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Topic Committee Liveblog - Day 1

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Welcome to the 2009 Topic Meeting live blog w/ your host (for now) Seth Gannon

Dave Arnett has arrived in a spiffy yellow "California" t-shirt but otherwise appears totally unprepared. The rest of the committee is good to go. JP Lacy is also making a cameo appearance... other characters will be introduced if and when they speak.

and we're off...

Stables: thanks to Wake Forest, hospitality is great, hotel bandwidth won't support a webcam, but the world's finest and most attractive live blogger will be taking it from here. the liveblog will provide us permanent notes and allow people to catch up. thanks to the committee, a thankless job only noticed when people are unhappy. many sacrifices are required, and service to the community is valuable.

Stables: a couple folks can't be here. we're open to all feedback, here and from those who can't be with us. plus they'll have to vote. thanks to mike for standing in for the ceda exec position (sue can't be here [hope the kid is doing well])... now a list of everyone on the committee and their positions.

Stables:tradition of Steve's, a good one, start by brainstorming things for people to work on for the next topic cycle. by the time our meetings are over, no one will want to have this discussion, so we do it now. even if you're not gonna write the paper, suggesting ideas is useful. important purpose of the committee is to provide options to the community

Stables: much documentation on the website for moving forward w/ topics... no need to re-invent the wheel every year.

Stahl: one idea is US recognition of self-determination movements -- useful mechanism for a lot of places in East Asia--Taiwan, Tibet-- Eastern Europe-- good literature. it's a little bit different than some of the stuff we debate all the time

Stables: part of the idea is finding interesting and new areas

Smith: bioethics / technology -- wake hosted a bioethics conference that included a debate and has access to many people who'd be interested in writing a topic paper. from minor enhancement tech to brain chips to artificial intelligence -- quote from the May 23 NYT about the increasing power of computer technology: creating a technological utopia is largest risk to humans wiping themselves out... "dominant political question of the century" [ed. note: this card is really good]. department of defense is taking human enhancement very very seriously. what are the ethical concerns? moral choices in such a world? Prof Hyde at Wake is willing to run a seminar to write a topic paper. new bioethics dept at Wake -- unique intersection of science and morals, which makes for good debate. interest from all sections of academia

Stables: other ideas?

Jarrod: I'd like to work w/ Vik and return to immigration

Keenan: fine. the other thing is we've gone back and forth about Latin America. while doing immigration paper, I was distracted by Organization of Latin American States... proposals of theirs that only the United States has not followed. didn't write that paper b/c they had literally just had their biannual conference, so there's a lot of new literature -- starting point for a proper and focused Latin America topic. picking certain countries seems less useful, and an entire continent and a half is too much. seemed like promising avenues exist to limit it down

Bellon: Latin America is a hotbed of activity (sorry, got distracted by Dave's spiffy t-shirt)

Stables: not lack of interest on Latin America, just need a mechanism -- what do we want to talk about?

Keenan: "substantially reform Latin America policy" biodirectional -- border control is not the best topic, but the lack of good clean internal policies

Stahl: trade might not be the coherent theme people are looking for

Mancuso: if we don't get a health care bill this year, that would be a ripe topic.

Stables: that's a good example of a paper that did a lot of foundational work

Stahl: if April rolls around and they haven't done it, midterms will make it very unlikely

Stables: Labor protections w/ a hemispheric angle is one potential combination of these issues. improve labor conditions domestically or as part of a deal

Kall: don't know if it's large enough, but piracy might provide a good topic. lots in the news, part of S.E. Asia topic, unsure if it'd stand up to a whole year

Stables: maritime policy? that'd be a trade-related topic that's a little broader. other ideas? ok I keep this list running. we'll revisit it in the fall. want public announcement of interest in areas a little earlier to get community involved in knowing and assisting, and also it guarantees a lot of options

ok let's get to nuclear bombs....

STABLES: wording papers are available on this site. The other sticky thread is a link to a google document will show wordings that have been up for discussion. committee has access to change it, giving us a virtual blackboard available to the community.

today’s meeting will address major concerns and outlining the major issues, so we can make the most of the other days.

thanks to Jessica and Chris for an awesome topic paper. very cool that 2 years community members have written a winning topic that wasn't really on the radar before their papers. people leave the community, go into good policy work and give back -- also very cool.

everyone should give a couple minutes of thoughts on big ideas and big challenges they foresee. we know for sure that the topic will lower the profile of nuclear weapons in our foreign policy. exact wording needs to be worked out.

challenges like negotiation vs. unilateral

leave today w/ a clear agenda... we should start where the controversy paper started.

MANCUSO: I've written a wording paper advocating the use of the word "missions." I'll tell you how I came to it. Initially the topic committee tried to identify a core set of aff approaches that should be topical, based on the topic paper and conversations w/ the community.

