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@The Arts Unit Art Bites – High school debate club – 07. With Indigo Crosweller

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INDIGO CROSWELLER: Hi, guys. My name's Indigo. I've been debating for a lot of years now. I did it all through primary school and high school, and I've always done the Premier's Debating Challenge until I graduated.

My team in high school did quite well. I think in Year 10 we won the championship and in Year 9 I went to Junior State Debating Championships, which is an awesome opportunity for anyone that gets a chance to do it. Definitely go for it. So, today, I'm going to give you guys a few tips and tricks on how to deal with topics that relate to state intervention. So just quickly, state intervention is debates about one government intervening in the operations of another government because we think they're doing a bad thing.

So, a couple of examples of that might be a topic about invading North Korea or a topic that we should put sanctions on China for not cooperating with the World Health Organisation. See how in those topics, it is one government doing something, whether it be sanctions or invading, in order to stop or punish another government for something they're doing that we don't agree with. So, I'm going to give you guys a little bit of an explanation with how to deal with that now.

So, the first thing to know about this is that we don't intervene for just any reason. So, when you're dealing with these debates, if you're the affirmative team, your burden here is to explain why the thing that our enemy state is doing is so bad that it justifies us punishing them or influencing them in some way. So, for example, states like New Zealand do things that we don't necessarily agree with all of the time.

Maybe they have a politician who says something about Australia that we don't like. Maybe their Prime Minister is of a different political persuasion. But we don't go in and invade them, and we don't put sanctions on them and things like that. The reason for that is that countries have to do something quite bad to necessitate us intervening in some way.

So, the affirmative team first has to explain, why is it that our enemy state deserves to be intervened against? Often that's easy in the debates because if the topic is that we should invade North Korea, it's very easy to explain that when North Korea abuses its citizens' human rights and doesn't have freedom of the media and other abuses of human rights like that, you can explain quite easily why those things are bad enough to mean that we need to intervene because we have to protect their citizens.

It might be a little bit more difficult in the debate about putting sanctions on China for not cooperating with the World Health Organisation. But you can explain it with an extra step by saying, by not complying with the World Health Organisation, China is putting the rest of the world at risk and has also hurt its own citizens. So, you need to explain the harm that country is doing, which means we need to intervene.

On the negative team you might argue that that state hasn't done enough to justify us intervening. So, you might say, for instance, that we shouldn't intervene in North Korea because we don't have enough evidence about what's happened, and maybe it would be unfair. I think that argument would be hard to win in relation to North Korea. But once you've proved that there's enough harm to justify doing something, then you need to explain what that something should be.

And in debates about intervention, you have a few options. So, the first option we're going to call military intervention. And this is the kind of intervention that the affirmative team is in support of in debates about invading other states. And that is when we use our military or some kind of force to invade or intervene in another country.

America is one of the biggest users of this kind of intervention because they have quite a strong military, and they have quite a poor history of military interventions. So, if you're on the negative team, you might argue that military interventions very rarely change the way that our enemy state is acting but much more likely just make the country a bit of a disaster and often hurts the citizens. The affirmative team is going to say, we should use military intervention because it's fast and we know it's going to work because we're able to go in and take over the government by using force, which means we'll definitely have control.

But, on the alternative, you have other options. So, the negative team might want to argue for using other non-military interventions instead. Your options in terms of that are diplomatic negotiations and different kinds of economic sanctions. You might have learned about economic sanctions in school, but those things are like sanctions that look like boycotting certain countries or using tariffs or increasing the prices of things that we buy from that country. Those are economic interventions.

Let's talk first about diplomatic interventions, though. If you are on the negative team on the debate that we should invade North Korea, you might say, we shouldn't militarily invade North Korea because military invasions often end up quite messy and often end up hurting or even killing citizens. Instead, what we should do is we should attempt diplomatic negotiations.

So, what that looks like is kind of like what Donald Trump did in having a meeting with Kim Jong Un at the start of last year. That is a kind of diplomatic negotiation and a diplomatic intervention by starting a conversation with the country. Diplomatic negotiations can be even bigger than that. For example, you might do something like invite the enemy state to the UN to talk about the issues, and invite the UN to discuss and influence that country to change their policies. Sometimes that might work. That would be the first step of the negative team, to suggest just having a conversation or a friendly chat to encourage the other state to change.

But the affirmative team might come back and say, North Korea isn't going to listen. We've already tried having a friendly chat to them. So, then the negative team might say, OK, well, if diplomatic negotiations fail, we can try economic sanctions, which is the other kind of non-military intervention. And what that would mean is we wouldn't buy any products that North Korea sells or we might even stop importing anything from them. We might stop selling things to them as well.

