NPTE 2018 Topics - Request for Feedback by 10:30pm CST, March 2nd

The topic committee has selected the final NPTE 2018 topics, and we are ready for your feedback. Thank you Zach, Brianna, Caitlin, and Brian for all of your research and insights in this process.

For the next 48 hours, you are all welcome to suggest wording changes etc. before we move forward. We have tackled many of those issues, but if you have further suggestions, please post them here with a justification for that wording change. We are no longer looking for suggestions for resolutions or major alternations, only for wording changes for the resolutions we have selected.

On March 4th, we will post the final wordings of the topics along with the prelim vs. elim designation for each.

Here are the topics for feedback:

21st Century UN: The United Nations should significantly reform its institutions and processes.
Resolution 1: The United Nations should significantly broaden its membership beyond nation-states to include non-state actors from civil society.
Resolution 2: The United Nations should enact a global tax on international monetary transactions.
Resolution 3: The United Nations should enact the Elect the Council Initiative.

East Asia: The Government of the People’s Republic of China should increase efforts to promote stability in East Asia.
Resolution 1: The Government of the People’s Republic of China should significantly decrease the presence of its police force in Xinjiang.
Resolution 2: The Government of the People’s Republic of China should recognize Tibetan independence.
Resolution 3: The Government of the People’s Republic of China should significantly increase its protections for overseas Chinese ethnic minorities subject to violence in southeast Asian countries.

Military Technology: The United States federal government should significantly increase its investment in the deployment of next-generation military technology in the United States military.
Resolution 1: The United States federal government should significantly increase its investment in the deployment of the Long Range Strike Bomber in the United States military.
Resolution 2: The United States federal government should significantly increase its investment in the deployment of laser weaponry in the United States military.
Resolution 3: The United States federal government should significantly increase its investment in the deployment of next-generation weaponized drones in the United States military.

Separatist Movements: The African Union should recognize the sovereignty of separatist movements within Africa.
Resolution 1: The African Union should recognize the Indigenous People of Biafra as a sovereign entity.
Resolution 2: The African Union should recognize the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front as a sovereign entity.
Resolution 3: The African Union should recognize the Republic of Cabinda as a sovereign entity.

US Military Structure: The United States federal government should significantly improve the United States military structure.
Resolution 1: The United States federal government should eliminate the United States Special Operations Command.
Resolution 2: The United States federal government should eliminate its intercontinental ballistic missile program.
Resolution 3: The United States federal government should substantially increase its ballistic missile submarine fleet.

As of 10:30pm CST on March 2nd, we will cease feedback, and the committee will deliberate on the prelim vs. elim topics. The final topics will be posted on March 4 by 10:30pm CST.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Rebecca

I don’t know if my problem is with the wording as much as the whole topic itself but “UN can’t do this” seems to be the crux of most UN debates and this is almost certainly the worst offender I have ever seen. I don’t think the UN has literally any enforcement mechanism for this type of tax, and as far as I can tell there is only a few people who have ever actually advocated for this, none of whom discuss enforcement. If possible I would prefer to see this topic wholly replaced with another topic that has actual aff ground.

Resolution 3: The Government of the People’s Republic of China should significantly increase its protections for overseas Chinese ethnic minorities subject to violence in southeast Asian countries.

Given that there is not an ocean between China and most of southeast Asia it seems odd to include the word “overseas” instead of “foreign” or a like word.

Resolution 3: The African Union should recognize the Republic of Cabinda as a sovereign entity.

As far as I can tell this conflict ended in 2006. I really don’t want to have to see another “Irtysh River” topic about a decades-dead conflict. There are plenty of other more active seperatist movements that this could be replaced with.

Resolution 3: The United States federal government should substantially increase its ballistic missile submarine fleet.

Topic seems non-unique: “The Pentagon plans to build 12 new SSBNs over the next two decades to replace the aging Ohio-class boats” http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2017/3/22/cost-of-new-submarine-could-threaten-navy-fleet-expansion

1 Like

Thanks for the comments. I will respond in detail to the UN tax and ballistic missile topics when I’m at my computer tonight.

For the China topic, I agree that “overseas” is a poor word choice, I will suggest we replace it with “foreign” most likely.

The Cabinda topic is definitely inherent. There’s an ongoing, low-level conflict, with protests and occasional violence from both sides. In 2010, separatists in Cabinda launched a noteworthy attack on the traveling Togo football team. Here’s a quick search result from 2016 demonstrating the ongoing nature of the situation: https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/19873/what-s-behind-the-surge-in-violence-in-angola-s-cabinda-province

Resolution 1: The United Nations should significantly broaden its membership beyond nation-states to include non-state actors from civil society.