Things that "should be topical": unilateral weapons cuts, targeting doctrine (counter-force v. minimal deterrence), declaratory policies like no first use, abolishing strategic ambiguity v. CBW attacks, de-alerting (related to NFU), ratify the CTBT (int'l yet US can do it alone, unlike...), SORT follow on, FMCT -- both those were in topic paper and real world reports on how to change doctrine -- nuclear weapons complex (science, testing, production of fissile material / tritium)

others will undoubtedly want to add or subtract from that list. Greta and I took a good look at the wording proposal in the paper, particularly the "reduce reliance" mechanism. there had been some criticism, and we returned to it to see if it was sustainable. I concluded it won't work. Here are the weaknesses: "reduce reliance" is a commonly used phrase in the literature and among experts. we have a very good discussion w/ real experts this year w/ so many former debaters in those fields. while it's a phrase that they all use and sorta have an agreement on what it means, it'd be harder to for us to sustain a precise meaning.

two bidirectionality concerns: one would strengthen conventional weapons and thus reduce our reliance on nuc weapons. and two, qualitative improvements in the arsenal... fewer weapons that are more useful.

stefan made the good point that reliance is sort of a state of mind. it's not very tangible. after thinking on it, I agree with that. if we cut the number of weapons, would we rely on nuclear weapons less? it would depend on the President's mindset. that struck me as an inherent or fatal flaw, although the wordings the papers have been proposing have been very very close approximations of "reduce reliance" -- I believe "missions" avoids the problems

I was forwarded a document from April [CFR maybe? I missed it... it's in his paper]. It used the word "missions" and said reform had to start there.

What is a "nuclear mission"? A specific task for a nuclear weapon, unlike a "goal" like deterrence or a "role" like deterring an enemy or supporting an ally. A mission would be to eliminate a target or to be survivable when our arsenal is under attack or fire back when attacked, etc. Federation of American Scientists wrote in 2005 a report called "Missions for American Nuclear Weapons After the Cold War." It is definitely a term of art; the DoD writes about the missions of their nuclear weapons.

I returned to the list of wanted affs. My current tentative wording is very short. Quantitative cuts are clearly a reduction in missions. We might still have a broad goal or role of deterring Russia, but targeting and other missions would be restricted. Minimum deterrence (restricting counter-force) is explicitly cited in the paper. Going to zero eliminates missions altogether. Alert status and NFU would both restrict the mission to surviving a nuclear attack and responding. There's good contextual evidence for that.

KUSWA: sometimes these articles say "missions" plural or the overarching "mission" similar -- does this affect wording?

MANCUSO: I prefer plurality b/c it emphasizes the sense of a particular task. The singular "mission" seems to be synonymous with "goal" or "role." One CSIS paper referred to "the nuclear mission" again and again, speaking about deterrence. Plural allows the aff to restrict things that are count-able and measurable.

For instance, if our goal/role/mission is to deter, does cutting our nuclear weapons to 1000 lessen that "mission"? Not really, it's still our goal. The CTBT would presumably reduce our credibility and would then be topical under goal/role/mission, would the aff's credibility turns then make them non-topical?

So missions plural allows us to get to tangible, countable entities. 2000 weapons targeted at Russia/China before, and 1000 after -- missions have been reduced, no matter what the President's mindset or agenda is.

MANCUSO: back to what’s topical under “missions”... banning nuclear retaliation to CBW attack would reduce missions.

not sure "missions" answers the CTBT question one way or the other... clearly a START follow on would restrict missions, but it might be by effect. how we write the rest of the resolution would be important to this.

I had lunch w/ Dallas [Hey Dallas! How ya doing?], and he says banning tritium production has to be topical [getcha Harvard neg ready]

STAHL: I have concerns re: whether "missions" allows quantitative reduction. I understand your logic, but it requires understanding missions in a 1:1 ratio w/ weapons. You could maybe interpret "missions" as the 10 tasks of the arsenal, etc., which might not be restricted by quant. reduction. I'd like to see more contextual evidence that speaks about "missions" and quant. reduction. One card in your paper lists them as separate notions w/ an "and" between them and not a "because"

LACY: if one mission is to overhaul (unclear, unclear)

STAHL: begs the question of whether the aff is effective... does reducing number of weapons ACCOMPLISH a change in missions? bad to have an interpretation that allows the debate to go there

GONZO: you could argue that a few RRWs would be far more impressive than 2000 big old weapons.

BELLON: are there additional documents other than FAS that speak to multiple "nuclear missions"? Much lit talks about "the mission." There's a real distinction in the literature

STABLES: we need to continue to explore this question in detail. mark it w/ an asterisk on the liveblog [*******]

MANCUSO: “restrict” is better than “reduce”... it is more binding

DAVIS: my concern with restrict is that it prevents future missions, not cut back on current ones

GALLOWAY: for instance you could restrict the arsenal to its current size. maybe the solution is “restrict by reducing”?

