March/April 2016 ld topic Analysis



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March/April 2016

LD Topic Analysis

For March and April of 2016, Lincoln-Douglas debaters will be discussing the resolution Resolved: The United States ought to promote democracy in the Middle East.This is a tremendously broad topic that touches on numerous issues from a variety of disciplines, including history, political science, international relations, law, and philosophy. It promises to be a difficult topic, but this guide should serve as a helpful resource in helping you prepare to meet its challenges.

Because of the huge size of the resolution, this paper will depart slightly from our usual format for Debate Central topic introductions. In order to maintain usability (and avoid killing an entire forest’s worth of paper should you decide to print this out), we’ll be supplementing the regular paragraph-form discussion of key points with “mini-files” composed of evidence. Although these cards will be sorted, labelled with “hats,” and underlined, you would be wise to read them in their entirety and modify them as needed to suit your particular case(s). Many of them contain additional warrants that might be useful for you in contexts beyond their purpose listed here.

If you prefer to download the evidence Mini-files alone, that is also available in a second file on Debate Central.



Before we can dive into substance, however, we need to take a look at what exactly this topic is about.

Resolutional Analysis


The United States is, obviously, the USA.
Note, however, that the resolution doesn’t mandate the United States federal government or any other particular actor. This means that democracy promotion activities conducted by charities, NGOs, foundations, or even private corporations are probably fair game for the affirmative. The only requirement is that the entity be U.S.-based. (That said, most contextual definitions of “democracy promotion” do refer to government and/or NGO activities.)
There is a debate to be had about whether affs could legitimately utilize international organizations, governmental (the UN, NATO, etc.) or otherwise (i.e. international charities). On one hand, if the U.S. is participating, such activities would qualify as “the United States promot[ing] democracy.” On the other hand, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the neg to argue that multilateral actions are extra-topical and therefore belong as negative ground. Regardless of your opinion on this question, you’d be smart to prepare to potentially have to debate it.
Ought is familiar to LD debaters, so we won’t cover it here today. If you’re brand new to debate and concerned about its usage, you can refer to previous Debate Central topic guides, where more attention is devoted to “ought.”
Promote means “to help (something) happen, develop, or increase,” “to contribute to the growth or prosperity of,” or “to help bring (as an enterprise) into being,” according to Merriam-Webster.
In the context of democracy promotion, however, it is best to define the two words together as a compound noun. While it does not have a concrete legal definition, “democracy promotion” is a term of art. International relations scholars and political scientists use it to refer to specific kinds of activities; it’s not just any time anyone talks to a dictator and says “hey, I think you should be a democracy instead.” So, the most contextual reading of the topic would see “promoting democracy” as the verb form of the compound noun “democracy promotion” and approach it accordingly.

Democracy is a contested term, meaning different factions (divided according to culture, ideology, background, etc.) define it differently. To highlight just a few of the disputes over its meaning, there is disagreement over whether it is inherently connected to political liberalism (i.e. can a nation that has free elections but does not provide legal protections for individual rights be called a democracy?), whether it is compatible with state control over markets, exactly what government institutions are or are not acceptably democratic, etc.
Happily, you probably won’t have to settle these questions in most of your debates. Again, the compound noun thing is significant. Most experts acknowledge that there is no universal interpretation of democracy, and instead define “democracy promotion” according to its process and/or stated goals, rather than attempting to measure it by its success at ushering in a thing called “democracy.”
Unhappily—unless you love T debates (and I do!)—there are still a whoooole lot of ways experts define “democracy promotion.” You’ll want to pick one that justifies your aff, and probably a couple of more limiting ones to challenge kookier cases when you’re on the negative. (And if you want to go beyond that, there is certainly a sufficient literature base to do so.) Find interpretations galore in the Mini-file that begins at the end of this section.
In the Middle East brings us to a final interpretative challenge with this resolution. As you’ve probably already discovered, “Middle East” is yet another term that lacks a universal definition. Unlike other regions, it isn’t confined by obvious geographical markers like continental borders. Across history and varying academic disciplines, the term has been used differently. Some include several countries in Northern Africa, such as Egypt, and some don’t. Some include Afghanistan, Pakistan, and various other –Stans, and some don’t. Once again, you should prepare to defend your interpretation and contest others. We’ve included pretty of evidence to help you do that in the next section.


