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The use of military force is justified to prevent the proliferation of WMD's

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,221 times Debate No: 49779
Debate Rounds (4)
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Before the debate, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my future opponent for taking part in this controversial debate.

Having said that, I will establish
the rules of the debate that my opponent should follow throughout the course of the debate:

1) Round 1 should be used for accepting the debate and your position, clarifying definitions, and presenting your contentions/arguments.

2) Round 2 should be used for explaining your arguments and rebuttals.

3) Round 3 should also be used for explaining your arguments and rebuttals.

4) Round 4 should be used for summarizing your case and stating why you think you won this debate.

5) If statistics or real world examples are used, please indicate the source (both for the opponent and voter to see).

6) The opponent cannot contest the definitions after Round 1 - all definitions must be clarified before presenting arguments.

Please ensure that you follow ALL of these rules throughout the course of the debate


Now onto the resolution/topic:

"The use of military force is justified to prevent the proliferation of WMD's"

Let me start by defining the key terms of the debate:

1) Military force - any form of conventional warfare such as but not limited to; airstrikes and surgical insertions.
[Note - this does not necessarily involve a full scale military attack]

2) Proliferation - countries that previously lacked WMD's but are now coming into possession of WMD's.
[Note - this includes creation and trade of WMD's]

3) WMD's (Weapons of mass destruction) - Any form of nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry.

The term "Justified" is important.
I define justified as a net decrease in societal danger.
- Understand that justified means that military force is acceptable under certain circumstances.
- There is a distinction between military force being good and military force being justified - I argue for the latter.


Let me now present my contentions/arguments:

1) The damage caused by military force is far less than the potential damage of WMD's

2) Further proliferation increases the risk that non-state actors are able to gain possesion of WMD's

Increased proliferation increases brinkmanship, which calls for military force

I will discuss these contentions in Round 2.


To the opponent:
- Please carefully read the rules and contentions that I have established.
- Please keep in mind the 48 hour deadline for the debate.
- Please indicate clearly your acceptance and position for this debate.

I look forward to an interesting debate.



I accept this debate. I will argue that military force is unjustified under the goal of preventing the proliferation of WMDs.


1. Accepted. While large scale military invasions are indeed a large part of this, smaller more discreet actions by the military such as spec.ops sabotage etc. also should be included as relevant.

2. Accepted. My argument shall be from the perspective of nuclear technology development in particular.

3. Accepted.

"Justified"- Accepted, with the expansion that the societal impact on the world as a whole ought to be considered. While an attack of any kind on a rival nation, political or military, could be considered beneficial to the aggressor nation, if such an action causes disproportionate harm to the victim nation and there was not adequate threat for the aggressor to be compelled to that action, it should still be considered unjustified.

Example- Overthrowing the government of a rival nation preemptively because they are known to be uncooperative produces a decrease in danger to the original nation, but if there was not an imminent threat, the resultant political chaos and damage done to the victim nation outweighs that, and as such, the action should NOT be considered justified.

In addition, I would like to clarify that I am arguing against the use of force against a legitimate nation seeking nuclear armnament, not individuals or groups such as Al-Qaeda. This is acceptable, I believe, since it is in line with my opponent's given definition 2.


1. Detterence is a justification used by all nations currently in possession of WMDs. Since world superpowers refuse total disarmnament, it is necessary that other nations take the same precautions to assure their safety.

2. Since enrichment of Uranium-235 uses the same centrifuge technology as enrichment of Plutonium-238, it would be necessary to suppress the development of nuclear energy and other technology, harming the prospects of developing nations. Similar concerns may be present in other types of weapons technology.

3. A preemptive strike on a nation that has not threatened an attack is a dangerous policy that can and would be used by powerful nations to consolidate their own interests.

4. Due to the entangled relations of most nations with a WMD holding superpower, aggressive actions toward a non-WMD holding nation would draw the defense of a WMD-holding one regardless.

As specified in the conditions, I will not address the points of my opponent in this round.

This seems to be an interesting topic and I look forward to a good debate with my opponent.
Debate Round No. 1


Glad to be competing with you ! Hopefully we will have a great debate.


Before I explain my arguments/contentions, I will talk about the burden of proof and then recap what the opponent has accepted.


As the "pro" debater for this resolution, I will prove why military force is justified to prevent the proliferation of WMD's. I will argue that military force is justified under certain circumstances.

The "con" debater for this resolution must prove why military force cannot be justified to prevent the proliferation of WMD's. Because of the way in which I structured the resolution, the con must show why military force is not good and why it is not justified even in certain circumstances.

This debate is NOT about whether the proliferation of WMD's is good. It is about military force and whether it is justified. I urge the voters and opponent to keep this in mind.


The opponent has accepted all of the definitions put forth by me and has elaborated on the definition of justification to include not only impact on a nation but also impact on world.

