Instigator / Con

Resolved: The US government should end the War on Terror


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

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
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After 3 votes and with 6 points ahead, the winner is...

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Last updated date
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Three days
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Two weeks
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Multiple criterions
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Contender / Pro

Round structure:

Con skips first post
Pro posts constructive

Con posts constructive
Pro rebuts

Con rebuts
Pro crystallizes

Con crystallizes
Pro waives last round

Round 1
I waive this round per the rules outlined in the description.
I. Intro
Thank you to Virtuoso for hosting this tournament and blamonkey for being a worthy adversary. May the best debater win!

II. Framework
In order to win this debate, the negative’s burden is to prove that the war on terror is worth the time, funding, and lives we dedicate to it by proving that we have made a significant impact thus far. Therefore, neg must advocate either the status quo or increased involvement in the war on terror. By contrast, I as the affirmative must prove that the costs of the war on terror outweigh potential benefits.

III. The ill-defined enemy perpetuates endless war
What’s in a name? When it comes to the war on terror, everything. When Bush declared the war on terror, he made a point to not define our enemy. Our enemy is “terrorism.” On September 20, 2001, Bush addressed Congress by saying “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.” [1] This has led to us fighting Al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, Al-Shabbab, HAMAS, Boko Haram, and dozens of offshoots and smaller groups, be it direct or indirect. Despite our war on terror being fought on dozens of fronts, terrorism is not even our true enemy; it is a tactic. We are fighting an ideology, and those are far harder to defeat than a traditional enemy. [2] Terrorists are taking political action to an extreme [3] and killing political opponents often has the opposite of the desired effect: you give their base renewed vigor and turn it into a recruiting tool. [4][5] As the war on terror has caused well over 244,000 civilian deaths, [6] it is no wonder that we see that Al-Qaeda’s numbers have drastically increased since 2001. [7] If American troops kill a member of your family, it is more likely that you will come to resent America and may join a group that is fighting against it. Therefore, not only does our mis-labeling of this conflict make our opponent so wide in scope that we can never truly win, it will also make our war more difficult because we are actively helping our enemy recruit. We cannot actually hope to ever win a war where each move we make strengthens our enemy.

IV. The war on terror has been an atrocious financial investment
You don’t need to be a financial analyst to understand that when you invest $5 trillion over the course of 15 years and have accrued an additional $2 trillion in future debts via veteran services and the like, [8] the investment had better be significant. According to estimates, this money could’ve ended homelessness in the United States – 250 times. [9] Another option is eradicating world hunger. [10] Though both of these are mere estimates, and therefore may not be accurate to the dollar, you can get a sense of how much money we spent and the fact that there are countless ways that would provide a better return on our investment.

V. Death and moral duty
It should come as no surprise that lives have been lost in the war on terror. It is a war, after all. However, the magnitude of lives lost is significantly greater than the “progress” we have made. As of October of last year, we had lost nearly 7,000 military personnel, 21 Department of Defense Civilians, and nearly 8,000 civilian contractors. When we include journalists and NGO/humanitarian workers of all nationalities, we count an additional 928 deaths. Per my framework, if we focus on safety of Americans specifically, the deaths total well over 15,000. [6] As I mentioned earlier, these numbers pale in comparison to the 244,000 civilian deaths [6] which is on the conservative end of the estimates and exclusively includes Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq! Thousands of these deaths were directly caused by American troops and drone strikes. These civilians are often referred to as “collateral damage” in order to dehumanize them in an effort to make our actions more morally palatable, but these deaths, even if every single one was unintentional, are the fault of the US.

VI. We have lost
Surely if we are willing to accept the spending of trillions of dollars and the loss hundreds of thousands of lives, we must be winning the war on terror, right? The end is in sight, and we can withdraw, having won the war? Unfortunately, this is far from true. By nearly any metric, we are losing this war.

“Between 1986 and 2001 there were four Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks in the United States, which killed 10 Americans. Since the 9/11 attacks there have been eight attacks, killing 88.” [11] So if we use the metric of safety from my framework, the war on terror has actually done the opposite. Taking it to a global scale, the number of attacks worldwide in 2001 was 1,880. In 2015, that number had ballooned to 14,806. When it comes to casualties, we saw a 397% increase, from under 5,000 in 2001 to over 38,000 in 2015. [11] Not only have we made ourselves less safe, we have made the citizens of the world less safe as well.
If we shift our focus and the corresponding evaluation metric to defeating all terrorist networks, as Bush proposed, we again fail. Both number of fighters and number of extremist groups have over tripled since 9/11. Fighters have increased from just over 32,000 in 2001, while in 2015 they were over 100,000. Terrorist groups, meanwhile, had increased from 13 to 44. [11] Not only have we failed to deal with the terror groups that existed at the beginning of this war, our intervention has radicalized far thousands more fighters, increasing the size and number of our enemies.

The final metric we can look at is whether we have reduced the conditions under which terrorism is able to thrive. Under Bush and Obama, this meant strengthening weak governments and proving that Islam was not at odds with Western ideologies. Focusing first on the former, we can see that once again, we have actually set ourselves back. “The average corruption percentile ranking for the seven countries in which the U.S. has conducted military operations has deteriorated by 14 percentage points.” [11] Additionally, “[I]n terms of weak and failed states, the State Fragility Index’s characterization of Afghanistan and Iraq remains unchanged. Before the War on Terror began, Afghanistan was in the worst category (extreme fragility) and Iraq was in the second worst (high), and they remain there today. Of the other five countries, three have worsened and two remain unchanged.” [11]

It is clear that regardless of the metric used, we have made no progress at best. Realistically, though, we’ve actually made things worse.

