Friday, September 6, 2013

PF Sep/Oct 2013 - Proliferation - Con Position

For part one of this analysis - definitions - click here

Resolved: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.

Neg Position

As I mentioned in the Pro position, I believe the primary debate will center around the word "justified".  This means Con should advocate that military force is not justified and below I will be discussing ideas about how that claim is upheld.  I also mentioned, in the prior article that Con may decide to shift the advocacy in favor of a debate about whether or not unilateral military force is justifiable. Con may decide to concede military force on the condition it is multilateral. This would represent a legitimate Con position.  I do think, defining unilateral gets dicey.  What constitutes true bilateral or multilateral military force?  Consider that an ally like the UK could be consulted and support a US military action; they could sign a UN security council resolution supporting action even though no one else does; they could provide air bases for staging an action or ships or money; they could provide direct support in the form of military force.  All of these options represent increasing levels of involvement.  The debate would need to decide, what level involvement defines a bilateral action?  For this reason, I think unless Con has a really firm definition of unilateral, bilateral or multilateral, the debate will not be easy since Pro can merely introduce competing interpretations, continue throughout the round to chip away at Con's definition and in the end throw the decision into the hands of the judge.

Alternative Solutions

The issue of proliferation is obviously key to the security of many nations so everyone is concerned and taking steps to limit proliferation.  Some existing programs such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) worked very well for decades despite skepticism by participants.  Only recently, because of the rise of non-state threats (i.e. terrorism) has NPT proven to be ineffective.  Nevertheless, programs are being revised and new initiatives are being put in place.  It is after all, very crucial to world security so it is not ignored.  It is also important to note, the programs (including NPT) are multilateral.

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism is a program established in 2006 and administered by the U.S. Department of State in conjunction with many other nations.

State Department 2006:
"The mission of the GICNT is to strengthen global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism by conducting multilateral activities that strengthen the plans, policies, procedures, and interoperability of partner nations. The GICNT is co-chaired by the United States and the Russian Federation."

Jenkins 2011:

"Recognizing all states’ shared responsibility for preventing acts of nuclear terrorism, the United States and Russia launched the GICNT in order to build international collaboration to address all facets of the nuclear terrorism threat. The initiative strengthens international security through building the capacity of nations to combat the threat in all regions of the world, including Africa. It is an international partnership of 82 countries and four official observers committed to achieving a broad set of nuclear security objectives, including improving nuclear detection, strengthening nuclear forensics, and denying safe haven and financing to terrorists that may seek to acquire nuclear or radiological materials. Since it was launched in 2006, the GICNT has conducted more than 40 multilateral activities and exercises as well as six senior-level meetings, resulting in strengthened policies, greater information-sharing techniques, and greater transparency and collaboration on security issues among the partner nations."

Cooperative Threat Reduction is U.S. sponsored program which provides funding and expertise to states to dismantle or neutralize NBC weapons (Nuclear Biological Chemical).  The program has been expanded to include border control efforts which help secure weapons materials which cross borders. Russia has recently dropped out of CTR because they no longer needed US funds to continue the program.  The Russian U.S. program has been replaced with a new bilateral agreement (see the Fact Sheet here).

Weiner 2012:
"For over two decades, the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program has funded efforts to secure loose nuclear material in Russia and the Former Soviet Republics.  Under CTR, over 7,600 warheads have been deactivated, over 900 intercontinental ballistic missiles and over 650 submarine launched ballistic missiles have been destroyed, 24 Russian nuclear sites have undergone security upgrades, and all nuclear weapons have been removed from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.  By many accounts, CTR – also called the “Nunn-Lugar” program after its founders Senators Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar – is the United States’ most successful nonproliferation program."

While CTR is waning, the fact a new program has emerged serves as an example of how the nonproliferation efforts continue to evolve and adapt according to current realities.
Perhaps the bottom line for these kinds of initiatives demonstrates that no program is 100% successful but they have been remarkably successful in limiting the spread of nuclear technology.  Careful research will show a dramatic drop in the number of countries acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities since the 1970s when the NPT was ratified.  It can be argued that the strength of these programs is in multilateral cooperation, intelligence sharing, etc.

