) Con says SEA only wants the U.S. when China “misbehaves,” but half of our R1 case was showing exactly how China IS misbehaving. It follows from Con’s argument that SEA should be welcoming the Us with open arms right now.

iv) Even if SEA unanimously rejected increase US presence, Con has provided a shred of evidence that they would do anything about it. Again, in R1 we showed that SEA perceives China as a bully that threatens SEA interests- even if SEA doesn’t want the US around, SEA will put up with the US rather than side with China.

2) Even if SEA would prefer to try and handle China on their own- it is best to let the US respond. The most effective security response for a collection of weak SEA states is the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Leaving SEA to their own devices will result in the nuclear proliferation we outlined in R1.

3) The U.S. has plenty of carrots to get SEA countries on board. Con points out that ASEAN wants to expand economic ties with the U.S. and move down a path to modernity- these countries have a natural incentive to cooperate with the U.S. ASEAN as an organization is more afraid of lack of U.S. engagement than an overbearing U.S. [2]


4) ASEAN has deep seated internal conflict and needs sustained U.S. involvement to remain viable. There is a rift within ASEAN between those countries with SCS disputes with China and states which could become client states of China. Without U.S. counterbalancing China, ASEAN will fall apart under the weight of Chinese influence. [2] The organizations Con claims have been successful in SEA benefit from U.S. support and are harmed by Chinese influence.

USA Impact

1) Con offers little analytical support and zero empirical support for the claim that the Resolution will destabilize the region.

2) Our disaster response and piracy arguments show how US military presence preserves economic stability and build good-will in SEA.

3) Con ignores all our R1 analysis how SEA is unstable without US counterbalancing. An unchecked China will lead to military action in Taiwan, expansion of Chinese aggression in territorial claims in the SCS, conflict with Japan and North Korea, and the risk of a nuclear arms race as SEA countries take it upon themselves to seek protection

4) SEA countries are already starting to ramp up militarization in response to Chinese aggression. South Korea and Japan are both planning on building new bases to safeguard shipping lanes vital to their economic interests. This escalation is in response to perceived lack of commitment from the U.S. [3] This is especially notable considering Japan’s cultural antipathy towards securitization in the aftermath of WWII. Japan has relied heavily on the U.S. for security post-WWII and the change in attitude signals an alarming perception that the U.S. is not the reliable source of security it once was. [3]

As more countries militarize, the risk of miscalculation grows, making war more likely. What is at risk is the multipolarization of SEA geopolitics. A strong U.S. presence will reassure SEA actors, preventing risky independent security measures and stabilizing the region.


5) Pro’s S. Korea evidence is flat out wrong. In 2013 South Korea signed an agreement for additional security cooperation with the U.S. and requested that the US postpone a scheduled transfer of a military base. [4]

[ 4]

6) Allies like Japan are already lobbying for greater US involvement in maintaining maritime security in SEA- including bringing the rampant piracy issue under control. Even if some SEA countries oppose U.S. involvement, regional allies of the U.S. will work for acceptance from ASEAN countries.


7) Pew Polls show that the major SEA countries overwhelmingly trust the U.S. more than they trust China. This is sword cuts two ways. First it shows that the region will be receptive U.S. involvement, especially in light of recent Chinese aggression. Second, the alarming amount of distrust between China and its neighbors means territorial disputes are unlikely to be resolved peacefully. 90% of Japanese distrust China- this decreases the likelihood of trust-based agreements and diplomacy in the absence of outside influence from the U.S.


China Impact

1) Con is again flat out wrong in claiming that China is only relevant insofar as China tries to balance US aggression. Again, we presented a slew of evidence that China is pursuing the military capability to enforce territorial claims and secure control of SEA geopolitics.

2) A policy analysis performed by George Washington University entitled “Balancing Acts: The U.S. Rebalance and Asia-Pacific Stability” [7] summarizes the need for a US build up:

“The new U.S. policy is also based on the need – widely felt throughout most of the Asia-Pacific region – for strategic reassurance in the face of a rising and increasingly assertive China. The rebalance is also driven by a desire to reassure U.S. allies, friends, and other countries in the region that the United States has not been exhausted after a decade of war, that it has not been weakened by economic and political problems at home, and that it is not going to disengage from Asia-Pacific affairs.”

