Instigator / Pro

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 4 votes and with 20 points ahead, the winner is...

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Three days
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Two weeks
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Multiple criterions
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Contender / Con

I was asked to exclude the following people from voting on this debate. No hard feelings.
MagicAintReal, Bifolkal, Debatevoter and Alec.

Thank you for the debate in advance.

Round 1
I bet this will be a truly wonderful debate. That aside, onto my framework, observations etc.


For any topic in which US policy is decided, we should adhere to Consequentialism, which is the philosophical idea that we judge the actions of an actor by their overall consequences (2). This reasoning is sound because the government’s chief purpose is to serve the people under the social contract between the people and the government. That said, we obviously should not neglect the need of other actors within the legislation, especially those which are recipients of the aid. Not only is damaging the constituency of another country harmful for US soft power, but it also prevents other nations from helping their citizens and fulfilling their social contract.


Foreign Military Sales – Defense acquisition program administered through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency with final approval by the State Department (1).

Direct Commercial Sales – Acquisition process in which a purchaser (government) consults directly with an arms company in the US with a special license to export weapons directly (1).


The astute reader may already recognize that the resolution is written broadly. The reason for this is due to the resolution being a potential NSDA topic for policy debate. In policy debate, it is expected that Pro present a plan, (or policy, if you will,) that falls within the parameters set by the resolution. Ergo, I offer the following policy:


The US would halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia in both Direct Commercial and Foreign Military sales, until the following demands are met:

1. The complete withdrawal of military troops and technology from Yemen
2. Saudi Arabia lifting the blockade that prevents aid to arrive in Yemen’s ports.

Only by the approval of both Congress, and the President would this embargo be lifted. The policy would take full effect in the next fiscal year.

To demonstrate the benefits of this plan and the gargantuan problems that it is solving, I present the following contentions.

C1: Arms Sales Benefits AQAP

AQAP, or Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, is a terrorist group that has expanded due to the militaristic quagmire that has emerged within Yemen. Their activities, (which includes the infamous Charlie Hebdo shooting, multiple attacks on military bases, car bombs, and seizing control of land with force,) clearly labels them a threat not only to international security, but also the US (3). Their ideology and calls to end Western powers also cement them as a dangerous adversary. Despite some of its recent losses, (such as the port city of Mukalla,) Saudi Arabia is not stopping them. In fact, the reason that AQAP could expand is due to Saudi Arabia’s one-track mind in defeating the Houthis, moving their military forces to best address their primary foe, leaving a power vacuum behind that AQAP filled (4).
Surprisingly though, people wanted AQAP to stay within their governorate because the alternative, (rule under the Houthi rebels or Hadi-led forces,) were infinitely worse. For instance, in Mukalla, which they occupied for over a year, AQAP has repaired broken bridges, delivered medical aid, cancelled payroll taxes, and slowly implemented their violent version of Sharia law (5). These lucrative benefits, (likely with the help of propaganda,) led to one resident of Mukalla stating that:

"I prefer that al Qaeda stay here. The situation is stable, more than any 'free' part of Yemen…" (5)

The International Crisis Group even states that AQAP even replaced many of the homes that were lost to airstrikes from the US-Saudi air coalition (4).
AQAP’s gentle rule facilitated a period of inordinate wealth for the group, at one point earning approximately $2 million a day through taxes on incoming ships as well as tariffs (5). In one year after the conflict in Yemen started, AQAP already quadrupled its size, likely because of this populist approach (6). The combined manpower and accumulated funds mean that AQAP can still take control of land and maintain control for a long time, soaking up new funds.

Meanwhile, the civil war in Yemen has killed 16,000, many of which was because of airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led air coalition (7). Adding to the turmoil faced by the Yemeni people is that lack of available aid because Saudi Arabia created a blockade that would prevent countries or NGOs from applying needed assistance. Even though they temporarily lifted the blockade, there are still major humanitarian issues that have yet to be addressed. Roughly 20 million Yemeni people are food insecure. Our military assistance has a direct impact on the suffering population of Yemen. The Guardian notes that the bomb dropped in Yemen which killed 51 people, 40 of whom were children, was from Lockheed Martin, an American arms company (9). Moreover, our bombings of schools, hospitals, and other vital infrastructure in the region did little to help.

AQAP’s “generosity” to new recruits also plays a role in expanding its populist message. The Foundation for Defending Democracy reports that AQAP fighters made $400 a month, were promised a new car, and made twice as much as Yemeni soldiers or Houthi fighters (10). Moreover, AQAP was likely to provide goods and assistance at the tribal level, again using the lessons they learned in Mukalla to further cement themselves as a populist force in Yemen (10). Facing destitution, starvation, and lack of access to medical aid, it is no wonder that recruitment continues to grow to this day.