KUSWA: would "restrict" limit the aff to legislation or treaty? so we're at least aware of... [CPs, etc]

MANCUSO: not gonna overstate my knowledge of this. there is one definition of "restriction" as a noun that says by statute or regulation or contract, not in the context of nuclear weapons

GALLOWAY: I'm worried about locking the aff into the Congress and then losing to the XO CP

STABLES/GALLOWAY/MANCUSO: the example is "enact" [in Europe topic]

GALLOWAY: third search result on google is that Congress should "restrict" the President on nuclear weapons -- good neg CP card. if the exec alone did the action, it described it as "refraining."

ARNETT: statute and regulation... whoever's gonna do this needs to investigate

MANCUSO: I think "restrict" means something is written down and compliance is required. under "reduce reliance," no law requires the move from nuclear weapons -- as opposed to a written down "we are not going to attack airports, etc."

I wish there were definitions of "restrict" that say "legally binding"... haven't found them yet

GALLOWAY: well, even this article I glanced at briefly said there was an advantage to restricting that was not captured by the President refraining, for international perception etc.

STABLES: definite research agenda item [*******]

KUSWA: the object matters too... reduce/restrict arsenal might be a different verb discussion than reduce/restrict missions

MANCUSO: cutting warheads would reduce the number of missions

STAHL: Maybe

MANCUSO: think about bullets in a gun

KUSWA: you're also discussing who you point it at and when you might pull the trigger

[Ross is raising his hand in the corner]

SMITH: can I suggest "restrict and reduce"? restrict adds something, but without the reduction, we're missing important stuff.

my 2nd more overarching comment: I don't see a single one of these missions that would necessarily be restricted by a big reduction in the size of our arsenal. maybe it means you need an even deeper cut to be topical?

MANCUSO: our ability to strike back is restricted by a smaller arsenal

SMITH: maybe that one

MANCUSO: to return to what would be topical, a ban on tritium production would undoubtedly restrict a mission of the arsenal.

I'm not wedded to those affs, but they would exist under "nuclear arsenal" and not under "nuclear weapons"

ANTONUCCI: I'm more comfortable with "weapons"... "arsenal" does not seem very well-defined in int'l legal documents. it lets in depleted uranium for sure [a quote to that effect]. it allows a broad range of sorts of weapons, not the warheads we want to be debating about. "nuclear weapons" on the other hand is well defined in a few treaties as an int'l term of art

STABLES: and the question becomes, does "nuclear weapons" allow for testing, etc.?

ANTONUCCI: no, but maybe "missions for nuclear weapons" does

ARNETT: can I ask a question about testing? there's certainly an argument that testing is used as a mission

MANCUSO: it's hard to fit the CTBT in comfortably unless you just write it in. it's complicated by our legal moratorium on testing, as ratifying the CTBT would not exactly restrict our testing missions. that's tricky

if the committee decides our resolutions have to have CTBT as aff ground (which I'm for), we need to know which allow it and which don't and make it very clear

MANCUSO: almost everyone I’ve spoken to has seen CTBT as part of the topic

KUSWA: one thing is that “nuclear weapons arsenal” would solve lots of the problems with “nuclear arsenal”

ANTONUCCI: I think that would help a lot

STABLES: I'm adding research questions to the google document, so the committee can edit them to make sure we are answering the right questions and have a running list

Thanks, Steve, that's what we're looking to do -- identify key issues.

CTBT won't be easy

SMITH: "fissile material" is prominent in the literature.

Steve earlier was saying [unclear] would reduce the missions... which missions?

MANCUSO: SORT and treaties that required negotiation would limit the mission of the arsenal if it includes development and production of weapons

SMITH: I got 15 items here... I don't see a connection to any of these things

I think you've got a great start. I'm a list-style guy anyway, and I wouldn't mind "restrict the missions or negotiate a treaty," but I think that has to be clear. It's not just CTBT. It's a whole lots of stuff. It's no good to say core topic areas are effects topical... you can't run your turns?? I mean, come on.

STABLES: We need to create a list of treaty options and determine how well they're going to fit in the topic. Dave's paper has a lot on these... nuclear weapon free zones, for instance.

MANCUSO: the variation of my resolution, the second one that adds "arms control initiatives" would authorize those affs.

whether "fissile material cutoff" solves that? probably similar effects problems, since SORT follow on bans the production process

SMITH: right

STABLES: that's also known as wording #7 on the google document

SMITH: yeah, I saw that, and I applaud that, Steve, but that writing still requires it to restrict the mission

STAHL: one broad plea -- in past years, we've approached this as we've found an interpretation under which this aff will be topical, but it doesn't play out that way. the most limiting interpretation seems to win out. worth analyzing the most limiting interpretation of these words, since they likely will win out. you might think CTBT has a good argument, but it might not be one that wins the way we debate it out

ARNETT: I strongly agree

GONZO: elephant in the corner is this question of effects debates. so many affs will be dependent on affecting the deterrence posture of the United States. need to be explicit, maybe not listing the five affs or anything, but making it clear, or every debate will end w/ the neg winning on "anything could be deterrence"

STABLES: "deterrence" is the critical pivot point, and it's a word that won't work in the topic.