Bear in mind that as the opponent accepted my definitions:
1) He has accepted that WMD's are specifically weapons (and not just nuclear technology). This will prove to be important later on in the debate.

2) He has accepted the definition of justification - which states that military force is justified under certain circumstances. This will also prove to be important later on in the debate

3) I defined justified with regards to a net decrease in societal danger, so when the opponent expanded the definition to include impact on multiple nations (world) - I am at liberty to use this definition if I wish to do so.


I will now proceed to explain my arguments.


1) The damage caused by military force is far less than the potential damage of WMD's.

WMD's also known as weapons of mass destruction are terrifying for a good reason. They are used
because they result in HUGE casualties. Not thousands, rather hundreds of thousands and this is precisely why they are so terrifying. The Hiroshima bombing in 1945 alone resulted in an estimated 135,000 deaths and this is just ONE instance. However it's not just this, the effects of WMD's are so much more devastating than conventional warfare. It results in the COMPLETE annihilation of whole cities, has long term effects on health such as radiation poisoning and lasting economic impact. This is limited not just to nuclear weaponry by also chemical and biological warfare.

Having established it's destructive potential, it becomes apparent that the proliferation of WMD's presents serious threats to global security. This is where military force is required. Military force tactics such as airstrikes, special operations and surgical insertions are methods of engagement that are able to prevent/hamper the proliferation of WMD's.

The real question now is "Why should military forces intervene" ?. The response is fairly simple.
It is their duty to do so. Every military force aims to defend its citizens and nation from threat, whether this threat is global or local and when the threat is that of WMD's, there is a clear reason for militaries to take action to protect its nation. After the 9/11 attacks, under president Bush, the US and NATO intervened in the Afghan war in an attempt to depose the Taliban. Having been victims of a previous attack, the US utilized military force to attack the perpetrators (Taliban). Even in cases where WMD's are not a threat - nations have the need to protect their citizens. So when nations are faced with threats of WMD's, military warfare can well be utilized.

With regards to my 1st contention and my definition of justified, I argue that military force is justified under certain circumstances. If a nation like Iran (who hold WMD's) threatens to use WMD's on other nations then the first attempt by countries and international bodies are negotiations. But negotiations do not always work out, so countries may proceed to impose hardline sanctions. Sanctions not only fail to prevent the possession of WMD's but they can also harm the prospects of a developing nation (which is one of the opponent's arguments). In the certain circumstances wherein these 2 fail, military force can be justified. Military force is a faster approach that can prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Now while I acknowledge that military force often results in collateral damage (civilian casualties), it is crucial to understand that the potential damage of WMD's far outweighs the potential collateral damage of military intervention. This is because of the fact that militaries use conventional warfare means which have FAR less impact than WMD's. In fact special operations and airstrikes generally have low collateral damage. Testament to this is the Navy seal operation in which Osama bin laden was killed, resulted in only 5 deaths (collateral damage). When you talk about losing 1000 lives in order to save 100,000 lives then there is an inherent justification. It is important to understand that military force against WMD's not only protects one nation but it also protects global security thereby re-affirming it's importance.

2) Further proliferation increases the risk that non-state actors are able to gain possession of WMD's.

As mentioned earlier, my definition of proliferation not only extends itself to the creation of WMD's but also to the trade and possession. For this reason, it is important to consider the risk involved when non-state actors get their hands on WMD's.

Non-state actors refer to any organization that "lacks a border" and cannot be retaliated against. A clear example would be terrorist groups such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda who do NOT have a border.

My opponent has mentioned that he will not argue this because he feels that my 2nd definition limits itself to legitimate nations only. This is an incorrect assumption because there is no method of discerning what a "legitimate" nation is. Furthermore, these non-state actors are present WITHIN these nations, so if proliferation occurs WITHIN these nations then non-state actors can get their hands on WMD's. For this reasons, my opponent must consider non-state actors as a risk involved.

Now if proliferation takes place in say developing nations - there is always the risk that non-state actors like Al Qaeda could get their hands on WMD's. Imagine the threat nations would face if Al Qaeda had a nuclear warhead. Firstly groups like Al Qaeda are irrational in nature, methods such as negotiation is almost certainly a failure. Secondly, in case of where a COUNTRY possessed nukes, a nuclear strike by one country would cause a retalitory strike by another but in case of groups like Al Qaeda where there is no defined border or state - retalitory attacks are not possible. For this reason, military force (such as spec ops) must be used not just to prevent large destruction but also to prevent the possession of WMD's by non-state actors. Military force can be used to specifically target non-state actors whereas sanctions and negotiations cannot.

3) Increased proliferation increases brinkmanship which calls for military force.

To help put this into context, let me explain what brinkmanship is.
Let us say there are 100 rational countries and 1 irrational country. If this 1 country possesses WMD's and threatens to use it, then it forces the remaining 100 states to comply with their demands and this leads to WMD intimidation (bullying if you like to call it that) and a decrease in global security.