VII. Conclusion
Clearly our war on terror is expensive both in dollars and lives and has actually been counter-effective by almost any measure. We must end the war on terror; we must affirm. Thank you.

VIII. Sources
Round 2

I define the War on Terror to include any measure that the US has pushed forward to fight terrorism overseas and domestically.


The government is obligated to protect its citizenry under the social contract. One of the original proponents of social contract theory, Hobbes, explains that people are self-serving, yet rational. The Internet Encyclopedia of Psychology from the University of Tennessee Martin explains that to protect themselves from danger, humans maximize safety through living in society (1). Without society, there would be no laws to govern people, and no governing body to help suffering people. With a system of government in place to protect citizens, in exchange for following societal rules and paying taxes, people can maximize their happiness and safety. The government’s job, in this case, is to serve the people. Thus, I propose, since the actor in the resolution is the US federal government, that the side which poses the most benefits at the least cost to society wins the debate as it fulfills the social contract.

C1: Economic Interests are Put in Jeopardy

Despite much of the War on Terror debate focusing on military involvement in other nations, our economic desires cannot be ignored. ABC News in 2016 offers a brief glimpse into our interest in the war-torn catastrophe that is modern day Yemen. They report that between 3 and 4 million barrels of oil travel the Bab-el-Mandeb (2). This strait’s precarious position next to Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) means that our naval ships are often deployed to protect this waterway (2). This is of great importance to the US because, even though the US has become less reliant on foreign oil, we still have net imports of petroleum worth 19% of our consumption (3). Also, there has been a steady increase over the years in northbound shipments from the strait toward Europe and the US (8). Even slight ticks in oil shipments would increase the cost of heating or cooling one’s home. In a US that suffers from polar vortexes, nasty winters, and *shudder* Florida, people need lower energy prices more than ever. The US News and World Report explains that the rural poor spends nearly 3 times as much compared to their richer counterparts on energy costs (9). Our fight in Yemen against as adversary that has the potential to halt shipments if they accumulate enough power, then, is essential to guarantee the welfare of the people.

While Saudi Arabia and the UAE both scored some victories against AQAP, our drone strikes have weakened the group by eliminating over 100 AQAP militants (2). It would be unwise to underestimate the power of AQAP, given their massive populist appeal and inordinate wealth for such an organization. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a report in July of 2017, characterizing their success as inevitable given the power vacuum which AQAP occupied and populist appeal to the people that they rule. They offer a gentler version of Sharia law in comparison to their most prominent terrorist-group rival, ISIS, and provide basic medical services, lower taxes, and economic assistance on the tribal level. Also, they have been able to reap over $60 million when they robbed the central bank in Yemen, they earned $2 million per day from tax revenue when they were in control of the port city of Mukalla and netted $30 million in ransom payments from the years 2011-2013 (4). Moreover, the report shows that new recruits to AQAP were promised a car, a rifle, and a salary that was on par with, and sometimes exceeded, other warring groups in the region (4). Largely because of their populist approach which catered to people suffering at the local level, AQAP quadrupled in size in 1 year (5). The State Department report from 2015 made clear that a power vacuum which ISIS and AQAP occupied due to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen relocating was a significant reason as to why the groups could seize so much power (6). If we had a significant military presence occupying where the coalition left, much of the damage could have been minimized since we left a residual force to deal with AQAP’s expansion. AQAP has used this opportunity to seize government facilities, seaports, and airports (6). Saudi Arabia’s response to this chaos has been tepid, and while the UAE has been able to drive AQAP out of Mukalla, they have also been known to offer payment for AQAP to leave, lining the group’s pocketbook, and claiming “decisive victory” where none exists (7). Some of these bribes, according to the Associated Press, could have been as high as $12 million (7). With uncooperative allies, and a Saudi Arabia that is mostly ignoring the issue to fight the Houthis coalition in the Northern parts of Yemen, (aka, their biggest interest in the region as they are worried about Iranian influence and funding which keeps the Houthis afloat,) that leaves only the US to secure our economic needs and guarantee that American citizens can put cheap gas in their cars and heat their homes.

C2: Nuclear Terrorism Threat Increases

Despite multiple policies aimed at decreasing the threat of nuclear terror, nuclear safety is not ensured. The Belfer Center in 2019 gives credence to this claim, as there have been over 20 incidents of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) and weapons-grade Plutonium being seized despite the US and other countries sinking millions of dollars into programs to get rid of excess fissile materials and protect nuclear stockpiles (10). The Belfer Center continues, recounting recent incidents which includes Greenpeace activists breaching a French nuclear power plant in 2017 twice (10), 2 people scaling Belgium’s HEU research reactor, and, as reported from the Idaho Statesman, an incident as recent as July of 2018 when 2 security officials in Idaho lost a Plutonium because they left it in the back of their car in a high-crime neighborhood (our tax dollars at work, everyone) (11). The Belfer Center also reports that as early as 1986, US Intelligence determined that sophisticated terrorist groups would be able to create a nuclear explosion given enough fissile material (10). In 2001, the conclusions were furthered, suggesting that building a crude nuclear weapon was “well within” the capabilities of Al Qaeda (10). Let’s face it, with a few mistakes by people in power, fissile material could fall into the hands of terrorists. Even with the small quantities usually seized by terrorists, the amount necessary to cause significant damage is not high at all. The Idaho Statesman continues, stating that the amount of HEU needed to create a crude nuclear weapon could fit in a 5-lb bag of sugar, and the amount of plutonium needed to build a bomb is roughly the size of a grapefruit (11).

