Sep 24

(This week and next we are discussing blockbuster films and violence, partly inspired by our friend’s IndieGoGo campaign.)

First, let’s establish bona fides. We LOVE Star Wars.

A few years ago, Michael quizzed his then fiance with a hypothetical from Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs:

“You meet the perfect person. Romantically, this person is ideal: You find them physically attractive, intellectually stimulating, consistently funny, and deeply compassionate. However, they have one quirk: This individual is obsessed with Jim Henson's gothic puppet fantasy The Dark Crystal. Beyond watching it on DVD at least once a month, he/she peppers casual conversation with Dark Crystal references, uses Dark Crystal analogies to explain everyday events, and occasionally likes to talk intensely about the film's "deeper philosophy."

“Would this be enough to stop you from marrying this individual?”

His fiance’s response? Yeah, because that’s how you are with Star Wars.

It’s true. Ever since our father made the fateful decision to rent Return of the Jedi at the local video store (okay, now I feel old), Michael C and I have loved Star Wars. We started a Star Wars collection, stored in six boxes at our dad’s house. We’ve read supplementary material (meaning the books now called Star Wars legends). And not just the novels, but the guides and technical manuals on weapons, planets, vehicles and more. Though it’s always been more of Michael’s thing, we’ve watched those damn movies countless times. Hell, we went and saw Phantom Menace in theaters when it was released in 3D a few years ago. (Except for the race scene, “Duel of the Fates” and Darth Maul, still terrible.)

I say all this to prep for potential backlash when I say the following:

The violence in Star Wars is pretty damn immoral.

We started this series in response to an email we got from someone about adding a tax to violent movies a few years ago. If you add a tax to violent movies, Star Wars should be the first one.

Why? Because Han, Chewie, Luke, Leia and Lando literally murder hundreds of people and aliens, and no one seems to give a damn. Consequences, what consequences? Most obviously, Luke is a mass murderer, blowing up a space station with millions of people on it. (I’ve read accounts that it had 31 million people.) That means Luke, aided by Han, killed 31 million people in A New Hope. Wow. (H/T to Clerks, of course, which made this point first.)

Doesn’t that qualify you for the dark side? More importantly, how does this never come up again in the series? Zero guilt.

But that’s too obvious, as evidenced by the Clerks reference. A much more personal mass murder occurred after the destruction of Jabba’s pleasure barge. Han, Luke, Leia and Lando just kill hundreds of people on Jabba’s pleasure palace, and two scenes later no one seems affected by it. It’s just shocking, really. To murder innocent people--slaves and servants as well--and no one remarks, “I feel really guilty. I just murdered, like, 400 people. Many were slaves.” (And let’s pause to consider that many were space groupies, just hanging out with Jabba, sleeping on his Jabba’s floor, which is odd. And uncomfortable.)

Hell, the only guy who feels bad about violence is Malakili (Oh, sorry, the guy who owns the rancor Luke killed). And it’s because Luke killed his pet, not a person. Sure, Luke almost goes to the dark side wanting to murder the Emperor. Not sure how he’s not already there.

Star Wars is a pop film. Pulp fiction. It’s the original summer blockbuster. It’s fun. It also views the world in binary terms: dark side versus light side. And if you’re on the dark side, you can die without moral complications. If you work for the Emperor, ditto.

There are two historical precedents to judge whether Luke should have absolutely no moral qualms about killing: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The pilots involved felt no guilt about their involvement. Which makes sense, to some degree. Japan attacked America first. They wouldn’t surrender. A land invasion would have cost possibly millions of American lives. Just like destroying the Death Star, which had already destroyed a planet in service of an evil emperor.

Except that something still has to, or should, gnaw at you. Those were civilians in Hiroshima. And surely some of the soldiers on the Death Star weren’t evil, just doing their job. Even in the clip from Clerks above, what’s upsets them is the death of contractors, not those in the Imperial Army, which doesn’t make a lot of sense if you take conscription, poverty, patriotism and a myriad of other factors into account for why someone joins the military. Hell, knowing the poverty levels on many planets, I’d be sympathetic to anyone who joined the Imperial Guard. (Unless they’re all clones, but do clones have souls?)

And none of this excuses killing everyone on Jabba’s palace...