In more formal terms, it is the "practice of pushing dangerous events to the brink of disaster in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome".

We have seen this happen with North Korea - a state that has been making WMD threats and refusing to co-operate with other nations.

While there is not much that can be done when a nation utilizes brinkmanship, military force can prevent the proliferation of weapons and therefore prevent further brinkmanship.

As the saying goes, one bad apple spoils the bunch and that is precisely the case. If need be, I shall elaborate on this contention further on in the debate.


Having explained my contentions, I will go on to rebutt one of the opponent's points (I will rebutt the rest in Round 3).


A) Deterrance argument:

The deterrance argument is a very common argument. The simple logic behind those who propose the argument is that - if a few countries have WMD's, let other countries also have WMD's in order to "protect" themselves.

Firstly, in my BURDEN OF PROOF, I have clearly mentioned that this debate is NOT about whether proliferation is good but instead it is about whether military force is justified. The opponent needs to recognize this because his deterrance argument not only argues wrongly about the "proliferation being good" but it also does not contest the "use of military force and the justification".

Anyway, I shall explain my rebuttal.

First of all world superpowers refuse "total disarmament", so should other countries be allowed to pursue these weapons ? No. Understand that the idea of "fairness" is bleak in the face of WMD's. It is either let everyone have WMD's or let no one have WMD's. If you consider developing nations and nations ruled by dictators then there are a set of problems that come with proliferation.

1. These developing nations expend money in order to maintain and purchase WMD's. This is money that could easily be used elsewhere for greater benefit

2. If such nations possess WMD's, then there must be constant monitoring.

3. These nations tend to be more irrational which threatens overall global security.

I will post my sources in Round 4.
Wish you luck !



As pro wished to clarify the positions of the argument last round, I will present my thesis now so as to avoid confusion.

The possession of a weapon of any sort is not a threat of attack. The ownership of arms is no more a direct threat to another party than the establishment of a standing army, which most countries have, without contention. Therefore, the use of force to deter this is unjustified, because it is an act of real damage and harm inflicted on one party in response to a percieved and unvalidated threat of harm by another.

It is important to designate conditions that WOULD justify military force so as to make a distinction. Military force should only be used as a last resort of self defense in international diplomacy, and restricted to militant combatants. This means that:

1. There is a direct, imminent threat to the aggressor by the target.
2. All other options of engagement are inviable. Economic or political sanctions cannot be enacted for whatever reason.
3. Civilians are not targeted or harmed.

Without these conditions filled, a military strike is either unwarranted or premature.

The possession of a nuclear weapon does not mean a country will use it. There are currently 9 nations currently believed to posess nuclear capabilities[1]. At least 2, India and Pakistan, have a known history of conflict and have engaged eachother in the recent past. Despite this, there have been no nuclear strikes between the two. This is because of the theory of mutually assured destruction, where no party will risk using nuclear weapons because of fear of retalliation and escalation into full nuclear warfare. Nuclear armnament is here visibly shown, even in wartime scenarios, to not result in a nuclear strike. Therefore treating any percieved threat as necessarily true is not supported.

The use of diplomatic means to stop the proliferation of WMDs is equally if not more effective than military action.Last year Syria, a nation which is infamous for the use of chemical weapons to annihalate dissidents, agreed to surrender its arsenal to the United Nations[2]. This agreement is largely attributed to the economic sanctions imposed on the nation by the international community, which crippled Syria's economy and drove the government to negotiation. The US has previously attempted the use of targeted strikes on sites suspected of being weapons development centers, with limited results. Military strikes in this manner can never be used in any way but reactionary in this strategy. Development can be slowed, and arsenals reduced in this manner, however without the cooperation of the target nation, these small scale operations will not stop the effort to obtain WMDs, and therefore will not halt proliferation, whereas political discourse can, and is thus the prefferable option.

The Geneva Convention strictly bars military action intended to harm civilian interests as unacceptable[3]. However, civilian interests are almost guaranteed to be entangled in research and development. Military research into producing weapons grade plutonium, viral agents, or chemical agents for use in WMDs are indistinguishable from research into reactor grade uranium, gene therapy, or pharmaceudicals, respectively. The targeting of civilian research facilities in these fields are not justified, however, it would be necessary to ensure that WMDs are not being developed if a militaristic approach is adopted.

Further, engaging in conflict in the modern political age will involve the allied forces to both parties. For example, North Korea, which has repeatedly threatened violence against both the US and South Korea for years, now has conducted nuclear tests and claims to have at least one weapon. Despite this, the US has not taken military action against North Korea. It is fairly well known that North Korea's communist regime relies heavily on propoganda and an image of power among its people to keep control over its populace. Regardless of their threats, Korea is aware of the consequences of beginning a nuclear war, and will not preemptively attack. However, taking military action against North Korea would draw the defense of China, its ally which has a vested interest in preventing the US from holding any political power in Asia. A conflict between the US and China is a far more serious issue, as both are world superpowers, and such a conflict would likely have a far greater effect on the world as a result in terms of economics and politics. This would cause a degree of turmoil throughout the world as a whole that would outweigh the small sense of security gained by the US, and thus be a net increase of societal danger.

