For more about Lincoln Douglas Debate including topic analyses, strategies, and links to evidence *click here*
Just in case you are visiting this page for the first time, directly from the web and if you need to debate this topic in an NFL Lincoln-Douglas debate, I suggest beginning with the background information contained in the following links:
2012 Mar/Apr Topic Analysis
Part 1 - The Legal Justification
Part 2 - The Semantics, Scope and Impact
Moral Framework of Targeted Killing - Part 1
Moral Framework of Targeted Killing - Part 2
The principle definitions for this resolution will be complex and very critical to establish a proper framework for Aff and Neg advocacy. I would be surprised if there if is not a lot of clash surrounding how targeted killing is defined and I would suggest there needs to be clash over the definition. As I discuss in the previous articles, semantics is all important and imparts a sense of value on the language selected to define the terminology. You must consider the experience of the judge and her role in this debate. Nearly everyone has been touched by political assassination, targeted killing or justifiable murder in some way and it shades one's perspective. The definition of morally permissible should be familiar to the debater. This is the second topic in a row where that language has been used and previously defined. What is unique in this resolution is the idea of the state's moral culpability as opposed to individual. Additionally, I would be surprised if any clash arose over the definition of foreign-policy tool, especially since that is the only way targeted killings are employed. I have not provided any definition of those terms in my analysis. I leave it to you, as a relatively simple dictionary definition should suffice.
Overview of the Burdens
There seems to be nothing complex or tricky about defining the Pro burden in this resolution. They simply prove that targeted killing is morally permitted. If you debated the Domestic Violence resolution, you understand, at least on a certain level, what the AFF advocacy must be. In my opinion, Neg has much better ground from which to establish a stand, than the Domestic Violence resolution. In the previous resolution, the actors were human individuals, in this resolution, the actors are state's and individuals and involves not only the direct players but also the innocent bystanders. Think how much different the Domestic Violence debate would have been if the attacker was wearing a bullet-proof jacket and the victim defended herself with a hand grenade and innocent people were killed in the melee. This is the nature of this debate. In my opinion, it is the best of all the LD topics this year.
The AFF Case
The affirmative is charged with proving that targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool AFF can take two possible paths right from the beginning. One, establish that a state is the actor or two, establish that a person acting as representative of the state, is the actor. This presupposes, that states are amoral entities and assumes the resolution can not apply to amoral entities. But such a tactic will be difficult because the objectives of the killing are not usually personal, but rather utilitarian. The actor does not necessarily kill to prevent self harm but to prevent harm to many other innocent people or to bring about a quicker end to a conflict. Moreover, holding that the principle actor, the one doing the killing, is an individual, raises the memory of recent and past war crimes trials in which individuals, believing they were acting in the best interests of their state, resorted to immoral and illegal acts. If the AFF debate can avoid this kind of NEG attack, more power to you. I would think a sound case can be made with established moral agency for the state and wrap the advocacy in a context of jus in bello morality. All that remains, is to establish a justification for the possible death of the innocent.
Granted, this all sounds kind of perverse on a certain level. AFF must establish a legal/moral framework which justifies what amounts to murder without due process in the constitutional sense and extend that justification to include the unintended destruction of innocent property and lives. But this is exactly the kind of justifications which have long been established in centuries of international conflict. Because of that, the AFF is not breaking new ground and trying to establish new interpretations of old principles. My suggestion is let the philosophers and the military ethicists present your case. Their arguments are well established even though controversial.
In my opinion, the most important position AFF can take, is to establish that the moral principles which guide states different from the principles which guide individuals and NEG should not be allowed to equate them.
The Neg Case
As I consider the various possible positions the negative team can take, I am initially thinking negative will have a much easy time of it than they did during the domestic violence topic. Depending on how the affirmative frames up their case, probably one of the first tacts will be to challenge the definitions. We can say the Colt-45 was the "peacemaker", but in the hands of the wrong individual it is a murderous weapon. Therefore present and defend a definition of targeted killing as a form of political assassination, and a form of killing without benefit of due process, a right the constitution extends even to foreigners. Attack the idea of state morality, show how the tactics of targeted killing are enormously destructive to innocent lives. In my opinion, and I claim this without having seen a single written case, a very good tactic will be establish a moral framework which supports the Negative advocacy and applies the same standards typically applied to evaluation of human conduct. We have seen historically, that claims of immunity due to appeal to the high principles of state morality do not mean a thing in a war crimes trial. Ultimately, each individual is responsible for his or her personal conduct in war and so any state which forces its citizens to behave immorally is illegitimate. Another interesting argument can be presented in the methodology of the so-called video game war tactics. That is the use of remotely piloted or robotic craft controlled at great distance in which the victim is dehumanized by being a mere image on a monitor like a video game entity.
Good luck with this one, debaters. I love it.