Monday, February 29, 2016

PF Mar 2016 - Military Presence in Okinawa - Con Position

Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.

This analysis begins here.

Con Position

The Con position claims the U.S. should not withdraw its military presence from Okinawa. Given a definition of withdraw as, "to remove", Con can still support a reduction of forces or support a smaller footprint in the region. Con can not support a complete withdrawal or relocation to other regional locations.  Con debaters should take time to look at the map.  Okinawa is located in an arc of islands stretching more than 1000km between southern Japan and Taiwan.  This chain is a natural "fence" through which Chinese military adventurism must pass to gain rapid access to the Pacific should such a threat come to pass.  Okinawa is within easy operational proximity to North and South Korea, China, Japan, the eastern ports of Russia, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. Okinawa is truly a strategic asset for those who view the world as potentially dangerous place.  But beyond the obvious utility as a operational post for launching strikes against enemies, it is also a short hop to one of the most geologically active regions on the planet where earthquakes, tsunamis and natural disasters have increasingly serious consequences on the one of the most densely populated regions of the world. The military facilities on Okinawa have been the staging area for many humanitarian operations. Proximity has advantages which save lives.

The Humanitarian Advantage

The importance of the U.S. presence in carrying out humanitarian missions cannot be overstated.

Klingner 2011:
The Okinawa Marines have routinely been the primary responders to major natural disasters in Asia, such as the 2004 Asian tsunami, mudslides in the Philippines, and the typhoon in Taiwan. The Marines have led or participated in 12 significant humanitarian assistance–disaster relief (HADR) missions during the past five years alone, helping to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the region.[26]

Klingner reports such operations have generated enormous goodwill with affected nations. Yet despite the obvious benefit of rapid response to tragedy, some in Okinawa are conducting a propaganda campaign which casts doubt about U.S. intentions and angers many.

Klingner 2011:
the Ryukyu Shinpo criticized the U.S. Marine humanitarian assistance as a “tool for political manipulation [and an attempt] to gain the support of the Japanese people to keep the FRF within Okinawa.” The Shinpo editorialized that the U.S. statements highlighting the benefits of having the Marines available to assist Japan was “very discomforting” and “tricks.” The Okinawan Times chimed in as well, posturing that the U.S. was using the disaster as a “political tool [to] manipulate our political decision-making…. [I]t is something we cannot allow.”[27]

These kinds of accusations would poison the well for Con were it not for the obvious live-saving actions of U.S. Marines in conjunction with Japanese Defense Forces. In fact, pointing this out to a U.S.-centric PF judge may cast doubt on the reliability of some of Pro sources. Just bear in mind, if you decide to take up this argument media propaganda may be a two-way street and Pro can claim media sympathetic to the U.S. position is unbalanced and pushing a political agenda.

So we can establish a case which takes advantage of the fact that military resources can serve multiple purposes by responding to many kinds of threats.

Chanlett-Avery & Rinehart 2016:
The U.S. military presence in Japan, and particularly Okinawa, allows it to fulfill its obligations under the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security to not only defend Japan but to maintain security in the Asia-Pacific region. The forward-deployed presence of the U.S. Air Force and Navy also allows for response to humanitarian disasters in the region, as demonstrated by the rapid U.S. assistance after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan and after the November 2013 super-typhoon in the Philippines. The deployment of MV-22 “Osprey” tilt-rotor aircraft to Okinawa reportedly has enhanced the operational capability of the Marines based there, because MV-22s have a greater range and faster cruising speed than the helicopters they replaced.[4]

The Strategic Military Advantage

This is perhaps the most serious challenge to the Pro position, even as important as humanitarian responsiveness may be.  The western Pacific has a history of war, insurrection, rebellion made all the more serious by the presence of nuclear devices in North Korea, and full strategic nuclear strike capability in China, Russia and presumably some of the U.S. occupied islands in the Pacific. Terrorists activities are on-going in Southeast Asia and parts of China. North Korea is becoming increasingly aggressive, literally launching several attacks against South Korea in recent years. Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea is an existential threat to Japanese territorial claims.

Chanlett-Avery & Rinehart 2016:
The intensification of the territorial dispute between Japan and China over small islands in the East China Sea has provided another rationale for the approximately 19,000 marines stationed on Okinawa. The main island of Okinawa is only 270 nautical miles from the disputed islets, called Senkaku in Japan, Diaoyu in China, and Diaoyutai in Taiwan. The potential role of U.S. Marines in defending and/or retaking uninhabited islands from a hypothetical invasion force is unclear, but the operational capabilities of the Okinawa-based Marines are aligned with the needs of such a mission.[4]

Perhaps given the recent threats, an argument could be made for increasing the U.S. military presence in the regions so as to protect the military facilities in Okinawa.