As to the points raised by pro, I will give a brief response to each now, and likely expand in round 3, which will be more rebuttal focused.

1. Damage caused by a WMD is a percieved threat. The existance of a weapon does not ensure its use, and therefore any potential damage is a worst case scenario. However, direct military action has specific measurable consequences of death and destruction to the target nation, intentionally by the aggressor. It is unfair to measure the worst possible effect of a nuclear weapon against the optimal possible military insertion when it is also possible that the nuclear weapon will never be used and that any military intervention might spark a war between nations.

2. The threat of mutually assured destruction, discussed earlier, has proven effective. No nuclear weapons have been used since their first implementation in WWII, despite a number of nations being in possession of them.

3. The use of military force under the guise of preventative action can be used by more powerful nations to control others without open malice. Pro brings up the 9/11 attacks, however it is now understood that the second Iraq war was initiated under false pretenses[4]. Evidence in the link provided suggests this was a power play intended to manipulate the control of oil by the Middle-East. This is an example of powerful nations claiming to be policing WMDs in order to control the international dynamic.

4. It is the threat of attack, not the posession of arsenal, which designates hostile nations a threat. Iran or North Korea both have threatened to attack the US in the past, and thus there can be considered justification to attack either nation, but not due WMD proliferation. It is the declared intent of malice on that would allow for military action, however, this can be considered independent of efforts to obtain WMDs because such actions would be condemned even in nations not capable of obtaining such weapons.

5. WMDs are incredibly difficult to manufacture and even more difficult to properly implement in combat without advanced technology. "Non-State Actors" mentioned by pro are typically guerrila groups which lack the resources and knowledge necessary to produce such weapons. Such groups would only be able to obtain such weapons through an organized government, which would not do so for fears of A. Retalliation by the victim nation, and B. Potential treason by the group in question.

6. Pro claims both that a non state actor cannot be retalliated against and that military force can be used to pre-emptively target these same groups. I would ask for some clarification on how these two are not contradictory.

7. Pro's example of North Korea is one I believe I addressed earlier. North Korea is generally condemned for its inflamatory threats, however due to detterence by the threat of retallition, any threat they pose is neutralized to the point that the international community isn't particularly concerned with idle remarks. This is why the fact that North Korea boasted its first nuclear test caused little disturbance to the international community.

I await Pro's next round.

Debate Round No. 2


I thank the con for what has so far been an excellent debate.



Let us take a look at the opponents main points and responses.

1) He has said that you cannot attack a perceived threat because that involves damage from one party without validation from another.

2) Simply acquiring weapons does not means that it will be used and so you cannot attack

3) Alternative options work - he gave the example of Syrian sanctions as an example of where sanctions worked.

4) Engaging in military force draws the attention of allies which worsens the situation

5) WMD's are difficult to use and manufacture and so there is no threat of non-state actors acquiring WMD's.

6) Clarification on how military force and retatliation are different.


I will now proceed to rebutt his points

1. Clearing the topic > rebutting the point about acquring weapons and not using them

I will emphasize again that this is not about proliferation of WMD's rather about military force.

Anyway, this argument of the opponents is quite simple, he says that you shouldn't attack a nation if they acquire nuclear weapons because there is no guarantee that they will use them.

But I will raise the question, "What if the acquisition of WMD's itself posed a threat" ?
If a country is to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or WMD's then it has to maintain these weapons and it needs to test these weapons for otherwise there is no point in simply holding onto weapons.

Even carrying out a nuclear weapon test can be perceived as a threat because of issues regarding radioactive fall out and unauthorized weapons testing.

When the US and UN imposed sanctions on North Korea for simply carrrying out nuclear weapons testing - was it fair ? They did it because they recognized that this is a threat in itself.

Now I will clear up 2 things:
- I acknowledge that attack should most definitely be used when there is a threat.

This is precisely what my term "justified" means. It means under certain circumstances.
These circumstances refer to when there is a threat.

Read the resolution as: Military force is acceptable in certain circumstances (when there is a threat) to prevent the proliferation of WMD's.

Con went by the assumption that this military force is simply used for any nation possesing WMD's but this is not the case at all. So his argument of attacking nations simply because they possess weapons is false, because under my definition of justified, nations are attacked in fact only when they are perceived as threats.

2. Rebutting point about not attacking a nation even if they are a perceived threat.

This argument I feel is the most flawed one. It basically says that we should not attack a nation with WMD's unless the nation uses them.