Which brings me to the worst part of this whole thing, the most nihilistic thing I can write: I just don’t care. These moral issues don’t change my love of the original trilogy; I think it’d be bad parenting to not show a kid the original Star Wars trilogy. But if you really think about it, from a moral viewpoint, Star Wars is morally reprehensible. Though I think these movies are pretty corrupt morally, I love them. Having realized they are corrupt morally, I still love them. And not really any less than before.

In many ways, really, that’s the the actual problem.

Sep 17

(This week and next we are discussing blockbuster films and violence, partly inspired by our friend’s IndieGoGo campaign for Burp Girl. Read the whole series here.)

For anyone who’s tried to be a screenwriter--and read the books or listened to the podcasts that go along with that--you know your screenplay has to have one thing: stakes. What’s at stake? If nothing is at stake, the story won’t be dramatic. (I could digress that this “rule”, like any rule, is broken all the time and I don’t actually believe every story must have stakes, but that’s a much longer argument for later.)

Unfortunately, trying to make their movies stand out, Hollywood has made the stakes too damn high.

I’m not the only person who’s pointed this out. Todd VanDerWerff at Vox (quickly becoming our favorite writer about the entertainment industry) made this argument about Jurassic World: it works because the fate of the world isn’t at stake.

“ a film like Jurassic World, the world won't end; instead, people's lives will. Instead of asteroid versus everybody, this is dinosaur versus human, or even dinosaur versus dinosaur."

VanDerWerff makes a great point. I mean, even Ant-Man--whose power is literally a shrinking suit--kept referencing that the world would end if the technology leaked. Uh, no it wouldn’t have.

I actually have a slightly different complaint/take, born of the same impulse to raise the stakes too damn high: by taking the world to the brink of chaos, the heroes in many blockbusters actually lose. The only victory is pyrrhic at best. To establish stakes, cities get destroyed by rampaging monsters, villains, aliens or robots. Millions are killed. But they’re defeated at the end by the heroes. The world didn’t end, but millions still died.

In other words, I know longer feel good leaving many big budget films, because I believe the heroes have lost.

Some examples:

- The last chapter in the approximately seventeen-hour-long Hobbit series demonstrated this phenomenon perfectly. Smaug destroys Laketown, killing most everyone in the town, and a few hundred humans survive. Then the orcs attack and specifically attack the humans. How many people, if any, survived? Even if the good guys “win” at the end, at what cost? Most everyone is dead. Most of the dwarves are dead. A bunch of immortal elves died. Everyone’s dead, except for Frodo and Gandalf. Yay? (And the fate of the world wasn’t at stake.)

- Or take The Dark Knight Rises. Rises from what? Technically, Batman “wins” after he saves Gotham from a nuclear explosion. Then again, the citizens of Gotham were held hostage in a quasi-terrorist police state, with the executions of thousands by show trials led by Scarecrow for six months. Technically Batman “saved” Gotham, but I’d argue, end result, Gotham (and Batman) lost. Winning would have stopped Bane in the first place.

- Or, more infamously, Man of Steel. Even when it was first released, critics and fanboys widely panned the film for having Superman and Zod basically destroy all of Metropolis. Sure, Zod didn’t take over the Earth, but millions died.

- Captain America: Winter Soldier. We loved this movie. But did Captain America really win, or did HYDRA? End result: HYDRA destroyed SHIELD. Mission accomplished? Sure, other meta-humans weren’t killed. Still sucks.

Oddly enough, I’m not sure this trope is out there. I tried to research it, and aside from articles comparing the first two Avengers films to Man of Steel, others haven’t made this specific point.

I think I know why this happens. It’s not just about raising stakes, though that’s a huge reason why. More importantly, big budget blockbusters are too predictable. Everyone knows a happy ending is coming. How do you make the audience feel suspense then? Destroy so much that it appears like they won’t win.

But if you lean too far in the “Will the heroes win?” direction, at some point, my answer will just be no. It’s a logic concern. Midway through watching the last Hobbit film, I turned to my girlfriend and said, “There’s no way they can realistically come back from this.” I was right. Twelve dwarves joining a massive battle won’t make a difference.

More important, though, is the moral question: how do other filmgoers not notice or, worse, not care about this? If millions of anonymous people die on screen, doesn’t it matter? You shouldn’t leave the theater feeling good about what you’ve just seen.

Sep 15

A few weeks back, my friends Ben and Christina told me about a comedy webseries they are producing, partnered with Stan Lee’s World of Heroes. In it, Christina plays the heroine Burp Girl, a superhero with a power you can imagine. (Here is the link to the first episode and a link to their IndieGoGo campaign.)