The GWU analysis shows that Southeast Asian nations want balance restored. Besides China,

“Almost every other regional power in Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia holds to two positions. First, most regional powers have been publicly or privately pleased to see the stronger U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region. Second, regional powers are also keen to avoid having to choose between the United States and China.”




I thank team y for continuing their case.

Pro has largely ignored the fact that the internal situation in SEA is really good, so I take that issue as conceded. In this round I'll rebut their claim that China is a big bully, which pro has staked their entire case on. But first...


This is the most important argument in the debate (a point pro does not contest), because more US military capability in SEA means less sovereignty for SEA nations. We support the right of these peoples to self-determination. In lieu of any compelling benefit to this region of increased US military capability, given that they're doing just fine on their own, pro has to provide a really convincing benefit of their model to these nations, or accept that these nations won't like pro's model.

The US has as much to benefit from trade with SEA as SEA themselves do. That's why irrespective of any militarization, the US is already pushing the TPP agreement. An agreement which, incidentally, was what split ASEAN into two factions and encourages regional division [10].

Piracy is not a big issue, especially not in the Malacca straights, which are well patrolled by Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia [3].

Unlike nations such as Haiti, which almost completely relied on the US after their earthquake, SEA nations have a long history of recovering from disaster well on their own. Even so, sending in big ships with guns is not what's needed in wake of a disaster.

The evidence that they'd do anything about it is clear - in fact my team had 3 paragraphs of analysis on this under "colonialism". Pro wants the United States to be modern-day colonisers. It's not a "put up with one or the other" dichotomy - SEA is smart enough to know that they don't have to put up with any foreign bullies at all, and don't need to if the US doesn't actually invade their land against their will. If the US does it without the approval of South-East Asia, then it's a move of aggression and coercion as there is no consent, and ASEAN as well as China will both likely react defensively at best, provoking a problem that doesn't even currently exist. At best, foreign military bases are like if your neighbour pointed a gun at you and told you it's for your own protection.

That leaves counterbalancing China as pro's only remaining incentive. Even if this were the case (I'll explain why it isn't soon), it is highly unlikely that nuclear weapons would be the technology of choice, since SEA is under the absurdly-named Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty, and have themselves been recently campaigning China, the US and the other nuclear states never to allow them to possess nuclear weapons [2]. Additionally all of SEA were among the first countries to sign the NPT.

What's more, even if that counter-balancing were to take place, China still has an opportunity to respond. Worst case scenario is an arms race between the US and China where innocent bystanders SE Asia are caught in the crossfire.

Furthermore, even if China's influence were to increase - let's say China invaded and conquered all of SEA tomorrow. Even then, pro is yet to show why that would be a bad thing for SEA. Vague allusions to North Korea and Tibet hold little water as American client states through military control - like Afghanistan or Iraq - aren't exactly bastions of human development.

Pro also ignores our analysis that a positive local response to a foreign military presence necessitates a military situation.

All of this is our empirical and analytical evidence for destabilisation.

The US

The US Navy is already stationed at friendly bases. If that is all pro is advocating, they are failing to meet their burden of proof to change anything substantive about the status quo. They need to demonstrate why their model actually supports the resolution, which means they need to explain why the changes they are advocating are substantial. What they're proposing is much, much less than what the Pentagon's most recent budget calls for, and nobody was exactly calling that particularly substantial [1].

The US are already in SEA to a significant extent. It's been many decades since they've actually USED that military capability. There's no point to establishing any of this if they aren't already prepared to take a stand against China's territorial claims, or stand up for Taiwan, or anything else. Simply increasing military capability does not solve for this problem, and creates a huge problem domestically as resources are diverted from protecting America itself from problems such as terrorism. Japan isn't part of SEA, but what they are asking for is diplomatic support more than military action.

Arms build-up has not occurred significantly in correlation with any action from Beijing, nor has Beijing been the only aggressor [4], and there's no reason to think they'll start tomorrow. Indeed, the moment the US becomes involved with territoriality, is the moment the US themselves could provoke a conflict - after all, the US federal government are not the ultimate arbiters of who owns what.


