The Instigator
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The Contender
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0 Points

targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,094 times Debate No: 21750
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (10)
Votes (1)




first round is for acceptance and rule clarification only.

Rules for this debate.
L-D style, (Lincoln- Douglas)
no forfeiting,
and stay true to resolution.
i will be arguing Affirmative, ( the harder of the two) .
the rounds will go as follows.

1) acceptance and rule clarification
2) affirmative's opening statements and negative's opening statements and first rebuttal
3) affirmatives rebuttal and negatves rebuttal
4) affirmatives final rebuttal. and just to be nice, i will give negative the final word.
5) is to critique each other, and to comment on each others skills.

this should be a fun topic, and an even more fun debate.
it will be a learning experience .


I accept these rules and will debate when opponent is ready
Debate Round No. 1


"The Ends Justify the Means." -Machiavelli.

Resolved:Targeted Killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool.

I will be affirming this resolution.

Targeted Killing is hereby defined as "the intentional, premeditated and deliberate use of lethal force,
by States or their agents acting under colour of law, or by an organized armed group in
armed conflict, against a specific individual who is not in the physical custody of the
perpetrator." (this is the official definition from the UN)

Morally permissible - permitted by the standards concerning right and wrong.

Foreign Policy -The diplomatic policy of a nation in its interactions with other nations.

Foreign Policy tool - a specific mechanism used by a nation in its interactions with other nations.

The greatest value is that of Life. Therefore, my Value Premise is the preservation of life.
Life can only be preserved when peace reins, and National Security is insured. Therefore, my Value Criterion is International peace, and National Security.

Contention 1. By implementing Targeted Killing As a foreign policy tool instead of openly declaring war on a country, nations can remain on a peaceful level, while still dealing with the threats.

Targeted killing is the only way that a nation can eliminate a threat from that country without declaring war, thus damaging the relationship with that country.
a great example of this is in the case of Anwar Al-Alwaki. He began threatening the U.S. while in Yemen. The U. S. had a few choices. One, they could ask Yemen to extradite Al-Alwaki, but that would not eliminate the eminent threat, and it also risked a situation where Yemen might not have extradited him. The Next Choice America had, was to Openly Declare War on Yemen, invade, and take care of Alwaki personally. this was obviously not desireable. The third option the U.S. had, was to implement targeted killing. thereby eliminating teh threat, while staying on peaceful terms with Yemen.

Contention 2. By implementing Targeted killing instead of resorting to conventional warfare, the overall cost of life, is incredibly diminished.

Just imagine. Instead of using Targeted Killing to attack terrorist threats, a country sends military personnel into the city, the residential areas, or the market place. so much life would be lost. just imagine troops running through a densely populated area, throwing hand grenades, and firing machine guns, chasing down terrorists who are fighting back with similar weapons. think of the collateral damage! hundreds of lives could be saved if the military had waited for an opportune moment, and taken them out one by one in places where their would b the least amount of collateral damage.

consider WWII. how many lives would have been saved, if Hitler had been targeted right at the start?

Contention 3. By preemptively striking Terrorist before they have a chance to carry our their heinous deeds, hundreds ,if not thousands of lives could be saved.

Terrorists have killed so many people. and Conventional warfare doesn't work. Terrorists don't wear military uniforms, they don't travel in military transport vehicles, and they don't congregate out in the open. they wear civilian clothes, the travel in ordinary vehicles, and they hide. Because of the asymmetrical structure of terrorist organizations, Targeting them individually is the only possible way to hinder them.
i give an example.
In May, 1987, British intelligence units began monitoring several well-known and active IRA terrorists who were planning an attack against the royal ulster constabulary station in loughall, northern ireland. in anticapation, they prepared an ambush at the targeted site. When the unsuspecting terrorists started on their way to attack site, the ambush fired more than 1,200 rounds at the terrorists, killing all nine of them. although part of the terrorist's attack did succeed, no one was injured, except for one civilian who happened to be in the area.
and the damage that would have been done was greatly diminished. this attack was only inhibited, because of the preemptive targeting of the terrorists under question.


Targeted killing is the only way we can ever defeat the terrorist threats in the world today.
conventional warfare causes severe collateral damage,
declaring war on a country will cause international discomfort,
and the most efficient and safe alternative, is to eliminate terrorists before they do damage.

conventional warfare may be more "morally correct" to some. but when comparing conventional warfare to Targeted killing, it proves the opposite. the policy that has the smallest death rate, the mot peaceful outcome, is Targeted killing.
therefore, Targeted killing is the most moral option.
targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool.