I think that the opposition has missed the inherent goal of protection and prevention.
Prevention is stopping something before it takes place. It is NOT action that takes place once something occurs.

Let us take a situation. A man with a gun threatens to shoot a child, as a cop - do you shoot him to prevent the loss of the child's life (after giving the man enough warnings) ? or do you wait for him to shoot the child and then take action ?

This is the same case with WMD's. If a nation is a threat and continues to possess WMD's even after multiple warnings and sanctions, then action must take place - rather than waiting for a nation to use WMD's and then attacking them.

For this reason, I believe his point is flawed.

3. Rebutting the point about Alternative options and sanctions.

Now the opponent has provided an example of where sanctions have worked by using the example of Syria. However, sanctions do not always work out - take for instance the previous example of north korea. When the US and UN imposed sanctions on NK - they still went ahead to carry out nuclear tests. This shows how sometimes sanctions fail to work out.

Anyhow, remember that I am talking about military force being justified when sanctions and other options fail. The opponent must consider this.

4. Rebutting the point about WMD's being difficult to manufacture and use.

I can acknowledge that to a certain extent WMD's are difficult to manufacture and use, however that does not guarantee that they cannot be acquired. In fact, one notable example was the 1995 tokyo subway attacks carried out using chemical weapons (Sarin gas) by the Aum Shinrikyo, Japanese cult group. This example demonstrates how non-state actors CAN get their hands on WMD's. To say that it is difficult does not in any way negate the threat.

5. Rebutting the point about engaging forces would involve allies.

My opponent cited that if the US were to attack North Korea - then China would get involved leading to more conflict. While China and North Korea do have a firm relationship - China have themselves declared that peace can be achieved only be de-nuclearization. While allies may get involved - being superpowers they would recognize the de-merits of being at war with each other, so really - the threat of increased conflict is unlikely.

6. Clarification on how military force and retaliation are different.

I used the example of Al Qaeda launching a nuclear strike on a nation A. Now since Al Qaeda does not have a defined border - I said that the Nation A cannot retaliate back with WMD's because that would mean targeting the whole nation Al Qaeda is based in. On the contrary - I mentioned that military force can be spec ops missions (for instance the US attack on Bin Laden in pakistan). Military force is different from retaliation in the sense that it CAN target non-state actors whereas retaliation (by use of WMD's) cannot.

Apologies, if this was not clear to the opponent.


I hope the opponent continues to meet the burden of proof and rebutt my contentions as well.
I look forward to a good debate.



Thank you Pro. I will mostly focus on expanding on the points already made in the last round and responding to Pro's Round 3.

(Round 3, Points 1, 2, 3)
I agree with pro that the scope of this debate is NOT about the right to own weapons by nations. While I don't believe that it is an unjust endeavor to arm oneself, that does not win me this debate alone. However, I would also remind the reader that this is a debate on the ethical descision of using military force.

Although I concede to Pro that there is more efficacy in using military force than economic or political sanctions, this does not make military action ethically justified. My argument is that even though invading a foreign nation and taking control of it is likely one of the most reliable ways to ensure safety, it is still not the BEST way because it is unconscionable and, more importantly, places such choices at the discretion of the dominant nation. Although sanctions are not always effective, they are much more controlled and managable by the imposers. Whenever taking the life of innocents is at risk(And for the record, even in targeted military strikes, there ARE civilian casualties[1]), there must be a higher standard of justification.

(Round 2, Points 1, 2, 5)
Demagoguery involves political manipulation by leaders appealing to fear and prejudice. This comes into play is when we allow nations to make arbitrary judgements on who is or is not "dangerous" and permissible to attack. If we allow nations to independently make judgements on who is or is not a threat to national security, powerful governments will abuse this power to justify invasions of lesser nations for economic benefit. As I mentioned in round 2, this is already a proven phenomenon, as the US applied this strategy in order to break Middle-Eastern monopolies on oil.

Under Pro's view, a nation should preemptively attack if an opposing nation is capable of arming themselves with a WMD and is not friendly, and therefore has the possibility of attacking in the near or distant future. However, the US and Russia are known political rivals and have been for decades. While nuclear stockpiles have been reduced, both of these nations still have large enough arsenals to wipe out ALL life on Earth[2]. If Pro's view holds, both these nations should be obligated to attack one another, as there is motivation on both sides to harm the other and both are capable of causing nuclear armageddon. This is of course, a terrible idea, as it would cause World War III, precisely what is supposed to be avoided by this. Hence, I believe Pro's position to be self contradictory.

Pro gives a metaphor of a man threatening to shoot a child. I do not believe this is an accurate representation of the situation. WMD proliferation is not the targeting of any nation with a weapon, it is the acquisition of the weapon itself. This is more akin to shooting a man in a gun store when he tries to buy a gun, because you assume he will use it to shoot an innocent bystander. Without substatiation of that intent, you are not protected under "self defense". If you DID have evidence that said man was plotting to murder someone, then you could charge him with that, however, that is independent of buying the gun. Similarly, when attacking a nation in self defence, the intelligence leads you to believe the target nation is hostile would be your justification, not the attempt to get the weapon itself.