Broadening “membership” seems to imply that to be topical, affs would have to win that non-state actors actually join the UN. I also think this is over-limiting (personal preference) and could probably be expanded to allow a little more aff flex while maintaining core neg ground of “states only good” and "altering UN membership bad."
Alt wording:
The United Nations should amend its charter to allow non-state actors to apply for membership.

The United Nations should eliminate membership requirements that exclude non-state actors.

East Asia

  1. I don’t think “The Government of the PRC” is necessary - seems redundant and likely to lead someone to say that the ROC is the government of the PRC because they’re the legitimate “Chinese government” - just seems like a fissure someone will try to exploit somehow. Is “The PRC should” insufficient?

  2. Capitalize “Southeast” in “Southeast Asian countries” - absent the capital “S” it doesn’t refer to the limited geographic region known as “Southeast Asia”

  3. instead of “foreign” or “overseas”, you could reword it to:
    “The Government of the People’s Republic of China should significantly increase its protections for Chinese diasporic communities subject to violence in Southeast Asian countries.”

“Foreign” is going to be a word PIC debate, and the current wording seems to imply that “Chinese” modifies “ethnic minorities” which means that only groups who are ethnic minorities in China would be eligible for the protections in Southeast Asia as opposed to folks from China generally.

Military Tech

  1. The “Long Range Strike Bomber” is now known as the “B-21 Raider”
  2. All of these use the term “deployment” when they should probably say “development” - the weaponry being discussed is not ready to be deployed. Deployment generally refers to the movement of personnel or materials to a theater of operations. It seems like aff is required to deploy technologies before they’re finished being developed. For example, the B-21 isn’t supposed to be deployed until the mid-2020s. Investment in development would either improve the tech or accelerate its production or both, but investment in deployment seems to mean that the technology should be distributed into operations.

Cabinda:
"There’s an ongoing, low-level conflict, with protests and occasional violence from both sides. In 2010, separatists in Cabinda launched a noteworthy attack on the traveling Togo football team."
This is literally my point. All you could find was two sentences about low level violence from 2 years ago and an article from 8 years ago about one attack. This isnt a thing.

If we cant change this topic why have this open for comment at all?

Somaliland is a real conflict. Has important implications for anti-terror and trade and important das about regional stability and us v China heg in the region

Thanks for the feedback. I agree with the concern about “membership” requiring the aff to fiat multiple actors and/or win a solvency debate.

Thanks, I like this alternate wording.

Fair point, though I think this is a distinction without a difference :slight_smile:

The stem “investment in the deployment” was an intentional choice on my part (this was my topic paper). I think that “development” underlimits the topic to permit research affs that don’t actually result in (or aim for) the deployment of weapons, and thus no-link core topic disads. Conversely, I don’t think “investment in the deployment” requires immediate deployment – that interp would make sense if the stem was “increase its deployment”, but “increase its investment in the deployment” merely means that the USFG has to invest in deploying the weapons, which includes the groundwork steps in the interim. In other words, I don’t think the topics force the aff to immediately deploy bombers, I think the topics force the aff to do something that substantially increases efforts to deploy bombers.

We really appreciate all of this feedback.

Keep it coming!

I’m not the author of this topic, and it may be slightly outdated perhaps, but there’s stuff as recent as Aug. 2017 about escalation of the conflict in Cabinda from a cursory google search.

Also, the topic is about the AU recognizing the sovereignty of Cabinda. This could have implications for Angola’s influence on DRC stability and definitely relates to the economic situation in the region (which has a lot to do with oil and is connected to rising violence as austerity has caused some instability)

Again, this is from five minutes of googling the news and I see potential for the aff and neg without reading the K.

The committee will be taking all of these wording recommendations under consideration.

We will also discuss the merits of keeping Cabinda vs. shifting to Somaliland. As you can see in the working google doc, we found quite a bit of research on Cabinda and believe that it has merit. At this point, Somaliland also seems like a viable option.

Please continue to post your feedback for the next half hour!

So is the aff ground that they set the ground-work for deploying the weapons? This seems like an inevitability if the tech is already developed. Laser weapons have already been deployed in the US military (but at least this topic is broad about the weapons, but most of which are still in the development phase), the B-21 raider has planned deployment for the 2020’s (which is contingent on tech development), and even the link seanmckean shared indicates that the new subs just got authorization from the navy to enter the development phase. If the unique aff ground for these topics is “we provide funding for the tech to be deployed” wouldn’t every aff lose on the argument that “the military doesn’t build weapons that are effective and then leave them in a warehouse - so they’ll inevitably be deployed or they aren’t effective/useful”?