GRETA: we just need a reality check on what happens during the year

STABLES: want to start another report and we'll take a break in 20 minutes

STABLES: I started w/ the same question of “reduce reliance.” Lots of contextual evidence that Bush I reduced our reliance by expanding our missile defense

what is the broader role of nuclear weapons in our foreign policy? You can reduce your reliance on chewing tobacco by smoking cigarettes

what I found over and over again was the issue of "posture"... change posture to be more consistent w/ int'l obligations

what are the mechanisms that would be involved? we have these secondary terms like mission and role and size and prominence. I like posture b/c it identifies key components... delivery systems, modernization, etc.

it does include missile defense, which is an important issue, whether we include that. very very hard to limit it out

KUSWA: "posture" should probably be in one of the wordings b/c it's everywhere. but what is not posture? it includes the policy objectives, etc.

STABLES: w/ lots of these mechanisms, it's square peg and round hole on fitting in what we want and closing out what we don't

there is a great deal of policy literature b/c of the impending NPT review... lots of lit on what the review should include, a source of contextual T evidence to assuage Greta's concerns

there is contextual evidence on what must occur to the US posture... we need a baseline. I'm worried that as the topic evolves, there's some chance the CTBT will be ratified. how does the aff demonstrate they're topical as the US posture changes? we may reach a deal w/ Russia. can the neg still argue that you have to be more of a substantial decrease?

so there is topicality evidence about changing posture, but it requires the last phrase establishing goal and direction. lots of literature from int'l community that hedges against bidirectionality affs. they want to see if the US follows through on their obligations

I found evidence for the framing that these policies must be disarmament commitments, solves some concerns about including that.

KUSWA: like Antonucci's concern w/ "nuclear arsenal," you might want to say "nuclear weapons posture"

STABLES: under this wording, CTBT would definitely be topical. it also makes the fissionable material commitments topic

STAHL: I'm less worried about disarm commitments than topic paper, b/c you wouldn't have to put it in your plan to be topical.

one concern I have is that you could just do a declaratory policy in the NPT review and not follow through. commit to the CTBT in the review, but not do anything

depends on how you define "nuclear posture"... is the document our posture?

STABLES: the aff can't just do another review. they would have to make implemented changes

STAHL: if the administration put "we are for the CTBT" in the review, it wouldn't be topical

when the nuclear posture review changes, that doesn't change our nuclear posture?

STABLES: I have evidence saying actual changes move the posture.

STAHL: but you see my concerns?

STABLES: yes. absolutely. and I believe there are parts of the NPR that might be minor, so this might require you to do more to be a "substantial" change

KUSWA: the adverb makes a big difference

STABLES: also, the executive implements the overall nuclear posture. plus there have been enough NPRs that a good basis for T debates is easy to find

STAHL: you think changing the nuclear posture review is or is not topical?

STABLES: it could be a necessary but not a sufficient step. being pro-CTBT does not change our posture unless it's implemented.

the other advantage is that b/c it's classified, they only talk about the parts that get done. it speaks to the topicality of it. it's not like a strategy review for a campaign w/ lots of trial balloons

BELLON: I kinda want to talk about the other element of the resolution, the "commitments" section. How much difference is there between a commitment and a posture? There are def. contextual uses of that term when we promise to make progress

STABLES: it's not just commitment... the phrase "disarmament commitment" is an established self-contained phrase

BELLON: it seems to me that every time Obama says we will or won't move towards various things, the ground under our feet changes in terms of commitments. Change is inevitable during the season, so how does the topic deal w/ that?

STABLES: I'm not sure the nuclear posture of the US is going to change dramatically. all the topics are written in the direction of the squo, but this one is one of the few that provides a measuring stick. if the CTBT is ratified the day after the Wake tournament, [sorry, missed this]

BELLON: there's a difference between a formal treaty and a promise. I'm not confusing mechanism and goal. the mechanism is the change in posture. the goal is the commitment. the resolution links those things, so if one changes, the relationship changes, and what's topical is called into question.

if it is possible that the word "commitment" is broad enough that it could meaningfully change during the season

STABLES: the commitment has not changed, the steps towards fulfilling it maybe have

BELLON: I would like to see an exploration of that phrase

STABLES: part of this is that it's scary that the squo will move in this direction. the goal helps this.

WHITMORE: does this affect de-alert or changing our targeting stance?

STABLES: I'm not worried about targeting at all. De-alerting on the other hand involves a lot of stuff... the smaller and less important steps may not be "substantial." Just separating the key from the weapon may not be enough.

Your trusted live blogger has returned a couple minutes late from break #1. It seems that ErMo is concerned that NPR changes would be classified and thus disastrous for neg ground.

ANTONUCCI: Is NFU a disarm policy? not sure it's consistent with a disarm commitment

STABLES: "in the direction of" is the requirement... NFU is that. disarm need not be fulfilled to move towards the goal.

ANTONUCCI: so it's a political question and a direction question?