(Round 3, Points 1, 4, 6)

I appreciate the clarification in point 6, I understand the meaning now.

Pro makes two points that I think are interesting, concerning the threats of WMD simply by existing. One is the hazards of such weapons existance and the associated risks, such as fallout from nuclear tests or risks of biological agents being accidently released into the public. The other is the elevated risk of non-military personell being able to manufacture such technology independently as it becomes more widely available worldwide.

To this first point, the same concerns that apply to these weapons apply to their non-weaponized counterparts. I pointed out early in the debate that the same technologies used to develop WMDs are used in energy and medical research. Nuclear power plants have to contain radiation and disease control researchers work with isolated strains of deadly viruses. The fact that we allow scientists to handle concentrated smallpox should demonstrate the faith we have in these safeguards to prevent most serious accidents. Mistakes do happen, but they are incredibly rare considering the amount of testing we do.

Nations have a vested interest in ensuring that the best safeguards are applied to weapons development, as any mistakes will only hurt the nation in question, not any of its rivals. I do not believe such tests therefore are unreasonable. To answer the question posed, no, I do not think it was fair that the UN imposed sanctions on North Korea, at least not for the nuclear tests. However, that falls under my views of whether possession of WMDs is acceptable, and as has been pointed out, that is not part of this debate.

As to the second, point, I concede that it is indeed possible for foreign nation will have radical elements which may attempt to harm foreign nations. Additionally, I admit the risk that almost anyone in the world could self manufacture deadly weapons given enough time and initiative. These are the responsibilites of the host nation, however. The jurisdiction of one nation does not allow it to interfere in the enforcement of internal laws of another sovereign nation. This is why we have, for example, extradition treaties. To use a recent example, the hacker Edward Snowden was labelled a traitor and a risk to national security by the US, however, after fleeing to China and then Russia, the States made no direct attempt to pursue and capture him, even knowing exactly where he was.

This is because Snowden was in foreign territory, and it was the job of Chinese or Russian officials to detain him if he violated any laws. For the US to go into foreign territory to arrest Snowden, even when he was CONCLUSIVELY GUILTY of espionage, would be to undermine the sovereignity of the nation he was in. It is the responsibility of whatever nation said potential terrorists are in to prevent acquisition of WMDs. A nation wishing to protect itself from such attacks can ONLY act within its borders to stop potential terrorists from moving said weapons across national borders.

Pro has cited the potential for mass death and the harmlessness of surgical military strikes as reason for why it is justifiable. However, this is fallacious because Pro is looking at only the worst possible outcome of WMD proliferation and the best possible outcome of a military strike in his hypothetical. He presents nations which would seek such weapons as "more irrational" and liable to carry out a strike uprovoked, while maintaining that miliary options not only are capable of stopping WMD proliferation, but can do so without any civilian casualites. This would be a convincing case, however, realistically it is not how the situation would be. In my source 1, it is seen that even in targeted drone strikes intended to isolate only terrorists, there are mistakes often made, leading to thousands of innocent deaths. In my source 2, I show that there are multiple nations taking the initiative to obtain nuclear stockpiles, but none have shown to be so erratic as to fire or even threaten to start a nuclear war. While the risk Pro presents of a tragic WMD strike is indeed real, he is not taking into account here the more probable outcome of no attacks taking place and zero deaths occuring, and that military strikes can be chaotic and spark international conflict.

As an explanation of why detterence is effective in the modern age, lets look at the First World War[3]. The political climate of the early 1900s was attributed to the alliance system where groups of nations formed coallitions to protect one another, ensuring that the greater powers such as Germany and Brittain would not be able to take on any given nation on their own. This led to the two massive coallitions of the Allies and the Central powers. When Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, what started as a minor conflict between two lesser nations quickly expanded to include all of Europe. While the Central Powers were defeated, the coalition system remained, and similar factions reappeared in the Allies and Axis powers of WWII. So we can see that the idea of interdependent nations being obligated to defend one another extended beyond that one point in time.

Jump ahead to today and we see that we have three major world powers today, China, Russia, and the US maintaining similar coalitions with the lesser nations. While they do not directly get involved with conflict, we see "proxy wars", where the larger nations ally themselves with opposing factions of smaller conflicts to undermine eachother. This occurs frequently in the middle east, for example in the Soviet War in Afghanistan[4]. So what does have to do with anything? It means that larger nations view smaller ones under their protection as tokens of power, and will vigorously defend their influence over a region. While China does not agree with the harsh policies of North Korea, it will not abide by its political rival the US asserting its will over the area, and will side with Korea even if it leads to conflict. With WMD enabled superpowers on both sides of any conflict, neither will risk using such a weapon.