Ben asked me if On V could write a post linking the themes of On Violence and super-hero movies to help promote the campaign. Maybe something about the violence endemic in comic book movies? I asked Eric C and he said, “A post? We have a whole series on that.”

You see, a few years ago, we received an email from a reader about putting a tax on violence in Hollywood films. It inspired Eric C to write a rebuttal post, “Hollywood’s Actual Violence Problem”, arguing...

“Hollywood does have a “violence problem”, but the problem isn’t violence; it’s morality. Like the screenplays that Michael C and I wrote, Hollywood films tend to be violent. Unlike our screenplays, they lack a moral point of view. They fail to the show the cost of violence and its complexity. Violence itself isn’t the problem, but how Hollywood portrays that violence. As Ebert’s dictum goes, it's not what a movie says, but how it says it...

“If we want to solve Hollywood’s violence problem, Hollywood needs to show the audience the problems with violence: the guilt that comes from killing and the lingering effects of PTSD.

“Not to mention the complexity of violence. Hollywood needs to show the difficulty of violence: killing the wrong people and the unintended consequences of killing those wrong people. Or even the unforeseen consequences of killing the right people...

“In short, Hollywood should stop glorifying violence. Stop presenting heroes who can kill dozens without guilt. Show violence as it actually is: complicated, hard and ugly. Present violence the way it actually is, and we may want to be less violent.”

That one email inspired Eric to rethink and examine violence in Hollywood, especially in big-budget blockbusters, comic book movies and action films. In Star Wars, Luke, Han and Leia just go around murdering people, from Yavin to Tatooine, with little emotional consequence. Legolas and Gimli might be sociopaths. And in comic books, we went from never killing bad guys to offing them left and right.

In short, it spawned a whole bunch of post ideas. Turns out, though, Eric C never actually finished outlining the series or writing more than two posts. Well, worry no more. We’re finishing that series. We’ll call it, “A Few More Takes on Hollywood’s Violence Problem”.

And support our friend’s IndieGoGo campaign!

Aug 20

After two vigorous opening arguments to our debate, “Does America Make the World Safer?”, we have our rebuttals.

Eric C Rebuttal

The main argument Michael C put forth is that a wide variety of traditionally liberal (in foreign policy terms) policies have made the world safer, including establishing international norms and treaties, a rise in the number of democracies around the world, and free trade. And yes, America has traditionally supported those developments, if not outright invented them in the modern era. Or as he wrote “[America] has been the single largest supporter for international relations liberalism.”

Actually, that’s not the case.

Those changes would probably have happened independent of America. Even China, leading its fellow BRIC nations, is creating its own version of the International Monetary Fund. Instead, America pushes back against these trends, supporting dictatorships and opposing treaties. Outside of encouraging free trade--for all the wrong reasons, I might add--America does not make the world safer.

Most importantly, Americans believe they are above international norms. We flouted the Geneva conventions after 9/11. Our politicians bash the UN. We support dictators, when convenient. We barely approve treaties. This doesn’t mean we can’t get better, but it doesn’t mean we are making the world safer.

And he didn’t address the other huge issues I brought up: America is the most violent developed country in the world. Our murder rate is an embarrassment, and this is directly connected to our domestic issues like gun rights, a punitive not rehabilitative justice system, and economic inequality.

Internationally and domestically, right now, America is not making the world a safer place because we reject the policies that make it safer.

Michael C Rebuttal

Eric C and I looked at the data for the last 15 years--the massive decline in war--and drew the conclusion that the world is indeed getting safer.

But how can you look at those 15 years and not see the U.S. as widely involved in all the factors causing that decline? The collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent victory of the Western (mostly United States) vision of modern civilization helped drive that decline. Yes, the world would be less violent if the U.S. hadn’t started a war in Iraq, but that doesn’t make the world less safe because the U.S. is in it.

Further, this motion isn’t, “Could America be even better?” because of course it could. The motion isn’t, “Has America caused violence around the world?” If Eric C just had to point out a single bad American action, then yes he would win in a landslide. But Eric C has created an impossible standard. For America to win, under his terms, it would have to be perfect.

But the debate is about the balance. On the whole, adding up all the good and subtracting all the bad, does America make the world a safer place? I would say it absolutely does. It spends money to help developing nations, its economy drives the world closer together, and even its military has fought dictators. So yes, America is making the world safer.

If you would like to respond to the prompt, send us an email at info at On Violence dot com.