ARNETT: it does limit out fiating sneaky weird covert whatever

STAHL: at the 2000 NPT conference, they did put out a document that clearly spells out "disarmament"... pg 35-6 of CSIS JY topic paper. it encompasses a lot of the declaratory policies. anyone who fears "disarmament" is too limiting should read that

ANTONUCCI: maybe I'm too reassured.

A FEW PEOPLE: it's very big

ANTONUCCI: RRW moves us towards that goal under Article 6

STABLES: Rumsfeld T interpretation that the best way to eliminate nuclear weapons is to use them. While the US may believe its hardline weapons development serves the purpose of disarmament, it does not. But no doubt RRW is a real challenge.

STAHL: even if you could be effectually step 7 of disarmament, you would be in direct contradiction of step 5.

KUSWA: somehow reduce the size of the arsenal and shift the posture... stops the problem of secret posture change

STABLES: I want to have various options. Every time we look at role/mission/size, we leave something out. This topic may have concerns, but it's one of the few that includes our whole list of desirable affs. Maybe it's too big.

In this NPT document on pg 35 of JY's paper, it clearly lays out the 13 steps

MANCUSO: I think you could change the nuclear posture review without changing nuclear posture. like if we just said we're in favor of the CTBT, your example Greta

STAHL: yeah but a decent limit argument is that what's in the NPR are the elements of nuclear posture

MANCUSO: I don't know. we don't know what all is in the review, do we?

STABLES: this again is the secrecy issue

MANCUSO: I like the idea of bringing it into line w/ disarm commitments. I wonder about the phrase "consistent with"... have we done enough work on that? I have no arguments against "consistent"-- does it just sound good? do we need more work?

STABLES: another set of eyes can't hurt. I wanted to create a clause that curbed bidirectionality without requiring the aff to do more. didn't want to introduce a new treaty requirement or something, but the T standard would be "is this consistent w/ the goals of the NPT?" Wouldn't have to be in the plan.

MANCUSO: Isn't one of the principles countries are equal? Not even necessarily the written text

KUSWA: we def. need to explore that

STAHL: certainly can't say "compliant with"... much larger obligation

KUSWA: use "make" and not "change"? "make more consistent"?

GALLOWAY: move "substantially" to modify "more consistent," not "change." use the squo as your baseline. we are not consistent in these areas and need to be. otherwise, it's probably not substantial.

another potential ballot option is to move "substantial" and then rethink the verb "change"

MANCUSO: couldn't we become more consistent by moving against disarmament?

STABLES: Bush always couched his nuclear weapons policy as moving towards disarm

KUSWA: it's not going to be hard to say "its ... commitments," as "it" defines it, allow the aff to move the other way

BELLON: I like the idea of moving substantially. I think it's a strength of this approach that if commitments are such that they might change. the comparative aspect is good

STABLES: there have been good contextual cards about what "substantial changes" have been

obligations v. commitments appear interchangeable in the literature, but I'd hate to be wrong

KUSWA: consider changing it to "make it more consistent," just thinking of it as a grammatical sentence. you're going to make your posture more in line with

GONZO: it seems that one concern w/ moving substantial is that a relatively small change in posture could be a major move in compliance. semantic changes in laws and such could go to 100% compliance

GALLOWAY: I’m advocating making these resolutions shorter, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “reduce the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal and/or the missions of its posture” or something similar

missile defense is in here. specifies ten different varieties of affs underneath this. we didn’t fully explore “mission” like Steve did. lots of the literature used “role” and “mission” ... hard to say the differences

STAHL: need to remove “posture” from res #1

GALLOWAY: we talked about "role"... our first piece of evidence on page 4 makes broad statements of goals. our evidence contextualizes that in terms of policy.

explored "use" which has its critics but our evidence on pg 8 is pretty good that says deterrence is use.

Dallas was concerned that you could make the weapons themselves smaller to reduce their size [Hey Dallas! what's up??]. fair amount of evidence that "size of the arsenal" speaks to number of weapons.

Lots of discussion about reduce v. restrict... we need a working group on this. I am more confident than others that "reduce the role of nuclear weapons" would allow bidirectional conventional weapons affs to be beaten on T

Also of interest is "limit"... 1) does it require Congress? 2) does it allow reduction to zero?

restrict says to contain w/in some boundary... unclear if that can be zero

now to Kevin for the discussion of the adverb... great amount of evidence speaking to "drastically." our working group came to a disagreement here. DCram and Kevin preferred "drastically," and I prefer "substantially."

