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The Stoa Resolution (The USFG should substantially reform its foreign military polices or foreign military presence) Is an extremely broad resolution. Let me say that again. The Stoa Resolution (The USFG should substantially reform its foreign military polices and/or foreign military presence) Is an extremely broad resolution. Ok – sorry, I just had to be clear. Topicality for this resolution can be either really nit-picky or it can be a folding chair that you beat over the heads of the Aff. Please make it the latter. I will show you how to do that in this extensive post, but before I do, I need to also tell you what not to do. (P.S. These rules come from direct in-round experience with topicality. I am not making these up)
DO NOT use generic significance or substantial foreign aid cards to fill time for the 1NC, and force the 2AC to eat up time responding to your so illegitimate and…well…not really ‘a priority’ issue. If the Aff says, well, this rez explains itself judge, so we are going to cut our military aid to Egypt! Hooray, vote Aff please! Then the NEG gets up there, and says, “ *ahem* well…according to xyz credible dictionary, we define substantial (or significance) as 50% or more. So HA!
Well the cross examination of the 1N by the 1A goes something like this
1A: So your definition of Substantial was ’50% or above’ correct?
1N: Yes
1A: 50% or above…of what?
1N: Oh…well the entire foreign aid military budget
1A: The entire budget is around 50 Billion + right?
1N: I believe you are correct
1A: Is there any policy that can change 25 billion of that?
1N: well…no, I don’t think so
1A Ok. Thanks.

See what I mean? So this rule applies to every resolution—and the first part of this post—is just a reiteration of what we at Ethos try to encourage. We encourage not running bad argumentation (including T presses) because it reduces your credibility, and it sets up a fastball down the middle for the other team to hit a homerun.

Now on to the fun stuff! How to use T to win rounds. Now, for novices, remember that structure is absolutely key in every topicality press.

Bright line (Optional)

Those are the bare minimum – and advanced can even get into using a few others.
Honestly, in this resolution there are going to be some cases that are un-topical, and a host of cases that are topical, but have extra-topical mandates. I will cover both of these.

Cases that are un-topical: This is where definitions really matter. If the Aff cuts foreign military aid to say…Pakistan…they are reforming a “USFG foreign military commitment”
But if the Neg gets up and defines ‘military’ as Department of Defense (DoD) then they say the resolution is “The USFG’s foreign DoD commitments” and guess what? foreign military aid comes from the department of state! So defining “Military” is somewhat key.
Cases that deal with military treaties, direct military aid, and of course troop/technology presence, will be hard to beat with topicality. But then cases like cyber security protection against China — which is also defined as a military policy — can be topical too. If you want to win topicality against cases like the above, you will have to have a crazy good T press. Again, defining military may be the key to running T against cases like these, however, I would not recommend it.
Now cases that deal with policies that repeal or reinstate a certain doctrine are a little more sketchy. As the Neg you can run two types of topicality on these cases (i.e. Carter doctrine, War powers, preemption doctrine etc…)
T press #1 –
Definition: Foreign. The philosophy the Aff changes must directly affect our relations with other countries and/or the philosophy must be related to a certain country or group of countries.

Interpretation: We cannot change a domestic philosophy which indirectly changes our future interacting with other countries – because that is not allowed by the rez.


T press #2 –
Definition: Policy.

Interpretation: The philosophy the Aff rejects or reinstates must be directly linked to a policy which is currently going on in the status quo.


Other cases that are weak on topicality can include cases which are unclear on when last the policy which they abolish was used, or has caused an impact. That’s great that you are abolishing a policy which killed 2,000 people in 2003 – but what is happening now? Recent and extensive logistics and statistics is key for the Aff to uphold this area of topicality. If the policy is not current or recent – then they are not dealing with a current policy.

As a rule, I almost never run topicality unless the Aff case is just screaming un-topical at me. That is my prerogative, and some debaters are much stricter an all cases. I prefer to blow up plan and attitudinal solvency, vagueness, and workability.

Now – here is the tricky stuff. Extra topical mandates. This argument is the same wolf that the full Topicality press is – only in somewhat of sheep’s clothing. I must say, I love these guys, and they are everywhere, all you have to do is look. Extra topical mandates lurk under every plan heading – and hide inside of all the pretty 1AC formatting which belies all plans. What do they look like? Well I will tell you.
Mandates that
– Destroy stockpiles or munitions inside the US
– Correct or move things around inside the US
– Set up a missile defense base inside the US
– increase or decrease troop movement or strength inside the US

Do you see the pattern? All of my examples end with ‘inside the US.’ Now extra topical mandates are not limited to what I mentioned, however they do come most often in that form.

The impact of an extra topical mandate is loss of fiat – and loss of solvency. You can run a structured T press on a mandate, but make sure to say that you are not running topicality, you are just hitting one mandate that is un-topical.

So – what is the practical message which you can takeaway from this post? Three things. First – please do not run lame T presses. Your team loses credibility, and your probably will lose the argument. Better to lose 1 minute of speech time, than to look un-credible in the eyes of the judge. Secondly, run deep and structured T presses. Have good definitions, and have extremely good reasons to prefer them. Thirdly, look for extra topical mandates and exploit them.

Have fun and use your topicality well.

Go Debate

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