Unilateral Military Force Is Bad

For a really good empirical example of how unilateral action is looked upon with disfavor and even fear, look at the current situation in Syria as the U.S. seeks a consensus from other nations about whether to initiate a military strike in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks from the Syrian government.  The world-view favors U.N. sponsorship which is clearly a multilateral approval for action, even if the U.S. is the sole wielder of the hammer.  The other nations are simply not comfortable with a giant that runs around clubbing victims seemingly at its own discretion.  It invokes fear and anger and any PF judge should understand that.  The conditions under which the U.S. could justify a unilateral strike, even under the provisions of jus ad bellum (just war theory) are limited and subject to a great deal of scepticism.  Jus ad bellum is a theory, not a law.

The astute debate researcher will find nothing in the arena of international law which provides a legal justification for unilateral military force, not only to prevent proliferation but for any reason.  UN Article 51, the right to self-defense and the Responsibility to Protect doctrine (see Responsibility to Protect here also see the Pro Position for March 2013 LD topic on humanitarian intervention, here) demand international consensus for action.  My personal observation is in the post cold-war world, nations are relying on the U.N. to stand up against U.S. hegemony.

Tams 2009:
"Security Council enforcement action being effectively unavailable, the legal regime governing anti-terrorist force crucially depended on the scope of other exceptions permitting the unilateral use of force. Whether the ‘ use of force by a State against terrorists in another country ’ could ever be ‘ lawful ’ 49 was much discussed. As regards international practice, a number of incidents – among them Israel’s anti-terrorist raids since the 1950s, the South African incursions into neighbouring ( ‘ frontline ’ ) states during the 1970s and 1980s, or the United States ’ 1986 attacks on Libya – focused international attention...only terrorist attacks effectively controlled by another state triggered a right of self-defence. By adopting a restrictive approach to attribution the Court effectively restricted self defence to the inter-state context. This approach seemed in line with an inter-state reading of the jus ad bellum , took into account the scepticism among UN members against broader readings of self-defence (which would have allowed the abuse of the concept)."

Multilateral Military Force is Good

One excellent example demonstrates the effectiveness of a multilateral approach to preventing proliferation.  In 1991, the U.N. Security Council did approve a U.S. preemptive strike against Iraqi nuclear reactors.  The effort to restrict the proliferation of nuclear capability began with the adoption of UNSC Resolution 687, authorizing nuclear plant inspections and to execute a plan to render the nuclear capability neutral.  The primary reactor sites were then included in the list of targets authorized by the UN for destruction during the US led Persian Gulf War.

Malone 2003:
"Although there has been some support for the concept of coercive arms control, this has been done through Security Council Resolutions. Unilateral action without Council authorization has been condemned as a "clear violation of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct."' Considering the wide-ranging violations of arms treaties, it would be difficult to distinguish which acts constitute a threat and which do not. This suggests the need for debate and multilateral action through the auspices of the Security Council."

National Sovereignty

I want to mention the well established and ever pervasive argument that state sovereignty is one of the highest values of international law and basically all nations have the right to conduct their affairs without externally meddling.  There have been long standing prohibitions in international law against allowing one country to intervene in the internal affairs of another and it can argued these prohibitions extend to proliferation scenarios whether being carried out by recognized state actors or non-aligned entities operating within the boundaries of a legitimate state.  Rather than cite a bunch of evidence, I will direct you to the March 2013 Lincoln Douglas topic where you can begin your research on state sovereignty by clicking here.

Closing Remarks

Once again there is much more than be can discussed.  This is a pretty big topic on both sides of the debate.  Here are some things to think about with regard to the negative point of view.  What if a country like Brazil began to develop a nuclear arms capability?  Generally the US has a good relationship with Brazil so we would be reluctant to attack them.  There would be many other courses of action.  For example we may offer incentives (much like we did for North Korea) to abandon their nuclear ambitions.  This has been effective many times in the past.  We could also offer enhanced or privileged defensive aid so Brazil can feel more secure and have less need for WMDs.  The point is, there are always a series of alternative actions which can be and are taken to prevent the use of force and because there are so many options, force is not justified.  As for hostile entities such as nuclear terrorists, the world has an obvious interest to contain the threat, so if the threat is legitimate, the world, multilaterally, will act to contain it.  Unilateral force is unjustified.

Jenkins, Bonnie; Adapting to the Times: The Evolution of U.S. Threat Reduction Programs; 2011


State Department 2006; The Global Initiative To Combat Nuclear Terrorism; 2013

Tams, Christian J.; The Use of Force against Terrorists; The European Journal of International Law Vol. 20 no. 2; 2009

Walsh, Jim; Learning from Past Success:The NPT and the Future of Non-proliferation;WMD Commission; 2005

Weiner. Sarah; The End of Cooperative Threat Reduction (As We Know It); Center for Strategic International Studies; 2012

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