UNIT 1: Major Power Issues and Theoretical Debates
Issue: Should the United States Continue to Act as a Global Leader?
YES: Joseph Lieberman and Jon Kyl, from “Why American Leadership Still Matters,” American Enterprise Institute (2015)
NO: Christopher Preble and William Ruger, from “The Problem with Primacy,” CATO Institute (2017)
Joseph Lieberman and Jon Kyl, both former U.S. Senators, argue in a report for the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, DC,-based think tank that American leadership remains critical for global security and prosperity. Though they do not discuss international relations theory explicitly, their argument is founded on the assumption that a failure to ensure American liberal “primacy” in world politics will lead to greater insecurity and conflict. Christopher Preble, vice president for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the CATO Institute, and William Ruger, a research fellow at the CATO Institute and vice president for Research and Policy at the Charles Koch Institute, both argue that American primacy is not only unsustainable but that it actually undermines global security by dragging the United States into unnecessary conflicts.
Issue: Was Russia’s Intervention in Ukraine the Result of Western Aggression?
YES: Vladimir Putin, from “Address by President Vladimir Putin at the Conference of Russian Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives,” Permanent Mission to the Russian Federation to the European Union, Moscow (2014)
NO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, from “Russia’s Accusations: Setting the Record Straight,” Factsheet Issued by NATO (2014)
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, tells a gathering of Russia’s diplomats that their country’s response to events in Ukraine represents a legitimate reaction to threats to ethnic Russians living in Ukraine and to Russia’s national security interests. He lays the blame on Ukrainian nationalism and on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led effort to bring threatening forces ever closer to Russia’s borders. A report issued by NATO asserts that it is Russia’s aggression against Ukraine that has led to the crisis. NATO further argues that to divert attention away from its actions, Russia has leveled a series of false accusations against NATO.
Issue: Is China Being the Aggressor in the Issue of the Disputed Island in the Pacific Ocean?
YES: Chuck Hagel, from “The United States’ Contribution to Regional Stability,” The International Institute for Strategic Studies (2014)
NO: Wang Guanzhong, from “Major Power Perspectives on Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific,” The International Institute for Strategic Studies (2014)
Chuck Hagel, the U.S. secretary of defense, tells delegates gathered in Singapore in 2014 at the Shangri La Dialogue that China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions in aggressively asserting its claims to significant areas in the South China Sea and the East China Sea and to many of the islands in them, the resources in and under those areas, and even to maritime and aviation transit through and over them. The Shangri La Dialogue is a series of conferences that has been held annually since 2002 and is sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a private research and advocacy organization headquartered in London. The conference brings together representatives of the defense ministries of countries located in or bordering on the Pacific Ocean and also several European countries including France, Germany, and Great Britain to discuss security in the Pacific region. Wang Guanzhong, a lieutenant general and deputy chief in staff of People’s Liberation Army, China, responds to Secretary of Defense Hagel’s speech and a similar, if less blunt, speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan by condemning them for containing unwarranted accusations against China and thereby provoking and challenging China. General Wang asserts that China is ready to cooperate with other countries in the greater Pacific region to promote regional and global peace and development.
Issue: Is Turkey Becoming Authoritarian?
YES: David L. Phillips, from “Testimony during Hearings on ‘Turkey’s Democracy under Challenge’,” U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (2017)
NO: Ali Cinar, from “Testimony during Hearings on ‘Turkey’s Democracy under Challenge’,” U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (2017)
David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He has also worked as a senior adviser to the United Nations Secretariat and as a foreign affairs expert and a senior adviser to the U.S. Department of State. In his testimony, given just before the country’s constitutional referendum in April 2017, Phillips argues that President Erdogan has been taking Turkey down an increasingly authoritarian path, one that has left it as an outlier in the liberal democratic NATO community. Ali Cinar is a president of the Turkish Heritage Organization, a U.S. based nonprofit organization that promotes discussion and dialogue around Turkey’s role in the international community and issues of importance in the U.S.-Turkish relationship. He believes that fears of a creeping authoritarianism are unwarranted and borne from the failure to appreciate the unprecedented domestic and transnational threats the country has faced over the past few years. In this context, the constitutional referendum did not represent the “death of Turkey’s nascent democracy” as Phillips characterizes it, but rather its consolidation.
