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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Battle Causes Of Terrorism - Judges' Comments

The Closings are in, the cases are made, Battle Causes of Terrorism is ovah!

On the Panel this week, are:

On the Left, Joel C of Nightmares For Sale.

From the Center, Jason N, regular of Iron Blog. (Complete scorecard available at http://xcf.berkeley.edu/~nordwick/IB-causes-of-terrorism.txt)

And from the Right, CDT Michael of The Common Virtue.

Let's see what the Judges have to say.

Opening Arguments

Joel:
This is a good opening argument from The Challenger, but it is restricting in its exclusive focus on Islamic terrorism. In arguing his points, The Challenger does an excellent job and presents a tight and concise post that flows well and is easy to read, maintaining interest on a difficult and at times ponderous subject. However, the battle asked for a broader definition of terrorism than The Challenger applied. He certainly has some good information in this opening argument and makes a compelling argument, but he ignored many components of terrorism in the world today, overly limiting his subject.
Jay comes out with a good post, but it is not particularly strong. The desperation angle is a strong one, but it feels more like a component of the argument rather than the entirety of it as it is presented in this opening argument. As Jay himself says in the post, desperation alone does not lead to terrorism. Therefore, this OA could have been stronger if Jay had more quickly and succinctly made his point about desperation and then argued about the other component or components to terrorism,
perhaps talking more about the framework in which desperation fits.
Jason:

Overall, the case was presented fine. The background history was interesting, but the story put forth was fairly standard, nothing really unique. So no real dislikes in with the content.
It's very, very vague. Incredibly vague. So far, I know that you think desparation causes people to take terrorist actions. But that seems almost true by definition, at least partially. If suicide by its very nature is a desparate action, then any terrorist action that involves suicide is by definition taken out of desparation. That only leaves the non-suicidal actions in the argument. And desparation of what? The Flashpoint commentary is equally as vague, being basically a laundry list of why people can be desparate. Desparation could arise because of not seeing economic
advancement in front of them or because they see that they cannot turn the world into a Sharia state by democracy, so they need to enact it by force.
Michael:
This is a very strong opening with a lot of good information. Infact, the information provided was great. The Challenger obviously knows his stuff. The structure was very well presented and had clearly defined segments, yet still flowed. We are given a very clear picture of why terrorism occurs in the Islamic world. It is important to remember, however, that there is terrorism beyond the Jihadists. True, Islamoterror is the clearest and most abundant form of terror at the moment, but the same reasons that apply to them may notapply to domestic or other forms of terror, although I assume an argument can be made that presents similar information and reasons.
A lot of good information was presented on domestic and non-Islamoterror groups. Definitly terrorism occurs outside of the Islamic world and some good reasons were presented. Also, the IB did a good job of addressing some of the concerns and arguments against his argument. However, I feel like the Iron Blogger dropped the ball a little bit in in arguing religion plays no role in the causes of terrorism. I do not feel convinced that his statement is true. More time should have been spent on that point.

First Rebuttals
Joel:
A very nice first rebuttal here from The Challenger. He does a good job of arguing against desperation as the main factor in terrorism. Using specific examples of recruiting efforts is a very nice touch and lends the post a very persuasive air. The writing is excellent, as is the structure of the post, coming across as smooth and simple. It flows well and keeps the reader’s attention quite well. Indeed, the very straightforward and honest tone, devoid of snark or strained attempts at wit, is a great touch and shows much respect for the reader. The post could have used more sources, even though the main source used is a very good one. A bit more variety would have been nice, though. The post still feels somewhat limited in its scope, as was the opening argument, but that is more appropriate here since The Challenger does still do a good job of rebutting the IBD’s points.
While the IBD does have some good counters to The Challenger’s arguments, they are unfortunately presented in a somewhat poor light in his First Rebuttal. Jay does a good job of arguing that desperation is the key component, making good points about the framework being almost a secondary necessity—not having to be something specific, just needing to be a means through which the desperation, which is the main driving force, is channeled. However, the means of presenting this argument is weak. The post is unfocused and wanders, failing to truly capture the reader’s attention. The points are often vague and the transitions are not overly smooth. There is not much force to the post, leaving it feeling unconvincing even though the IBD has good points to make.
Jason:
The high point is that Hirschkind article. The low point is you not using that article very effectively or finding anything else more detailed by him and not really going after IB Dem strong enough (argument-wise, not in a firery rhetoric way).
It was a good read, well written, and informative. I have no complaints except I don't understand where you are going with most of your post.
Michael:
The Challenger does a good job of explaining his position, and why desperation is not only needed to create a terrorist. He does present a fairly good case that something else is needed, and usually that is a
religion or political cause. However, I just didn't see anything spectacular. I suppose part of the problem is the Challenger and IB are not exactly arguing or disagreeing on a lot. This is not like a battle feature tax cuts or abortion where there are two clear positions; this is much more blurred.
The Iron Blogger did a very good job with this one. The arguments are clear, and good arguments are made. Plus, the IB does a good job of taking on the Challenger's arguments. He does a good job of explaining that his and the Challenger's arguments are not actually that far from each other, and they agree on many things. The finer points, though, are being debated, which can make it harder. As always, more proof could be rendered to directly contradict the Challenger's claims.

