PS 1. The Science of Politics Debate #2 Rules

PS 1. The Science of Politics
Debate #2 Rules
In lecture and readings over the last weeks, we explored the issue of free-riders, civil wars, and
UN peacekeeping missions. These discussions hinted at three big questions currently under
debate among both policy-makers and scholars: (1) how does the UN decide which conflicts lead
to peacekeeping missions, (2) who contributes to these peacekeeping missions, and (3) does
peacekeeping work?
In section this week, we will explore these three questions through an in-class debate on a
proposed peacekeeping mission (UNSMIS II) to enforce a new ceasefire in the Syrian Civil War.
The Syrian Civil War has become the worst humanitarian crisis in the last decade. Since fighting
began in 2011, one-third of the Syrian population has been displaced. A UN report found
evidence that all parties to the conflict have committed war crimes - including murder, torture,
rape and enforced disappearances. Rebels and governments forces have also both been accused
of denying access to food, water, and health services along with sexual violence throughout the
war. The anarchic environment has also enabled an extremist branch of Al-Qaeda in Iraq known
as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to take over vast, stateless territories. ISIS maintains
control through the use of indiscriminate violence and massive ethno-sectarian killings. Western
intelligence believes this has now grown to include the use of mustard gas near Aleppo in
September 2015. Many policy-makers believe a resolution to the Syrian Civil War is a prerequisite to addressing the threat of ISIS.
The UN already sent a team of personnel to implement a ceasefire in 2012. The Arab League and
the UN got former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to come up with a peace plan which
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad apparently agreed to the peace plan. 43 countries contributed a
total of over 350 "military observers" and "international civilian support staff" to make up
the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). The situation, however, failed to
improve despite the presence of peacekeepers and the 350 military observers were forced to
withdraw after only four months for personal safety. In March 2016, a new ceasefire went into
effect which some success. Debate has arisen, yet again, whether peace prospects might improve
if a second peacekeeping mission were sent in.
Resolution and Debate
Resolved: The United States should contribute troops to a proposed UN peacekeeping
mission in Syria.
In formulating a response to this claim, think about the following:
• What criteria should the UN decide which conflicts lead to peacekeeping missions? Does
Syria match this case?
• Who should contribute personnel to these peacekeeping missions?
o Why would it be beneficial for the US to contribute troops?
o Why would it not be beneficial for the US to contribute troops?
• Should the US support a peacekeeping mission in Syria or let the fighting continue?
• What political, security, or economic interests should guide US policy over the Syrian
Civil War? Why?
• Would peacekeeping work to maintain the peace?
o What are some possible advantages to peacekeeping in a civil war?
o What are some possible disadvantages to peacekeeping in a civil war?
• If the peacekeeping mission already failed in 2012, would it work this time around? Why
or why not?
• How does the rise of ISIS and its’ control over much of eastern Syria potentially affect
the effectiveness of a peacekeeping mission?
Roles and Debate Format
Team Edward Luttwak (Judge #1): 2 – 4 people
Team Ambassador Powers (Judge #2): 2 – 4 people
Judging: Two teams will adjudicate the debate by role-playing as if they are either US
Ambassador the UN Samantha Powers or Edward Luttwak. Judges will not disclose who “won”
the debate, but evaluate the strength and weaknesses of each argument in relation to what these
two policy-makers believe about peacekeeping and US foreign policy.
Team Pro-US Peacekeeping (Aff): 2-4 people
Team Anti- US Peacekeeping (Neg): 2-4 people
Debaters: Two teams will debate the resolution; they should either defend the claim or oppose
it on some level, but the degree to which they do so is entirely up to them. They should specify
whether the US would support the proposed peacekeeping mission and to what extent.
The debate will be structured by the following time format:
(2 minutes prep)
Affirmative Speech #1: 3 minutes
• Final Affirmative Rebuttal: 1 minute
Negative Speech #1: 3 minutes
(2 minute prep)
• Final Negative Rebuttal: 1 minute
• Affirmative Speech #2: 2 minutes
• Judges Confer about Debate Results
• Negative Speech #2: 2 minutes
• Judge Evaluations (3-4 min/team)