Pro cannot point to what China has actually done to require "rebalancing". This is surprising given that they premise their whole case on this point.

China already has the military capability to seize control over much of their disputed territory, but they haven't and won't. Rather, particularly in the last decade, they have shown a stronger willingness than ever to not resort to military action and be quite reasonable. That's why since 2008, for example, China and Taiwan have reopened dialogue and China has been improving Taiwan's economic position. On the other hand, when the US gave arms to Taiwan in 2010, China did not retaliate against Taiwan, but against the US, severing all military ties [6].

China's benign stance towards SEA is clear. The Senkaku affair with Japan was a response to Japanese assertiveness outside of international protocol [5]. And about their handling of the Spratly Islands, China's president made his position very clear that despite his belief some belong to China, he would not engage in any territorialism and has committed to settling all disputes peacefully. "China's development is a force for peace and friendship in the world, bringing development opportunities for Asia and the world and not threats" [9]. Even where Vietnam tried to provoke China into attacking the Spratly Islands by firing live rounds, China merely cruised by a short while later and did exactly the same thing back to them, as a clear signal that they don't want to escalate or provoke anything [7].

This is all no wonder because China has not even attempted to colonise anybody for over 600 years. Colonisation is simply not a part of the Chinese psyche and culture, which is deeply rooted in the Buddhist principles of non-intervention. China's government's own official policy on this hasn't changed since Zheng He sailed around the world during the Ming Dynasty. "Numerous expeditions were sent by other world powers after that. But few were as peaceful and non-intrusive as Zheng's. He reached many Southeast Asian countries on many occasions and left behind tales of peace, friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation" [8].

The resolution is negated.










Debate Round No. 3



1) We didn’t ignore the claim that the SEA is internally stable. Our R3 [2] shows how there is already a rift forming within ASEAN:

China has effectively split ASEAN into two groups – the countries with South China Sea claims that are engaged in disputes with China over the boundaries of territorial waters, and the landlocked countries that share land borders with China and in some cases are fast becoming Chinese client states.”

And that U.S. interest lies in preserving ASEAN unity. The U.S. has supported SEA autonomy and growth while China has sought to develop client states.

We also provided evidence that SEA countries are ramping up militarization in response to threats. Our entire China balancing argument is an argument that SEA is unstable.

2) Con is incorrect that greater US presence in the means less sovereignty for the nations in the region. First our analysis explained how the buildup could occur in friendly bases where the government and local populace wants the US presence. Secondly, the effect of increased US presence acts as a counter to China which also helps secure the autonomy of SEA nations. There is simply no substance behind this argument, as our R1 showed China is already ramping up its presence in the region and SEA nations trust the US more than they do China. Finally, we have already explained how the Resolution can be accomplished without any new bases.

3) Con misunderstands our argument on trade. The argument wasn't that the US needs to force SEA into free trade pacts with its military muscle, but rather that it needs to maintain the balance of power and regional stability so that both sides can open up peaceful trade.

4) Con is wrong on the piracy impact. In our first round we explicitly made the point that regional powers lack the military muscle to deal with the issue because as soon as they secure one area the pirates move to less secure areas. See our Forbes source from R1 which explicitly states that piracy is shifting away from the Strait of Malacca to the surrounding islands. Our Horn of Africa analysis on how the US is effective at dealing with this.

Pro’s evidence also shows that piracy is still a huge issue in SEA and that piracy is still worse today than it was 5 years ago. Pro’s evidence also only accounts for events up until 2012, while our evidence is from Nov. 2013 and notes a surge of pirate attacks in the region.

5) Con argues that SEA has a "long history" of banding together but cites no examples. Prefer our analysis on Typhoon Haiyan. The US has given 23 times the amount of aid China has [1], and the Philippines has asked the US to increase its military presence for "humanitarian and maritime security operations."[2].

6) Con contends that the US increasing is presence in SEA would be "colonialism". This is a shocking claim considering that all the US would be doing is increasing its presence in countries that actually want the US there, and since our evidence shows the US to be far more trusted than the other major power in the region it's hard to imagine a pan-SEA alliance to fight the United States. Again the status quo disproves Cons argument.