Aug 10

(Today's guest post is by Joel Poindexter. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines.)

“The surge worked.” A popular phrase at the conclusion of the final troop surge, it has again made its way into the discussion of U.S. operations in Iraq. As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has risen to power, politicians have taken to reviving this talking point. Depending on one’s definition of success, it’s debatable as to whether the surge did in fact work.

Officially “The New Way Forward,” by its own standards it did not achieve the stated goals. A series of benchmarks were established, which the Shi’a-backed Iraqi government was expected to achieve. As of the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, in December, 2011, few of the benchmarks had been satisfactorily met, in spite of the rhetoric of success. Nevertheless, there is at least one sense in which we can say the surge worked.

Most who are familiar with the surge no doubt associate it with the increase in U.S. troops in 2007. Five additional brigades were deployed, and most units had their rotations extended. This was meant to provide sufficient security in the capitol, to facilitate those benchmarks. What few likely understand is that a major component involved the establishment of a para-military force almost entirely made up of Sunni forces.

American commanders spent millions of dollars financing groups that went by Sons of Iraq (SOI) or Concerned Local Citizens (CLC). Many were formerly employed by Sunni militias, including al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI – an AQI affiliate), and some were known to have been members of AQI.

In late 2007 I was deployed to a small FOB south of Baghdad, and our battalion spent a lot of time (and money) hiring and managing SOI. The relationship was contentious, as neither group trusted the other. In our fifteen months there were several incidents involving “green on blue” gunfights, and reciprocal threats of IED attacks and airstrikes were exchanged.

SOI routinely complained of not being paid, despite monthly cash payments to village sheikhs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some intelligence suggested SOI leadership (AQI) was diverting payments to build reserves. These would be necessary when the U.S. military withdrew its forces, or if the Iraqi government failed to incorporate the SOI into the Iraqi security forces, according to the benchmarks.

No doubt the SOI programs helped insulate Sunni militias, and sustained them through the end of the U.S. occupation. But as significant as this aid was to ISIS, the element of the surge that really came to help the organization was the continued support of the Iraqi government.

By escalating the war in Baghdad, the U.S. military helped the Iraqi army (IA) and police (IP) all but complete the sectarian cleansing of the largest city. Various Shi’ite militia groups were represented in the IA and IP, both of which served the interests of the Badr Corps , the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), and other groups allied or affiliated with the United Iraqi Alliance. The UIA controlled the country’s government, mainly for the benefit of the Shi’ite population.

While the U.S. fought both Shi’a and Sunni groups throughout the occupation, this period – and the surge effort in particular – focused mainly on routing Sunni forces intent on destabilizing the Iraqi government. This was supposed to provide the breathing room necessary to make some legislative reforms and begin reconciling the rival sectarian groups under one cooperative government.

But so long as U.S. commanders were supporting the Iraqi government, the Shi’a had no incentive to reconcile with the Sunni. Dr. Michael Izady’s work on the Gulf 2000 Project, through Columbia University, demonstrates this visually. In 2003 Shi’ites had a majority in Baghdad, but most of the city’s neighborhoods were mixed. By early 2007 few were home to both groups, and most the territory was controlled by Shi’a. At mid-2008 there were clear lines separating neighborhoods. When we flew over Baghdad that summer, it was easy to see how thousands of concrete barriers had effectively reduced the “city of peace” to sectarian ghettos.

So divided was the country following U.S. withdrawal, that despite the ruthlessness of ISIS, many Sunnis see the Caliph as the lesser evil between it and the Shi’a death squads of the national government. Had the U.S. not fought on behalf of the Shi’a in Baghdad, the government would have been forced to reconcile, eliminating much of the support for ISIS.

(Note: This argument assumes the invasion and occupation as given, and of course both were significant in leading to the Islamic State. The support of rebel groups in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra, the Northern Storm Brigade, and others) also cannot be discounted.)

Joel Poindexter was an infantryman and intelligence analyst in the US Army from 2003-2009. He served in Baghdad in 2005, and Iskandariyah in 2007-2008. Follow him on Twitter.

Jul 29

(Though many don’t want to believe it, the world is getting safer. There will be an end to war, someday, if the world works towards it. To read the rest of our posts on “The World is Getting Safer”, click here.

This week and next, we’re debating the motion: America Makes the World a Safer Place. Below is Eric C’s argument against the motion.)