The War on Terror has produced military victories that have shrunk the ability of terrorist groups to get a nuclear weapon. BBC reports that in Iraq, ISIS lost practically all the territory that it previously occupied (12). Despite these military victories, we still need to keep fighting. The Canadian Broadcasting Company confirmed that despite losing swathes of territory, ISIS still has between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters within their ranks (13).
A nuclear terrorist attack would not only kill thousands of people. The attack would cause immense trauma to surviving victims and families. Confidence in the US would also decrease. During 9/11, the Dow Jones dropped 700 points, reflecting the lack of confidence in America’s ability to recover, and worsening the 2001 recession (14). Even if the weapon used is a crude nuclear bomb, the danger to American lives would be profound not just because of the material loss. Fears of future attacks will be used by politicians to further their political agenda. We have seen narratives being floated by politicians and the media suggesting that Muslims are dangerous, even when they have well-established communities in the US. Chapman University found that 33.1% feared that Muslims were more likely to be terrorists compared to their non-Muslim counterparts (15). The fear of Muslims is not validated by raw numbers. The Oakland Press shows that white supremacist groups account for 70% of all terrorist activity in the US, not Muslims (16).

By stoking divisions, the government makes society less safe for all people. Religious and ethnic violence would spike considerably. Social discourse would become even uglier than it is today, causing polarization that would reach all the way to Congress. Indeed, fear is quite a motivating factor in the political realm. This invalidates the social contract by making life worse for the Muslim population in the US.



I. Clarification

At various points in this debate, I might reference a source used by my opponent. I will refer to it as such, then list it as a source of my own, since I too will be using it. Example:

Neg’s source x says that bananas are the best fruit. However, the author bases this on the texture. [0] This is subjective, and many people actually dislike the texture of bananas.

II. Framework

Essentially, my opponent proposes a cost-benefit analysis of the war on terror so far. I also essentially propose a cost-benefit analysis. Therefore, we agree on the basics of the framework. As a sort of sub-component of framework, my opponent puts an emphasis on safety. However, refer back to my CATO Institute analysis (Source 11) from round one, which shows that Americans are actually less safe now than they were before the war on terror. The threat terrorism poses has increased, not decreased. [11] The affirmative world upholds my opponent’s own framework better than his own world does.

III. Re: Economic Impact

For my opponent’s first contention I will have three responses.

1. Civilian Casualties
Our support of Saudi-backed groups in Yemen is directly leading to civilian deaths. As of the article Neg uses as his second source, which is from October 2016, Saudi Arabia had killed an estimated 2,000 civilians. [12] For reference, this conflict began in January 2015, and Saudi Arabia became involved two months later, in March. That means that in only 19 months, Saudi airstrikes in this conflict (backed by and often paid for by the US) are responsible for the murder of 2,000. This averages out to over 1,200 annually, and nearly 3.5 civilians killed per day. This is simply unacceptable and not worth the potential for marginal economic benefits. Keep in mind that my opponent mentioned the hundred or so terrorists killed, and contrast that with the 2,000 civilians. I implore you to weigh this when judging. Is each terrorist worth the lives of 20 civilians? Especially when killing a terrorist leads to more being recruited, the answer is a resounding no.

2. Less Dependence on Imports
Neg’s third source says that we import 19% of our oil. [13] However, according to the same source, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US will be a net exporter of oil by next year. [14] We don’t need to waste time, money, and resources protecting a source of oil on which we will not be dependent within a year. If there is any impact to this point, it is minimal since my opponent’s source argues against the relevance of oil imports in the very near future.

3. Increased Price is Offset
If we are going to evaluate the monetary value of this oil, we can base it off a few assumptions. If we take the average cost of an imported barrel of oil in 2018, which was $61.32 [14] and multiply it by the average number of barrels that pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb, which was 3-4 million [14] (we’ll assume 4), then multiply it by the 2017 rate of import (19%) given by my opponent [13] we get our spending on imported oil per day. (The numbers from source 14 are given on the right-hand side of the page in the tables)

($61.32)*(4,000,000)*(.19) = $46,603,200

If you take that and multiply by 365, you get our annual spending on imported oil.

($46,603,200)*(365) = $17,010,168,000

Though $17 billion annually is a decent amount of money, it’s actually incredibly insignificant. First, to get to the $17 billion we assumed the high end of my opponent’s 3-4 million barrel estimate. Second, we’re assuming that the US is the final destination for every single one of those barrels, which it obviously is not. Finally, and most importantly, as I mentioned in my own case, as of 2016 we had spent roughly $4.79 trillion in the war on terror, which comes to an average of $320 billion annually. [8] So for the cost of this war, each year we could buy all the oil that passes through Bab-el-Mandeb (even the barrels we aren’t buying already) almost 19 times over. End the war and devote just a fraction of that funding instead to some sort of subsidy for the oil industry and we have a next savings of over $300 billion each year. This also negates my opponents’ arguments about the rural poor, as they would not be impacted. Flow the economic argument as a reason to end the war, not continue it.