7) Con's only analysis on nuclear proliferation comes from a treaty signed nearly 20 years ago. We provided evidence that Japan is re-militarization NOW because they perceive a lack of US support. This shows how realistic necessity is changing historic idealistic martial opinions. Prefer our analysis that without the US in the equation, the only way for SEA countries to defend themselves from Chinese dominance would be nuclear development.


1) We are advocating a substantial increase- we are advocating a strategic reorientation that includes increasing troop presence at existing bases and prioritizing new technology deployment. The numbers typically used in the literature are shifting from 50-50% current allocation of naval resources between Pacific and Atlantic to a 60-40 allocation. That is a 20% increase in Pacific naval power.

2) Con argues that the US has been in SEA for many decades but we haven't had to use our military presence.

First, the US has used it in disaster relief and combatting non state actors.

Second, the whole point of balancing is to prevent the use of force. The fact that US presence has managed to bring stability in a region that was such a hotbed before the US stepped in shows us why the US is needed to counterbalance China's current military buildup. As we've already argued, China is aggressive and lacks the diplomatic clout to maintain regional stability the way that the US does. This also serves to further disconfirm Con's arguments about aggression and colonialism. That the region has so far not seen major conflict proves the value of a strong U.S. presence.

Third, the changing conditions we describe require U.S. action to maintain the balance that has so far prevented the need to use existing military force.


Pro argues that China has no history of colonization and therefore poses no threat. In fact, the Chinese have a very strong recent history of using military force to acquire territory not under their control, claiming that they always owned or ruled whatever they seize.

The Chinese invaded independent Tibet in 1950 and established colonial rule. [3] The Chinese have behaved as colonial masters ever since, seizing land [4] and forcible populating the region with Chinese. The Economist describes Tibetan resistance as “A colonial uprising.” [5] Inner Mongolia also maintained independence until forcibly re-annexed by the Communists in 1947.

China laid no claim to the Senkaku Islands until the potential for oil and gas was discovered in the 1960s. Japan has maintained continuous rule of the islands since legally annexing the unclaimed islands in 1895. The Japanese licensed the mining of fertilizer, maintaining a weather station, built a heliport, and patrolled the coasts. Pro's source says nothing about Japan violating international protocols, and supports the case for China acting provocatively.

China has only improved economic relations with Taiwan, [6] which does not mean they have abandoned or even lessened their intent to take over the country. China has conducted a strong military buildup opposite Taiwan, with 30% of the Chinese Army moved to the area. [7]

China has not only stepped up its claims to Japanese islands, but to islands in the Philippines, islands in Malaysia, and regions of the Himalayas disputed with India. [6] Again refer to our R3 [2] that shows that U.S. interest is aligned with ASEAN unity while China is splitting ASEAN through its regional influence - China is the true colonial threat.

Also, our R2 [16] shows that China is not responsive to regional natural disasters while the US is quick to provide assistance- this is a reason to prefer the US over China.

Finally, even if China was a benign regional hegemon they would still pose a threat to regional stability. SEA perceives China as a threat and is already taking action to militarize against them. Our balancing and proliferation analysis is not dependent on China being “bad”- it only depends on regional power relations and how international actors react. We have provided mountains of evidence that show that SEA countries don’t trust China, are ramping up militarily, and want the US to balance. We have also shown that China is rapidly increasing its military capability. None of this is refuted by Con.









This debate is about a substantial increase of US military capability in Southeast Asia.

Pro argues for an augmentation in "friendly bases" and that there need not be any new military bases. This means that the substantial increase will occur outside SEA because currently there are no US military bases in SEA. There is a only a supply post in Singapore.

Pro said that "US Navy can be stationed at friendly naval bases e.g. in the Philippines". But of course there is not currently a US navy base in the Philippines. There used to be, but in 1991 the Philippines ordered the US to leave because their presence was seen as "a vestige of colonialism and an affront to Philippine sovereignty." [1]

In the surrounding region, there are US military bases in Japan, Korea, Guam and Australia. None of these countries are in SouthEast Asia.

Therefore, when Pro talks about a substantial increase, it's not clear what they mean.