Chang 2015:
On the day after Christmas, three Chinese boats, one modified to carry four cannons, entered Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands in the southern portion of the East China Sea. The move, a dangerous escalation, is the first time the People’s Republic of China sent an armed vessel into an area that Tokyo claims as its own.
The sending of the three Chinese vessels on Dec. 26 appears to signal a new phase of incursions to grab not just the Senkaku Islands but the nearby—and far more important—Ryukyu Islands. Those include Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the 54,000 American military personnel in Japan, including those at Kadena Air Force Base, the Army’s Fort Buckner and Torii Station, eight Marine Corps camps, as well as Air Station Futenma and Yontan Airfield, and the Navy’s Fleet Activities Okinawa.
Geopolitically, Okinawa is key to the American-Japanese alliance and the heart of America’s military presence in Japan. But if Beijing gets its way, U.S. military bases will be off Okinawa soon. And Japan will be out of Okinawa, too.

Following the Second World War, Japan has grown to be an important ally and trading partner with the U.S. The importance of the island nation to the U.S. economy and regional stability is key to maintaining U.S. interests.  The defense of Japan is vital.

Kingner 2011:
U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos has explained that the fundamental role of U.S. military forces in Japan is to “make those who would consider the use of force in this region understand that option is off the table. The forward deployment of U.S. forces puts us in a position to react immediately to emerging threats.”[7]
The December 2010 Japanese National Defense Program Guidelines underscored Roos’s comments by noting that the presence of U.S. armed forces in Japan gives countries in the Asia–Pacific region a strong sense of security by “functioning as deterrence against and response to contingencies in this region.”[8] Foreign Minister Okada affirmed that “the presence of U.S. Marines on Okinawa is necessary for Japan’s national security [since they] are a powerful deterrent against possible enemy attacks and should be stationed in Japan.”[9]
History has repeatedly shown that ground troops are necessary to influence an opponent. Removing combat elements of the only rapidly deployable U.S. ground force between Hawaii and India would degrade U.S. deterrence capacity and limit response options.

The Korean Threat and U.N. Legitimacy

There are many threats both man-made and natural which are potentially mitigated by U.S. capability in the Pacific and particularly Okinawa. Perhaps one of the more serious threat exists just beyond the 38th parallel in Korea.  Little is publicly understood about the North Korean leader and the seriousness of nuclear threats against targets in the south and the U.S. west coast.  It is clear, they are developing capability which increases the already intense threat against South Koreans and the thousands of U.S. citizens that work and reside there.

Klingner 2011:
The U.S. Marines on Okinawa play a critical role in Operations Plan 5027, the joint U.S.–South Korean war plan for responding to a North Korean invasion. Marine forces are capable of conducting a full range of combat operations in Korea. Even the threat of an amphibious invasion would force North Korea to divert ground forces from the front line.

Even more important to the U.S. strategy is the role that would be played by the military facilities in Okinawa as a staging area for the defense of South Korea. The U.S. has long known there would be resistance to U.S. plans for the Okinawan bases but U.S. operations are carried out under a U.N. flag.

Halloran 1998:
The war plan envisions the possibility of amphibious assaults into North Korea by U.S. Marines into the narrow waist of North Korea to cut the country in two. "The entire resources of the U.S. Marine Corps would flow here," said a U.S. official, referring to the Marine division on Okinawa, another in California, and the third in North Carolina. The U.S. broke North Korean and Chinese forces with an amphibious landing at the port of Inchon, west of Seoul, during the Korean War of 1950-53.
Most U.S. reinforcements would pass through Japan, particularly Okinawa, which would undoubtedly cause political problems in that pacifist nation despite its alliance with the U.S. Those operations would test new U.S.-Japan defense guidelines that require Japan to provide logistic support in the event of conflict in that region.
Even without the defense guidelines, the U.S. has the right to move troops, weapons, and supplies through Japan to Korea because American forces are posted here under a United Nations flag. A small and little known unit, the UN Rear Command, which has been at Camp Zama, southwest of Tokyo, since the Korean War, provides the legal and diplomatic cover for those movements.

The Kadena military facility confirms it flies the U.N. flag.

Kadena 2008:
Kadena's central location also enables it to serve as a staging base for humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts throughout the western Pacific, as it did in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami that devastated several Asian countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Additionally, Kadena is one of seven bases in Japan that fly the United Nations flag as part of the United Nations Command Rear (UNC). In this capacity, Kadena's main role is to provide facilities for UNC aircraft. 

I will leave it you to research the implications of this.  The security of Korea is managed by the United Nations Command (UNC), comprised of a coalition of 18 nations established by international agreement.  U.S military resources in Okinawa serve under that mandate.  It seems withdraw from Okinawa could be much more complicated than first assumed.


