20 November, 2007

THW invade/assassinate/sanction...

I think it was Durham who ran the motion "TTHW invade [insert name of oppressive regime here]".

That probably sums up how common motions are that require you to invade somewhere (or, to a lesser extent, 'sanction', 'assassinate' or 'support regime change').

So, how does a first proposition team go about invading somewhere in debate world?

1. You firstly need to decide, if it is not specified, who is the invader and who is the invadee. It'll usually be the USA or the UN. Both have positives and negatives. If you want to invade somewhere quickly and with the element of surprise, unilateral action is probably best. If you want your invasion to have legitimacy, go through the UN. THW invade Iran is, IMHO, best done as the US. THW intervene in Darfur would be better as the UN. The reason is that in Darfur there are already AU peacekeepers on the ground, all the UN needs to do to legally intervene is declared that what is happening there at the moment amounts to genocide. In the case of Iran, however, there is not currently a UN mechanism to support such an invasion and it is very likely that one or more of the P5 would veto such a measure.

2. You much discuss why alternatives to war aren't going to work or haven't worked in the past. War should be a last resort. Sanctions etc should always be tried first. However, there is little wrong in the first prop team standing up and saying 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we support regime change in Iran. We will, obviously, initially try sanctions to change the regime, but as we think that they are unlikely to work as they have not done so in the past and will entrench support for the regime as it defies the 'great Satans', we're going to skip straight to the war part..."

3. So, you've decided you 'this house' is, you've picked a victim and you've run through why there aren't alternatives. Unfortunately, it's not enough just to say that the country you wish to invade 'isn't nice'. Most wars have to follow, more or less, along the lines of just war theory. Traditional just war can be summed up in two statements: Jus ad bellum and jus in bello. Jus ad bellum is that you have a just cause for going to war. Jus in bello is that once the war has started, you act in an ethical way. In the modern world, one should also consider whether the invader is a just authority.

4. Jus ad bellum: "To invade Iran is just as Iran aspires to hold nuclear weapons. Not only is this in contravention of the NPT which it signed freely and of its own accord and has benefited from, by creating nuclear weapons it destabilises an already fragile region. Furthermore, Iran represses women, homosexuals and religious minorities. Iran is also sponsoring terrorism both in Iraq and in Israel." etc etc etc

Other things which constitute jus ad bellum include your country being attacked, an ally being attacked, a different country being invaded (eg: Kuwait) and genocide.

5. Jus ad bello: You can't just nuke Iran. The nature of JWT is that taking a human life is always terrible. What JWT says, however, is that sometimes this terrible act is the lesser of two evils. When one wages war, therefore, you must try to avoid killing anybody as far as it is possible but you must try especially hard to avoid killing civilians.

Every action that you take must have a direct aim of winning the war. Bombing a hospital because the dictator is storing his weapons in there may be just. Bombing the hospital just to kill the people inside will not be just. What is also crucial is proportionality. Bombing the hospital to get rid of the missiles stored there is probably proportionate. Bombing the hospital to get the machetes stored there probably isn't.

6. So, you've chosen where to invade, have just cause and intend to act in a proportionate and ethical manner. You also have to consider the impact of your war internally in the long run (we assume the short run is pretty bad), externally in the short run and externally in the long run. By externally, I mean the impact the war would have on other neighbouring countries or countries which are connected in some other way to the invaded country.

Assassinations to follow later.

Sanctions are boring, don't use them unless the motion explicitly tells you to.

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