T Interp Mini-File

Democracy promotion

Broad, general interps:



(Sandra Lavenex [Institute of Political Science at the University of Lucerne] and Frank Schimmelfennig [Centre for Comparative and International Studies at Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule], Democracy Promotion in the EU’s Neighbourhood: From Leverage to Governance?, Google Books, published by Routledge, Sept 13 2013)

We propose three ideal-typical models of democracy promotion: linkge, leverage, and governance. These models can be distinguished on four main dimensions: the target system of democracy promotion, the envisaged outcome, the main channels, and the typical instruments. • Target systems of democracy promotion. Democracy promotion can be targeted at the polity as such, including the electoral regime, the division of powers between state organs, and respect for individual rights and civil liberties. On the other hand, it may operate at the level of society and target the socio-economic preconditions for democratization, including economic growth, education, the spread of liberal values, and the organization of civil society and the public sphere. Finally, democracy promotion may also target sectors: the policy-specific governance regimessuch as environmental policy, market regulation, welfare regimes, or internal security. • Envisaged outcome of democracy promotion Depending on the target, the outcome of successful democracy promotion differs. If it is targeted at the polity level, the typical outcome should be democratic institutions guaran- teeing vertical (electoral) and horizontal accountability as well as the rule of law. When the target is society, the envisaged result is a democratic, 'civic' culture and meso-level institutions such as civic associations, parties, and a democratic public sphere. In the case of sectoral democracy promotion, the goal should be 'democratic governance', i.e. procedural prin- ciples of democratically legitimate political-administrative behaviour, including sectoral transparency, accountability, and societal participation. Channels of democracy promotion. The actors primarily addressed by inter-administrations/agencies. Correspondingly, we speak of an intergovernmental, transnational, and transgovernmental channel of democracy promotion and of a top-down, a bottom-up, and a horizontal direction of external democracy promotion. Instruments of democracy promotion The most basic distinction regarding the instruments or mechanisms of international democracy promotion is , 12 'conditionality vs. socialization. Conditionality implies a bargaining process in which an international actor uses selective incentives in order to change the behaviour of actors in the target country. These target actors are assumed to weigh the benefits they derive from democratic change against the costs and to comply with international conditions if the benefits exceed the costs. By contrast, socialization is a learning process in which an international actor teaches domestic actors democratic norms and practices in order to persuade them of their superiority. Democratic change then results from a change in normative and causal beliefs.

(A. Wetzel [postdoctoral fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research at the University of Mannheim] and J. Orbie [assoc. prof at the dept of poli sci and director of the centre for EU studies at Ghent Univ], The Substance of EU Democracy Promotion: Concepts and Cases, Google Books, Published by Springer, Feb 17 2015)