I negate the resolution.

My value for the debate is international cooperation.
My criterion is justice out lined by the the constitution of the united states.

Contention one: Targeted killing is detrimental to international cooperation.
If we are in a treaty negotiation with another country then we go in and kill some leader in their society that could crash the negotiations. If we do not have negotiations but have a standing treaty like with Pakistan and we go and kill a leader then that could break the treaty. If we don't have a treaty or are in negotiations but we want to go in to get a treaty at a later date but we have gone in and killed leaders then they will be less likely to want to negotiate peace with.

Contention two: Targeted killing is an act of terrorism.
When we do targeted killings we become what we are fighting. I will use the case of Bin-Laden as an example. When Seal Team six went in to kill Bin-Laden. they not only killed him but they also killed his unarmed children and wife, as well as Bin-Laden who himself was unarmed. This is what terrorists do. They kill unarmed men women and children. Other countries will be afraid that if they do something we the country do not like then we will go in and target some of their leaders until they behave how we want them to.

Contention three: Targeted killing is murder.
Definition Murder: the premeditated act of killing another human being.
What is targeted killing? It is a thought out decision to kill a certain person. This according to my definition which is from ,Merriam Webster, is murder. Murder under any circumstances is wrong. Therefore the act of targeted killings can't be moral. By this point alone I prove that the resolution is null.

Now going over my opponents points. His value is life. This is a null point on that with targeted killings a life is lost. Therefore his value doesn't stand. With his first point of only way we can take out a threat without declaring war. if we go in to a country and kill someone then they could perceive it as an act of war. They would openly declare war and more lives would be lost and his value of life will a gain fall. His second point that of it being better of conventional warfare as with what I stated in the second contention tears this point out of the way too. his example of WW2 falls too because we couldn't drop troops straight into Berlin they would be shot down before they got past the city wall they would never have a chance to take down Hitler. His third point the preemptive striking of terrorists prevents them from taking thousands of lives. But they have already taken thousands of lives. If they think we are targeting them they will go into hiding and won't be able to run the group, but with this method we do not take the life we only make it seem as if to take their life.

Because of the reasons I have provided I urge you to vote for a negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 2


I congratulate my opponent on posting his argument with only seconds to spare. To come so close to losing without actually forfeiting is quite an accomplishment.
I will begin by defending my position against my opponent's weak attack, and then I will move to the offensive position and attack my opponents weak case.

My opponent argues that the value premise of Life invalid on the grounds that TK is taking the life of an individual.
I ask My opponent which i worse. one terrorist killed in self defense, or myriads of innocent lives killed for no reason at all? My value premise is based on Utilitarianism. now you can see why you are incorrect.
My opponent has made the argument that my first contention is incorrect because targeting an individual in another country could be perceived as an act of war. I remind my opponent that Almost all TKs are acts of self defense and preemption. The attack one alwaki was not perceived as an act of war.
My opponent does not agree with conventional warfare. i ask. how does he propose to deal with the terror threat?
I never implied hat targeting Hitler would involve military personnel being "dropped" into Berlin. we did have bombs. and even then. if that scenario was replayed today, we have drones, voice recognition explosives, etc. etc.
On my third contention, my opponent makes the assumption that the targets have already killed hundreds of lives. please explain this.
the truth is, that the terrorist leaders ARE in hiding!
i do not understand what my opponent means by "we make it seem as if to take their life"

not to attack my opponent!
over all, I invite the Voters to examine my opponents grammar and witting. i should receive that grammar point.

First, My opponents Value Premise. Although international cooperation is valuable, it does not compare to the Value of life.
My opponent's Value criterion.
I am afraid that it is nullified, unless he can prove that all countries are bound by the constitution of the united states. I remind him that The Resolution does not specify the U.S.

Contention 1
My opponent did not provide a definition of targeted killing, so will be assuming that he agrees with the definition provided by the UN.
Under the UN's definition, Targeted Killing does not refer to leaders alone. in fact, TK is hardly ever used to take out country leaders. In almost all cases, it is terrorist leaders who represent an eminent threat.
therefore, killing a terrorist leader would not brake negotiations, nor treaties. i refer again to the example of Anwar Al-Alwaki, and Yemen. we are still at peace with Yemen.
Therefore, my opponent's first contention is nullified.

