User login

You are here

Nuclear Weapons Topic - Preparing Wording Papers

CEDA/NDT/ADA Community,

As a result of your recent vote to approve the nuclear weapons topic, framed as “Should the United States decrease reliance on nuclear weapons?"” the CEDA Topic Selection Committee has begun reviewing the original paper and other relevant documents. We would like to share our basic research agenda and timeline with you in order to maximize community participation. Please use the nuclear weapons forum for discussion of this topic.


For the next two weeks we will be dividing up in research groups and developing wording papers. Each wording option should create wording options that reflect the controversy paper. This doesn't mean that every topic must use the specific wordings used in the paper, but it does mean that any wording option on the next ballot should reflect the basic expectation that a reasonable coach or student would have possessed when reading the controversy paper. In other words, does the new topic wording reflect the essential controversy that the community voted for? As long as the wording meets this test, we should be diligent about finding the optimal wording options.


Each wording paper should outline the essential challenges of wording a specific policy proposition and judgments about each of those challenges. Papers need not submit only one wording per paper, but every recommended wording should be sufficiently vetted.


All complete and germane wording papers that are emailed to me at by May 31st will be placed on the agenda for the topic meetings.


The basic challenge


I want to thank Steve Mancuso for his good work on this next section. He has provided a good outline of how the controversy paper can be translated into the topic. This is a good outline for how each wording option should examine the topic.


There are four affirmative approaches that are an essential part of this literature. Affirmatives that:


1. Reduce the size of the nuclear arsenal/stockpile (unilateral cuts, disarmament, ban TNW etc.)


2. Reduce the role or mission of nuclear weapons (NFU, CBW escalation, alert status, etc.


3. Promote arms control (START Follow-on, INF etc.)


4. Promote the non-proliferation regime (CTBT, FMCT, NPT bargains, global zero etc.)


If we can find wordings that emphasize these policy categories as the ‘core affirmatives’ we would maintain the core negative ground of: deterrence, assurance, dissuasion and science/labs.


There are two affirmative approaches that are not "in the same direction" with these areas. Affirmatives that:


1. Increase conventional forces/modernization/deployment (Advanced munitions, more troops, increase NMD, etc.)


2. Increase nuclear modernization through science (RRW, other lab/science infrastructure reforms, etc.)


These are approaches where authors argue that by effect these policies would reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. But they would accomplish it in ways that do not protect the uni-directionality with respect to the core negative ground.


Our Research Groups


The committee is dividing what we assess as the most promising types of wording options. We invite community input to help in any of these areas or to submit your own papers. We encourage you to provide feedback and share your input on each of these items. These research groups are organized by the essential phrase in the proposed topics. Each group also includes some proposed wordings. These wordings are starting points and suggestions, not the final recommendations of each group. The email for all topic committee members are found on the left side navigation bar at


1. reduce reliance … in national security policy (or types of policies)

(Steve Mancuso, Greta Stahl)


Resolved: The USFG should realign its nuclear weapons policy, forces, and/or posture to reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons


Resolved: The USFG should reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons through reductions through changes to its nuclear weapons policies, forces and/or posture.


Resolved: That the USFG should substantially reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons through reductions in the size of its nuclear forces, limitations on the role of nuclear weapons, cancellation of some planned stockpile stewardship activities, changes to the alert status of its nuclear forces and/or promotion of nuclear arms control.


2. reduce nuclear weapons …. more consistent with the goal of (or increase the commitment to) elimination of nuclear weapons
(Gordon Stables, Jarrod Atchison, Mike Davis)

Resolved: That the United States federal government should adapt its nuclear posture to be substantially more consistent with the goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons.  

Resolved: That the United States federal government should adapt its nuclear posture to substantially increase its commitment to the (+goal of?) global elimination of nuclear weapons.


Resolved: That the United States Federal Government should substantially increase its efforts to abolish all nuclear weapons.

3. limit the use, size or role
(Ryan Galloway, Kevin Kuswa)

Resolved: That the United States federal government should significantly limit the use of its nuclear weapons.


Resolved:  That the United States federal government should establish a foreign policy significantly limiting the use of nuclear weapons.

Resolved: That the United States federal government should substantially reduce the role of its nuclear weapons…. (same as above)


Resolved: The United States should drastically reduce the role that nuclear weapons play in its security policies.


Resolved: That the United States federal government should work towards the global elimination of nuclear weapons by substantially reducing (the role of/ its reliance on) nuclear weapons nuclear weapons…. (same as above)

Resolved: That the USFG should substantially reduce the role and/or size of its nuclear arsenal through unilateral and/or international policies.  


Resolved: The USFG should unilaterally and multilaterally limit and reduce and cut the size and number and role and use of nuclear weapons, platforms, systems, and stockpiles.


Taxonomy upgrade extras: 


Scott Elliott suggests:

Seems to me the first case that my teams would put together is that Nuclear weapons are passe'. We should use more advanced weapons such as Nanotech, Rods of God, etc. Kinda sucks up all the negative ground. Yes, we should become less reliant on nuclear weapons and more reliant on post-nuclear weapons offensive devices. Having fun with the topics.


I think the CP to develop those advanced weapons without ending our reliance in the short-term with deterrence as a net-benefit fairly quickly resolves these stupid affs. Good luck winning a single aff round.

First, thanks to the topic committee members for their hard work thus far. I am hugely optimistic that this will be an incredibly interesting and educational topic, and the variety of topic wording choices presents the community with a lot to think about.

Second, Steve briefly stated that one area "not 'in the same direction' with these [4 topical] areas is Increase nuclear modernization through science (RRW, other lab/science infrastructure reforms, etc.)." This appears to be the only mention of "science" in the initial topic discussion. In reading the initial topic posts I noticed that none of the "potential affirmative areas" addressed the possibility of "buying out" or reassigning/retraining nuclear weapons scientists from other countries sucha as Russia and Pakistan, or from the U.S. While I believe a program to buy out Russian scientists already exists under the auspices of Nunn-Lugar, I wonder how/if it some version of this aff would fit under the various proposed topic wordings.

Since I found the "scientists" part of the topic paper particularly interesting, I wondered if any of the topic committee members (or anyone in the community for that matter) could address whether or not a "scientists" aff (a buy out, retraining, or some other aff) would be considered topical under their various resolutional wording proposals.

Thanks again,


Dr. Jacob Thompson, Ph.D.
Director, Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum, UNLV