Chang, GG., (2015) Now China Wants Okinawa, Site of U.S. Bases in Japan, Daily Beast, 12/31/2015. accessed 2/15/2015 at:

Chanlett-Avery, E., Rinehart, IE., The U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa and the Futenma Base Controversy, Congressional Research Service, January 20, 2016 accessed 2/15/2016 at:

Halloran, R. (1998), New Warplan Calls for Invasion of North Korea, Nov. 14, 1998, posted on The Free Republic on 2/8/2003. Accessed 2/16/2016 at:

Klingner, B. (2011), Top 10 Reasons Why the U.S. Marines on Okinawa Are Essential to Peace and Security in the Pacific, Heritage Foundation, June 14, 2011. accessed 2/15/2016 at:

PF Mar 2016 - Military Presence in Okinawa - Pro Position

Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.

This analysis begins here.

Pro Position

The arguments for the Pro position are often rooted in a fierce desire for independence in which many Okinawans desire automony from Japan. U.S. bases, which are supported by Japan, become a pawn in the struggle for throwing-off Japanese influence.  I think the best Pro positions will focus more fully on the U.S. Okinawan relations, and the strategic value of the military presence in Okinawa. There is a view that the U.S. expansion of its hegemony following the Second World War was nothing more than another powerful political entity engaged in good-old fashioned empire-building.

Pajon 2010:
The Japanese Constitution of 1947 prohibited the maintenance of armed forces and the recourse to war. The U.S. bases thus represented a kind of "insurance policy" guaranteeing homeland security. For the Americans, the facilities became part of U.S. military strategy, which relies on an international network of bases described by some analysts as an Empire. The restoration of sovereignty in 1952 did not, however, cover the Ryukyu archipelago, whose strategic importance in the eyes of Americans justified the continuation of a trusteeship. Okinawa was handed back to Japan 20 years later, in 1972.[8]

Clearly Japan has its own reasons for supporting U.S. presence in the region. Japan's minuscule military budget has allowed it to sink billions of Yen into the economic revitalization of the island nation allowing it to attain status as an economic power-house, while ensuring that the imposing bulwark of U.S. military strength was positioned far away in the remote Ryukyu prefecture. 

Bandow 2014:
The bases remain because no one else in Japan wants to host American military forces. Thus, Tokyo politicians have every incentive to keep the U.S. presence (about three-quarters of base area and more than half of 47,000 military personnel) concentrated in the most distant, least influential, and poorest prefecture. After a decade of negotiation Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2006 to move some Marines to Guam and shift Futenma airbase to the less populated Henoko district of Nago city. Few Okinawans were satisfied.
Three years later the Democratic Party of Japan took power and promised to address Okinawans' concerns. The party also advocated a more equal bilateral security partnership. But the Obama administration proved to be as intransigent as its predecessor, thwarting the efforts of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who eventually resigned.

Nevertheless Japan has a formidable defense force in comparison to other regional powers and could easily expand its operational capabilities which brings me to the first contention.

Japan Should Defend Itself

Recalling the horrors of World War II many fear the prospect of a fully-armed Japan. However, there has been a significant shift in the balance of power with China challenging territorial waters and a nuclear armed North Korea, the likelihood of a repeat of Japanese aggressiveness is unlikely.  But, like any modern, legitimate nation, Japan has a duty to defend itself.

Bandow 2010:
Many Japanese citizens are equally opposed to a larger Japanese military and more expansive foreign policy. Their feelings are understandable, given the horrors of World War II. However, the most fundamental duty of any national government is defense. If the Japanese people want a minimal (or no) military, that is their right. But they should not expect other nations to fill the defense gap.
Moreover, with an expected $1.6 trillion deficit this year alone, the United States can no longer afford to protect countries which are able to protect themselves. Washington has more than enough on its military plate elsewhere in the world.

Bandow argues the key to regional defense lies in cooperation between powerful nations like Japan, South Korea and India permitting a reduced U.S. presence in the region. It seems Japan has already made moves to strengthen its defensive position by permitting offensive operations.

White 2015:
Seventy years after the end of World War II, Japan has become a normal military power again.
Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe forced through Japan's lower house a law that abandons Japan's self-imposed limits on the use of armed force. It removes the barriers that prevented Japan exercising "collective self-defence" by fighting in support of other countries when Japan is not under direct attack, and from fighting outside the east Asian region.
This "reinterprets" Article 9 of Japan's constitution so radically that it now hardly matters whether the controversial clause is eventually repealed or not. It has become a dead letter.

While the power of Japan's defense force may seem insignificant one should not let appearances influence one's judgment. It is reported the Japanese defense forces intentionally maintain a low public profile. Nevertheless, they are trained by the U.S. military including some of the most highly-trained pilots in the region. They have conducted joint military operations for decades and were to play a strategic role in defending the nation from a potential Communist Russia invasion force which fortunately never came. 