Targeted Killing is NOT an act of terrorism, But an act of preemption. The Humans Targeted Are threats . therefore, when we use Missles or Machine Guns, we are not terrorizing, we are merely eliminating a threat. Osama Bin laden was a threat. it did not matter weather he was armed a the time of his death or not. He had killed hundreds of innocent civilians. and the killing os his family? that was collateral damage. if we had not done it because of the lives of osama bin laden's family, who knows how many more hundreds of innocent individuals would have been killed by him?
My opponent's second Contention is nullified.


targeted killing is murder?
let us first look at who these targets are!
most, if not all of the targets are terrorists!
what do terrorists do? they practice mass destruction!
if your third contention is valid, than if a man ran up to me and tried to stab me with a twelve inch buck knife, and i shot him, i would be a murderer!
I don't think so!
My opponent's third contention is NULLIFIED!

In conclusion, i must say that my opponents shows a lack of knowledge on this subject



soccerfan22 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I understand my opponent's predicament, therefore, we will skip this round and not follow the rules for round five.


First I will uphold my arguments on his case and then bulster mine.

With my argument against his value. He countered with a question of wich is better the killing of one person or many.
Well that one life you take will multiply into more and more. The Wyoming Forensics League said that TK will have a hydra effect. That means that you kill one and two more come back stronger and smarter. Then you will have to kill those and then more will come up and it will be an endless cycle of killing.
His premise of utotalitarianism falls because with this cycle of killing more death is caused then in conventional warfare.
He says that because TK is self defense and that it is preemptive it can't be seen as an act of war. But the group that killed the Arch Duke Ferdinand killed him because he could cause harm to their society so they killed him as a preemptive to self defense. That targeted killing started the first world war wich led to world war two. So that argument still stands.
His argument against my attack on his Hitler example. His solution to not sending in a comando team is that we use EXPLOSIVES! How could that cause trouble lets think. These explosives would not only kill the target but many other people that are around them. Some of them civilians. This tears down his value of life.
Terrorists have killed thousands but if they are in hiding the group falls apart and they can't kill anyone else.
We make it seem as if to take their life. We send in phony opperations to make it seem as if we are targeting them.
Now onto my case.
When we targeteded Bin-Laden he was the government leader. We had to over throw that government to be able to Kill him without causing more war. So the only way to stop war and to keep treaties with targeted killings is to overthrow that government and put in people who won't care.
Again with the act of preemptive. I have explaned how the death of the Arch duke was preemptive and killed thousands of people so his argument is null. And then with his argument that the family was just collateral damage that is undermining his value of life by saying that these few lives we can throw away as long as we get the target.
His argument against my third contention. No you would not be a murderer. It was not a thought out plannned attack. If he had killed you then it would have been murder. But just because they are murderers doesn't take away their constitutional right to a fair trial. so that contention still stands.
Then in final he says that my grammar was bad so that point should go to him. Though if you look at his last argument you will find just as many if not more gramarical issues. In this argument I have succesfully nullified his arguments against my case and been further able to atck his case. So I urge the voters to vote in a negative ballot.
Debate Round No. 4


This is the last round of debate.
first to defend my case. (this shouldn't be too hard)

First, my opponent sites The Wyoming Forensics league. This is just another Speech and Debate association. and not a good source.
It offers NO proof that its statements is true, and I doubt my opponent could prove it either.
I ask my opponent- HOW HE CAN PROVE that TK causes more death than bombing whole cities, raiding towns, and having fire fights in village market places. THAT is conventional warfare.
My opponent uses the example of the Arch Duke Ferdinand. That was not a preemptive act. that was assassination. The Duke COULD have caused harm. In TK, the people targeted WOULD cause harm .
His Argument against the targeting of Hitler. My opponent seems to not understand WW1 and WW2. If Hitler had been bombed, maybe some people would die. but if Hitler WAS bombed, it would have saved CITIES FROM BEING BOMBED!!!
because Hitler was spared, whole cities were reduced to ashes. and my opponent raises a cry for the few who COULD have bee killed in the targeting?!?! My opponent does not fully grasp conventional warfare, and does not understand that Targeted Killing can stop it!
My opponent has stated that when terrorists are in hiding, the group will fall apart. I cannot imagine how he plans to explain this. I find NO proof that seclusion causes terrorist break up.
Now to my opponent's Case.
His example of Bin Laden is Very confusing. It sounds like it is an affirmative argument at first, but than he makes the argument that TK is taking out leaders and putting in people who don't even care. I think it is morally better to have a leader that doesn't care, rather than have a leader who cares only about terrorism!
Yes Bin laden's Family was collateral damage. We have declared war on terror. therefore, the rules of war are substantiated. under the rules of war, collateral damage caused in self defense is morally justified.
Targeted Killing does NOT take away the right to Due Process!! Bin Laden was tried in absentee, found guilty of Crimes against humanity, and sentenced to death. That is when Team 6 went in and took him out. so that contention falls also.
Once again some of my opponents grammar is STILL very confusing.