Our military engagement is not bolstering our strategic goals in Yemen. They are increasing the spread of terrorism and lengthening a humanitarian crisis that affects every citizen of Yemen. Do not be mistaken, this is not just a measure to protect the vulnerable population of Yemen. With growing terrorist threats, we see violence spilling over and hurting our allies. Instances such as the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France should already prove this. Also, people are being inspired by the ideological violence and propaganda abroad and committing atrocities at home. Recent FBI evidence concluded after looking at 200 cases of homegrown terrorism that at least 18% were at least partly caused by US operations in the Middle East (13). Our continuous entanglement in the Middle East allowed terrorist organization to push the narrative of a US that is disgusted by Islam. Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center in the US characterizes the narrative as:
“ …a blend of al-Qa‘ida inspiration, perceived victimization, and glorification of past homegrown plotting…” (14).
C2: Limited Oversight Over Arms Sales

Despite rules in place to prevent arms from being taken by terrorist organizations, we still see weapons making their ways into the hands of people who were never meant to use them. Despite markedly increasing security standards for End User Monitoring of arms sales, there have been instances in which the US could not track equipment transfers to Iraqi, Egyptian, or Lebanese forces as evident by a multitude of GAO reports as well as one from Amnesty International (15). However, I plan to focus on the sole country being affected: Saudi Arabia. Recent evidence from the Guardian in November of 2018 suggested that military equipment was being intentionally diverted toward groups with links to Al Qaeda and ISIS that were loyal to the Saudi regime (11). Governments and arms companies simply turned a blind eye to these egregious abuses of the contracts, allowing a culture of corruption and kickbacks to fester. At least three M-raps were found in the hands of other factions even after being bought by the Saudi coalition, and over 50,000 grenades and shells were found in militant groups all over Yemen despite them originally being purchased by Saudi Arabia. Instances of artillery being used by Al Qaeda insurgents were also common (11).

Transparency of such arms purchases are becoming impossible given the current government shutdown, lack of government workers, and general corrupt culture that has been fostered for years in our acquisition programs. Without needed End User monitoring, our arms could extend the conflict, killing off more Yemeni people, and necessitating more foreign aid which totaled 1/3 of a billion dollars in 2016 (12). Without any bolstering of our military might, the only thing we are doing is worsening our image overseas, causing many of the recruitment concerns that I discussed before, and allowing more Yemeni citizens to die.



Round 2
Extend my arguments for now.
Okay here is the genuine truth.

I was going to prove a nice syllogism, even got the wording going and everything to prove that the allies that need the arms the least will turn on the US later and are better kept at bay as allies whereas the weaker allies are morally ones that the US should be supplying arms to.

Then I would use both nationalism and globalism as reverse contradictions to the resolution depending which Pro picks as the end-goal defying the Yemen pull-out either from the perspective of the alliance with Saudi (nationalist) or the perspective of one-world-nation being the end-goal and domination via arms being a necessary means to an end.

I was really really certain I had an unbeatable case until it came to blamonkey's speciality; proof. How the actual hell can I prove that Israel is going to be blown to smithereens by Hamas (which is not at all directly tied to Saudi) if his proposal happens? That is easily going to take 4k char of proof or at least 3.2k char.

I genuinely don't have the time (yes, RM is finally getting serious about earning money and responsibilities in his life) and don't want to do blamonkey the disservice of a half-assed attempt that I know for certain he'll stomp with well sourced proof and BoP-ninja-manoeuvring.

I think today is the day I admit that this 1v1 formal debating stuff is, to me, always going to be only enjoyable when it's NOT FORMAL. As in, I will always be a brilliant noobsniper and I enjoy cornering less adept debaters in very elegantly laid traps (even within their own resolution like I did with magicaintreal's trap against me although people didn't catch onto it and I lost due to voter error in judgement).

Basically, I FORFEIT. Blamonkey deserves the win and I am definitely not born to be a tryhard debater, I tryhard at other things and just have a lack of passion for this 'debating for the sake of it' stuff.

I feel passionately about some topics and love debating them, others are purely fun to outmanoevre noobs with but against very good debaters on topics I know require more than 30k chars and hours of documentaries to remotely grasp the full depth of, I just can't be bothered to prove to you all that this resolution is false. It really is false, arms trade and corrupt deals have a place in this world that is not entirely 'evil'. If you don't arm your ally, what are you doing to yourself and them if you had the means to do so when able to carry on just fine yourself despite giving them the arms in exchange for something/somethings? Exactly, the resolution is blatantly false but it's going to require so much in-depth proof and analysis and then cutting it down to fit the debate... I'm too busy IRL and just not willing to spend my spare time on something this deep that will activate NSA alarms every single google-search I make along the way.
Round 3
I graciously accept my esteemed opponent's forfeiture and wish him the best of luck in his IRL duties.
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