IV. Nuclear Terrorism

For my opponent’s second contention I will have four responses.

1. Nuclear Terrorism Poses No Threat
According to the Harvard report used by my opponent, the most recent estimate had the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack at between one in a million and one in three billion. [15] The threat is pretty much nonexistent.

2. Neg Offers No Link
My opponent essentially lists all the reasons why nuclear terrorism is a threat. He doesn’t, however, provide any link to how our war on terror has reduced this threat other than ISIS’ loss of land. This is irrelevant when you consider the bigger picture: terrorists are gaining members and terrorist groups are becoming more numerous. [11] Refer back to my case. Terrorists are actually seeing these gains because of the war on terror. [4][5] It logically follows, then, that the link my opponent uses actually means that nuclear terrorism is a greater threat if we perpetuate the war on terror. Therefore, even if you don’t buy my previous argument about how the nuclear threat is nonexistent, you should still realize that Neg is actually making things worse. Flow this to the affirmative side of the debate.

3. Neg Offers No Solution
The other logical problem with my opponent’s argument is that he offers no solution to the issue. Despite the fact we’ve been fighting this war since 2001, Neg has not indicated that the threat has been reduced or that the theft attempts have become less frequent. Therefore, even if you buy neither of my past two arguments, since Neg has not offered a real solution, this should be flowed out of the debate if not to my side.

4. Rhetoric is Non-Unique
Neg also talks about the frequent anti-Muslim rhetoric of politicians and how this damages our efforts by creating an us vs. them mentality and making people believe Islam is cannot coexist with western values. This is not exclusive to the affirmative world. It actually exists in the status quo, which is what my opponent is defending. There is no reason to assume this will worsen in the affirmative world, and my opponent has given no reason to do believe as much either.

V. Conclusion
When netted against the cost of the war as a whole, the soon to be irrelevant source of oil is not a relevant cost. Ending the war would allow us to buy that oil 19 times over. Nuclear terrorism is not a threat, and even if it were, Neg is making it worse. Neither of the negative contentions hold weight in this debate; we must affirm. Thank you.

VI. Sources
Round 3
I tried to shorten my response to the best of my abilities. This is the result. Fun fact, I spent more time on this case than I did writing a paper for college. 


Pro’s framework asks me to show previous successes of the War on Terror. My obligation, per my framework which he agreed to, is only to show how pulling out of the War on Terror completely would harm the people.

Ill-defined enemy

Pro claims that our goals in the fighting terror are not well defined, perpetuating constant intervention to fight emerging terrorist groups, thus, never winning the war. We will similarly never completely mitigate the effects of climate change. Should this mean that we allow C02 to destroy the environment? Even if we never win the War, we could still limit the influence of terrorist groups through our actions.
Pro offers another impact in by stating that American intervention causes much of the recruitment problems that we see today. He suggests that the destruction caused by the US military facilitates the use of propaganda by terrorist groups, which, in turn, bolsters terrorists’ influence and power.
I have 3 responses:

a. Terrorist’s Regional Power
Under Pro’s plan, we would have to withdraw from areas which we previously occupied to fight terror. Allow me to elucidate the issues with withdrawal. Since we reduced the number of troops in Afghanistan since 2014, the Taliban has reoccupied their lost territory. BBC estimates that the Taliban has influence in 70% of Afghanistan (1). Also, ever since combat troops were withdrawn, civilian deaths spiked, with more than 8,500 in the first three quarters of 2017 (1). Terrorist groups are going to take advantage of these voids to be filled and increase the spread of their ideology. Cross-apply my AQAP evidence.

b. Radicalization
Key provisions from the US government aimed at fighting the War on Terror have decreased recruitment. For instance, Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) which are interagency investigative bodies aiming to prevent domestic terrorism, work well. In 2009 and 2010 alone, JTTFs involving ICE made over 500 arrests, seized money and weapons meant to support terrorist groups, and initiated over 1000 investigations related to terrorism (2). If you want more recent evidence as to how government action curtails domestic terror, look no further than the Center for Investigative Reporting which compiled an exhaustive list of terrorist attacks, and finding that 76% of domestic, Islamic terrorist plots were foiled (3).

c. Recruitment Link
Pro has not provided empirical data which proves that intervention drives recruitment. While anger is part of the problem, a more reasonable explanation would be turbulent politics and poverty that would exist even if we didn’t intervene (the Syrian civil war comes to mind.) What is apparent, though, is that our withdrawal emboldened terrorist action, facilitating AQAP in expanding their influence as well as the Taliban expanding theirs. The promise of a better life and effective social services are used to attract people to these terrorist groups as well (7). ISIS used these inviting messages in part to attract over 600 Indonesians to join their caliphate. One of the women who left the group by the name of Leefa said that she was attracted to the possibility of health services to fix a problem with her neck which she could not afford in Indonesia (8). To suggest that US influence caused most of the recruitment without any empirical evidence when these other factors exist should cast doubt on his link.