The Asian Pivot

Pro argues that the "numbers typically used in the literature are shifting from 50-50% current allocation of naval resources between Pacific and Atlantic to a 60-40 allocation. That is a 20% increase in Pacific naval power."

No, because these are proportional numbers, not absolute. A decrease in military resources in the Middle East, for example, means that proportionally the US has more military in the Asia-Pacific region, even if there is no change in numbers there. Some analysts say that this talk of an Asia Pivot is just a way to put a positive spin on pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan. [2]

The resolution is concerned with a substantial, absolute increase in military capability in SouthEast Asia. We accept that a reduction in military presence in other areas may mean that the current US forces in the Pacific region represent a greater proportion of the entire US military. But this is irrelevant to the resolution.

There is no reason for a military increase

There is no reason for the US to increase their military capabilities in SEA. Pro has talked wildly of nuclear proliferation and argued that SEA is a "hotbed" without a US presence. However, they have not provided a shred of evidence for these claims.


Pro argues that the US should intervene in SEA to stop piracy, especially in the Malacca Strait, even though the area is effectively patrolled by the MSP, a cooperative arrangement between four countries in SEA. [3]

Pro's report mentions two incidents, where cargo was stolen but nobody was hurt. This is in the context of a general decrease in piracy [4]. For the the US to impose an unwelcome military presence on other, sovereign nations because of two incidents of theft that did not involve the US in any way (the robbed vessels were from Panama and Thailand) is just incredible.

In a similar vein, Pro cited a article that described how piracy in the Malacca Strait has decreased, but that incidents in nearby Indonesia have increased. Indonesia is an island nation. Any incidents of theft on vessels in Indonesia are an internal matter for the Indonesian police.

disaster relief

Pro argues there should be a US military presence in SEA in case there are any natural disasters, and the military can help.

What do aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, 16-inch shells, and fighter aircraft have to do with disaster relief? At best, a disaster will prompt only a TEMPORARY military response, especially from foreign forces. It most certainly does not justify a permanent deployment of any sort.


In Round 3, Con gave several recent examples of China's determination to settle disputes peacefully, and their refusal to escalate conflict when provoked. Pro did not respond to this, and so we can take it as established.

Pro claims that China is a threat to SEA, but has not provided any evidence of this whatsoever. The Chinese takeover of Tibet happened more than 60 years ago, under a different administration. In any case, the involvement of the Chinese in Tibet was very different from the current situation in SEA.

In Round 3, Con showed that ASEAN countries have been committed by treaty to a nuclear-free-zone for over twenty years. Pro ignores this evidence and argues that SEA will need to develop nuclear weapons "to defend themselves from Chinese dominance". This is absurd. Pro hasn't provided even the slightest evidence for this claim, and it doesn't make sense anyway.

China and ASEAN have a strong and peaceful relationship

How would a US military presence in SEA "balance" China and increase peace? Pro doesn't really explain. They say they provided evidence that the US is far more trusted than China in SEA, but this is untrue.

In Round 2 they said "Pew Polls show that the major SEA countries overwhelmingly trust the U.S. more than they trust China." but their reference only compared China and Japan. Japan is not in SouthEast Asia.

When I searched the Pew Polls, I found a global survey comparing opinions about China and the US. Only three SEA nations were included: Malaysia, Indonesia and The Philippines. Two of the three countries - Indonesia and Malaysia - rated China more favorably than they did the US. [5]

Another Pew Poll showed that Indonesians have favorable opinions about China's growing economic power (62% positive), and 47% of Indonesians said it would be a good thing if China grew to have as much military power as the US (only 31% said it would be a bad thing). [6]

ASEAN has a free trade agreement with China, but not with the US [7]. China is the biggest external provider to ASEAN of tourist arrivals (more than seven million a year, compared with less than three million from the US) and trade (more than $US 300 trillion dollars worth of trade a year. Trade with the US is less than two thirds of that) [8].

China and SEA already have a peaceful relationship where trade is flourishing. There have been border disagreements, but these have been handled without military intervention, as has been described in previous rounds.

military spending has been constant

Pro claims that not only China, but SEA is "ramping up militarization". But as the following charts show, expenditure as a proportion of GDP has been consistent for years, and at all times much lower than US military expenditure.

