Friday, January 7, 2011

Case Analysis: Jackson Vanik Amendment

You all know one. We've all witnessed the malaise. Perhaps you used to suffer yourself. The disease is, of course, Jackson-Vanik Mania. It afflicts many debate teams today, and the symptoms include schizophrenia, irrational paranoia, and hallucinations. Fortunately, there is a cure, and that cure is to smash the darn thing. So let's talk about how to do just that. Don't just beat the case. Ray Lewis it. 

1. Relations
Be sure to respond heavily to their relations advantages. If you want, start here for a refresher on why the advantage is bogus to begin with. It's even more bogus with Jackson Vanik because the world is still waiting on a few things.
  1. An actual Russian official saying anything meaningful about Jackson-Vanik.
  2. A single facet of the US-Russian relationship that has been hindered by JV.
  3. A single solid link card from JV to an actual impact.
In short, most of the evidence on relations that the aff will read comes from absolutely atrocious and nebulous articles that basically say "Oh btw, Jackson Vanik is bad for relations." We still got New-START and 123 through. 

So how do you respond to this? I'd go line by line and point out the missing links and bad evidence. Then I'd spend at least a minute doing generic "Russian Relations Good" status-quo pro arguments. The fact is that the aff doesn't have a serious leg to stand on here. An aggressive attack on this should beat it. I know it's a defensive argument, but it still works. 

2. Economy
Oh my gosh. Could a case have a more sketchy advantage? Well, there's always natural gas cars from last year. But other than that, not really. Affirmatives love to come up and say "Hey guys! Jackson Vanik hurts our trade and stuff!" Problem is, that's blatantly false. Like, I don't even know how to say how wrong that is. Respond to economic claims with
  1. No difference between PNTR and NTR
  2. Alternate cause: Corruption. 
The aff probably doesn't understand the difference between Permanent Normal Trade Relations and Normal Trade Relations. There is no difference. Well, PNTR is permanent and NTR is renewed every year. But the actual legal ramifications for trade are identical. Jackson Vanik prevents Russia from getting PNTR. They still have NTR, and it's renewed every time, so they get all the trade benefits Jackson Vanik would give them anyway. Cut cards on this.
    3. DA's
    Alright. Time for some offense. There are two good DA's to Jackson Vanik that I would recommend running. If I overlooked one, scold me in the comments or drop me an e-mail.

    1. WTO loss
    Basically, your offense is a double bind on relations. Structure the DA like this:

    A) Link: Jackson Vanik gets lifted if Russia joins WTO.
    B) Brink: Russia is unsure of WTO benefits (some of the good Putin cards)
    C) Impact: WTO = economic gains.

    You have a double bind here. Russia may or may not push to join the WTO. If the aff is right, and Jackson Vanik matters to Russia, then an aff ballot eliminates perhaps the last remaining incentive for Russia to join. If JV doesn't matter to Russia, then the DA falls but the aff has conceded significance. They will try to get out of this by saying that Russia won't join one way or the other. The problem with saying that is that right now Russia is clearly on the fence. When you compare the potential benefits of WTO to the advantages of Jackson Vanik, this DA outweighs on magnitude and probability. Remember impacting this.

    2. Human Rights/Appeasement
    So the aff is going to go on and on about how important Russian relations are. Great. Who cares? I would legitimately vote for a big DA on appeasement at the expense of human rights and values. First off, refer to my post on relations for a discussion of the problems with passing plans simply for soft power. It's an appeasement tactic that results in short term (but ultimately useless) soft power gains, at the expense of long term credibility on real issues. Here's how I would set up this DA.

    A) Link: Russia has epic HR abuses. This is pretty easy to prove. Trafficking, press issues, etc. 
    B) Link: Jackson-Vanik is symbolic for human rights efforts. This, again, is not hard to prove. The aff will come back by saying "well, it's symbolic, but doesn't actually do anything to fight trafficking. That's why you need the impact.
    C) Impact: Long term soft power loss on human rights
    Ethos has some good cards on this, but you will be able to find your own. The fact of the matter is, appeasement plans like Jackson-Vanik are terrible because they are long-term soft power losses. If the US begins abandoning critical leverage points in the name of making Russia feel better, it hurts our long-term ability to push for human rights protections. 

    General notes on both disadvantages
    Now, these disadvantages are not exactly typical. They aren't really "plan happens, this happens" DA's with an established and certain link to the impacts. They instead seek to do two things.

    1) Put Jackson-Vanik in context
    This case is totally insignificant. It literally does not matter to anyone. It just doesn't. The DA's put this insignificant little amendment in the context of things that actually matter: WTO membership and larger human rights efforts. Point this out when you run them. Your argumentation is so much bigger and more important than the affirmative's case is.