Bandow 2014:
Devoting only one percent of its GDP to defense has allowed Tokyo to create a potent "Self-Defense Force." Spending more would enable Japan to build a military well able to deter Chinese adventurism. South Korea has twice the population and 40 times the GDP of the so-called Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as about every technological, financial, and diplomatic advantage imaginable. Seoul does not need America's assistance.
Australia, Vietnam, Singapore, and other countries have been boosting their military outlays in response to increasing Chinese assertiveness. India is expanding its involvement in Southeast Asia, acting as another counter to Beijing. While America should be watchful and wary, nothing on the horizon looks likely to overwhelm Washington's friends and allies.
Nor does America's Okinawa bastion have much military utility. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald Fogelman admitted that the Marines "serve no military function. They don't need to be in Okinawa to meet any time line in any war plan."

Give Okinawa Back

A heavy cost was paid in the Second World War in the Battle of Okinawa.  Tens of thousands of U.S. troops died and hundreds of thousands Japanese and Okinawa citizens perished. Dubbed the "typhoon of steel", it was one of the most horrific campaigns of the U.S. "island-hopping" strategy allowing it to secure a nearby foothold from which to carry-out its offensive campaign against the Japanese nation. In many respect the Okinawans were caught in the middle. Now, more than 60 years later does it make sense for the U.S. to continue to occupy a significant part of the Okinawan homeland?Soviet communism has collapsed, China has most-favored trade status, South Korea is a formidable regional ally, Vietnam has normalized relations, and the entire balance of power has shifted. No longer is it possible for a nation to build an imperialist war-machine while the the rest of the world is unaware. The Okinawan people want more autonomy to decide what is best for their homeland and the U.S. should restore what they have taken.

Mitchell 2015:
According to a November 1949 Time magazine article titled “Okinawa: Forgotten Island,” between March and September 1949, U.S. service members had committed 29 murders, 18 rapes, 16 robberies and 33 assaults against the island’s 600,000 residents. The article described troops’ morale and discipline as worse than that of “any U.S. force in the world.”
Three years later, the plight of Okinawans grew even worse when the Treaty of San Francisco — which ended the U.S. occupation of mainland Japan — placed Okinawa under U.S. control. The island had become the victim of a new Washington mind-set that replaced the fight against Nazism with the Red Scare. Mao Zedong had taken China in 1949 and then the Korean War had broken out in 1950. Situated in the East China Sea, Okinawa was regarded by Washington and Tokyo as a bulwark against the expansion of communism. With this in mind, the U.S. embarked upon its second Battle of Okinawa.
Known locally as the time of “bayonets and bulldozers,” in the early 1950s U.S. troops drove Okinawan farmers from their land to make way for new or expanded military bases. One of the most infamous of these confiscations took place on the island of Iejima in 1955, where American troops first tricked residents into signing voluntary evacuation papers before dragging those who refused from their homes, bulldozing their farms and slaughtering their livestock.

These reports of U.S. strong-arm tactics were widely reported but admittedly there may have been little sympathy at the time as so many people on both sides paid such a high price for peace. Nevertheless, the suffering of Okinawans has continued.

Chanlett-Avery & Rinehart 2016:
The United States paid locals for the acquired land, but in some cases this purchase reportedly involved deception or outright coercion, using bulldozers and bayonets to evict unwilling residents. During the period of American administration, Okinawans had no political authority or legal redress for crimes committed by servicemembers—though the worst crimes were prosecuted through court martial. The Korean War and Vietnam War eras brought an influx of thousands of additional U.S. soldiers and added grievances to local residents, along with a major increase in revenue for businesses catering to GIs.[6]

As you research the Pro side, you will no doubt find many references to crimes and violence perpetrated by U.S. service personnel stationed in Okinawa. These reports in and of themselves may not be enough to convince a judge, however, because, while terrible, Con will present evidence which shows the crime rate at the hands of U.S. personnel is much lower than that perpetrated by Okinawans. Nevertheless, these reports are useful as part of a multi-contention position supporting the resolution, for example, a contention describing the injustice of land seizures, a contention describing crimes against locals, and a contention which describes the ecological and economic impacts of U.S. military activities on the island.

Taylor undated:
It goes without saying that military bases produced environmental degradation of various kinds. In the case of Okinawa, where such large proportion of the surface area of the main island is covered with bases, the bases have had a number of direct environmental impacts. However, they have also indirectly affected Okinawa’s environment through their effects upon its political economy, and thus, political ecology

Taylor describes some of the ecological impacts which have inspired opposition and activism on the part of environmental protectionist groups on the island. The ecological impact including the blocking of access to many off-shore fishing zones has taken a toll on Okinawans.

Despite the presence of large and noisy military facilities on the island, Okinawa is an increasingly popular tourist site for many regional visitors.  The growing Chinese middle class is drawn to Okinawa as a vacation destination because it is near-by and still exhibits some pristine tropical beauty.  This is something the local Okinawan administrators would love to exploit. But the U.S. presence impedes further economic development.