The reason why economic sanctions are more effective than diplomatic negotiations sometimes is that they have a direct impact on that country. Because if you refuse to buy things from a country or you refuse to sell it, it affects their economy and it makes things in that country more or less expensive, and it changes their income. There are few reasons why you might rebut the idea of economic sanctions.

The first is because it is most likely going to hurt citizens and not affect the government. In a lot of aggressive states, like North Korea and China, the ruling class or the people who hold the power are often aren't affected by whether or not Australians buy things from Chinese factories because they have enough wealth to support themselves. So, when we would put economic sanctions on China, the people that it really affects are the working class in China. So, it's obvious that the affirmative team might say, no, we shouldn't do that because it will hurt citizens.

So, now we've got a brief overview of those three kinds of intervention, military intervention on one side and non-military intervention, which is diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions. Let's talk a little bit about some examples and how we would apply those. So, in terms of military interventions, the most common debate that you're likely to get in the Premier's Debating Challenge and actually a debate that I had twice in high school in different years of the challenge is that we should invade North Korea. So, let's step through those principles.

On the affirmative, the first principle that you want to make is that we have to intervene because North Korea's actions are bad enough. So, you need to explain what the level is that means we have to do something. And it's easy to do with North Korea. You can explain it. And if you want, you can go and read a little bit more about it. There's lots of things written in the news.

But you can explain it by saying there are lots of human rights abuses. These citizens don't have freedom of movement. They're not able to leave and come into the country very easily. And there's no free media, so lots of the media is censored, and the government has a lot of control over what people say and what people read. So, we would say that is enough to mean that we have to do something to help the citizens of North Korea.

Sometimes that argument is called a responsibility to protect principle, and that's just a fancy way of saying we have a responsibility to other citizens because they're fellow humans. So, if their government is hurting them, we should step in to protect them. So, you're going to explain why the harm is bad enough. Then you'll say, so how should we stop that harm from happening? The only option is to militarily intervene.

There are a few reasons why you might say that's a good option. The first is you could argue that it is quick and effective and will stop the harm from happening in the most effective and efficient way. So, you could say something like, we will send Australian troops, or maybe your America in this debate, and we will send American troops, and they will go in, and they will take over the government, and they will only use force when they need it.

It's important for the affirmative team to try and minimise the use of force in the debate because you don't want to go in and be killing everyone. You don't want to go in and be very violent because often that will turn out to kill citizens. And that looks quite bad and isn't something that the adjudicator is going to think is a good idea. So, really what you should be explaining is, we will only use force or weapons if we need to. But we will send troops in. They'll take over the government.

You could argue that's very efficient but the negative team is likely to say in response, well, actually, you're just going to kill lots of citizens. And this is where the negative team's case comes in. Because the negative team has a few options. The first thing they can do is they can say, this state hasn't done enough to justify an intervention. Often that won't work because the state that is the enemy state in the debate will be quite well known to have done quite bad things.

So, I think the better tactic for the negative team is to say, we shouldn't militarily intervene. And then give us some reasons why military interventions might be bad, so the risk to citizens, the fact that often it means that the country whose military is sending in, so Australia or America, has to control that country for quite a while until it becomes stable again. And that's quite a big burden on Australia or America and often means that the country is never stable again.

But there are other reasons why you might argue that a military intervention is a bad idea, and that is by proposing one of the non-military interventions instead. So, saying something like, instead of sending in the military, we should just have a diplomatic negotiation with that country. It's not enough just to name diplomatic negotiations as an option. You need to give us reasons why that might mean that the behaviour of the enemy state changes.

So, saying something like, if we have a meeting with these people and we explain that we might put economic sanctions on them in the future if they don't change their behaviour, that is a diplomatic negotiation that is likely to influence them to change their behaviour. Then the negative team might say, and in the case when diplomatic negotiations don't work, then we go to stage two of interventions, which is economic sanctions. And then you can explain the reasons why you think those are likely to work.

So, for example, in the debate about putting economic sanctions on China because they haven't complied with the WHO, you might make an argument that economic sanctions would be very effective for China because their economy has been slowing down recently and also because their country is very dependent on exporting, so selling products to other countries. So, if we stop buying their products, it will affect their economy very quickly in a very intense way. So, giving a reason like that to explain why the country is likely to care about the kind of intervention that you're making.

So, that's a very brief overview of the three different kinds of interventions and which team is likely to stand for which. It's easy to come up with the reasons why certain kinds of interventions are going to be good or bad. The important thing to remember is that you can't just name them. You have to explain specifically why that enemy state is going to care about that kind of intervention. Make sure you're proving every step of those arguments, but that's the general structure. I hope you found it helpful, and I'm sure I'll speak to you guys soon.

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