We have modified Merkel's original model in that we have explicitly added the element of stateness and have included state bureaucracy from Linz and Stepan's conceptualization. In the following paragraphs, we briefly summarize the five partial regimes and four context conditions along which we will structure our analysis of the substance of EU democracy promotion (for the next paragraphs, see Merkel 2004: 38-9). The electoral regime has the central position of the five partial regimes since it is necessary, but not sufficient, for democratic governing. Following Dahl, Merkel outlines four supporting elements of this regime: universal, active suffrage; universal, passive right to vote; free and fair elections; and elected representatives. The most closely connected partial regime is constituted by the political liberties that go beyond the right to vote. Most basically, they include the right to political communication and organization, that is, press freedom and the right to association. These define how meaningful the process of preference formation is in the public arena. The third partial regime consists of civil rights that are central to the rule of law, that is, the 'containment and limitation of the exercise of state power' (Merkel 2004: 39). Most fundamentally, this includes that individual liberties are not violated by the state, and equality before the law. Related to this is the existence of independent courts. The fourth connected partial regime consists of divisions of power and horizontal accountability. This implies that 'elected authorities are surveyed by a network of relatively autonomous institutions and may be pinned down to constitutionally defined lawful action' (Merkel 2004: 40; see also Morlino 2004: 18). The horizontal separation of powers thus amends the vertical control mechanisms of elections and the public sphere. Particular emphasis is put on the limitations to executive power. Central to this partial regime is the existence of an independent and functional judiciary to review executive and legislative acts. The last partial regime is the effective power to govern. This means that it is the elected representatives that actually govern and that actors not subject to democratic accountability should not hold decision-making power. In particular, there should be no tutelary powers or reserved policy domains (Merkel 2004: 41—2; see also Valenzuela 1992: 62—6). While these five partial regimes are understood to be the defining components of a democracy, there are some more conditions that, while not part of the definition itself, shape the 'environment that encompasses, enables, and stabilizes the democratic regime' (Merkel 2004: 44). Damage to these conditions might lead to defects in, or the destabilization of, democracy. However, it is important to add that the promotion of the external conditions alone does not necessarily further democratization. On the contrary, a sole focus on the context conditions can even be to the detriment of democratization (for example, Fukuyama 2005: 87—8). The first of the external supporting conditions is stateness, understood as the ability of the state to pursue the monopoly of legitimate physical force. Where the monopoly of authority and physical force is not institutionalized, it cannot be democratized (Merkel et al. 2003: 58). Following Linz and Stepan, a state is indispensable for democracy: 'No state, no democracy' (1996b: 14). Although this strict connection between state and democracy can be disputed (Beetham 1999: 4—5), it is consistent with the traditional liberal democratic definitions of democracy that focus on 'governmental activity and institutions' at the state level (Held 2006 77). Stateness is seen to be problematic when the territorial boundaries and the eligibility for citizenship are disputed (Linz and Stepan 1996: ch. 2). It also 'implies that the organs of the state uphold monopolistic control in a basic military, legal, and fiscal sense' and that there are no competing power centres exercising control in these areas (Bäck and Hadenius 2008: 3). The second external context condition, which, in contrast to Merkel's original framework and our own earlier work, we have separated from stateness, is state administrative capacity. It refers to a capable administration. As Linz and Stepan put it, democracy relies on 'the effective capacity to command, regulate, and extract'. The bureaucracy must be usable by the democratic government (Linz and Stepan 1996: 11). In a broader sense, this condition refers to good governance, in particular to the output-related understanding. It includes in particular the effective government component of good governance promotion, which deals with the 'administrative core of good governance' and implies 'improving governance through strengthening the government and its administration' (Börzel et al. 2008: 10). The third external context condition is the presence of civil society. This is the 'arena of the polity where self-organizing groups, movements, and individuals, relatively autonomously from the state, attempt to articulate values, create associations and solidarities, and advance their interests' (Linz and Stepan 1996: 7). The importance of this context condition stems from the assumption that a well-developed civil society strengthens democracy by generating and enabling 'checks of power, responsibility, societal inclusion, tolerance, fairness, trust, cooperation, and often also the efficient implementation of accepted political programs' (Merkel 2004: 47). The promotion of civil society is often seen as a part of good governance promotion and can be both input and output-oriented. While the former orientation stresses the empowerment of non-state actors in policy-making 'in order to improve the democratic quality of decision-making processes' the latter refers to the strengthening and/or inclusion of non-state actors in the policy implementation process with the aim of either producing better policies or better implementing policies. The case studies will, as far as possible, indicate which orientation EU civil society promotion follows in each specific instance (Börzel et al. 2008: 10). The fourth external condition that has an influence on the state of democracy is the socio-economic context. On the one hand, this condition accounts for the link between economic development and the capability to sustain democracy, which has proven to be very stable (Ingelhart and Welzel 2009). On the other hand, it reminds us that a certain level of socio-economic equality is necessary for meaningful political equality: 'Only when citizens are secured and educated by means of a sufficiently developed social and economic status will they be able to form independent opinions as citizens and participate in the political process (Merkel 2004: 45; see also O'Donnell 2001: 27-9). On this basis, and with regard to the above-mentioned puzzle, we distinguish five possible types of democracy promotion that differ with regard to the substance that is being promoted 1- Externally embedded liberal democracy promotion: besides the five partial regimes, the EU also significantly supports the advancement of the external conditions. 2- Liberal democracy promotion: the EU mainly promotes the five partial regimes of liberal democracy. 3- Partial liberal democracy promotion: the EU mainly promotes some partial regimes while it neglects others, for example 'electoralism' 4- External conditions democracy promotion: the EU mainly supports the advancement of the external conditions. 5- No liberal democracy promotion: there are no activities related to the support of any partial regime or context condition (even though the EU may refer to some actions as democracy promotion).
(Susan B. Epstein, Nina M. Serafino, and Francis T. Miko, Specialists in Foreign Policy Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service, “Democracy Promotion: Cornerstone of U.S. Foreign Policy?,” https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34296.pdf, Dec 26 2007)

The United States provides democracy assistance to many countries in a variety of circumstances and with mixed degrees of success. Analysts categorize country circumstances and affects of assistance in different ways. Generally, analysts have viewed U.S. democracy aid as facilitating transitions either from authoritarian or communist rule, as in Latin America and Central Europe, or from conflict, as in Bosnia and African nations such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.38 The range of U.S. democracy promotion activities and programs also varies greatly, from assistance for elections to aid in developing institutions and to funding of civil society groups. (These types of assistance are discussed below.) Thus far, there is little agreement among experts and practitioners on the circumstances in which democracy promotion success may be achieved; the appropriate emphasis, sequencing, and mix of programs to achieve it; and the time frame necessary for an enduring democracy to take hold.
(Danile Smadja, “The European Union: Key actor in worldwide democracy promotion,” Proceedings of a conference organised by the European Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftunghttp://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_11856-1522-2-30.pdf?110504154444, June 5-6 2007)

