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We all have them. And when it comes to debate, it can increase exponentially and become something that drives me crazy.

Fortunately, this year, those things are things I can change. Read on.

(The following is a hypothetical)

You’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a debate round, presenting your case. Now you’re sitting down, waiting for the refutation. Here it comes!

“Solvency. Their evidence says that FT CTL plants are absolutely amazing. Well, if you look at their plan, they are building CTL plants. No FT. They’re not the same.”

And you’re thinking. Yes they are. That’s what CTL is. So you say that. “FT CTL and CTL are the same thing.”

And of course, the Negative teams argues differently.

The above scenario can cause a lot of frustration, and can be easily avoided. The answer: Knowledge, my friend, knowledge. (and reading this article)

I give you the following list of my pet peeves for Russia, 2010-11, as well as some terms that could cause significant confusion in a round. Terms that should be clarified very early on, before the round if possible, by the spread of ideas and the sharing of information. Because having both teams on the same page is probably one of the best things for a round.

It’s time to START over.

I mentioned this in the strategy notes for the Aff file, but I say it again, because too many people have misled the poor debaters who read what they had to say.

START was the treaty from 1994-2009. It expired on December 1, 2009. It limited strategic nuclear arms, warheads, and launchers.
New START is the new treaty, the one in the headlines. It’s the one all the Affirmatives are written on (the Affirmatives that mistakenly call it ‘START’).
The Impact? If you try to withdraw from ‘START’, good luck to you. But you won’t get far. It already expired. And if you’re planning on blocking the ratification of ‘START’, I’d like to see how you’re going to do that, short of time-travel.


(And not just their names!)

While Mstislav and Vsevolod are difficult enough to pronounce, the actual pronounciation may not be the biggest problem. Finding out who they are can be even harder.

Take for example, Feodor Lukyanov, writing for “Russian in Global Politics”. Google it. You don’t get very many results. Now try Fyodor Lukyanov and “Russia in Global Affairs”. Lots more results.

But Feodor and Fyodor are far from the last of names to be affected. Pyotr could be changed to Peter, and Lev to Leon.

In addition, “Russia” can signify many different things. Over the course of history, “Russia” has been anything from “Kievan Rus” in the medieval times; “Muscovy” for the early modern empire centered on Moscow; “Russia” or the “Russian Empire” for the times under Peter the Great (Pyotr); the USSR or “Soviet Union” for several decades of communism; and finally “Russia” or the “Russian Federation” for what we know as present-day Russia.

Even different cities had multiple names. St. Petersburg changed names 4 times in history, twice as “St. Petersburg”. Tsaritsyn was Stalingrad, and now Volgograd.

If you’re dealing with a case (or card) that has different terms for Russian places or people, it’s going to be very important to know these different terms. I don’t think anyone will start saying that Kievan Rus is our biggest nuclear enemy, or that by intervening in some anti-Polish campaign in the 1500s we change policy towards Russia or something, but it is very helpful to be aware of the changes of Russian history.

To add to the confusion, until 1917 Russia operated under a different calendar system. The October Revolution in Russia happened in November, our time. No, it wasn’t the time zones. Russia operated under the Julian calendar until 1917, while we’ve operated under the Gregorian calendar for much, much longer.

Don’t let someone tell you that you’re not talking about the same revolution because it happened in November, not October.

[The proceeding information has been adapted from David R Stone’s “A Military History of Russia – From Ivan the Terrible to the War in Chechnya”]

Let’s get those terms straight

Names aside, there are some important, interchangeable terms. While Joseph’s article on acronyms offered important enlightenment, I’d like to cross-reference the different terms to their cases, to eliminate confusion. Some of it, I’ve already seen.

Jackson-Vanik – Comprises one of two Affirmatives. 1) Repeal Jackson-Vanik, and 2) Graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik. Jackson-Vanik is referring to Section 402 of Title IV of the trade Act of 1974, and can be synonymous with other “case names” such as: Jackson-Vanik; JVA; JVA Repeal; JVA Graduation; and PNTR.
These are all terms I’ve heard thrown around lightly to discuss the same case, and I’ve already had the privilege to clear up some confusion over the different terms.

Arctic Militarization – Comprises two cases, but three terms. We have some people referring to it as “Arctic Militarization” and others calling it a “High North Strategy”. It’s the same thing. The other twist is to Ratify the UNCLOS. Unfortunately, these three terms have been used interchangeably. And they’re not.

Ratify 123 Agreement – Again, used interchangeably (albeit correctly this time) with 3 terms: “Ratify 123”, “Nuclear Sharing Agreement” and “Nuke Coop”. “123” comes from Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act to permit nuclear cooperation with a certain nation, in this case: Russia.

Worldview Aff – Haha. Probably competing with JVA for “most confusing”. I’ve seen literally 3 different titles for this case. And it doesn’t help that the Aff and Neg are labeled differently. To get a grip on this case, you’ll have to read the aff primer, but common terms used to describe it are as follows (so far): Worldview Aff; Don’t Hate. Cooperate!; Systemic Change; Accomodation/Appeasement Aff; “Love the Russkies” Aff, etc.

The above list of oddities, “slang” and other confusing terms surrounding the debates we will be in, are the most significant of any problems I’ve begun to see. Doubtless, this list will grow. I encourage you to adopt a hard stance on confusion, and work your hardest to destroy it. Believe me, rounds will be much more fun.

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