Pajon 2010:
Moreover, as the bases occupy about 20% of the main island of Okinawa, they strongly constrain traffic, which is constantly congested. With the urbanization of the last forty years, the bases have increasingly impinged on local communities (in terms of noise and pollution). They represent a real obstacle to the implementation of an economic development policy or urban planning by some municipalities.[12]

Pro debaters will have little difficulty finding plenty of evidence to support the major contentions I have outlined in this position.  I could go much, much deeper, but at this point in the season even novices should possess basic research skills and understand how to structure a case. Just be wary of highly biased sources.

This is a pretty good topic. Have fun with it.

Here is the Con position


Bandow, D. (2010) Japan Can Defend Itself, This article appeared on The National Interest Online on May 12, 2010, Cato Institute. accessed 2/16/2016 at:

Bandow, D. (2014) U.S. Should Close Bases on Okinawa: Bring Troops Home and Let Japanese Defend Japan, The Huffinton Post, 12/27/2014, Updated Feb 25, 2015 accessed 2/15/2015 at:

Chanlett-Avery, E., Rinehart, IE., The U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa and the Futenma Base Controversy, Congressional Research Service, January 20, 2016 accessed 2/15/2016 at:

Mitchell, J. (2015) The Battle of Okinawa: America’s good war gone bad, The Japan Times, mar. 30, 2015. Accessed 2/16/2016 at:

Pajon, C, (2010), Understanding the Issue of U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa, IFRI, Center For Asian Studies, June 2010, accessed 2/15/2016 at:

Taylor, J. (undated) Anti-Military and Environmental Movements in Okinawa (draft), accessed online 2/16/2016 at: - Note: this is a draft copy of Dr. Taylor's paper.

White, H (2015), Asia needs strong Japan to check rising China, The Age, July 21, 2015, accessed 2/16/2016 at:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

PF Mar 2016 - Military Presence in Okinawa - Introduction

NOTE: This will be my final PF topic analysis for the 2015/2016 season.  It is possible I will decide to post various topics of interest and instruction of a more general nature from time-to-time throughout the spring and summer.  I may see some of you in Salt Lake City this June.  For the rest, I intend to be back at it next September.

Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.


The presence of U.S. military forces in Okinawa, one of a chain of islands belonging to Japan, extends from the end of World War Two until now. During that war the U.S. extended its military reach in the Pacific by occupying various islands in a line from Hawaii to the South China Sea and was thus able to project power into the region in a time when it was not possible to fly fully-equipped aircraft from U.S. territories to the island of Japan. After the war ended, the U.S. continued to maintain and occupy many of these military facilities including those on the main islands of Japan.  At the end of the war, Japan rewrote its constitution, renouncing its former aggressive imperialism and banned the continuance of an offensive military force, instead choosing to maintain a smaller, less-capable, self-defence force. Within two years of the adoption of the revised Japanese constitution, on ongoing civil war in China ended with the establishment of a communist regime contrary to U.S. interests.  Then, in 1950, the Korean conflict erupted and as U.S. forces were relocated to the Korean front-lines, the vulnerability of Japan to outside aggression was exposed and the U.S. supported strengthening and augmenting the Japanese Defense force under the 1952 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.  It may be an over-simplification to say, but the continued U.S. presence in the far-east and in particular the islands of Japan have been justified by claims the presence of such forces were necessary to defend Japan from its enemies and to ensure U.S. hegemony in the region which happens to be very close to the strait of Malacca, one of the most important shipping lanes in the region of the South China Sea through which billions upon billions of dollars worth of oil and trade goods pass. The ability to maintain operational readiness in the region has long been a primary concern of U.S. military strategists and no doubt this claim is all the more important in light of recent expansionist activities in the region by China and perceived Chinese aggression with Japan over certain disputed islands in the region.

Many in Japan and in particular Okinawa, see the presence of U.S. troops as a kind of occupation force which has little relevance in a time of peace and in an age when U.S. military reach is truly global. For the last 20 years or more, there has been increasing discontent with the U.S. presence in Okinawa. The major bases are in the middle of core population areas and various incidents and clashes between the U.S forces and citizens has resulted in very vocal demands for relocation of the forces. Most notable was the 1995 rape of a 12 year old girl by three U.S. personnel and a number of other incidents of criminal behavior by occupying troops has led to a large body of resentment. In addition, claims of noise pollution and environmental impacts are cited. In 2012, the U.S. and Japan came to an agreement to reduce the military presence and move the majority of remaining forces to other areas. The presence of the military bases are believed to hamper economic investment in Okinawa. In addition there are groups on the island who view the U.S. and indeed even Japan as usurpers and occupiers of a sovereign state having roots in the Ryukyu Kingdom dating back some 600 years. There is much more that can be said about the impacts of U.S. presence, in particular the economics of occupation, but in the interests of keeping this article space more compact I will touch upon it later.

Why Okinawa?

