January 2014 Topic and Framework

January 2014

Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.

A weighing mechanism, one type of Framework, is a rubric you create and provide for the judge to assess the debate. Often you will have to create a weighing mechanism based on the arguments you wish to discus. Sometimes, weighing mechanisms are explicit in the resolution. The January 2014 resolution has an explicit weighing mechanism – military aid and development assistance. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, that is simply saying what the arguments of the round will be?” In order to see the weighing mechanism, you have to realize that behind these sides are implicit values.

Often you know that certain ideas or arguments are at odds in a given resolution. The WM should focus on these ideas because the topic requires debaters to confront them. You want to set the terms of this discussion. Josh Zoffer’s lecture on Framework talks about four “classic” comparisons that are embedded in resolutions:

Lives vs. Money

Environment vs. Economy

Long-term evidence vs. Short-term evidence

Empirical (holistic) evidence vs. Anecdotal evidence

I would add the following comparisons to this list:

Long-term impacts vs. Short-term impacts

Domestic impacts vs. Foreign impacts

Change vs. Status Quo

The word “prioritized” also cues you to the value comparison explicit to the resolution. So what values are hiding being military aid and development assistance? You are not simply arguing about which is most effective, you must debate the comparative goals of both types of aid. Even if one is less effective, if its goals are ultimately preferable efficacy is not the central argument that needs to be made. Let’s look at some of the values contained in this comparison:

Military Aid

A guide to military aid published by the Center for Public Integrity lists the following categories of aid”

Coalition Support Funds (CSF): created after 9/11 to reimburse key allied countries for providing assistance to the U.S. in the global war on terror.

Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP): created after 9/11 to give the Defense Department its own funding to train and educate foreign military officers in counterterrorism techniques. In practice, CTFP has evolved into a program very similar to IMET (see definition below).

Department of Defense Counterdrug Funding: assists foreign militaries and security forces to combat drug trafficking around the world; also known as Section 1004 appropriations.

Economic Support Fund (ESF): provides grants to foreign governments to support economic stability. ESF is often used for non-military purposes, but the grants are commonly viewed as a way to help offset military expenditures. They have historically been earmarked for key security allies of the United States. Israel and Egypt are the two largest recipients of ESF.

Foreign Military Financing (FMF): finances foreign governments’ acquisition of U.S. military articles, services and training.

International Military Education and Training (IMET): educates foreign military personnel on issues ranging from democracy and human rights to technical military techniques and training on U.S. weapons systems.

International Narcotics and Law Enforcement/Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI): the primary State Department funding effort for countering drugs, including the large Colombian initiatives.

Military Assistance Program (MAP): provides military material and services to foreign countries; the U.S. government is not reimbursed. MAP includes “emergency drawdowns,” which are emergency transfers authorized by the president for weapons, ammunition, parts and military equipment to foreign governments.

Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, De-mining and Related Activities (NADR): supports de-mining, anti-terrorism, and nonproliferation training and assistance.

Peacekeeping Operations (PKO)

Main values:

Counterterrorism, combatting Drug Trafficking, weapons and troops provision, Peacekeeping, nonproliferation

Obviously, not all of these values will matter for the topic of the Sahel region (non-proliferation).

Development Assistance

According to USAID, there are many sectors and components to our development assistance programs. These include

In Africa, USAID is focused on:

  • Boosting agricultural productivity through the Feed the Future Initiative
  • Strengthening health systems through the Global Health Initiative
  • Supporting democracy, human rights, and good governance
  • Increasing resilience to climate shocks
  • Leading quick responses to humanitarian crises

USAID’s mission includes: “Our assistance develops the markets of the future; long-time aid recipients have become strong trade partners and are the fastest growing markets for American goods. USAID is developing partnerships with countries committed to enabling the private sector investment that is the basis of sustained economic growth to open new markets for American goods, promote trade overseas, and create jobs here at home”

Main values:

food security, human rights, good government, environmental protection, quality of life, peace

These values differ from those of military aid. Therefore, a good weighing mechanism will compare these goals/values in case before any arguments are made. The judge needs to be instructed how to measure the importance of these values when in competition.

USAID also makes the following statement as well:

“In an interconnected world, instability anywhere around the world can impact us here at home. Working side-by-side with the military in active conflicts, USAID plays a critical role in our nation’s effort to  stabilize countries and build responsive local governance; we work on the same problems as our military using a different set of tools. We also ease the transition between conflict and long-term development by investing in agriculture, health systems and democratic institutions. And while USAID can work in active conflict, or help countries transition from violence, the most important thing we can do is prevent conflict in the first place. This is smarter, safer and less costly than sending in soldiers.”

I highlight the phrase “we work on the same problems as our military using a different set of tools” because this is the core of the January 2014 topic. Both sides agree the US should give aid to the Sahel region, but which type of aid provides the tools necessary to accomplish our goals? As you craft arguments and research the Sahel region, think about these values and which are applicable to US aid to the Sahel region. Craft a weighing mechanism that fits your case and the topic.


Wondering how to craft a weighing mechanism or Framework in general? Get a copy of Beyond Resolved today for an in depth explanation of everything relating to Framework.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s