Finances (aka Mo’ Money, Mo’ Terror)

Pro suggests that the money being spent could have solved other problems. For any investment, there is always going to be an opportunity cost. While the price-tag to fight the War on Terror is high, I see no reason to count this as a valid impact. Yes, we are using a cost-benefit analysis, but we are doing so to help the people and fulfill the role of government under the social contract. Spending money is part of doing this. Congressional attempts to solve for problems domestically still exist even as the War on Terror rages on. I see no reason why we can’t fight poverty and terror in tandem, and Pro has not shown the tangible harm to people through the opportunity cost.

Death and Moral Duty

I am not going to deny that the human toll of the War on Terror isn’t massive. However, under the agreed upon framework, we care for US citizens. While 15,000 American deaths sound inordinate, consider the amount of time and manpower devoted to the War on Terror. Remember that we entered the conflict in 2001. We have devoted manpower into overthrowing key cities in Syria, kept our troops in Afghanistan for peacekeeping purposes, and intervened in Yemen and Pakistan. The casualty rate is quite low, given the information that Pro provided.

We Have Lost

Pro declares that the US has lost the War on Terror “by all metrics.” I have 3 responses.

a. Impossible to determine
Isolating specific variables to see what causes the most terror is a difficult exercise. We don’t know how many terrorist attacks would have happened if we didn’t intervene, so the touted increase in terrorist attacks is not relevant. In fact, without our airstrikes on oil reserves which ISIS uses to fund their operations, their power would be manifold in comparison to what it is now.
I already show how our withdrawals encouraged AQAP to expand. In Afghanistan as well, the Taliban capitalized on the temporary reprieve from US influence when we withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014. The transition eliminated half of a million jobs for young Afghanis, allowing the Taliban to offer positions as fighters to fill in the gap and offer more regular payments than the Afghani security forces, which is an attractive position for many who need work (4).

b. Terrorism is decreasing
Terrorist attacks globally have fallen for 3 years in a row, dropping 23% in 2017. The Islamic State, despite their notoriety, carried out 23% fewer terrorist attacks causing 53% less deaths compared to data from 2016 (5). Karen Greenberg, director of Center on National Security at Fordham Law explains that “The reduction of the [IS] caliphate has a great deal to do with this” as the setbacks that ISIS experienced hurt their image and recruiting of foreign fighters (6). The War on Terror could be a success by this metric, as one of our greatest adversaries is struggling to recruit as their influence dwindles. Let’s keep up the good work by negating.

c. Conditions
The final argument brought up in his constructive case is concerned with whether the War on Terror limited the conditions under which terrorism grew. Failed states would grow regardless due to domestic turmoil in many countries. Consider Venezuela, a country experiencing high levels of inflation and poverty. Did the War on Terror cause that? No. Civil wars, economically unsound policies, and terrorist expansion would exist whether we continued the War or not.

Onto defending my case.


Pro is stating that under the framework I provided, which he concedes to, he is winning because people are less safe than they were before we started the War on Terror.

There is no causal factor being drawn to suggest that the War on Terror is the cause of insecurity in the US. In fact, immigration reform driven by the recognition of terrorist threats has made it more difficult for refugees seeking asylum in the US, bolstering national security. Because of harsh measures to protect US citizens, the probability of being killed by a refugee is an infinitesimal 1 in 3.64 billion per year according to the Cato Institute (9).
Also, cross-apply my evidence showing the noticeable downtick in terrorist attacks.

Economic Impact

a. Civilian Casualties  
By Pro’s own admission, the framework he agreed to focused on the effect on American lives, not the citizens of Yemen. Regardless, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, and Iran are all involved in the Yemeni quagmire. Regardless of our intervention, the strife caused by the civil war, Saudi Arabia’s intervention to counter the Houthis, and AQAP’s power, causes more bloodshed than any US arms sales. Our weapons are being misused, but Saudi Arabia could strengthen its arsenal through other means, such as purchases from American adversaries. CNBC reports that the diplomatic shift to the East has happened over time, with weapon and energy deals with Russia and China, the latter of which is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner (10).

b. Reliance on Imports
While correct, Pro’s claim that we will become a net exporter soon is misleading. Even if the US becomes a net exporter of oil, there is no indication that imports would stop completely, or at all. We simultaneously export and import crude oil because some of what we produce is not good for our refineries, forcing us to import oil (11). If we suddenly had no access to this oil, then our exports would fall.
Also, weaning off nearly 1/5 of our oil supply will take time. If AQAP were able to shut down the strait, the economic impact would be felt almost immediately.
The EIA card provided by Pro seems compelling, but recent evidence suggests that oil output might decrease. Oilprice reports in January of 2019 how shale companies have had trouble staying as productive as they previously were. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that companies slipped in their business activity index, measuring how active businesses were, from 43.3 in the third quarter to 2.3 in the fourth. Schlumberger and Haliburton both warned of “budget exhaustion” and well productivity problems in the third quarter of 2018 too (12). The EIA has been wrong before when it comes to their forecasts. In 2018, for example, they ended up changing their predictions to represent lower oil production because the Permian basin reaped less oil than expected (13). With the shale companies driving much of the oil production which the US consumes being slowed, the importance of oil imports cannot be understated.