Let me get a counter-argument out of the way. I don’t think that American military expenditures make the world safer because America provides global security “for a dangerous world”. The idea that American hegemony provides security just doesn’t jive with the evidence. We aren’t making the world safer through military expenditure or military invasions.


But I still think America makes the world safer, on the whole, because it has been the single largest supporter for international relations liberalism. If you’re an international relations liberal (which we are) then you have to agree with the motion. America supports all three pillars of international liberalism: international institutions, democracy and free trade.

Let’s start with the last in that list, free-trade.

America has the world’s largest economy, and is the largest financial contributor to both the World Bank and the IMF, huge benefactors for global trade and economics. America also supports and helped found the World Trade Organization, the most important promoter of global trade and economics. I can already hear the critics of all three of those institutions. I admit, they aren’t perfect, but they promote free trade.

A more interconnected world, with more trade, and more movement of people, decreases the likelihood of war. Is America alone in supporting free trade? Of course not. But as the biggest economy, this goes along way to helping prevent world wars.

America also furthers economic growth through aid to the tune of $31 billion dollars last year. US donors drive this up further, mainly through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Is this enough? No. Would I like to see it even higher? Of course, but it still helps make the world a safer place.

And on the whole America supports democratic movements. Is America perfect? No. We oppose a dictatorship in Venezuela and a theocracy in Iran, but ally with a monarchy in Saudi Arabia and a dictatorship in Egypt. On the whole, America still supports UN democracy movements and funds democracy watch groups to support legitimate elections. (And yes, Iraq and Afghanistan were disasters, but we tried to promote democracy.)

And we don’t go it alone; we leverage international institutions that provide international legitimacy. America funds the United Nations. Yes, for a time period the U.S. shorted the U.N. bill under a Republican president under conservative pressure. In 2009, though, the United States paid back its past debts, and now provides more funding for the U.N. than any other country and more funding for peacekeeping operations than any other country.

But it’s not just the UN. America is also key force in many multi-national organizations--from NATO to ASEAN to OAS--that help prevent wars. (An easy rule of thumb: medieval Europe and feudal China didn’t have lots of international organizations, and fought plenty of wars. Modern countries have tons of international organizations and don’t fight a lot of wars.)

I can hear the critics. For all the big trends America either created or encourages, every so often we choose to go off the rails in something else. Historically, America spent the Cold War doing what it takes to stop the Russians, and it frequently backfired. The Cold War also caused the Vietnam War for America and the Afghanistan War for Russia. And the conflict in Afghanistan never really died down. We also executed democratically elected leaders and tried to put in our own proxies. This can still haunt us today. (Exhibit: Iran.)

And yes, America is involved in another decade long war in the “War on Terror”. Drone strikes provoke violence and extremism, providing the raison d’etre for terrorists around the world. Our national security establishment doesn’t even realize this. We need to fix that.

But during the Cold War and through to today, America led the world by creating the very concept international relations liberalism. We started the first international institution--the League of Nations--created the biggest free trade initiative in history--The Marshall Plan--and made the world’s first constitution. America basically invented the values that make the world a better place.

A world without any America might be safer, but it’s hard to see the evidence for that.

Jul 27

(Though many don’t want to believe it, the world is getting safer. There will be an end to war, someday, if the world works towards it. To read the rest of our posts on “The World is Getting Safer”, click here.

This week and next, we’re debating the motion: America Makes the World a Safer Place. Below is Eric C’s argument against the motion.)

Before we begin, let me frame my argument for why I oppose the motion. (This is, unfortunately, necessary; many people don’t understand the basic concept that “the world getting safer” does not equal “violence doesn’t exist”.)

I believe America’s policies--foreign and domestic--have caused violence, which keeps the world from being EVEN safer than it is now. In some ways, this is a counter-factual: if America had done things differently over the last twenty years, the world would be safer and less violent than it is today. I’m aware this is a high bar to hurdle over, but I think I can do it.

Let’s get into the specifics. First, foreign affairs.

America’s Overreaction to 9/11

Check out the “List of Ongoing Conflicts” page on Wikipedia (as of July 2015) and you’ll notice two things:

1. War really is on the decline.

2. Of the four deadliest wars right now, America is to blame for two of them. Moreover, America is involved--mostly unproductively--in five of the fifteen deadliest wars happening today.

So two things are true: war is less deadly than it’s ever been, but America has needlessly inflated the overall number of wars by choosing to fight and get involved in so many of them.