Second Rebuttals
Joel:
This is a decent, very readable post. However, one of The Challenger’s key strengths up to this point has been his tight focus and strong,
pointed arguments. Much of that style has been lost in this second rebuttal and it makes for a loose and, at times, wandering post that simply is not as convincing as previous ones from The Challenger. The sourcing and education is okay, but not particularly impressive. The style suffers from the lack of a tight focus. There is nothing glaringly wrong about this rebuttal, but it has a lazy tone to it that leaves the reader mostly unmoved.
A very strong second rebuttal from the Iron Blogger Democrat. The post is clear and easy to read, doing a nice job of moving amongst The Challenger’s arguments and rebutting them. Jay does a good job in many instances of casting doubt upon The Challenger’s points. There’s an underlying sense of indignation that gives this rebuttal some nice flair, capturing the reader’s attention. The sourcing and linking is very good, once again providing access to a wide variety of information that helps support and flesh out the arguments within the post.
Jason:
So you've finally ditched the al Qaeda specific posts, and while al Qaeda is most definitely why we are having this discussion, the Chairman up front in asking you the questing specifically included non-al Qaeda actions. You can discuss the content of the topic all you want, but you really cannot try and convince people that the topic should have been something else. However, I'm kind of sad to see the Islamist focus go, since that was the only thing
specific enough to really follow. Now we have one side argueing some nebulous claim about desparation and the challenger pointing out an almost equally nebulous ideological reasons. You're score for this post really tanked because of the lack of relevant links or citations.
Why should recruitment be more important than ideology? So far, from IB Dem I just have assertion that it is. At least the Challenger is telling me that we are all members of groups and ideology is a defining characteristic of which groups blow shit up and which don't. Challenger's story makes more sense right now: people may join groups, but there has to be an underlying ideology that connects all the dots in such a way that terrorism becomes acceptable. You're kind of flailing right now.
Michael:
Unavailable at time of posting.

Closing Arguments
Joel:
This is a strange Closing Argument. Unfortunately, The Challenger
appears to abandon much of what he said in his Opening Argument and First Rebuttal. The nuance and persuasiveness of those posts—particularly the First Rebuttal—are lost by a simplistic conclusion that people join groups for unknown reasons and then
sometimes those groups carry out terrorist activities. This is simply a poor argument for the causes of terrorism. The post, however, is strong in its structure, moving very clearly through its examples and statements in regards to the structure and essence of groups. The style is okay, though there is an odd sense of inappropriateness to the Raccoon Lodge example. Much of this post simply feels like wasted space that does not address the issue at hand.
This is a stellar post. The IBD does a magnificent job of summarizing his case and presenting it in the best possible light. While doing so, he also summarizes his opponent’s case and does a good job of rebutting The Challenger’s points and minimizing their impact. Jay really gets into the details here without ever losing sight of the broader, overall theme of desperation. The post is clear, concise, and easy to follow without ever becoming boring or confusing. Indeed, this post really presents the most compelling argument for his case the Iron Blogger Democrat has yet made, which is exactly what a Closing Argument should be.
Jason:
It's almost as if you wrote the closing before IB Dem's second rebuttal because you seem to ignore it. The Honeymooners tie-in was brilliant, and you coved the ingroup/outgroup very well, but you don't even seem to cover the desparation that IB Dem spends a significant number of words on is nowhere to be seen. I understand your position on it, but there are unanswered points and still a question as to how to understand desparation in terms of ideology. IB Dem didn't have a very good second reubttal, but you don't really take advantage of that. You needed to tie up two things -- ideology and desparation -- but you only seem to really give me one.
This was your most lucid explanation of your position so far, including a clear description of where you two differ. It's a great recovery from your low scoring second rebuttal. You deliver this nice tied up package of why ideology isn't enough, including harping on the RAND study that Challeger would sooner forget it seems (although I think you are getting away with making a stronger case than what it actually says). I think you kind of pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat here (or equally correct, Challenger pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory).
Michael:
Unavailable at time of posting.

The Judges have spoken - now we await the Verdict from The Chairman.

Stay tuned!

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