So one may ask, why Okinawa? The U.S. has presence in many sovereign places in the region and no doubt the same tensions and conflicts are played out not only on the smaller islands but also mainland Japan. For that matter, the same conflicts may exist in Italy, Germany, Britain, or any number of nations.  Indeed, one does not need to look too deeply to find calls for U.S. forces to withdrawal from many nations around the world. I suppose this topic could have been directed to any of these locations or even extended to broader regions such as the South China Sea or Europe.  Why Okinawa? I can only speculate. There has been particularly vocal discontent arising from Okinawa for several decades, including a full-page ad in the New York Times. There have been some truly egregious crimes against local citizens in Okinawa and these kinds of things have resulted in a rich trove of media and commentary of the kind which makes Public Forum debate research much simpler and this is good for education, I suppose.  Okinawa is representative of the issue at large and so we could potentially extend many of the arguments made in this debate to other locales. For example, I personally have been in Aviano, Italy which is home to a NATO force led by the U.S. I was there as a visitor, in a non-military capacity and witnessed first-hand the under-current of resentment which was later made much worse when a NATO aircraft negligently sliced a ski-lift cable resulting in the deaths of twenty tourists. These kinds of incidents bring into question the need for such forces around the world in times of relative peace. Since there are no doubt many such examples, a more generalized resolution could result in an explosion of ground which would make it much more difficult to attack or defend.  So, the specifics of Okinawa suffice for this resolution.


The United States
Generally, a confederation of states, the United States in this context is the sovereign state in which most of you reading this are no doubt citizens. There is no need to generally define the United States other than to point out we are speaking specifically of the federal government of the United States in this resolution.

According to Merriam Webster, an expression of obligation, propriety or expediency. While it may or may not express a moral obligation, 'should' conveys a sense of urging or a strong suggestion of an action to be taken.

From Merriam Webster, to take back or to turn away from an object of attention. In this resolution, the implication is physical removal of military presence but not necessarily no longer paying attention to the military affairs of the region.

An impersonal, possessive pronoun referring to the United States.

military presence
The definition of military presence is slightly more complicated.  Generally, we are speaking of the proximity of assets including personnel) commonly reserved for military use. The term gives us no clue as to the posture or utilization of the military assets. Indeed, many military assets are multi-purpose in that can be used to carry out war or promote peaceful operations. The military presence in question is considered "permanent". Military assets in a region of conflict are not necessarily in the same category as their presence is not considered permanent. Consider the definition given in this source:

Our working definition of US overseas military presence is that it consists of all the US military assets in overseas areas that are engaged in relatively routine, regular, non-combat activities or functions. By this definition, forces that are located overseas may or may not be engaging in presence activities. If they are engaging in combat (such as Operation Enduring Freedom), or are involved in a one-time non-combat action (such as an unscheduled carrier battle group deployment from the United States aimed at calming or stabilizing an emerging crisis situation), then they are not engaging in presence activities. Thus, an asset that is located (or present) overseas may or may not be “engaged in presence activities,” may or may not be “doing presence.”
We have thus far defined presence activities chiefly in “negative” terms—what they are not. In more positive terms, what exactly are presence activities, i.e., what do presence activities actually entail doing?
Overseas military presence activities are generally viewed as a subset of the overall class of activities that the US government uses in its efforts to promote important military/security objectives [Dismukes, 1994]. A variety of recurrent, overseas military activities are normally placed under the “umbrella” concept of military presence. These include but are not limited to US military efforts overseas to train foreign militaries; to improve inter-operability of US and friendly forces; to peacefully and visibly demonstrate US commitment and/or ability to defend US interests; to gain intelligence and familiarity with a locale; to conduct peacekeeping activities; and to position relevant, capable US military assets such that they are likely to be available sooner rather than later in case an evolving security operation or contingency should call for them.

The definition is important in establishing the fact military presence serves complex objectives which will no doubt be important in this debate.

Geographically, Okinawa is the name assigned to the largest island of the Ryukyu Island group in the Pacific approximately 400 miles southwest of Japan. Politically, Okinawa is a prefecture of Japan which is roughly equivalent to saying it is a province. While it long held a certain political independence, it was limited in the presence of strong Chinese influence and later Japanese influence until it was officially annexed by Japan in the late 1800's. Near the end of the Second World War, Okinawa was invaded by the United States in a horrific battle. The U.S. occupation pushed out the Japanese spurring a strong movement for Okinawan independence which no doubt accounts for much of the discontent present today.  The U.S. military and by extension, the U.S. government for all practical purposes ruled Okinawa until 1972 when the islands were returned to Japanese administration.

Monday, February 1, 2016

PF Feb 2016 - Carbon Tax - Con Position

Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

For part one of this discussion, click here.