KUSWA: on the verb choice, if we need more options "limit" or "minimize" or "diminish"

verb choice affects adverb choice. if we go w/ "reduce," "drastically" might help. it's a little better than substantially. it's bigger. what does that mean numerically? it defies some of these numerical definitions. some people say 90%, 20%, 33%, but these definitions are almost always in the context of what is being reduced

easier to find contextual evidence on what is not a drastic reduction, which serves some limiting function. we've come to a consensus I think that the wordings are going to ask the aff to go in the direction the squo seems to be. how can we make sure the aff is a bit more extreme than Obama's promises? maybe not a huge issue, but one that would favor "drastically"

do we put "substantially" in b/c we're used to it? what purpose is this word accomplishing? one tool to think about this is to ask, is the squo topical? or might it be in the middle of the year?

we also need to think about nuclear weapons or posture or arsenal or complex or infrastructure -- maybe too broad. the difficulty we seem to have is that reduce makes sense when talking about the size of the arsenal but maybe makes less sense when talking about the posture. people don't really talk about reducing the size of the posture, but I think that could possibly have some meaning

GALLOWAY: "drastic" is too big. contextual ev about Reagan and Gorbachev (pg 16 I believe) says "drastic" called for a 50% reduction.

a larger concern is that "drastic" might not be just about size but is also about speed. says it means rapid. lots of percentages, but the brightline is that it means "really fast" -- that's the T argument that makes delay and phase-out compete

contextual ev on this topic for "substantially" -- moved our warheads, reducing the role of the warheads,

KUSWA: not sure “drastic” includes a temporal component. maybe those additional obligations on the aff aren’t a bad thing

SMITH: For cuts, we can say "very large."

I totally disagree that the posture has a size. I think it describes the arrangement of things. You can make sizable changes to the posture, but I don't think it has a size.

If this truly requires these ten things, I worry the neg gets the CP to exclude one of them. The card suggests you have to do all ten in order to be "drastic."

GALLOWAY: "posture" might be the wrong way to put it.

SMITH: Even if I'm for "drastically" on the first half, I might be for "substantially" on the second half.

BELLON: Can you talk for a second about whether changing or reducing the role allows affs that decrease the number of weapons?

KUSWA: I think even if the topic only said "reduce the role" even without the second part of the stem, you could reduce the number of weapons.

Role doesn't have the plurality issue that missions does. You would have to take steps that impact that overall whole.

GALLOWAY: one reason I was not concerned on the plural missions issue is that an easy solution is to say "reduce the size of the arsenal and/or"

KUSWA: in terms of words appearing in the literature, "role" is everywhere

MANCUSO: yeah but the problem w/ that is people use it for so much. if the aff reads deterrence link turns, they might not be topical any more

we end up w/ smaller definitions of "role" as defending Japan, etc.

KUSWA: I think it's a strength of "role" that there's literature for a T debate, but maybe it opens a bidirectionality fear

MANCUSO: it's not bidirectionality. it's that the aff can't say they eventually increase deterrence

GALLOWAY: I still think those plans would reduce our role. if we no longer supported Japan, we might be more credible, but our role is diminished

MANCUSO: "missions" are quantitative. even though those plans decrease the missions, they may increase the role of nuclear weapons.

KUSWA: I just don't think those solvency issues will be T issues

GALLOWAY: maybe there's a nuanced distinction here.

if you read one of the ten affs on that list and said you were reducing the role, that'd be a strong aff T defense

STAHL: "role" is better for CTBT

MANCUSO: how does CTBT reduce the role?

STAHL: he has evidence to that effect

GALLOWAY: [reads a card from the paper]

MANCUSO: I don't think there's a warrant to that

the way people write these cards is all about effects, b/c they don't care about the plan vs. effects distinction

STAHL: I just think more contextual evidence exists for it for "role" than for "missions"

STABLES: how do we measure deterrence? it's like Bush saying deterrence has worked b/c terrorists haven't attacked

WHITMORE: what about a topic that forced a reduction in weapons?

GALLOWAY: size only would be very inconsistent w/ the topic paper. they were voting for things like CTBT and de-alerting. we voted this topic first and would not have if it had been about size only

STABLES: what affs would exist if we required reduction in weapons and in role?

KUSWA: just combinations

GALLOWAY: yeah I don't support combining them at all

people might do both those things... final round of the NDT had multiple commodities [I found this example tremendously unconvincing]

GANNON [double duty here]: instead of "and/or," we should say "one or the other or both"

STAHL: CTBT might curb our ability to make weapons

MANCUSO: but if there's computer modeling and it succeeds, it doesn't meet?

STAHL: [sigh] that seems true of all these affs

STABLES: inclusion of missile defense might mean you could support or undermine it topically

SMITH: is that such a bad thing?

STABLES: maybe not

ANTONUCCI: one of the papers has "dramatic" and the other has "drastic"

KUSWA: should both be "drastic"

ANTONUCCI: has "dramatic" been considered?

KUSWA: yeah, not as good [I missed his reasons here; too busy admiring Ed Lee's hat]


I started with two goals: the aff should be unconditional, and the topic should have simple wording. The Shalmon/Thorpe wording is neither.

Unconditional reductions are not great ground, reminiscent of TNW inclusion on Europe.

I fear throwing negotiations into the topic w/ no limits. If we're going to include negotiation, we need to understand the implications of that. My gut reaction to de-alerting for instance was that the aff would do it unilaterally and the neg could do it bilaterally.

We need to know what we're doing when we word negotiation sections of the topic. Affs that are the consult counterplan might not be wise.

START alone might be bigger than last year's topic: trade, NMD, Iran, decrease conventional forces, consult Japan, bring in other nuclear powers -- 10 minute search found this and more. I don't know what the current US position on START is going to be. Perhaps we will learn more in July, but it's very volatile. It is timely!

I want to start w/ a point Greta already made. Unless you make it explicit in the wording that the aff is allowed to negotiate, the neg will win a vast majority of the T debates on the limit issue. It's not just at the margins. The size of the topic is so different.

Do people feel like we have to have START and these various treaties in the topic? This is a democratic process.

This wording requires the aff to implement as an attempt to block bad faith affs that say negotiations will be scuttled. It avoids things like Kansas's Iran Strikes aff.

KUSWA: I'm following you 100%, but... there are four ways to comply under this wording. But two and three don't seem to accomplish what you're looking to have them accomplish. Is it intentional that those two are more unilateral?

Would the wording change if we took those middle ones out?

Moving towards elimination of nuclear weapons is not very limiting.

ARNETT: You would require the aff to negotiate?

KUSWA: It'd be one or the other... ratification or bilateral.

ARNETT: You could not unilaterally disarm?

KUSWA: Maybe.

ARNETT: This raises a good point. The reason I think you have to provide unilateral options is that teams, particularly K teams, are banking on unilateral disarm. I think you can add negotiations, but I don't think you can take away unilateral.

STAHL: How does the plan function in a world in which solvency is dependent on the other country's response? For instance, we would negotiate w/ Russia first and then pass implementing legislation.

ARNETT: I asked Shalmon about that.

STAHL: You can't negotiate and implement at the same time.

ARNETT: I think it means that if there is no agreement, nothing gets implemented. It doesn't make sense to read it any other way. I think.

LACY: You could say "negotiate and then implement."

ANTONUCCI: I think rationality is on your side. I just wonder if affs will try to abuse it.

BELLON: I wonder if a resolution that is just a multilateral would have enough affs.

ARNETT: Cross-apply my concern re: only a negotiation topic. The unilateral affs are so simple and direct. I don't know that I would support putting just multilateral on the ballot. By multilateral, you mean bilateral too, all negotiations?

BELLON: Yes, US plus.

ARNETT: Yes, there are plenty of affs. It's bigger than just unilateral.

BELLON: If we had a resolution about already existing treaties or treaties already in negotiations, that'd be a distinct option. I worry the resolutions are starting to converge. We need options.

GONZO: If we don't give negotiations to the aff, we're giving it to the neg. If negotiations are so deadly, the neg gets them.

ARNETT: I agree. My bigger concern is the raw size of negotiations topics.

SMITH: The NPT calls for the US to disarm. We've already ratified that, but we haven't implemented it. So unilateral disarm might be topical under a multilateral topic as well. I don't know.

There's a lot of shit that could be done to implement Article 6 and other agreements.

BROSSMAN: There's a big debate over whether the NPT requires us to disarm or not. What is required is that we negotiate with other countries.

Even something as simple as NFU, the only recent article I've seen is Scott Sagan in Survival saying it can't happen unless we negotiate first, or else the perception is that we are gutting our extended deterrent. He's not calling for NFU so much as calling for putting it on the negotiated agenda, and that's the best advocate I can find for that aff at the moment.

STAHL: Three quick things. One, I don't think I'm in favor of a negotiations-only topic. We don't always have to stay perfectly true to the paper, but that's radically different. Two, we should be careful about creating a Russia topic, as those negotiations are very much up in the air. Three, we should ask what negotiations are going to be considered even under the wording we have now: Are we including Iran talks? North Korea?

ARNETT: We could limit it to the current nuclear powers.

STAHL: You'd have to get rid of "use" as well.

ARNETT: I think that's a super good point.

STAHL: Turning it into an Iran and North Korea...

ARNETT: Well, North Korea... Hm.

STABLES: This is a nuclear posture topic not a non-prolif topic. That was the paper.

STAHL: But you could offer a security guarantee to Iran. We will not use our nuclear weapons on them.

WHITMORE: Why does the fourth part of the topic only allow bilateral?

MANCUSO: There's a big section of the paper that says multilateral there would be vastly unlimiting.

WHITMORE: Why wouldn't bilateral?

STAHL: Bilateral negotiations with nuclear nations is far more limited than multilateral negotiations. Like the CTBT covers a lot of ground with a lot of countries, and others could be created to do the same.

ARNETT: There's a section that says we could change the wording in that way.

MANCUSO: Putting "verifiable" in there is dangerous. It's an issue of risk and shouldn't determine their topicality.

The other thing is you can make arguments in favor of treaties that are not or only partially verifiable. Bio Weapons Convention, CTBT, etc.

ARNETT: I think "verifiable" just means that verification measures exist, not that they work. If the aff adds on some weak verification measure just to be T, the neg can CP out of it.

KUSWA: It might be worth trying to merge a couple of these sections. Arguably the declaratory policy restricting weapons could be a subset of the negotiations and could just be axed. The negotiations topic?