The only thing that has changed in recent years is that the economies of China and ASEAN have been growing rapidly. This is a wonderful thing. Millions of people are being lifted out of poverty.

Chinese aid to SEA

Pro quotes a US opinion article that several countries in SEA are "fast becoming Chinese client states". This is just name calling. It's true that China provides substantial aid to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, but there is no evidence that this aid involves intervention in internal affairs. In fact, the Chinese Eight Principles explicitly state that aid must be given without strings attached. [9]

In the same round, Pro criticized China for not providing enough aid to the Philippines. Pro's position on aid is totally contradictory.


An increased US military presence in SEA would be unwelcome and without benefit for either SEA or the US.

Debate Round No. 4


Procedural Note: Per the R1 terms, the final round of this debate will be a half length, 4k character round with no new arguments allowed.

Pro’s R4 contains entirely new arguments not initiated in previous rounds. Con only claims Japan is not part of SEA in their final round, the “military spending has been constant” and “Chinese aid” arguments appear only in their last round. Pro lacks the space to address these arguments, Con could have brought these arguments up earlier but chose not to. Out of fairness to Pro, the judges ought not consider these arguments.

Briefly: Japan is relevant for its reaction to SEA whether or not it is part of the region. Pro has consistently defended an increase - including adding carrier groups and other naval deployments, adding 2500 troops to Guam, and rebalancing with a focus on SEA.

Cost-Benefit Analysis:

Pro provides multiple reasons why increasing US military capability is beneficial. First, it increases the ability of the U.S. to assist in disaster relief in the region. Second, it allows the U.S. to fight piracy and decreases the likelihood of a major terrorist attack in the region. Finally, it counterbalances China, deterring potential Chinese aggression AND reassures countries like Japan that are beginning to escalate their own military balancing of China- preventing the risk of nuclear proliferation and war

Con offers only defensive arguments that center around why the problems Pro lists are fine without the US. However, Pro will always win SOME risk of harm, e.g. there is always SOME risk that SEA will escalate to nuclear proliferation. So even if you buy Con’s arguments (which you shouldn’t), vote Pro just to be safe.

Con offers no argument or evidence for how increasing military capability will cause harm while Pro provides multiple arguments for benefits of increasing capability.


The U.S. provides 23 times the amount of aid that China does, and military capability is crucial to disaster response because of its unique ability to move thousands of people and tons of supplies. This is empirically proven by the successful response to typhoon Haiyan. Disaster aid not only saves lives and rebuilds nations, but builds U.S. soft power and improves relations between nations.


SEA is a global piracy hotbed at risk of seeing a piracy resurgence. A major terrorist attack in the region could have devastating economic consequences. Con argues that piracy is decreasing, but Pro has shown how piracy is shifting to regions that local authorities are less able to monitor- increased US presence has been historically successful in the Gulf of Aden and could be successful in SEA as well.


Con does not deny the huge military buildup by China, but says that it's a constant percentage of the rapidly expanding Chinese GDP- but the balance of power doesn’t track GDP, only military capability.

Con argues that the U.S. military expenditures are a larger percentage of GDP than China's. That is because the U.S. is a global power with worldwide defense obligations, while China is a regional power.

Con cites as evidence of non-aggressive intent Premiere Zhou Enlai's 1964 Eight Principles of aid. This was the product of Chairman Mao’s propaganda mission, and not a reliable guide to Chinese policy either then or now.

Con did not deny that China made no claim to Senkaku Islands prior to the discovery of fossil fuel resources in the 1960s, nor do they deny the military build up near Taiwan, nor the multitude of territorial claims China has with India, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Multiple flashpoints exist for Chinese miscalculation and the start of war in the absence of a firm US deterrent.

Con claims historic nonproliferation agreements will prevent conflict, but ignores current events that show Japan reversing historic trends of anti-militarism by building up forces. Historic trends are changing due to perception of a more aggressive China. This perception makes conflict more likely and requires the US to balance China.


Vote Pro!




PRO bought up new arguments in round #5 (R#5) (2500 troops to Guam) to counter our round #4 (R#4) rebuttals. No new arguments or evidence is allowable in R#5 - R#4 is valid for new argumentation despite PRO's erroneous claims otherwise. PRO also exceeded character limits by posting 4075 characters in R#5.


