Conservative Nuclear Arsenals are Preferable to Total Nuclear Weapons Abolition
The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.
After 6 votes and with 19 points ahead, the winner is...
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Full resolution: In a near-future, hypothetical anarchic interstate system in which total nuclear weapons abolition is possible, we ought to prefer nuclear states maintaining conservative nuclear arsenals.
Burden and Objectives:
-Pro must affirm the resolution.
-Con must negate the resolution.
-Thus, the burden of proof rests with Pro.
"Near future" - For the purpose of this debate, "near future" really just means that in the hypothetical anarchic interstate system, weapons technologies are the same as today. This prevents either myself or my opponent from desperately inventing some potential weapon that upends the spirit of the debate.
"Anarchic Interstate System" - A system of international relations in which there is no central governing power (i.e. no world government). Today's international system is anarchic. The United Nations does not count as a central governing power, because any of the great powers can prevent binding UN resolutions.
"Total nuclear weapons abolition" - Disarmament of every nuclear weapon on the planet. Total disarmament. "Nuclear Zero," as some call it.
"Conservative nuclear arsenals" - For the purposes of this debate, conservative nuclear arsenals means 1) Nuclear states reduce their arsenal size and capabilities down to the level of bare-minimum 2nd-strike capability. 2) Nuclear states adopt No First Use policies. 3) Nuclear states maintain their nuclear arsenals by keeping nuclear warheads separated from delivery vehicles under normal conditions. Only during extreme crises would the nuclear warheads be coupled with delivery vehicles, thus rendering them ready to fire.
"2nd-strike capability" - The ability to suffer a massive nuclear 1st strike from an enemy and still retain enough nuclear weapons to retaliate with a destructive 2nd strike. This is generally considered the bare-minimum for nuclear deterrence. If you possess 2nd-strike capability, it would be suicidal for an enemy to launch a nuclear first strike.
"No First Use policies" - A declaratory policy on the part of a nuclear state, in which the state promises it will never use nuclear weapons first in a conflict, UNLESS they have suffered biological/chemical attacks or a major conventional attack on the homeland.
R1 Introductory arguments
R2 Response to R1 arguments
R3 Response to R2 arguments and closing remarks (no wholly new arguments may be introduced in this round)
Nuclear weapons are the only devices ever created that have the capacity to destroy all complex life forms on Earth. [...] The smoke and dust from fewer than 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear explosions would cause an abrupt drop in global temperatures and rainfall.
And so, while the nuclear winter scenario is a good prediction of the effects of a worst-case scenario, when all the variables are at their least favorable, the strongest probabilities favor a much less catastrophic nuclear autumn; and even those effects depend strongly on variables like whether the war happens during the growing season.
...countries would have hair-trigger mobilization plans to rebuild nuclear weapons and mobilize or commandeer delivery systems, and would have prepared targets to preempt other nations' nuclear facilities. . . . Every crisis would be a nuclear crisis, any war could become a nuclear war. The urge to preempt would dominate; whoever gets the first few weapons will coerce or preempt. It would be a nervous world.
I said last round that the only merit of MAD is that we haven't driven ourselves off a cliff yet. But Pro has argued that nuclear weapons have led to "75 years of peace". This story, however, is full of holes. Mainly, that the past 75 years have been anything but peaceful. It's just that the way states fight has changed. In the wake of WWII, it was clear that the cost of conflict, conventional or nuclear, was unacceptably high. So, we moved to a system of proxy wars, where opposing nations prop up fighting forces in strategic areas. Notable proxy wars include the US supporting Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels, the US supporting rebels in Syria against Russia-backed Assad, the US supporting South Vietnam against the China-backed forces of North Vietnam, the US supporting South Korea against China-supported North Korea... the list stretches on, and on, and on. Millions die abroad while Americans and Russians relax on the beach. So much for nuclear peace.
Pro has argued that nuclear weapons have led to "75 years of peace".
Since Aug. 9, 1945, approximately 7 million to 10 million people have died from conflict. Before the introduction of nuclear weapons, two world wars alone led to the deaths of 70 million to 100 million — a difference of a decimal point.
Second-strike capability, unfortunately, is relative. A second strike following attack by the US is much harder to achieve than a second strike after an attack by, say, North Korea.
Second, hostile nonstate actors may seize control of nuclear weapons and use them completely rationally... But nuclear weapons have proliferated to less and less stable states, and there's no reason to expect this trend to stop [under CNA].
The enrichment process is complex, leaving months of time to discover defection before uranium is as enriched enough for weapons.
No First Use policies don't have binding authority
The use of nuclear weapons if the abolition world fails is overstated. Japan and the US were already years at war when the bombs were used.
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments ✔ ✗ ✗ 3 points
Better sources ✗ ✔ ✗ 2 points
Better spelling and grammar ✗ ✔ ✗ 1 point
Better conduct ✗ ✗ ✔ 1 point
Thanks for a great debate. I just want to remind you that, per the round structure I laid out in the debate description, R3 is only to be used for rebuttals to R2 arguments and providing closing remarks. I am pointing this out because an opponent in another debate of mine recently ran afoul of these ground rules.
Kroenig's book is a really good read, but I think it also represents that stereotypical notion of the out-of-touch academic who places too much faith in pure logic and theoretical models. I've been poring over transcripts from the Cuban Missile Crisis and 1973 October Crisis, and to put it simply, I don't think his proposed model is represented in reality very well.
Kroenig came to my school and debated one of my professors a few years ago. I watched that and read one of his articles while doing a certificate program in international security. I remembered him during this debate, crazy coincidence he's a central figure for your thesis.
A couple points I want to get across after posting my R2:
1) One of my sources is a Foreign Affairs article. If anyone does not have access and would like it, feel free to ask for a copy of the article from me. I will be happy to provide.
2) I did not mention it in the text of my R2, but I am actually writing my thesis - to a large extent - on Matthew Kroenig's book, "The Logic of American Nuclear Superiority." I have a bone to pick with his conclusions, but I did not think my opinions on the matter were important enough to justify taking up precious characters. But if anyone wants to chat about Kroenig, I'm down.
3) I can't stress enough that I think it's vital readers/judges understand the definition of "conservative nuclear arsenals" as listed in the debate description. I use the term a lot but I don't take up characters to continually re-state its meaning within the context of the debate. Same goes for abolition, I guess, but that's a lot more clear.
The debate description makes clear we're considering this question within the context of an anarchic interstate system that could accommodate nuclear abolition.
My question is would these conservative amount of nuclear arsenals be respected by China and Russia? I think this debate is mute point because while the US would abide by these numbers or even got rid of all their arsenal, everyone knows that China, Russia, Iran and North Korea would not.
Had to keep you on your toes :)
I had a different R1 but scrapped it. Wanted to get into the game theory weeds this round, but it didn't fit my structure
You had me thinking I had a win via forfeit coming my way.
But I think we've got a live one here. I'm glad you submitted your argument.