1. My opponent shows a lack of material knowledge on this subject.
2. He also shows that he does not fully understand the resolution. ( i.e. his value criterion.)
3. He does not understand conventional warfare. he does not realize the difference between bombing one building full of EVIL military leaders, and the bombing of whole cities full of INNOCENT people.
4. in some of his arguments, he actually AGREES that targeted killing is useful in taking out world leaders and terrorists. look for yourself.
5. My opponent's arguments are not very substantiated. he uses the example of a Duke, and he sites a speech and debate tournament. he has no evidence from the modern era to support his arguments.

I could go on, but I do not want to in his reputation.

I urge you all to Vote Pro for the reasons given above, and also because if you really get to know the facts you will see that Targeted Killing really is the moral answer.

Conventional war - causes death on a massive scale, makes problems worse, and creates MORE problems.

Plain self defense - causes death on a massive scale, doesn't fix problems, ruins international relations, and promotes terrorism.

Targeted Killing - fixes Problems, Avoids war, Takes care of self defense, maintains peaceful international relations, inhibits terrorism, and SAVES lives on a massive scale!

Now you all can clearly see. That Targeted killing is the moral option. The ONLY moral option!

You all cannot possibly fill out a negative ballot. that would go against your conscience, and everything we stand for.

VOTE PRO! because you know what is right
VOTE PRO! because you know that Targeted Killing is moral
VOTE PRO! Because you want to save lives!


soccerfan22 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by renaissance_man 6 years ago
sounds great.
please dont use God's Name, its against my beliefs .
i would happy to learn from you!
cant wait!
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
-.- I don't give a crap that he forfeited. Arguments were absolutely god-awful on both sides. And I'm not even past the 1AR.

Ren, once I've voted, I'm challenging you to this.. The neg did an absolutely horrible job, and to show you what you did wrong, I'm going to beat you in a debate. Badly.

With that in mind, let me finish reading all this nonsense.
Posted by renaissance_man 6 years ago
thank you.
i remind you that he broke the rules by forfeiting, so he automatically loses ;)
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
Alright, I'll vote once I've read through everything.
Posted by renaissance_man 6 years ago
soccerfan22. good job. that was fun. i have a few requests though.
1. don't make any new arguments during this round, (you probably shouldn't even be allowed to defend yourself, because that's how LD goes, but i will let you;)
2. i am not sure how voting works, but if you are allowed to vote i ask you not to because i am not allowed to (just to keep it fair) i don;t have a cell, and so i cant "confirm my identity". so if you can vote, don't. ;)
great job! that was pretty good.
Posted by renaissance_man 6 years ago
OK soccerfan22, you should now post your argument in round four. (the one you would have posted in round three).
Posted by soccerfan22 6 years ago
Sorry guys I was at state tournament and didn't have access to internet.
Posted by renaissance_man 6 years ago
you aren't excepting messages, so i will just post this as a comment.
thank you for pointing this out!
I am so glad people are going to be watching this debate because i need the critical analysis.
so here is what i Understand. please correct me if i am wrong.
we are discussing Targeted killing as a foreign policy tool. so my definition of foreign policy is correct. is it morally permissible to preemptively strike a terrorist in a foreign land?
could you please give me a definition that is better? i tried to find one that wasn't biased, and that worked well.
thanks again for the help!
Posted by fireant1995 6 years ago
lol, to the aff- terrorists aren't a nation and thus aren't relevant under your own definition of foreign policy.
Posted by Zaradi 6 years ago
As much as I doubt either of you will run super-complicated cases (K's, theory, T, etc.), there are people who can understand how those arguments function in case you want to run them. Anyway, looking forward to judging this.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: This was......really, really bad. Both sides of the debate did not do their side any justice here. Ultimately, I just take the easy route and vote off the forfeits to give pro the conduct point. I give neither argument because, to be honest, they both weren't good. Both had numerous grammatical flaws, so I give neither there. And neither really cited anything truly valid in the debate, so I don't give either of them sources. Wow...that was bad.