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Five debate topics suggested for 2010-2011 ballot


Latin America, China, Russia, UN Reform and military deployment are five suggested debate topics for 2010-2011 

Forty-three delegates from 22 states, the National Catholic Forensic League, the National Debate Coaches Association and the National Forensic League attended the NFHS-sponsored Topic Selection Meeting August 7-9 in Grand Island, New York. Eight topic reports were presented by authors who over 11 months researched each topic area. State delegates and participants deliberated for three days to determine the final five topic areas.  

Serving on the 2009 Wording Committee were: Tom Lietz, Michigan (Chairperson); Jana Riggins, Texas; Tara Tate, Illinois; Michael Starks, Wyoming; Mike Wallmark, Oregon; David Glass, New York and Pam McComas, Kansas. 

The National Catholic Forensic League, New York Forensic League and the Buffalo Forensic League hosted the annual meeting and a reception the first night of the meeting for attendees and spouses. Catherine Luhr served as the local coordinator.  

Balloting for the 2010-2011 national high school debate topic will take place in a two-fold process. During the months of September and October, coaches and students will have the opportunity to discuss the five selected problem areas. The first ballot will narrow the topics to two. A second ballot will be distributed to determine the final topic. Each state, the NFL, NCFL and the NDCA will conduct voting in November and December to determine the favored topic area. In January the NFHS will announce the 2010-2011 national high school debate topic and resolution. It will be posted on the NFHS web page at and sent to state associations and affiliate members. 

Synopsis of Problem Areas and Resolutions for 2010-2011 


PROBLEM AREA I: Latin America 

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its trade promotion toward one or more Latin American countries. 


Latin America is one of the fastest growing trade partners with the United States. However, with the expiration of the Trade Promotion Authority, the presence of costly tariff rate quotas (TRQs) and the severe barriers to commerce presented by the many U.S. farm subsidies, relations with the region are going downhill quickly. It doesn’t help that the United States is reluctant to negotiate in the area of workers’ rights and yet never ceases to pursue tougher investment and intellectual property regulations. United States interest in free trade with Latin America has clearly taken quite a downturn from the national priority the Monroe and proceeding administrations once made it. The implications of this declining relationship are enormous. If Latin America cannot gain free access to U.S. markets, its developing economies may not be able to get the stimulation they need. If the U.S. continues with protectionist policies, then the efficiency of its businesses and companies will continue to fall and eventually hope of competing with nations like China may be lost. The United States ought to be a world leader in trade and it cannot afford to falter in this arena in such a globalized world. Affirmatives will have access to plans reducing/eliminating specific farm subsidies, of which there are many (each with its own unique set of advantages and consequences). Additionally, Affirmative ground will include the embargo on Cuba, the freedom to advocate new, non-existing policies and reducing or eliminating current TRQs for Latin American countries of choice. Counterplans will probably be popular as well, specifically exclusion counterplans (especially with Cuba), a plethora of disadvantages, solvency arguments and kritiks on capitalism, colonialism, possibly racism and many others. Author: Noah Abolafia-Rosenzweig, Texas  



Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement with the People’s Republic of China on one or more of the following issues: trade, economy, environment. 


The United States and China are the two largest economies in the world when Gross Domestic Product is measured on a purchasing power basis. There are powerful reasons for the United States to build closer ties with China. Simultaneously, there are reasons for caution, given the human rights conditions and central control of the economy in China. Former Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, wrote an article in the September/October 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs entitled, “Strengthening U.S.-Chinese Ties: A Strategic Economic Engagement,” where he explains “economic engagement” as promoting interdependence between the U.S. and Chinese economies. He also explains “economic engagement” by contrasting it with the alternatives. “There are three possible ways for the United States and China to pursue their economic and trade relations: robust engagement, dispute resolution through multilateral and bilateral enforcement measures or punitive legislation.” Possible affirmative cases could focus on promoting product safety, direct foreign investment, management of currencies, protection of the environment, workers’ rights, respecting intellectual property rights, inclusion of China in major international forums such as the G8, among others. Negative positions could focus on human rights issues, concern that a stronger economy would strengthen the Chinese military, changes in the balance of power in Asia, tensions within the World Trade Organization, among others. Author: Matthew Murrell, Texas. 


Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its military and/or economic engagement toward Russia. 

The United States’ relations with Russia are strategically critical however, as noted by Leslie Belowitz, Chief Executive Officer and William T. Golden, Chair of the American Academy, “Since the fall of the Berlin Wall nearly 20 years ago, U.S. policy toward Russia and its neighbors has become fragmented, inconsistent and fleeting. Yet, Russia and other former Soviet states are increasingly important in the international arena, particularly with respect to energy security, nuclear nonproliferation, illicit trade and terrorism.” For many in America and the West, trust is an issue. Even though the Soviet Union is gone and a pseudo-democratic Russia has emerged, relations are still tense. Russia is a former superpower with weapons of mass destruction at their disposal. They have allied themselves with anti-American governments in countries such as Venezuela, Iran and Libya. Affirmative case areas may include Russia’s accession to the WTO, repealing/revising the Jackson/Vanik Amendment, increasing Freedom Support Act funds to Russia, negotiating a bi-lateral investment treaty, weapons of mass destruction, among others. Negative positions could focus on human rights issues, weakening of the U.S. nuclear deterrence capability, the lack of willingness of the WTO for Russian accession, increasing Freedom Support funds, increasing deficit spending, among others. Author: Kenneth Rohrbach, Texas. 


Resolved: The United Nations should substantially reform one or more of the following organizations: United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations World Food Programme. 

The United Nations is the most important and enduring international organization yet it is the organization that people either love or hate; yet, few can argue the importance of a multilateral organization capable of handling complex issues in today’s climate. Since the mid-1900’s, academics and the media have exposed the need for a multilateral governing body and the problems within the existing governing body. With the UN as an international actor in the resolution rather than the United States federal government, this resolution offers a unique set of theory and argumentation not previously afforded to debaters with past resolutions. In Wendell Gordon’s book, The United Nations: At the Crossroads of Reform, some of the clear issues surrounding the formation of the United Nations became clear: “to maintain international peace and security…” It was also “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion…”. Yet the nations of the world who charged the UN with these great missions never permitted it to acquire the resources needed to fulfill them.” While the span of organizations will provide for a multitude of interesting and meaningful affirmatives cases, there will also be a wide variety of negative arguments. Possible affirmatives will include human rights, world poverty and environmental issues as well as organizational restructuring and procedural changes within each organization. Negatives will find a breadth of argumentation stemming from past UN reforms and corruption within the organization as well as the programmes themselves. Other international states and non-governmental organizations (NGO) will provide a plethora of alternate actor counterplans. Critical arguments will be found in arguments on dehumanization and development. Author: Rachell Grant, Texas. 



Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey. 

The United States global military presence has expanded dramatically in the last 50 years. Despite the breadth of its global deployment, most troops and police forces are concentrated in South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Turkey. These deployments are urgent issues, with stories appearing in newspapers world-wide every single day. This resolution offers affirmatives not only an opportunity to engage the debate about military deployments but to engage these issues in a unique direction – by reducing U.S. military deployments. Most resolutions ask affirmatives to increase U.S. involvement in the world in some ways. Central issues on the topic include U.S. leadership, anti-Americanism, U.S. readiness, imperial decline and global weapons proliferation. Affirmatives can focus on reducing substantial numbers of troops, reducing nuclear weapons deployments in Turkey and South Korea, reducing missile defense systems and reducing military participation in the war on drugs in these countries. Negative arguments include countries developing nuclear weapons in response to reductions in U.S. security commitments, the harms of reducing U.S. global leadership and aggression of rogue states. Author: Stefan Bauschard, New York. 



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