Con Position

There are two major reasons not to adopt a carbon tax (CT).  First, the tax will impose an expense on major industries and utilities. When business expenses increase the cost of products increase and so it is the consumers of those products who will pay the cost. Those businesses which cannot pass their expenses onto the consumer will cut back possibly leading to loss of jobs. Ultimately, then, the majority of hard-working, lower to middle income citizens will be most harmed.  The carbon tax is a regressive tax. Low incomes pay more, upper incomes pay less. Second, given the fact that American consumers will pay more, what will they get in return? The evidence for those nations which have implemented a carbon tax is mixed. In some cases, the overall volume of carbon emissions has decreased. Perhaps people are walking more because they can't afford to drive.  In other cases, the drop in emissions has been modest to nothing, mainly due to the fact that loop-holes and exemptions will mean some industries will continue to emit GHGs at pre-tax levels.  But even if the U.S. implementation does succeed in lowering U.S. emissions, it is unlikely to reduce the rate of global of warming and it is nearly certain it will not reverse.  Other large, developing nations such as China, India and Brazil churn out millions of tons of GHGs into an already saturated ecosystem. Now while, that may seem like a tough position to take considering that SOMETHING must be done if climate studies are to be believed, then why not accept the Pro position that a federally mandated carbon tax can be revenue-neutral by lowering other taxes and still take a step in the right direction in lowering overall emission rates? Revenue-neutrality is very much a point of contention, so rather than lay the cost on American tax payers, we should look at alternative solutions. To that end, there is another non-topical solution which we may also consider.  Currently, there are at least four states considering their own carbon tax; Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington and Oregon. This solution may have better appeal because, the revenues generated remain local to the taxpayer and can be used for things which more directly benefit the taxpayers.  Additionally the politicians and agencies which control the administration of the tax are presumably more accessible to the residents of the state as opposed to the bureaucrats in Washington D.C.

Harms and Disadvantages

The carbon tax is a regressive tax which disproportionally burdens the lower income Americans. This is confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office.

CBO 2013:
The higher prices resulting from a carbon tax would tend to be regressive—that is, they would impose a larger burden (relative to income) on low-income households than on high-income households. The reason is that low income households spend a larger share of their income on goods and services whose prices would increase the most, such as electricity and transportation. For example, an earlier CBO analysis concluded that a policy that set a price of $28 per metric ton on CO2 emissions would increase costs for households by amounts that would equal about 2.5 percent of after-tax income for the average household in the lowest one-fifth (quintile) of the income distribution but less than 1 percent of after-tax income for the average household in the highest quintile.15 Other analysts reached similar conclusions using a different method for allocating the cost of a carbon tax among households.16 They estimated that the burden imposed by a tax of $20 per ton on CO2 emissions would amount to 1.8 percent of before-tax income for households in the lowest quintile and about 0.7 percent of before-tax income for households in the highest quintile. A carbon tax would still be regressive, although less so, if the cost of the tax was measured relative to households’ lifetime income rather than their annual income. [8-9]

Further, according to the CBO, a carbon tax would disproportionally harm key business sectors, and have negative impacts.

CBO 2013:
Workers and investors in fossil-fuel industries (such as coal mining and oil extraction) and in energy-intensive industries (such as chemicals, metals, and transportation) would tend to experience comparatively large losses in income under a carbon tax because demand for their products would decline.

History shows that when government imposes high cost on American industries, corporations will seek relief by shifting their operations to offshore locations where the regulatory burdens are less. In fact this is a major disadvantage to the fact that not every nation has jumped on to the "save the planet" bandwagon.  We have learned from past debate topics that nations struggling to maintain a basic economy have little motivation to be curtail activities which "save the planet".

IER 2009:
Domestic carbon taxes will force more industries to leave America. Energy costs are a major expenditure for heavy industry. America’s natural gas prices are the highest in the world, even though we have the world’s sixth largest proven natural gas reserves. The high price of natural gas has significantly contributed to the loss of more than three million manufacturing jobs since 2000. Carbon taxes will drive up the cost of natural gas because companies would use it as a substitute for coal in electricity production, which means increased electricity costs for industry and increased natural gas prices. This is especially troublesome for chemical companies, all of which use natural gas not only as an energy source, but also as a feedstock. Higher natural gas prices will force them to pursue options offshore and overseas, reducing American jobs.

While the CBO notes that eventually these job-losses will be offset over time, there is no estimate how long people will be unemployed.  Worse yet, the loss of jobs will be greater in regions of the country where the target industries are concentrated.

CBO 2013:
The effects of a carbon tax would vary by region as well. Parts of the country that rely on fossil fuels or energy intensive production for income would experience larger losses than other regions. Likewise, households in places where electricity is generated from coal would probably see larger increases in electricity prices than their counterparts in other regions. For example, analysts have estimated that a tax of about $21 per metric ton on CO2 emissions would raise the price of electricity by an average of 16 percent for the United States as a whole, but that increase would vary widely in different parts of the country. Households in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin would see the biggest rise in electricity prices (27 percent), and households in California would see the smallest rise (7 percent).[9]

The Cato Institute's Murphy, et al. have written an essential report every Con debater should have in their files. They cite many misconceptions and inaccuracies which discredit some of the strongest arguments of CT proponents. For example, often the experience of British Columbia as an example of carbon tax done right is touted. But Murphy, et al. deflate the claims.

