Nuclear Weapons 2010 September Topic

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I recently reviewed the September 2010 LD Resolution - 

Resolved: States ought not possess nuclear weapons.

First off, let me say I love this resolution. My favorite resolutions were always the simplest ones. The simpler the resolution, the more complex and interesting the debate. It was always the convoluted resolutions that I found troubling. The long, convoluted resolutions often led to nuanced debates ending in arguments over what specific word or word-choices meant, and were less a matter of substance.

It's hard for this particular resolution to not result in a substantive debate. You have to tackle the issue head-on, as there's no real nuance or play on words. 

In addition to the brilliant simplicity of the resolution, I really appreciate how the resolution applies to our times, with nuclear proliferation a core international issue, and the United States-Iran nuclear issue continuing to dominate the news. 

My thinking is that Affirmative has an advantage. Right off the bat, the Negative has one strong argument - 

States possessing nuclear weapons ensures mutual assured destruction which prevents any war-conflict between the nations. Two nuclear countries have never gone to war, etc. 

However, I can imagine there are a number of strong refutations:


  • Taking to the logical extreme, this then requires all nations in the world to obtain nuclear weapons, which results in a very fragile state of world affairs in which any serious confrontation between nations has the potential to end in massive casualties. It puts the entire international community in a fragile condition, and one where state-governments are required to appease one another, out of fear of nuclear attack. Rational discourse and compromise would lose its way to endless appeasement. 
  • You still always run the risk of the use of nuclear weapons through the following possibilities: corruption, irrational extremist leadership, accidental misuse, sale of nuclear weapons from a government to a nongovernmental terrorist organization, etc. These possibilities are legitimate risks that need not be discounted and must be seriously considered as possibilities. Just because they have never happened yet, doesn't mean they can't happen in the future. There's a very long future ahead for humanity. Under the theory of mutual assured destruction, in the rare aforementioned instance of a use of nuclear weapons, this then means that retaliation is likely which will mean a minimum of 2 uses of nuclear weapons, with the possibility of further uses. 
  • It's a sad, unrealistic view of human nature that the only way to ensure there would be no war is the risk of mutual destruction. There's a strong case to be made for reason, rationality, empathy, and the development of mutual beneficial interests. This refutation hasn't been fully developed yet, but there's something here that can be built upon.



Bottom line, I only see one strong Negative Argument off the bat, and a number of possible strong refutations.  

I have yet  to delve into it deeply, but I can imagine that the Affirmative has many strong arguments based on my analysis. 

Curious to hear everyone else's thoughts on the resolution, common arguments, pitfalls, and in particular tough arguments for which people are looking for refutations. 


Michael Sarill 



Okay, I'm stating this right now that I am not a debater.  So my opinions are merely that--OPINIONS.  Anyway, you say that the Negative really only has the one strong argument (to paraphrase): states should have nuclear weapons because states with weapons tend to not go to war for fear of mutual destruction.  Well, there could be more to it than that.  I asked myself what would or could I do with unlimited nuclear weapons, and I came up with another somewhat related reason to argue for nuclear weapons--self/global protection. 

Realistically, there is no way to feasibly regulate the global stock of nuclear weapons.  Without getting into too much detail, basically politics are corrupt, people are greedy, some people seek domination and power, there is the science aspect of development, lack of manpower and organization and money to oversee THE WORLD, etcetera, etcetera.  Therefore, without a real way to actually regulate nuclear weapons, by attempting to try (and thus potentially limiting access to these weapons) states and the world are left open to hostel attacks.  Even if a majority of leading states agreed to destroy their weapons, am I expected to believe that eventually some power seeking state/individual couldn't devise the technology necessary?  Nuclear weapons help prevent war through fear of mutual destruction, but they also help check and destroy those willing to use nuclear weapons as a means for domination.  

So, really you have nuclear weapons are good for:

  1. holding pattern of no war due to fear of mutual destruction
  2. no realistic method to regulate, thus for the good of a state nuclear weapons serve as protection in a last case scenario
  3. (related to 2) nuclear weapons can serve as a last resort to destroy enemies using weapons/warfare for domination      
  4. and if you want to be all Machiavellian, you could argue nuclear weapons are a good way to show power on the global level (people will not treat you poorly at UN meetings if they know you possess nuclear technology, right?) and help make a name as a global player--which could in turn increase your state's economy, power in global matters, and so on

 At least, these are some things I thought of.  Not sure if they hold up in a debate round though.  I just know they would be interesting points to argue amongst friends.  


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