EDITORIAL NOTE at the top: Check the google document for tonight's 15 research tasks. Your help from home would be much appreciated.

and now we return for the stunning conclusion of today's coverage...

KUSWA: Joe makes a good point that we need lots of ballot options. Maybe we do want a negotiations topic.

ARNETT: I know this is polarizing, but should we consider selecting the areas of negotiations? Just add the ones we think are particularly important. I'm usually so opposed to that, but should we consider it?

STAHL: What affs do we want to be topical through bilateral? START, it seems.

ARNETT: And START means Russia.

STAHL: Right. But I don't think people think we're going to talk China out of their weapons.


STAHL: Well maybe you do. I just think we should determine what bilateral policies we're looking to include. FMCT. Russia START. What else?

ARNETT: Nuclear weapon free zones? Do we want to throw that out there?

STAHL: Oh boy.

STABLES: Everyone rolls their eyes about nuclear weapons free zones, but do you think we should be able to negotiate our severance of security guarantees to these countries?

KUSWA: Taking some of the consult options away from the neg would be ok.

STAHL: This topic just starts to feel infinite.

STABLES: But it still says reduce the role or whatever. Unilateral or bilateral, it's always that.

BAUSCHARD: Is it possible we're going to reach an agreement w/ Russia already, and the whole aff relies on one addition, one new bargaining chip or demand?

ARNETT: START is the perfect example. NMD... conventional forces...

BAUSCHARD: And other things like START. We need some limit. Maybe it requires the chip to be tied to what's in the treaty discussions now.

I agree the aff is required to be substantial, but it may be getting offered up now. The advantage comes from "we're also doing this!" and maybe the neg can CP to do it unilaterally, but the DA to negotiations is tough to win.

We probably will do some of this w/ Russia in the squo.

STAHL: We need to shape up the stem some here.

STABLES: What are we trying to do? Open up affs that are impossible without negotiation? Strengthen affs that might require it to be successful?

MANCUSO: There are a lot of words in this resolution that we haven't really defined or figured out. "move," "toward," "weapons," "nuclear forces," etc. We have good contextual support for "move toward elimination of," but...

ARNETT: We resolve what wording we like in the other topics and plug it in there.

KUSWA: There is some good overlap between the move towards global disarm and what you've got here w/ negotiation.

ANTONUCCI: Is there any potential value to having a ballot option that does not have the fourth part of this? Just axing the wholly new negotiations part.

ARNETT: Maybe that'd allow an extension of START without all the new stuff.

ANTONUCCI: It's def. smaller. Maybe too small.

MANCUSO: This resolution without #4 shouldn't be too much different from what the other resolutions are gonna look like. So if we are going to have a list, we oughta go all in. What we can do is try to specify the things we want to be topical. I know you're skeptical of a list, but the whole purpose of a resolution like this is to be a list.

PAUL: That'd solve the CTBT problem.

MANCUSO: I think CTBT is good under Gordon's for sure.

SMITH: I just think that if you're going to oppose naming the treaty then you should have a damn good reason other than aesthetics. Numerous people have said the topic paper was rich w/ START and FMCT, which isn't fully extant. I know none of us have a poll or a survey, but for God's sake if we think those are things that people should get to debate on the aff, then giving them explicit permission seems like something w/ no disad except the number of pixels that float across the internet when we announce the topic.

The way to keep the topic from getting too big while also debating what we want to might just be to name it. To tip-toe around it with “missions” and lists of goals might not allow something or might allow too much. It’d be a shame if you allowed a bunch of the little stuff and not the big stuff that everybody’s writing about.

I know every year there’s this debate about lists and what-not, but your disad has to be a damn good one if you’re risking not including these affs.

BROSSMAN: I know we’re no longer talking about reduce reliance, but there is contextual evidence under that wording that shutting a base in Turkey would be substantial.

BELLON: There are additional concerns. I think two of the things we’d put on the list might actually pass. That’s concerning.

KUSWA: Even if you create the list, the wording and choices are tough. You are choosing what affs people read.

STAHL: It’s not a terrible option to put on the ballot. If our goal is to ensure that certain affs are definitively in....

STABLES: We're tired if we've turned from substance to philosophy.

Are there other ways to allow the mechanism of negotiation without it being too open ended?

Parsimony be damned for this particular option. How can we best make it work?

MANCUSO: We can tack them on by taking off #4 and replace it with a list of treaties.

SMITH: You can tack it on to any wording!

STAHL: Do we need to axe part #1 then too? There seems like a lot of overlap there.

STABLES: Help is appreciated from anyone here or at home. We have sixteen items, so even if we tack a name of someone here onto an assignment, feel free to help out!

ANTONUCCI: CTBT wouldn't be excluded by "nuclear weapons" b/c it increases viability.

GONZO: According to this arms control dictionary, "nuclear weapon" requires the atomic warhead be attached to the transfer device. I've ILLed it.

The committee loves input