Murphy, Michaels & Knappenberger 2015:
When moving from academic theory to historical experience, we see that carbon taxes have not lived up to the promises of their supporters. In Australia, the carbon tax was quickly removed after the public recoiled against electricity price hikes and a faltering economy. Even in British Columbia — touted as the world’s finest example of a carbon tax — the experience has been underwhelming. After an initial (but temporary) drop, the B.C. carbon tax has not yielded significant reductions in gasoline purchases, and it has arguably reduced the B.C. economy’s performance relative to the rest of Canada.[3]

So if a CT creates disadvantages for everyday Americans by negatively effecting the nations economy, then where is the Pro case?  Certainly taxes produce revenue streams for governments and it is governments which decide how to use the money. But let's not lose sight of the fact, the real reason for imposing this hardship on people is to do something to mitigate global warming.

CT Does Not Solve

If we accept the reduction of GHG emissions as the core objective then we must ask ourselves why is that an objective and is a CT the best way to achieve the objective. The why is based on the claims of climate scientists that GHG emissions are one of the main reasons for global warming and its related harms. Therefore a proposed CT must lower emissions. One thing is certain. People still need energy and unless a CT somehow drives innovation in the development of alternative energy sources, people will burn coal, trees, rubber or what ever else they can to get the energy they need and these are all carbon sources.

Cass 2015:
But empirical evidence demonstrates that the price signal generated by the kinds of carbon taxes under consideration will not lead to technological breakthroughs. That evidence comes from Europe, a comparably sized market to ours, where taxes and related policies have already pushed energy costs far above the levels that a carbon tax would take them in the United States. For instance, $1 of tax on a ton of CO2 emissions adds approximately one cent to the cost of a gallon of gas. With gas prices typically at least $4 higher than U.S. prices, Europe already has the equivalent of a carbon tax on the order of $400 per ton of CO2. Similarly, taxes and fees drive Europe's electricity costs up to more than double U.S. rates, the equivalent of a carbon tax of more than $200 per ton. To the extent that large price signals will produce innovation, the United States could presumably free-ride on the incentives offered and paid for by the European market. But such innovation has not been forthcoming, and it is unclear why more of the same signals in the American market would change the dynamic.

So if a CT fails to spark the technological revolution, then what about lowering emissions?  As I have pointed out in my analysis, the carbon tax does not impose limits (caps) on emission rates.  It assumes the cost of emitting will drive emission rates down.  However, a report by the Congressional Budget Office, states there is a better way to guarantee lower emissions.

CBO 2013:
...although this report focuses on a carbon tax, lawmakers could implement other policies that would both raise revenues and set a price on CO2—such as a cap-and-trade program in which the government sold emission allowances rather than giving them to firms at no cost. A cap-and-trade program could provide more certainty about the overall amount of CO2 emissions, which would be set by the cap, but it would provide less certainty about the price of emissions, which would depend on the cost of meeting the chosen cap.[5]

So we see that while a CT provides a cost certainty (it is fixed by the imposed tax rate), cap-and-trade provides a revenue stream but more importantly, guarantees a reduction in emissions.

CBO 2013:
The United States currently accounts for about 18 percent of global CO2 emissions; that share is projected to decline to about 15 percent by 2035 as emissions in other countries rise. Acting on its own, the United States could have only a modest effect on the amount of warming. In particular, efforts to limit global warming are likely to require significant reductions in emissions by rapidly growing economies, such as those of China and India.[14]

The big picture, then, is not pretty without full international cooperation.  The Con position agrees something must done, and indeed, the U.S. is already implementing regulatory measures to limit emissions.  We just need a better solution than the federal government imposing a regressive tax on American consumers.


This position offers an approach for disputing Pro claims advocating a carbon tax and provides a fundamental launching point for further research.  Look at how the Pro advocacy results in harms and disadvantages. In this case, I have focused on the impact on American labor and the export of jobs to countries with fewer operations expenses. Then, I show that a carbon tax may not succeed in lowering emissions and even if the judge does not buy that, there is a lot of suffering to endure for no real benefit when examined in a global context. And finally I suggest that state initiatives or cap-and-trade, while perhaps no less painful to consumers, may be more acceptable to Americans or provide a much more certain method for reducing emissions.

Cass O (2015), The carbon tax shell game, National Affairs, Issue 24 Summer 2015. Accessed 1/21/2016.

CBO (2013) Effects of a carbon tax on the economy and the environment, Conggressional Budget Office, May 2013. Accessed 1/21/2016.

IER (2009), Carbon Taxes: Reducing Economic Growth—Achieving No Environmental Improvement, Institute for Energu Research, Mar. 2009, accessed 1/21/2016

Murphy RP, Michaels PJ, Knappenberger PC (2015), The case against a carbon tax, The Cato Institute, Working paper 33. accessed 1/21/2016.