c. Increased Price is Offset
Pro does some math (yuck, math) to come up with a figure representing how much the oil flowing through the strait costs, claiming it to only be $17 billion. He compares the $17 billion figure to the money used to fight the War on Terror annually. In place of the money used to buy the oil, he offers that a better solution would be to subsidize the oil industry to make up the shortfall.
First, Pro never suggests that we subsidize the oil industry in his first constructive case. To suggest a random solution to this problem is moving the goalposts. Why should I have to devote more time and writing to a new solution in a response already as lengthy as this one?
Second, cross-apply my evidence suggesting that the shale boom is slowing. This could mean that imports become more important as our ability to produce oil is eroded, so the $17 billion may not sound like much to you now, but if shale continues to slow, we may need it more than ever.

Nuclear Terrorism

a. No threat
Pro claims that according to my own report, the likelihood of nuclear terrorism is quite low. The report says the opposite, that nuclear terror is still a possibility that needs to be defended against. To get this number, Pro cited the report, which in turn cited John Mueller’s model. This was not the conclusion of the report.
“In 2006, John Mueller argued that the odds of any particular terrorist attempt at nuclear terrorism succeeding were between one in a million and one in three billion… But given that the actual chance of nuclear terrorism is unknown, it may be more helpful to assess whether or not the conditions necessary for nuclear terrorists to succeed exist, or may develop in the future, and if so, what can be done to redress them.”
Not only did the report cite other estimates suggesting that the chance was 50-50 per research done by Graham Allison, but the report emphasizes that the risk in unknown but anecdotal evidence suggests that the possibility of nuclear terrorism still exists.
As the report points out, even if the risk is small:
“…given the scale of the consequences—which would be almost unimaginably catastrophic—even a small risk of the occurrence should be mitigated.”
I already gave anecdotal evidence showing events which should show how easy it is to acquire fissile material, so cross-apply that here. Also, cross-apply evidence suggesting that Al Qaeda can make a nuke.

b. No Link/Solution
The War on Terror has led to less revenue for the group to collect because of their shrinking land holdings. ISIS predominantly relies on oils, taxes, and extortion to pay for their operations. Without land holdings, that becomes difficult to accomplish because we destroyed their oil reserves and curtailed how much tax revenue they collect (14). Thus, my link and solution can be summarized as so:
By limiting their land and continuing the War on Terror, we starve ISIS of funds so that they can’t make a nuke. The solution, then, is continuing the efforts to starve them of money so that they eventually dissolve. Withdrawing would have the inverse effect: ISIS gets stronger and acquires a nuke.

c. Rhetoric is Non-Unique
Yes, there is a great deal of fear right now without the nuclear 9/11 which I alluded to. However, just as 9/11 caused harsh divisions in the country to deepen, so would a nuclear attack.



Blamonkey if it makes you feel any better you’re not the only slacker. I’m working on this part of the debate during my marketing analysis class instead of paying attention.

(It also bled into my Consultative Sales class… Oops.)

I. Framework

Definitions: Though I did not explicitly provide one previously, it is clear from my case that I had been operating under the colloquial definition of the War on Terror. We can continue to monitor domestic terror suspects just like we would any other criminal; this is not exclusive to the negative world.

The part of the framework to which I agreed was the cost-benefit analysis part. I added as an aside that the safety the negative values is also upheld better in my world.


II. Ill-Defined Enemy

Neg conflates terrorism to global warming. This is a poor comparison, because global warming is something that if we do not fight, will at a minimum completely alter our lives, and at worst kill us all. Unless my opponent believes that us ending the War on Terror would literally lead to deaths in the billions, this is hyperbole at best. Neg completely ignores that we aren’t even fighting terrorism, we are fighting a particular radical religious ideology. Terrorism can’t be an enemy, it’s a tactic. This may seem like semantics, but it’s a huge issue because it’s the reason this conflict has gone on for so long. We’re taking on dozens of enemies and are approaching each of them the same way despite significant ideological and strategic differences. Pull this through.

As far as recruitment goes, my opponent is flat-out wrong. He can argue that we may have arrested a few hundred people for terror ties, but this would still occur in the affirmative world and is not necessarily relevant in the grand scheme of things. Terrorist groups have increased by about 70,000 fighters since 2001. On balance the War on Terror has increased terrorist numbers. My opponent argues that my analysis isn’t empirical here but concedes that it is likely at least partially responsible. It is clear recruitment has gone up and my opponent concedes at least partially on this argument. Neg also includes the 76% figure, [16] but again domestic terrorism would still be investigated and prosecuted; it would still be illegal to commit an act of terrorism. This benefit is not unique to the negative world.

The other two factors my opponent suggests are turbulent politics and poverty. I will address each, but let’s start with politics. Our support for the budding Taliban and ISIS during their developmental stages [17][18][19][20] didn’t help the geopolitics of the region, nor does our routine institution (or attempts thereof) of new regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc. We are largely responsible for the regional instability as well as at least partially responsible for the creation of our own enemies.

The poverty argument is simply untrue. Terrorists are at least as wealthy and well-educated as the general population, [21] if not more. [22][23]
My opponent has conceded that our drone strikes are at least partially responsible for increased recruitment, we are a large part of the reason the reason is politically unstable, and his final argument, poverty, is simply false.  