Issue: Is Chaos in the Middle East Largely the Fault of U.S. Policy?
YES: Peter Van Buren, from “How the U.S. Wrecked the Middle East,” The American Conservative (2015)
NO: Philip Gordon, from “The Middle East Is Falling Apart,” Politico Magazine (2015)
Peter Van Buren is an author and former U.S Foreign Service Officer who spent a year in Iraq leading two Provincial Reconstruction Teams. In this article, he argues that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 opened a Pandora’s Box of regional problems with global consequences, which it is still trying to contain and resolve. Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region, believes that such analysis is a reflection of the American tendency to assume that all global events are in some way a product of their actions or inactions. Rather, Gordon suggests that the turmoil affecting the Middle East is the product of a number of trends that are indigenous to the region itself. This realization has important consequences for how the United States should seek to deal with the region.
UNIT 2: Economic Issues
Issue: Is Free Trade Helping to End World Poverty?
YES: The World Bank Group and World Trade Organization Staff, from “The Role of Free Trade in Ending Poverty,” World Trade Organization (2015)
NO: Ian Fletcher, from “Free Trade Isn’t Helping World Poverty,” Huffington Post (2011)
In their report, The World Bank Group and World Trade Organization staff make the case for the continued success of free trade in helping to end global poverty. They thus conclude that much deeper economic integration and lowering of trade barriers must occur if we are to reach the goal of having less than 3 percent of the world’s population living in poverty by 2030. Ian Fletcher, who sits on the advisory board of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, an organization dedicated to reforming American trade policies, argues to the contrary that free trade does not work as a global antipoverty strategy. Rather he suggests that the greatest strides in poverty reduction have occurred in those states that have adopted mercantilist policies and that free trade is also leading to greater inequality between rich and poor states.
Issue: Should the Export–Import Bank Be Eliminated?
YES: Veronique De Rugy, from “Examining Reauthorization of the Export–Import Bank: Corporate Necessity or Corporate Welfare?” U.S. House of Representatives (2014)
NO: Fred P. Hochberg, from “Examining Reauthorization of the Export–Import Bank: Corporate Necessity or Corporate Welfare?” U.S. House of Representatives (2014)
Veronique De Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, concludes that a close examination of the Export–Import Bank’s activities and outcomes shows that it does not meet the standards of its own criteria, and the facts do not support these criteria for the continued activities of the Bank. Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export–Import Bank of the United States, proclaims that he is proud of the work the bank’s more than 400 employees do to empower U.S. companies and support American job growth, says the reforms are addressing some of the criticisms of the bank, and argues that the bank deserves to have its charge renewed for five years.
UNIT 3: Armaments, War, and Terrorism Issues
Issue: Should the United States Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?
YES: Ellen Tauscher, from “The Case for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” U.S. Department of State (2011)
NO: Baker Spring, from “U.S. Should Reject Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” Heritage Foundation Web Memo (2011)
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, expresses the view that the United States will lose nothing and gains much by ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Baker Spring, the F. M. Kirby Research Fellow in National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation, asserts that the problems with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that led the U.S. Senate to reject it in 1999 have, if anything, worsened in the intervening years.
Issue: Is the Nuclear Deal with Iran Good for International Security?
YES: Barack Obama, from “Remarks by the President on the Iran Nuclear Deal,” Whitehouse.gov (2015)
NO: Dick Cheney, from “Remarks by the Former Vice President on the Nuclear Deal with Iran and the Implications for U.S. Security,” AEI Media (2015)
Barack Obama, in a speech given at the American University in Washington, DC, while still president of the United States, makes the case for Congress to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, after it was signed by Iran, Russia, France, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and United States in 2015. He argues that the agreement includes the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated, making the path to a nuclear weapon virtually impossible. He also suggests that the alternatives to the agreement are either a nuclear Iran or another war in the Middle East. Dick Cheney, former vice president of the United States, contends that the agreement is seriously flawed and that by allowing them to continue uranium enrichment and missile development, among other things, it has undermined the Non-Proliferation Treaty and emboldened the Iranian regime.
Issue: Should the U.S. Engage with North Korea over its Nuclear Weapons Program?