Debate Round No. 3


After what has been a thorough debate, I've come down to the final round.
=====================================================================================As As per my rules, I will not be introducing any new "rebuttals" - rather I will clarify misconceptions and discuss the points that stand.

Before voting commences - I ask the VOTERS to once again view the Burden of Proof for this debate.


As the "pro" debater for this resolution, I will prove why military force is justified to prevent the proliferation of WMD's. I will argue that military force is justified under certain circumstances.

The "con" debater for this resolution must prove why military force cannot be justified to prevent the proliferation of WMD's. Because of the way in which I structured the resolution, the con must show why military force is not good and why it is not justified even in certain circumstances.

This debate is NOT about whether the proliferation of WMD's is good.
It is about military force and whether it is justified. I urge the voters and opponent to keep this in mind

==============================================================I Now I will mention certain clarifications.


1. The resolution was clarified (CON agreed to my clarification). Read the resolution as:Military force is acceptable in certain circumstances (when there is a threat) to prevent the proliferation of WMD's.

2. The clarification between retalitory strikes (WMD retalitation) and military force was clarified (CON asked for clarification and I clarified this point).

===============================================================I I will now go over the points made by both sides and discuss whether these points stand.


1. CON's Detterance point - While I made a counter argument, I believe CON defended this point better in round 3

2. CON's Point about nations consolidating interests - I believe CON made a good point and so I concede this point.

3. PRO's point about damage of military less than potential WMD damage - I believe I took this point. CON did not contest this at that well - He mentions "He presents nations which would seek such weapons as "more irrational" and liable to carry out a strike uprovoked, while maintaining that miliary options not only are capable of stopping WMD proliferation, but can do so without any civilian casualites." This is not a rebuttal, but just to point out I said there ARE casualties however far less than the potential damage of WMD's. Refer to point 1.

4. PRO's point about Non-state actors and further proliferation risk.

Couple of points:- I made clear that it was difficult for nations to "Retaliate" since non-state actors do not have boundaries. My opponent asked for clarification and I explained to him as to why military force CAN target non-state actors but nations cannot. This made my argument stronger.

My opponent rebutted saying WMD's are difficult to use/manufacture, but I countered by providing an example (Aum Shinrokyo) to show that WMD's however difficult CAN be acquired and hence posing a threat. This made my argument stronger.

My opponent has conceded this argument "As to the second, point, I concede that it is indeed possible for foreign nation will have radical elements which may attempt to harm foreign nations. Additionally, I admit the risk that almost anyone in the world could self manufacture deadly weapons given enough time and initiative." However, he followed up saying that it is a nation's responsibility to prevent non-state actors from acquiring weaponry. I could counter by saying what if nations are developing and do not have the means to do so ? However I will refrain from developing a counter-argument. This point is weak to defend.I believe I took this point.

5. CON's point about involving allies increases risk. This really depends on where you look at it from - whether superpowers would really support irrational WMD threats and thus come to aid them (unrealistic in my opinion) or whether a nation would still come to support thus escalating conflict (CON's opinion). This point could sway either way - I believe this is more of a draw.

Now onto response based points:

6. CON argues that the example of North Korea is futile because it is not perceived a threat. I countered by saying if that is the case - then why are sanctions imposed ? Because there is a perceived threat. I believe my rebuttal was more adequate by pointing out that international nations ARE in fact concerned.

7. CON used the alternative options point by saying sanctions worked. I clarified that we were arguing the military force is used when sanctions and other alternatives failed to work. I also used the NK example of failed sanctions.

CON said that sanctions are however more controlled and managed which really does not matter given the scope of the argument. I definitely believe I took apart CON's point.

8. CON's point about not attacking a nation even if they were a threat, was subject to hypothetical situations.

I said it missed the "inherent goal of prevention and protection" and used the example of a "cop shooting a man before he killed a child rather than shooting him after the child was killed" (refer back to Round 4).

CON countered by saying that "This is more akin to shooting a man in a gun store when he tries to buy a gun, because you assume he will use it to shoot an innocent bystander. Without substatiation of that intent, you are not protected under "self defense". If you DID have evidence that said man was plotting to murder someone, then you could charge him with that, however, that is independent of buying the gun".

However as I clarified in Round 3 - Nations don't attack simply people who have/acquire weapons, and that they attack when there is a threat. Attack is justified when they ARE carrying out events like the NK example where they went ahead and launched ballistic missiles despite warnings (Using CON's terms - this is "evidence").

CON's counter is therefore rather misleading and still does not offer a counter-argument to "prevention and protection". I believe however that this point can swing both ways to either PRO or CON depending on how the voters see it.