Three elements can be considered as characterising the EU approach to democracy promotion or democracy building: 1). The EU approach relates to a wide variety of possible situations. It may be targeted towards regimes with very limited freedoms and little political pluralism; it may be combined with peace-building in post-conflict situations; it may support new institutions and democratic practice in emerging democracies; it may be well integrated in development cooperation, strengthening participation and accountability within sector programmes for achieving Millennium Development Goals; it may also be offered to more established democracies to assist in dealing with new threats, such as terrorism. 2). The EU approach uses many different instruments or tools. The focus may be on financial and technical assistance and grant aid, but several other tools may be of particular relevance such as political dialogues and other diplomatic instruments, financial incentives, conditionalities and sanctions, trade and investment instruments - for example EU support for WTO membership - mobilisation of civilian and military capabilities, humanitarian assistance, multilateral initiatives, public information and advocacy and monitoring. The wide range of possible instruments, that may be used individually or in combination, means that there is a major challenge for the EU to achieve a joinedup approach between instruments, to ensure coherence and a common narrative between different democracy actors and donors. This is not always easy. The value that democracy can add, for example in helping achieving the MDGs, attracting investment, avoiding social unrest and political instability, linked with ‘local ownership’ of the democratisation and development process, is a standard justification for democracy assistance, whereas universal values and commitments under international conventions are often used as a frame of reference for political conditionalities and invoked in cases of specific abuse. 3). The EU approach involves many different types of assistance. It may be long term and highly structured, as in an accession partnership agreement – combining a road map, financial and technical assistance, benchmarks, monitoring – or very short term and highly specific, such as election observation. It may involve very indirect action to assist in creating a conducive environment for democracy to flourish for example through peace building initiatives, educational reform, action to combat drug trafficking, or direct technical support for a specific political process for example security sector reform. Any action to facilitate, advocate, inform, educate, or bring pressure to secure particular policy changes, for example quotas for women in parliament or abolition of torture, may be considered a form of democracy promotion.
(Julia Leininger, “Democracy promotion in fragile states: challenges and opportunities for the EU,” Worldwide promotion of democracy: challenges, role and strategy of the European Union, Proceedings of a conference organised by the European Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftunghttp://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_11856-1522-2-30.pdf?110504154444, June 5-6 2007)

The industry of democracy promotion has flourished in recent years. It is exercised by a multitude of actors in very heterogeneous contexts – some of them extremely difficult. This presentation focuses on fragile states, a specific type of difficult environment, and on the specific actor that is the European Union. Against the background of the current debate on international democracy promotion with specific regard to the EU, I argue that, firstly, the EU should play a major role as a promoter of democracy. Secondly, the paradigm of sequencing in democracy promotion is not valid under certain circumstances and, thirdly, the EU could strengthen its role as a democracy promoter within its existing framework by pursuing a complementary approach of state-building and democracy promotion. My presentation is structured in three parts. First, I introduce my concept of democracy promotion and state-building in the context of fragile states. Second, short empirical findings from the EU´s cooperation with Haiti and Mali will be discussed. Third, I will conclude my presentation with general remarks on how the EU´s role as a promoter of democracy can be strengthened. I use the term democracy promotion in a rather narrow sense; that is I am talking of assistance to democracy in terms of direct technical, and maybe also financial support. I further assume that democracy cannot be enforced or exported.


(Dr. Karsten Grabow, “Internal actors, external actors: country categories, country approaches – conclusions,” Proceedings of a conference organised by the European Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftunghttp://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_11856-1522-2-30.pdf?110504154444, June 5-6 2007)

In summarising the main issues relating to defining democracy promotion, and developing appropriate policy approaches, three main points can be identified: The concept of democracy promotion First, there is consensus that a detailed definition of democracy promotion or democracy assistance is necessary, not only from European countries or organisations, but also from the EU itself. This definition should emphasise that democracy means much more than regime change and free elections. Democracy is a demanding political concept that is important for people’s lives. Therefore, democratic values should be placed at the centre of all activities – political education and democracy promotion – since democracy begins not at the institutional level, but in hearts, minds and behaviour. Once a detailed definition of democracy promotion exists, democracy promotion must become an integral part of the foreign policy of both EU member states and the EU itself. The role of foundations and other democracy promoters Second, it is crucial to focus on institutions (such as parliaments) and individual and collective actors. Focusing on political parties is especially important, because parties are key actors of political integration and decision-making, which serve a special purpose in democracy promotion. Without political parties, democracy cannot be organised. There are reliable and experienced organisations at European level, such as political foundations and party institutions, that can work with political parties in order to promote democratic party systems. These organisations combine experience of global democracy promotion and promotion of democratic parties, with country expertise and access to democratic and political decision-makers. Crucially, they are also based on general democratic values. These values, combined with experience of global democracy promotion and long established contacts with democratic partners in the host countries, make these organisations an efficient instrument of democracy promotion abroad. A multilevel approach Third, the range and diversity of organisations, such as foundations and European political party organisations, are decisive assets for European democracy promotion. It seems logical that the work of promoting multiparty systems should be done through a decentralised framework, based on and committed to universal values of democracy. For this purpose, political foundations, party organisations and similar institutions can serve as a model.


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