Friday, July 27, 2012

Infrastructure - Review of Cases - Part 1

For other Policy Debate postings, including an analysis of the Infrastructure topic follow the links here.

Bering Strait Tunnel
Tunnel Of Love

Case Reviews
Since camp cases are emerging, I have decided to scan through select case Affirmatives and deliver some summaries.  While I will be looking at specific camp cases, I intend to summarize the general advocacy without reference to specific files.  So, if several camps put out a high-speed rail case, for example, I will generally summarize the case plans, advantages, etc. without referencing a particular file.  Now for sure, some of the reviews will be one particular file, if no other camp puts out a similar case.

This series will spread out over several postings as I find time to review the cases.  In general, the posts will be short, the comments will be brief and they are strictly my opinions.  If I say I do not like a case, it does not mean you should avoid looking at it, especially since sometimes the files are updated and improved.

The case files, I review will be taken from the National Debate Coaches Association, Open Evidence Project.


Bering Strait Tunnel
The case proposes to build a tunnel between the U.S. and Russia under the Bering Sea. The distance is about 65 miles. Presumably the tunnel will support rail traffic as a main source of commerce.

Solvency
Solves for international cooperation.

Advantages
U.S. Russian relations.
The claim made is relations are deteriorating although I am not sure they were ever that great.  Economically we cooperate. Russia has one of the fast growing economies in the world and that is hard to ignore.  Politically we have conflict and have continued to have conflict for decades.

Russian Far East.
The idea here is to increase Russian presence and influence in the Far East.  This presence magically deters Chinese expansion, soothes North Korea, etc. I wonder why Russian presence did not deter a nuclear North Korea? I guess because there weren't enough Russian railroads in the region.

Global Integration
Somehow, (I guess because U.S. / Russian relations are solved) this tunnel stimulates this fabulous world-wide cooperation and world-wide cooperation solves a laundry list of nuke war scenarios. One case file spends a lot of cards focusing on interconnection of the electrical grids and suddenly world energy needs are a whole lot closer to being solved.  (details like how their 50 cycle system is connected to our 60 cycle system are just, well, details which we can discuss later - like during the 1NC).

Good things
The plan is implemented by land grants. That works, as it has plenty of historical precedence in the American old west. Time frame is fairly good.  According to one source the tunnel could be completed by 2019 and return on investment could be rapid afterwards.

Bad Things
One the biggest problems I personally see in this case is no real distinction between solvency and advantages.  The harms being solved are then offered as advantages.  This doesn't make much sense to me especially since I don't think the case does a very good job of establishing harms in the SQ which requires this tunnel as the way to solvency.

The solvency and indeed much of the success of this case will depend on complete Russian cooperation and there is no assurance that will happen.  Many of the advantage cards note the fact that Russian interest in the tunnel is not that great and the U.S. needs to drive the project. In my opinion, the dependency on Russia for success kills solvency and advantages.

In my opinion, dump the Global Integration advantage. World cooperation just seems to spring out of no where.  Its fantastic leaps of faith are flights of fancy. (That's a lot of F's)

Topicality is questionable on this one, in my opinion.  Fifty percent of the project depends on a foreign government.  To avoid T debate, it is argued the U.S. will do the American side and Russia will do the Russian side.  Even if topicality is not challenged, that is a huge potential road-block to solvency.

Summary
This case needs work. Before building the tunnel, this case needs to build a bridge to link the tons and tons of international coop advantages that somehow magically spring forth.


Tunnel of Love Aff
This case envisions a Bering Strait tunnel, not as a legitimate tool of commerce but instead as an idea which solves real-world harms just by conceptualizing the vision.

Inherency/Harms
It is established in the SQ that American's stereotypical view of Russia and its people creates discourse and ideology that "otherizes" the Russians.  This, of course, results in us viewing them as enemies and culturally different and that spills over into real-world conflict.

Solvency
The plan solves by imagining a world where Russia and U.S. cooperate to build a Bering Strait tunnel.  Doing so allows us to bridge the cultural divide.  This is posed as a pre-fiat, apriori case which corrects the perceptions which would impede real cooperation. The key to this solvency is gaining the ability to imagine great things and foster Utopian dreams.

Good Things
Some of the cards in the case are excellent and link specifically to the imaginative Bering Strait tunnel.

Bad Things
In my opinion, there needs to be a little more clarity on why this change in mindset needs to be done before real-world cooperation can ensue.  I mean, why should the judge think we should not look to a Neg counter-plan which solves real-world, near-term harms while Aff dreams of Utopia? Especially since cultural mindsets tend to change over generations, not years.

Summary
I imagine this to be a really sweet Aff.   I love the idea of this case.  It definitely does a nice job of creating a critical view of the status quo with regard to Russian relations and does offer an alternative.  I think if the point can come across that plans will fail without the alternative this case is a pretty good idea.  It is not a case for novices to run, however.

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