Our extended stay in Afghanistan could be justified ethically for the first few years, but repeated mismanagement of that war turned it into a quagmire. Iraq, on the other hand, was a war of choice that destabilized the region. If America hadn’t invaded Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people (Iraqis mainly) would still be alive. (Who knows what would have happened in Syria without the Iraq war. Certainly couldn’t be worse than the situation today.) And our drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen have angered millions of people, creating more violent extremists and increasing instability.

The American Military Doesn’t Care Enough About Limiting Civilian Casualties

My second biggest disagreement with American foreign policy--after starting so many wars--is with how poorly we’ve fought them. And by poorly, I don’t mean “failing to close with and destroy the enemy”. Actually, I mean the opposite. This means detaining less Iraqis and Afghans. It means limiting civilian casualties. It means sacrificing more of our own soldiers to protect others. If we’d have gone into Afghanistan seeking to rebuild a war-torn nation, developing roads and infrastructure and providing medicine, I believe we could have won.

But the American military hates that. And they’re so immune to criticism by the American populace that the military won’t be forced to change its approach.

Michael C and I started the blog mainly to write about population-centric counter-insurgency. We haven’t written about it much recently, mainly because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sort of ended. Still, it matters. The American military‘s failure to embrace the future of war has prolonged our wars...and artificially increased war deaths across the globe.

Republicans Hate Treaties

International norms help make the world a safer and better place. But Michael C has written recently about how Republicans hate treaties. Due to the anti-treaty stance of Republicans in the Senate, this means America leads the world in preventing international norms from being established. Treaties make the world a safer place and the U.S. Senate leads the world in opposing them.

America Hypocritically Loves Dictators

As we’ve written about before, America hates some dictators, but not all. For example, Iran is our mortal enemy, but Saudi Arabia is not. This has made the world less democratic and, by extension, more dangerous. We don’t do enough to oppose all of the regimes that torture and violate human rights.

On to domestic policy....

Gun Rights

Years ago, Michael C and I decided that we weren’t ready to discuss gun control on the blog. We didn’t feel--as we wrote about here--that the facts were in. Studying the academic literature, we no longer think that’s the case. More guns equals more gun deaths.

America has lots of guns. As most statistics show, if you own a gun, someone is more likely to be shot by that gun, either through suicide, spousal abuse or accidental shooting. Many of the major statistics cited by gun rights advocates have been debunked. By owning so many guns, America is more violent than it should be.

Our Judicial System

As I pointed out a few weeks ago, America’s judicial system, which locks up way too many young men, doesn’t mean the world is more violent than 50, 100 or 500 years ago.

But it is a huge problem.

Our country’s views on crime, punishment, prisons and rehabilitation have created a permanent underclass of citizens. Business don’t hire people with criminal records, worsening the problem. Our drug laws--though getting better recently--are insanely punitive. And we see how police departments across the country harass minorities. The reason I’m adding this into the debate is that America has failed to adopt the policies Europe has embraced, and increased violence is the result. Thus, America’s massive homicide rate compared to Europe is, well, America’s fault.

In closing, America has, like other nations, adopted a number of policies that have made the world safer. But compared to other nations, too many of our foreign and domestic policies have perpetuated violence both in our country and across the world. And that’s why you should oppose the motion.

Jul 21

(Though many don’t want to believe it, the world is getting safer. There will be an end to war, someday, if the world works towards it. To read the rest of our posts on “The World is Getting Safer”, click here.)

In fiction, conflict is the heart of good drama. Does the same thing apply to non-fiction political writing?

We’ve been writing a lot recently about how the world is getting safer. We mean a lot. Michael and I, like most every topic on the blog, agree on this point. The conflict comes from us disproving the people who don’t believe this. (Eric C wrote a whole series of posts debunking those opinions.) But another conflict arose discussing this issue. Inspired by this John Horgan post, and assuming you want the world to keep getting safer and believe us that it is getting safer, it begs a simple question:

Is America making the world a safer place?

Michael C knew the answer pretty easily, yes. Eric C knew his answer, no. Michael C mentioned supporting democracies. Eric C mentioned supporting dictatorships. Michael C said international aid. Eric C said Iraq. So it looks like we had the making for a good old-fashioned On V debate. So let’s have it. The motion is:

America Makes the World a Safer Place.

The debate will go in three parts. First Eric C will argue against the motion. Then Michael C will argue for the motion. Finally, we will have rebuttals.