I also am concerned about setting up a topic about deployment of military tech with the understanding that the aff isn’t going to defend immediate deployment. Where do the disad links come from? The aff won’t even have to specify where the tech gets deployed to under this wording which means the aff ground is “the tech will have funding to be deployed at some point though we don’t know when or where” and the neg ground is links to that ambiguous action plus an argument that the aff is inevitable.

I’m not trying to be a jerk, I just think this needs re-working so that the aff is required to defend something but gets guaranteed offense and the neg gets something predictable as well. Right now this seems like it’s destined to devolve into a stale “heg good/bad” debate whereby the aff won’t really solve but the neg’s arguments will also be limited.

Perhaps requiring deployment to a specific theater of operations or mandating that the aff “accelerate deployment” would be helpful in resolving those issues.

Oh one more thing, on East Asia. Xinjiang should be changed to “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” the word Xinjiang by itself just means “New Frontier” and that could lead to a number of interesting “topical” affs.

I think I’m all out of (hopefully) helpful suggestions so good luck with all the wording!

Thanks to everyone for providing feedback!

The committee will deliberate, and I will post the final resolutions Sunday by 10:30pm CST at the latest.

Rebecca

Point well taken, thanks.

I definitely don’t think you’re being a jerk, I appreciate the detailed feedback. I fundamentally disagree on a lot of the substance though – I know the comment period has ended but wanted to post my thoughts so you didn’t think I was ignoring this followup :slight_smile:

The fundamental question of the topics is “is it good or bad for the US to invest more in deploying next gen military tech” (ps - the ballistic missile subs topic is not in this area/does not use this stem). I think topical affirmatives should have to defend the desirability of increased investment (and specifically investment aimed at deployment rather than mere research). Obviously to some extent, the military continuing to slowly develop new tech is inevitable – it’s neg ground to say the current level of investment (10-15 years for the LRSB, even more speculative for the others) is sufficient/good. If the aff cannot win that we should increase investment (that the status quo is bad/too slow/etc) then they ought to lose. I don’t see any of this as a problem – it’s pretty much how I envisioned the topic area, and in practice, the aff will say we need the tech in a year or two to address immediate threat X (or to bolster the economy etc) and the neg will say accelerated investment creates arms races or trades off with other programs etc. Vague affs are self-limiting because they also won’t be able to access any specific/coherent offense (other than maybe research affs, which is why I constructed the stem to preclude those).

I think that also answers the double bind. If status quo investment is sufficient (the inevitability half) then the squo is probably good and the neg ought to win. If the aff can’t win that the topical weapon is useful/good at all then they obviously deserve to lose.

My problem with including “accelerated” is that it likely overlimits the aff into actions that decrease the deployment timeframe, rather than broader investment that might improve the weapons in other ways, for example. This is particularly bad in the broader areas like laser weapons – the aff would lose every debate if all they could do is speed up how fast we bolt the existing prototypes onto ships. I’m also not sure how “accelerated” really avoids your other objections.

I think specific theaters would be super forced and overlimiting. I don’t think m/any of the topics have lit that suggests the technology is needed only in a specific theater. I think that also changes the core of the topic area, from “investing in X tech good/bad” to “beefing up X branch in Y theater good/bad.”

Re: “aff doesn’t have to defend immediate deployment” – this is just how debate works. Single payer affs don’t have to defend that single payer magically instantly appears everywhere, you can garner pretty much the same offense on both sides from a normal means 2-3 year rollout. Also, as you pointed out above, immediate deployment would be unwinnable for the aff since the weapons are not generally combat ready.

Finally, ironically, I think this construction is the only way to avoid a stale heg good/bad debate. Making the aff pick their investment and defend their solvency creates educational implementation debates that form the crux of real-world military R&D. Anything that simplified to some sort of immediate deployment would let affs fiat past the solvency debate and limit the debate much more to “X weapon good/bad” which is largely a proxy for “heg good/bad.” (Also, investment doesn’t particularly have to be monetary – affs are free to allocate other resources if they don’t think funding is the key to/sufficient for their solvency.)

Thanks again for all your detailed feedback, both here and elsewhere. I really appreciate it even though I disagree – made me think a lot more about possible pitfalls :slight_smile: