CDL Students Prepare to Debate America’s Military Commitments Abroad

The debaters and coaches of the CDL are working hard, preparing to debate the new high school resolution concerning American military commitments abroad. The exact wording of the resolution is: 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.

In general, debates will focus on the appropriate level of involvement for U.S. forces and weapons systems around the world. Many analysts believe we are already stretched past the breaking point by our commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Others believe that a strong, consistent American military posture overseas is an important symbol and guarantor that American interests will be advanced. One other broad theme on the topic concerns the role of the Armed Forces in American society and how specific proposals affect the level of cooperation between the national military commanders and the Obama Administration.

Debates will focus on important issues of national security, military strategy, the expense of conflict in dollars and lives, and the importance of alliances with other nations. Evidence for debates on this topic will come from the a wide variety of think tanks, government agencies including the Armed Forces, former military personnel, and civilian analysts.

One very central issue concerns United States troop levels in Afghanistan. After a year-long review, President Obama committed over 100,000 troops for deployment there. At the same time, he announced that America would begin to withdraw our troops in July 2011, with no definite date established for complete departure. As the situation has developed, comments from our military leadership indicate we may stay involved at a higher level for a longer period of time than previously indicated. The affirmative plan offered on the debate topic proposes the rapid withdrawal of most of our troops, in advance of the current deadline. The central clash concerns whether this would promote or decrease regional stability, particularly in nuclear-ar med neighboring Pakistan.

A second important issue involves the American military base in Okinawa, Japan. In 1960, the U.S. and Japan signed a historic treaty, which committed the United States to help defend Japan if Japan came under attack. This treaty provided for bases and ports for U.S. armed forces in Japan, the largest of which is on the island of Okinawa. American troop presence there is highly controversial with local residents and potentially threatens to disrupt the entire U.S.-Japan alliance. This affirmative plan proposes the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Okinawa. The central clash concerns whether this would entice opportunistic elements in China, North Korea and beyond to be more aggressive and trigger a dangerous conflict in the region .