    2) Outweigh the darn thing in a huge way
    You've already done all the defensive argumentation and destroyed all semblance of impacting from the affirmative. Given the huge scope of your disadvantages, do a ton of calculus on impacts. At the end of the day, the negative is the only team that has arguments that matter.

    Jackson - Vanik Rankings
     - Significance: 1
     - Solvency: 2
     - Judge Appeal: 1
     - Topicality: 8
     - Research: 6
     - In-round debate: 1
     - Composite: 3.1 

    Go forth and conquer, people. Have some pump-up. Little known fact: all those orcs were running Jackson Vanik. 


    1. dude its mean to help other debaters kill your case >.< why do you do this to people??? you could at least put up some aff stuff for the cases....

    2. ^for real?

      This is aimed at making debaters run better and deeper arguments. Don't complain about that. Unless I'm very mistaken, Wolky isn't singling you (whoever you are) out in an attempt to kill whatever case you're running. He just dislikes JVA.

      Speaking as someone who has the JVA aff written (although I've never run it) I do not feel threatened by this strat sheet.

      Chill out, do work, and beat the strat sheet. Don't complain when Wolky gives advice.

    3. haha no, not for real. i was just not even running JVA >.< i actually like this post =)

    4. ^ Thank you for this comment, Anonymous number two. The goal of this post was to help people think critically about a popular affirmative. My hope is that people running JVA can benefit from this analysis as well. If you can defeat arguments and win with this case, I would be delighted to be proven wrong because it means you have been thinking and working hard on your affirmative.

    5. You haven't read the congressional hearings on JVA (2002 and 2010), have you, Wolky? You would learn a lot ;-)

      I admit, however, that people can run this case terribly. Most people are running it terribly. So for this reason, I commend you for your post. I hope it will help JVAers think more critically about their case.

      ~ Preston Black ("thehomeschooler", R9)

    6. I really appreciate this post. It helps both those who are and aren't running the case. As one of the former, though, I couldn't resist making some comments :)...

      1. Relations
      A Russian deputy prime minister said that the JVA "undermines our plans to dynamically develop bilateral trade and economy."

      Medvedev and a deputy foreign minster both said that it hampered relations, the foreign minister went further and said that "[graduation of Russia from JVA] per se would become an important impetus toward further expansion of the new base in relations between Russia and the U.S.

      Also, you can think of relations with Russia not so much as a good thing, but a necessary thing. If the affirmative shows that our relations with them suck, then it's easy to argue that action is needed to improve our relations and that JVA is a way to do that. Another way to think of this is in terms of the reset. We've "reset" our relations verbally, but no substantive action has been taken and, again, JVA is a way to "complete" or add substance to the reset.

      2. Economy
      The JVA doesn't affect trade in a legislative way, but multiple sources say that it negatively impacts the trade atmosphere, which isn't all that great. Add that to the fact that long-term deals are tough to conduct with the JVA and that China provides historical precedence for booming trade post-JVA, and you have a pretty convincing case for a trade harm.

    7. ^Wolky would know all of that if he would simply read the 2010 hearing on JVA.

      ~ Preston

    8. Haha in that case, I think I'd better check this 2010 hearing out...

    9. Another DA: digital piracy.

      3 links: leverage, trade itself, and something specific to PNTR.

      Impact: economic losses. Russian digital piracy specifically already costs the US at least $1.7 billion per year.

    10. Sorry, I didn't understand the DA about WTO loss. Is is trying to say that Russia will not join WTO if JVA is repealed? Why would that be so?

      Thanks for the helpful post.

    11. You could turn lost relations (the aff harm, usually) and say that this means that the JV ammendment is working as a stigma. Why are they mad? Because we're calling them out, and they know it.

    12. What happened to justice? I used to run this case and it works. Inherency can be beaten too even though Russia will join the WTO. You can also run IPR and human rights as an ADVANTAGE because there are cards saying that JVA hurts our leverage more than it helps. The only problem is the ethos update on JVA its a good brief and has lots of counter-plans.

    13. the argument against the first DA is that the JVA was only intended to help jews immigrate to america, russia has stopped restricting the immigration of jews and so now you can swing the whole honor argument back at them, "the neg. team says we need to stand up for riotousness, and justice, by using the JVA to promote general human rights, not just the immigration of religious minorities, is acting against our word as a nation hence dishonest, and un honorable." Really putting JVA on russia to fix their immigration, and then not withdrawing it until they fix all of their human rights is like telling the kid across the street that you will pay him to mow your lawn, and then not paying him until he has mowed your lawn clipped your bushes, cleaned your gutters and washed your cars.

    14. I guess you renounce this post given JV is on your juggernaut index :D