III. Opportunity Cost

My opponent said that I had not given a reason to prefer eradicating homelessness and world hunger to continuing the War on Terror. I figured this was intuitive, considering our chances of dying in a terrorist attack are so low, and hunger and homelessness are so widespread. In order to give a more quantifiable version of this, realize that our chances of dying in a terrorist attack are 1/30.1 million [24] while the chances of dying from poverty in the US are about 1/17. [25] Solving homelessness and world hunger upholds my opponent’s value of safety better than our wasted funds in the War on Terror. This alone should win the round.

IV. Death and Moral Duty

The agreed upon section of the framework was the fact that we are using a cost-benefit analysis. We cannot ignore the 244,000+ civilian deaths as a result of our involvement in this war. Flow this through.

V. We HAVE Lost

Disregard my opponent’s argument here. I have already proven that political instability has been largely caused by US influence, my opponent has conceded that drone strikes are partially responsible, and I have proven with multiple empirical studies poverty and terrorism are unrelated or even inversely related.
As far as deaths, my opponent is cherry-picking data. First, we’ve still seen a massive net increase in terrorist attacks and deaths due to such attacks. Second, Neg is now using global data despite previously disregarding civilian deaths caused by the War on Terror. Neg cannot have it both ways.

In the third subpoint once again I have shown why this is not true. Poverty is NOT a cause of terrorism. The United States has caused the precarious position of Middle Eastern politics. Don’t buy this argument.


I’m just going to have a few brief responses here.

VI. Economic Impact

I did not concede to exclusively looking at how this affects Americans. I conceded to the cost benefit analysis. 244,000+ civilian casualties are a MASSIVE cost to which my opponent has not responded.

My EIA evidence [14] is from February 2019. This post-dates my opponent’s defense from January. Considering my opponent’s reason to prefer his evidence was because it was more recent, prefer my argument.

Sorry for the math. I hated it too, and I’m pretty glad my multiplication isn’t too rusty. As far as the subsidy argument, I have no way knowing to bring it up in my constructive; I didn’t have the negative case beforehand. Furthermore, new arguments are allowed in the rebuttal. There is no reason that we can’t implement this plan for oil and I have the more recent evidence. Not only is this a valid argument, but since my evidence postdates my opponent’s, it has been uncontested.

VII. Conclusion

Since its inception, the War on Terror has been a money-sucking failure with no end in sight. Terrorist attacks, the individuals who orchestrate them, and the deaths they cause have all increased dramatically since 2001. Meanwhile, regional stability has decreased. All of this has been at the expense of $5 trillion, about 15,000 American lives, and over 244,000 civilian casualties. The biggest benefit being a source of oil that will be irrelevant within a year does not justify our continued involvement in this conflict. Thank you voters for your time and Neg for a great debate!

VIII. Sources
Round 4

The definition of the “War on Terror” that I provided has gone uncontested until now. I don’t see why we should change it simply because my opponent forgot to contest it earlier. I also don’t see why he seemingly agreed to part of my framework and never addressed the other part.
I am starting to think that my opponent has stepped away from his initial framework as referenced in his 1AC:

“Per my framework, if we focus on safety of Americans specifically, the deaths total well over 15,000.”

Aren’t you proposing a cost-benefit analysis to protect Americans? If not, then why should a framework other than the social contract which I provided be applied to the debate? If the actor is a government, then surely the government would need to maximize the benefits to its own citizens. This, as I explained before, allows the government to fulfill its role in protecting the people. Also, you really can’t give me a new framework in the last response, so don’t try.

Ill-Defined Enemy

a. Conflation of Climate Change
My comparison of climate change to terrorism is a rhetorical device which I used to prove that just because we will never eradicate either, it does not mean that we surrender to either. Pro suggests that giving up the War on Terror we would not cause as many casualties as would pulling out on our fight against C02. Their expansion puts the US at risk due to nuclear desires, which could still cause casualties for the US.

He also briefly suggests that fighting an ideology is impossible. What is the significance? I provide real-life examples of how pulling out increases the expansion of terrorist groups. If the expansion of these groups can be countered, then I don’t see why we should completely withdraw from the middle east. We can limit terrorist power whether we are fighting an ideology or a group.

b. Domestic Terror
I am confused as to what I am “flat out wrong” about. The War on Terror has led to lawmakers prioritizing the safety of Americans by fighting domestic terrorism. JTTFs are real and do their job in countering terror. If it were not for our actions in fighting terror, then terrorism would obviously flourish. Yes, to an extent, we would punish those who launch terrorist operations, but the JTTFs have led to long term success and are part of our War on Terror.

Pro suggests that our actions overseas adds to recruitment. I do partially concede to the possibility, but he has yet to provide specific evidence as to how our intervention causes recruitment. I offer empirical evidence showing that ISIS used the promise of effective social services to attract over 600 Indonesian members.

c. Politics & Poverty
It was a mistake for the US to give tangible support to militant groups in the Middle East. However, failure in the past does not prove that the US is wrong to pursue is goal in eliminating terrorist groups now.