YES: Leon V. Sigal, from “A Deal-Maker’s Chance: Why Trump Should Engage with North Korea,” Global Asia (2017)
NO: Bruce Klingner, from “Testimony during Hearings on ‘Pressuring North Korea: Evaluating Options’,” U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (2017)
Leon V. Sigal is the director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, encourages the Trump Administration to engage with the North Korean regime over its nuclear program through negotiations to achieve a comprehensive security agreement. Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, warns against premature diplomatic overtures toward North Korea, believing they are doomed to failure. Instead, in his testimony, he advises the U.S. government to impose comprehensive economic and diplomatic sanctions on the regime first, in order to force it to the negotiating table.
Issue: Can Islam Be Blamed for Inciting Terrorism?
YES: Ayaan Hersi Ali, from “Islam Is a Religion of Violence,” Foreign Policy (2015)
NO: Manal Omar, from “Islam Is a Religion of Peace,” Foreign Policy (2015)
Ayaan Hersi Ali, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at The Harvard Kennedy School, criticizes the failure of “moderate Muslims” to acknowledge the religious justification for violence, gender inequality, and religious discrimination contained within Islamic doctrine. Ali believes that, until they do so, it will be impossible to defeat the spread of hate and intolerance that motivates violent extremists. Manal Omar, an associate vice president for the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace, criticizes such analysis for oversimplifying the true causes of terrorism, which she believes are rooted in the complex political and social circumstance in which terrorists are forged.
Issue: Should the U.S. Withdraw Its Military from Afghanistan Immediately?
YES: Douglas A. Wissing, from “Trump Wants a New Afghan Surge: That’s a Terrible Idea,” Politico Magazine (2017)
NO: Luke Coffey, from “Afghanistan Has Been America’s Longest War: Here’s What Success Will Look Like,” Daily Signal (2017)
Douglas A. Wissing is an author and journalist who argues that after more than 15 years of involvement, the United States is fighting a losing battle in Afghanistan. The challenges and costs of continued operations, he believes, are just too great. President Trump simply needs to recognize that fact, cut the country’s losses and withdraw. Luke Coffey, Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, believes that those who recommend withdrawal fail to recognize the successes that have already been achieved, as well as the continued need for the U.S. to support and assist the Afghani government and security forces. President Trump thus needs to maintain U.S. support into the foreseeable future or risk a resurgence of terrorism.
Issue: Is Closing the Prison for Alleged Terrorists at the U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo, Cuba Justified?
YES: Elisa Massimino, from “Testimony During Hearings on ‘Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications’,” U.S. Senate (2013)
NO: Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., from “Testimony During Hearings on ‘Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications’,” U.S. Senate (2013)
Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, a U.S.-based advocacy organizations urging U.S. global leadership on human rights, tells Congress that there are tough questions to resolve regarding closing the U.S. prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, but that it is possible to close the facility with smart and sustained leadership from the president and Congress. Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy, a private analysis and advocacy organization, maintains that the United States is at war with terrorism and in that struggle Guantanamo Bay is the optimal location for U.S. detention and interrogation of terrorists and associated unlawful enemy combatants.
UNIT 4: International Law and Organization Issues
Issue: Does Using Drones to Attack Terrorists Globally Violate International Law?
YES: Mary Ellen O’Connell, from “Lawful Use of Combat Drones,” U.S. House of Representatives (2010)
NO: Michael W. Lewis, from “Examining the Legality of Unmanned Targeting,” U.S. House of Representatives (2010)
Mary Ellen O’Connell, a research professor at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame, and the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the School of Law, University of Notre Dame, tells a congressional committee that the United States is failing more often than not to follow the most important single rule governing drones: restricting their use to the battlefield. Michael W. Lewis, a professor of law at Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law, disagrees, contending that there is nothing inherently illegal about using drones to target specific terrorists or groups of terrorists on or away from the battlefield.
Issue: Is the UN a Worthwhile Organization?
YES: Susan E. Rice, from “Six Reasons the United Nations Is Indispensable,” Speech or Remarks (2011)
NO: Bruce S. Thornton, from “The U.N.: So Bad It’s Almost Beautiful,” Defining Ideas (2012)
Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells an audience that the United States is much better off—much stronger, much safer, and more secure—in a world with the United Nations than the United States would be in a world without the UN. Bruce S. Thornton, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California, writes that the United Nations is fatally flawed by not having consistent, unifying moral and political principles shared by member nations that can justify UN policies or legitimize the use of force to deter and punish aggression.