We thank PRO for engaging with us in debate; we cannot thank PRO for engaging in the resolution:

a) PRO would like you to believe that a "military capability in SEA" somehow does not need to be in SEA. We (CON) have reacted in surprise round after round as PRO has done their absolute best to frame this debate about anything EXCEPT SEA. We listed all SEA countries in R#2: South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are not in SEA...Guam and Australia aren't even in Asia. None of these countries are relevant to this resolution. PRO has barely even begun to attempt to establish BoP for their position, and BoP is indeed on PRO.

b) PRO spent about two sentences talking about only one SEA nation - the Philippines. We demonstrated in R#4 that the colonial framework we outlined in R#2 is supremely relevant here, as the Philippines kicked us out in 1992 due to our bases being perceived as "vestiges of colonialism", i.e. "this region simply does not care for any foreign military influences," and "a US military presence is inherently destabilizing and inherently challenges national sovereignty."

c) PRO has displayed exceptional hubris: "even if SEA unanimously rejected increase [sic] US presence, Con has [sic] provided a shred of evidence that they would do anything about it." In R#2 we brought up the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, both of which kicked the US out, and both of which clearly prove PRO dead wrong on this account. Both Iraq and Vietnam are evidence that PRO does not understand how any country views a pre-emptive foreign occupation.

PRO would like you to believe that we can attempt the same action again in SEA and expect different results...this is the definition of insanity, not of any prudent military course of action.

d) As discussed in R#4, the "pivot to Asia" is exactly that - to Asia, NOT SEA, is largely irrelevant to this resolution, and is mainly a way for the US to save face and withdraw from the Middle East with some dignity intact.

e) What's left of PRO's case hinges on 5 impacts - terrorism, nuclear proliferation, disaster relief, piracy, and US-China dynamics:

1) PRO dropped terrorism, as they should. We argued in R#2 that Iraq proved that a US military occupation in a country will do little to quell terrorism and indeed will INCREASE terrorism.

2) PRO dropped our R#3 counterpoint that SEA already has a "Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty" that precludes the region from nuking up.

3) Disaster relief is almost wholly irrelevant to this resolution. In R#4, we argued that 16-inch guns and fighter aircraft do not provide relief - they provide a means to kill. PRO would like you to believe that transport capability is unique only to the military, a complete non-sequitor argument.

4) As discussed in R#3&4, piracy is an internal issue for SEA nations, and does not warrant a US military occupation of SEA.

5) China has made no overt military overtures in this region. PRO only brings up possible Chinese naval presence in international waters to somehow substantiate unwarranted aggression. The only real conflict in this region involving China is what we discussed in R#2, i.e. the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, which are non-military, and for which an economic solution (i.e. the JDAs) is already in the works.

If we move in militarily, we will be seen as aggressors in the region, not the Chinese.

We also demonstrated in R#3 that the US-proposed TPP is responsible for divisiveness in the region, not China.


A substantial increase in US military capability in Southeast Asia is unwarranted, unwelcome, and unwise. It will create new problems in the region and goes against SEA and US interests.

Thank you for reading this debate, and vote CON.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by rross 5 years ago
Raisor, your sources 1-9 just send me to the tiny.url homepage. Could you please put the full sources here in comments?
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Vote Placed by EndarkenedRationalist 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Wow! What a tough debate! Everyone involved should be proud of his/her efforts. With conduct, spelling and grammar, and sources all being relatively equivalent, it boils down to arguments. Ultimately, I have to give it to CON. Their point about the countries not being in SE Asia destroyed a lot of PRO'S case, and CON did establish that point in Round 2 - not to mention that, as per the rules, CON could make arguments in Round 4. It was a very close debate, but because of points like that, I am not convinced that PRO sufficiently proved the resolution.
Vote Placed by Tophatdoc 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a quality debate. This was tough to choose a winner. Pro side argued for the more forces to aid in the strategic containment of China. The Con showed that military forces are existent in SEA already. This was close but I gave it to Con because they showed that the Pro side did not have strong enough incentives to bring in more military forces aside from Chinese containment. Good luck in your future debates.