Regardless of terrorist wealth, there is no denying the impact that economic incentives have on terrorism. Cross-apply my evidence of promises for a better life leading to the recruitment of 600 Indonesian people (4) (5). Also see the evidence in my first constructive which demonstrates that AQAP recruits were treated with a healthy dose of economic stimulus in Mukalla, and fighters were promised salaries on par with other fighters’ salaries in the region, both of which quadrupled recruitment (3). The Taliban, as well, recruited disenfranchised youth after the US pulled out of Afghanistan per evidence from my previous response (6).

Also, citing from my opponent’s own evidence from Pacific Standard:

“It was the countries in the middle range that had the most potential for emerging militancy. "Intermediate levels of political freedom are often experienced during times of political transitions," writes Abadie. "When governments are weak, political instability is elevated, so conditions are favorable for the appearance of terrorism" (1).

The evidence he provided implies that the real driver of terrorism was the turbulent political situation throughout the middle east. The Arab Spring, essentially a collective uprising against authoritarian regimes in Arab regions, were primarily responsible for “political transitions.” In these transitions, the moderate political freedom experienced facilitated the creation of terror.
In summation, I point toward 2 likely culprits as to why terrorism spreads, and my opponent has not explained how the War on Terror causes the bulk of recruitment.  

Opportunity Cost

Fighting terror and helping for those in need at home aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, each year, we pay more for welfare than we do for any war. Medicare alone accounts for half a trillion dollars of expenditures in 2017 (2). If we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars on Medicaid to help millions of people across the US, and we still aren’t solving poverty, I am curious as to how this opportunity cost is going to help people directly. The money could end homelessness or hunger, but keep in mind that this would have to specifically be mentioned in the form of a specific plan at the beginning of his speech to be impactful. He alludes to the possibility of spending the money elsewhere, and then does nothing with the argument.

Death and Moral Duty

The expansion of terrorist groups is going to cause civilian deaths as well. This point is non-unique. As I mentioned previously at the top of my case, you alluded to a cost-benefit analysis and caring mostly about American citizens. I have yet to find a solid link between intervention and the massive amount of turmoil that Pro attributes completely to the War on Terror. Without this link, one can rationally assume that the Arab Spring was the main perpetrator of the problem, not US soldiers radicalizing populations. Not even his own evidence to refute me validates his original claim.

Pro drops my evidence showing that Saudi Arabia could get arms from other countries as evident by their shift eastward to purchase weapons and energy.

We HAVE Lost

I brought up global terror decreasing to refute the notion that the War on Terror has caused no net benefit. The fact that terrorist attacks have decreased suggests that groups are losing power. My point was never that it saves the lives of people in other nations, but rather that the US is safer without groups threatening our existence, beheading our journalists, and most worryingly, seeking a nuclear weapon.

Yes, we have seen an increase in deaths since 2001. However, with curtailed terrorist budgets, it becomes obvious that our intervention has led to contracting rates of terrorist activity. Pro cannot justify the decrease in terrorism because it illustrates that, right now, we are seeing a decrease in terrorist activity. The key phrase is “right now”. My opponent has mentioned numerous failures in the past. However, I have yet to see a reason why the status quo, which seems to be keeping a check on terrorist groups, needs to be gotten rid of.

Onto defending my case.

Economic Impact

a. Oil
plan needs to be specified and implemented at the beginning of the debate, not in the middle so that I am burdened with responding to a plan. The reason we differentiate between a plan and an argument is that with a plan, I could literally nullify whatever my opponent was saying. If you brought up terrorist deaths for instance and I decided to say:

“Hey, let’s withdraw 30% of our troops.”

It would not be fair because I would be moving the goalpost, a logical fallacy in which I require more and more evidence for something already proven. Do not let this violation of debate ethos stand, judges.

My opponent drops my argument that we need to import oil in our refineries before exporting it. Flow this across the debate.

Next, Pro discusses the date at which the EIA published their information. Not only does his explanation completely disregard the errors that were made in the previous assessment by the EIA, in which oil production was overstated, but he misses the point completely. The dwindling shale boom was only a footnote at the end of the year in 2018, meaning that it was likely understated in the model as the rest of the year saw a great increase in oil production.

Voting Issue 1: Nuclear Terrorism

Extend my responses to his refutation of my “nuclear terrorism” point.
Nuclear terror obviously undermines safety, causing stigmatization of Muslim Americans. Remember, land holdings increase revenue for terrorist groups. Our actions to mitigate their growth limit their operations, and thus their ability to detonate a dirty bomb in the US. Flow my impacts of economic and social devastation.

Voting Issue 2: Economics

While the War costs money, Pro gives no evidence suggesting that the money would be better spent elsewhere. We depend on oil imports of other nations, much of which flows through the strait under threat from AQAP. Pro, despite showing evidence that we can become a net-exporter of oil in the next few years, hasn’t responded to previous EIA gaffes which I presented.

Voting Issue 3: Death Toll

Even if you buy the idea that my opponent can advocate for another Framework, consider that the impact of expansion would kill as many, if not more people than any amount of intervention.
Also, the lack of funds collected from these groups because of shrunken land-holdings decreases their ability to fund terrorist operations, benefitting everyone around the globe.  


Thanks blamonkey for an excellent debate and to the voters for reading it. Thank you most importantly to Virtuoso for hosting the tournament. Due to all my aforementioned arguments, please affirm. Thank you!