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That the forced militarization of civilian naval vessels is legitimate in times of war

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Anthony TaiAnthony Tai (PRO)
I would like to thank my opponent for accepting my challenge. I have been waiting for dayz, friend. What a great guy.

Resolved: the forced militarization of civilian naval vessels is legitimate in times of war. 

In the unlikely event that a war were to break out in a country, wouldn't the government have an intense need for naval vessels? While my friend admin here may be a highly learned person, I would like to give an example for those of you that still don't understand. Imagine that the United States was at war with another country: China, for example. We all know that when a war breaks out, both sides are often desperate and always wanting to be over the other. To lose would be disastrous for the country's people and its economy for ages to come. If the United States were to run out of ships or naval vessels that could be used to fight the opposing country, or have an immense shortage of naval vessels, it could militarize a US citizen's boats or ships for use in war. Both the citizens and the country know, that in this case, the country desperately needs it to fight the war against its opponent. 
Militarize: to adapt for military use (Merriam-Webster) 

Contention One:

Have you ever wondered what happens to a country after they lose a war? What happens to the winner? Well, to clarify, war is not exactly a game. There is no winner of a war. However, just for our purpose, I will be using "winner" to describe the person who is victorious in a war. If my opponent wishes to do the same thing, could you please specify in the next round? Thank you. Anyway, the loser of the war is often the loser because:
                             a: Unable to fight, because their entire country or military is annihilated, or is completely destroyed. 
                             b: The two opposing countries have come to an agreement, of which the winner of the war gains much more, while the loser suffers                                  losses to its economy and its people.
Either way, the loser pays much more than money for being the losing side of the war. An extreme example of this is after World War One. The loser, Germany, was forced to sign the Versailles Treaty, which destroyed both the navy of Germany and its people. If sacrificing your naval vessel meant winning or losing, then you should almost definitely sacrifice your naval vessel in order to avoid becoming a post-WW1 Germany. Therefore, the forced militarization of civilian naval vessels should be legitimate in times of war.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-12-22 15:37:20
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I, too, thank my opponent - in particular, for instigating this challenge.

The goal of war isn't to win at all costs: it is to end the war. War is horrible. People die in wars. Like, a lot of people. Tragically, too many of them are civilians, and this is what compounds the tragedy. The same policy that pro is now advocating has led to numerous preventable deaths, such as those killed when the Lusitania  sunk.

I have two contentions in this debate, with rebuttal being integrated.

Civilian ships don't win wars
Not a single war has ever been won in recorded human history by the militarization of civilian naval vessels. This is despite numerous at-war nations militarizing their civilian naval vessels.

In many cases, because they are not designed to carry armaments, repurposed civilian vessels perform much poorer than other ships and are liable to explode or otherwise suffer malfunctions.  Retrofitting ships is in many cases even more expensive than just building new ones.

This has never been more true than today. The kinds of ships that are relevant to modern warfare are ships like aircraft carriers, which have no civilian equivalent. We strongly doubt that any modern civilian ship would be of any interest to a modern army.

The model kills people
What pro proposes directly leads to more casualties in war, as it makes civilian ships targets. At that point, you're practically making all civilians targets as well - and such human-shield strategies create deaths.

Perhaps if you militarize everything - hospitals, schools... - perhaps then you have a higher chance of winning a war. However, you also have higher casualties. This is why, traditionally, these areas have been marked as safe zones in combat, for all combatants. Pro's logic can be applied just as well to ships as to any other civilian facility. He might as well have advocated the forced conscription of the entire population.

We feel any model that puts unwilling human lives at risk should be thrown out on the basis of human rights, especially the dignity and security of the person, as well as commonly accepted international laws of war and rules for engagement.

I look forward to reading my opponent's rebuttals.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-12-22 19:21:33
| Speak Round
Anthony TaiAnthony Tai (PRO)
I would like to thank my opponent for continuing this debate so quickly. I apologize for not posting sooner-- I apologize for testing my opponent's patience.

I cannot argue with my opponent's logic on this particular subject. He states: "We feel any model that puts unwilling human lives at risk should be thrown out on the basis of human rights, especially the dignity and security of the person," and that is something I cannot disagree with. To disagree would surely mean that I am a horrible person or a lying debater. However, he also states that a militarized ship has never won a war out of the numerous cases. However, there is surely the chance that the opportunity might arise, but I don't know much about the subject. Could you please specify on the link or source that you used to find this information? Thank you.

My opponent says: "We strongly doubt that any modern civilian ship would be of any interest to a modern army." Yet at the same time, he says that the militarization of a modern naval vessel will be targeted by the opposing side in the war. Assuming that the opponent in the war wishes to eliminate all threats, they would eliminate all naval vessels, regardless of whether or not they are civilian or military. But would the opposing country want to spend their resources to take out all civilian vessels? Could you please address that in your next speech?

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-12-23 10:24:38
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
Opposing armies take out civilian vessels, primarily, if they are militarized. I'd agree that there's very little incentive to attack a ship that has no military (though it also was certainly has not been uncommon - on several occasions, for example, German submarines in WW2 indiscriminately attacked civilian targets on the grounds that they could be carrying munitions, and because laid mines are difficult to target).

This works in two ways. First, by destroying the "civilian" ship, an adversary can take out potential enemy combatants, arms and supplies. Second, it helps assert and establish general naval superiority. If nothing else, the loss of a large number of civilian ships is demoralizing to the port nation. The costs of arming the ship are also not recouped.

Even if all this were not the case, the forced militarization of civilian vessels, in particular in terms of cargo and arms, can still create danger for civilians even if they are not direct targets. We note the Halifax explosion, for example, as a source for this potentially occuring.

To be clear about the confusion then: while a civilian ship is (in every conceivable scenario) not of interest to win a war, it can certainly help lose a war.

Finally, let's go into more detail regarding the use of civilian ships in combat. The concept of force arming civilian naval vessels is really common - for example, right now, China requires all ships to be ready for use in war at all times. The last time that such policy was actually significantly used in war, however, was over 30 years ago in the Falklands War, when the Queen Elizabeth II carried soldiers - soldiers who could have easily been carried to the Falklands by the British by any other means. I encourage my opponent to go through the history books and find a single example of where this policy has ever actually worked.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-12-24 00:22:34
| Speak Round

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Anthony TaiAnthony Tai
Thanks for understanding @admin
Posted 2015-12-29 12:55:51
I get that, it's a tough time of year!
Posted 2015-12-29 12:48:54
Anthony TaiAnthony Tai
Sorry I was unable to do the last round; Christmas takes a lot out of my schedule
Posted 2015-12-29 12:30:43
Thanks for the last-minute point lol @fire_wings
Posted 2015-12-29 01:46:57
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2015-12-28 21:53:37
fire_wingsJudge: fire_wings
Win awarded to: admin

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