9. CON's point about shutting down production of nuclear weaponry harms research in the fields of nuclear technology. To be quite frank, this point really did not see as much of a debate and is highly questionable because it lends itself to the fact that nations nations with nuclear research have nuclear weapons, however since this is not the case in real life (Slovakia, Romania, Brazil all have nuclear power) but no nuclear weapons - this point really isnt that debatable.For this reason, exclude this point in it's entirety.

As the tally stands in terms of arguments:
PRO - takes 4 points
CON - takes 2 points
NEUTRAL - 2 points
LEFT OUT - 1 point
I urge the voters to vote for PRO.


I would like to conclude by saying that this has been an exceptional debate.My opponent was extremly strong and his arguments/language speak volumes about his ability - regardless of the outcome I certainly learnt a lot from my opponent's views.

At the end of the day, I hope everyone remembers that win or lose - the best part is the inflow of ideas and observing the other person's view points (sadly most people disregard this).

Anyway, Bannanawamajama - thanks for a great debate ! Should do another one sometime.



1. WMDs are a large threat with devastating capabilities, therefore they must be treated as a threat at all times.

-I conceded that the potential damage from a WMD exceeds almost anything else. My counterargument is that despite the number of WMDs existing globally, there is a very small rate of actual use, near zero for some classes of weapons. Meanwhile, while damage from counter-WMD actions are smaller, they are very more prevalent and more likely to cause damage. If you factor in the odds of damage occuring along with the severity of potential damage, I argue that more harm comes from counter WMD military actions than WMDs themselves. I believe I have supported this with explanations that modern politics deter nuclear action and that America's targeted use of the military has led to many civilian deaths. It is up to the voter to decide which of the two threats causes more damage.

2. Some enemy nations are inherently malicious and always constitute a threat, so we should never allow them to obtain weapons as they will certainly use them.

-My counter to this point was that the designation of malicious nations ends up in the hands of powerful military nations with the muscle to enforce their views. I explained that we have evidence, specifically the proven motivations behind the American war in the Middle East, that such authority can and will be abused to justify attacking nations for non-defensive reasons.

3. If sanctions or political action can be considered to have failed than military action is the only remaining option

-My counter to this was that sanctions work better than military action and are ongoing, and so do not "fail" simply by having not worked yet. Pro claimed that there are times when political action fails and only military force can be effective. This may well be true, however it is difficult to establish what conditions constitute that. Pro did not offer any specifics on this. I presented Syria as a time when sanctions have worked in the past, even though they did not immediately work and for a while looked like a failure. In the long term, sanctions worked.

4. Proliferation increases risk of non-state actors to become WMD armed

-My counter to this was that it is very difficult to manufacture WMDs alone. Pro argues that certain types of weapons can be manufactured easily, even in ones home basement. However, there is no way to stop these, by military force or otherwise, because their ease of manufacture measn they will always be available no matter what. I also argued that despite the real risk, it is a violation of international law to interfere in a nations criminal justice system, and provided precedent through Edward Snowden. While the threat is real, a nation cannot go into another nations borders and tell them how to enforce the law.


1. Detterence is already a viable method of preventing strikes, preventing imminent threats

-Mutually assured destruction already stops the threat of WMDs being used on us. I argue that military action is only justifible in self defense, but without an imminent threat, any attack is pure aggression. Pro claims he argues only for when there is a threat, however, he does not provide a convincing argument as to why there is any such threat.

2. A potential threat of attack is not alone enough to justify military action. Having a weapon is not intent to use it.

-Lots of nations have WMDs, yet we do not go to war with them and they do not use their weapons. I showed the number of nations with nuclear capabilities, and many of them are our allies. Proliferation does not show an intent to attack, so it does not justify self defensive warfare.

3. Non military action can stop proliferation

-I gave evidence of economic sanctions working in the long term in Syria to work toward disarmnament. Military action has no track record of getting an armed nation to give up its arsenal. Military action can at best only delay such development, and therefore has little benefit, but has very real consequences. I showed that military strikes cause civilian casualties.

4 Distinguishing WMD production from science is difficult or impossible

--Pro disputes that this point has any relevance. Justification for attacking another nation to stop proliferation involves confirming proliferation in the first place. This is difficult or impossible to confirm because developing technologies can look like WMDs. Without sufficient evidence that WMDs are produced, there is not sufficient justification to attack.

As I have stated, the debate boils down essentially to whether the cost of taking military action is greater or less than the threat that is averted. Pro claims that because WMDs are more dangerous, the threat is higher. I argue that because the threat is unsubstantiated, the cost is higher. It remains up to the voter to read our arguments and decide who is right.

I have provided specifcs to back up my points, so I believe them to be credible. Each argument made either makes the case that military action is harmful to innocent people and unnecessary/ineffective, or that WMDs are not the threat they are made out to be and that attacking a nation without proven malice does not follow from weapon acquisition.

I thank Pro for this debate, he has been a skilled opponent and I enjoyed myself in this.
Debate Round No. 4
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