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November 3, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

My rambling about the critique of international relations, risk, and security in debate

The challenge with articulating this argument is that each impact has a separate and distinct impact of risk. In this context, generic links might not be as good as you would ideally like (but it may be all you can find in the literature)–especially given the creative scenarios in debate. I’m curious how much the other team can really stretch “no specific link”–how exactly do you evaluate a “legitimate” risk from an “illegitimate” one–how much is too much risk inflation?:

For instance:
• Economy
• Hegemony/Leadership
• Terrorism
• Prolif
• Impact De Jure

Here are the arguments I’ve read about or heard in relation to risk & risk assessment & threats:
• Max/Min (Berube–former debate coach). I believe it makes almost this exact argument
• Predictions bad (part of this literature)
• Black swan (part of the predictions bad literature…..or big impact predictions difficult/flawed literature)
• K of DA (i think you can find this
• Threat construction/securitization (the book On Security has at least 30 cards)
• Disaster images (this is probably more about reps than risk to be honest)
• High School Wiki (search “underview” or “disad underview”. The former is probably better.)–you could also search the predictions K…..looking especially at top teams presumably–but everything if you can….given this seems like somewhat of an all-in strategy.
• Risk society. Beck.

1)interpretation: real world arguments best for debate
2) role playing- debaters suppose to be learning how laws actually get passed
3) education – crazy impacts stop as from learning about the harms and how to solve them in the real world

Not as much a fan of this….especially in the shell:
4competing frame works bad-generic
5)limits- limiting the debate to real world possiblity increase education & prepares debater for their future

Competing frameworks bad sounds like a bad argument to me. This seems like an illegitimate attempt to get rid of clash & debate…..which isn’t good in debate.

I think however….that if you can prove a link–a distinction between legitimate and illegitmate…..real and imaginary in terms of risk.

Three of these are based on books I believe:
• On Security ($7 used plus shipping of 3.99 on Amazon).
• Beck, Risk Society (not sure how many other authors or books are added….I think you can read it just out of this book). $32 new on amazon (rather expensive, but probably worth it)
• Black Swan (this argument I think comes from 1 chapter of the book….perhaps a little more)
• I think the Berube Min-Max is an online article…..and its probably on cross-ex.
1. Abstraction: One other impact that IR impacts in debate takes out is the decision maker–it abstracts the decision-maker in 80 to 90% of cards. The mention of individual terrorist organizations or the leader of a country is the closest it gets. I think the IR literature itself makes interesting analysis back and forth on this. My guess is a number of critical authors also take aim at these issues.

2. Assumption of single rational actor. And/Or the bifurcation of rational versus crazy. Instead of thinking of leaders as at least semi-rational.

3. Media Spin/Framing: A second issue to consider is the way that media enters the picture as a filter.

4. Nuclear Numbing. And then there is the nuclear numbing or nuclear worship literature…that I think Carol Cohn got started. I believe her essay on Nuclear speak is online–it critiques scenario planning. I’m not a fan of this argument, because it tends to come off as “talking about nuclear weapons is bad” which on its face seems silly and anti-intellectual–and just wrong.

You may also like this list, which On Security appears on:…c-reading-list/

In some respects these overestimating of risk arguments get back to the issue of inflated fear…….and paralysis or misjudgement that might occur.


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