Issue: Should the United States Consider Leaving the UN Human Rights Council?
YES: Nikki Haley, from “A Place for Conscience: The Future of the United States in the Human Rights Council,” Mission of the United States of America (2017)
NO: Ted Piccone, from “Testimony during Hearings on ‘Assessing the UN Human Rights Council’," U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (2017)
Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, in a presentation at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, tells her audience that the United States believes the UN Human Rights Council suffers from a “credibility deficit” due to its failure to address the worst human rights abuses (and abusers) and its tendency to concentrate unfairly on Israel. Haley thus calls for reforms, including competitive elections for new members and the removal of “Item Seven” from the Council’s Agenda, which concerns Israel. Without these reforms, she suggests the United States will work around the Council—but withdrawal also appears to be an option. Ted Piccone, senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, agrees in his testimony that the Council needs reform but also argues that its successes in promoting human rights have been generally underappreciated and that disengaging from the Council will only weaken it and thus undermine the Unites States’ own goal of promoting human rights.
Issue: Is U.S. Refusal to Join the International Criminal Court Justifiable?
YES: Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves, from “The U.S. Should Not Join the International Criminal Court,” The Heritage Foundation (2009)
NO: Michael P. Scharf, from “Is a U.N. International Criminal Court in the U.S. National Interest?” Testimony before the Subcommittee on International Operations of the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate (1998)
Brett Schaefer, the Jay Kingham fellow in international regulatory affairs at the Heritage Foundation, and Steven Groves, the Bernard and Barbara Lomas fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at the Heritage Foundation, contend that although the court’s supporters have a noble purpose, there are a number of reasons to be cautious and concerned about how ratification of the Rome Statute would affect U.S. sovereignty and how ICC action could affect politically precarious situations around the world. Michael P. Scharf, a professor of law at and director of the Center for International Law and Policy, New England School of Law, argues in testimony given just after the establishment of the ICC was finalized by the Conference at Rome and sent to the world’s countries for adoption (ratification) that while the United States did not get everything it wanted in the Treaty of Rome creating the ICC, it is a worthwhile step forward toward global justice.
Issue: Should the United States Ratify the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women?
YES: Melanne Verveer, from “Ratify the CEDAW,” U.S. Senate (2010)
NO: Steven Groves, from “Reject CEDAW,” U.S. Senate (2010)
Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large, Office of Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, tells a congressional committee that the U.S. Senate should ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) because doing so would send a powerful message about the U.S. commitment to equality for women across the globe. Steven Groves, the Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at the Heritage Foundation, headquartered in Washington, DC, contends that ratifying CEDAW would neither advance U.S. international interests nor enhance the rights of women in the United States.
UNIT 5: Environmental and Social Issues
Issue: Was the United States Correct to Leave the Paris Climate Accord?
YES: Donald J. Trump, from “Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord,” Whitehouse.gov (2017)
NO: Daniel B. Baer, et al., from “Why Abandoning Paris Is a Disaster for America,” Foreign Policy (2017)
Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, in a speech given in the Rose Garden of the White House in June 2017, provides an explanation for his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. He suggests that the Accord is both unfairly harmful to the U.S. economy and ineffective at addressing climate change. Daniel B. Baer and his coauthors, all of whom served in the Obama Administration, reject President Trump’s assertions and argue that a U.S withdrawal will not only detrimental impact the world’s climate, but also its own standing as a global leader.
Issue: Should the United States Deport Unauthorized and Unaccompanied Immigrant Children?
YES: Dan Coats, from “A Speech on the Floor of the U.S. Senate,” U.S. Congressional Record (2014)
NO: Mark Seitz, from “Crisis on the Texas Border: Surge of Unaccompanied Minors,” Department of Homeland Security Strategic Plan (2014)
Dan Coats, a U.S. Senator from Indiana, argues that allowing the flood of unaccompanied children who have arrived illegally in the United States will only encourage the dangerous practice of sending them to the United States. Mark Seitz, the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, and head of the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, tells a committee of Congress that a faithful adherence to the “best interest of the child” standard should govern how all undocumented immigrant children are treated. In most cases, Seitz argues the best interest of the child is to remain in the United States to avoid returning them to lives of poverty and, often, violence.