Department of Defense Trade-Off Disadvantage

The Department of Defense trade-off disadvantage argues that new defense spending in Europe will trade-off with defense spending in another area.  The Michigan Start Pack version argues that more defense spending in Europe will undermine defense spending in Asia, undermining deterrence against an attack on Taiwan by China.

The disadvantage seems intuitive, but there are a number of problems with it that make it difficult to win.

First, the link is small at best. Topically, all the plan can do is increase defense spending in one of three areas (and it doesn’t have to increase defense spending, it can just increase “cooperation”). Even if the plan increased defense spending by 10 billion, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the current $813 billion defense budget. At best, there would be some minor trade-off.

But the US has significantly increased defense spending in Europe already due to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. The Michigan version of the disadvantage tries to manage this by saying a massive increase is what causes the trade-off, but it’s not clear how any plan that increased cooperation in one of these areas would be massive compared to the status quo, as we’ve already spent $20 billion directly to the Ukraine itself.  Negative teams may argue that this will come from supplemental appropriations, but then so could the plan.

Second, there is no reason to believe there would be a trade-off, as the US is most likely to just increase total defense spending.  Congress actually increased the defense budget $45 billion beyond what Biden requested.

Even if there was some trade-off in the middle of the fiscal year, Congress would just add the spending in the next defense budget.

Third, the uniqueness takes out the link. Biden just travelled to Asia and made all sorts of defense commitments (as the Negative’s uniqueness evidence says). Given support for containment in Asia, the US would likely just cut funding elsewhere, if such a cut as necessary.

Fourth, the plan will arguably affect technology improvements. Any technology improvement will likely benefit the US in its efforts to compete with China in one of the topical areas. There is a lot written that says such efforts are needed to deter China and prevent its hegemonic rise.

Fifth, to the extent the Affirmative wins they deter a war in Europe, that would increase deterrence in Asia because a war in Europe would both put a significant drain on the US military and force an increase in defense spending. At a minimum, a war in Europe may lead China to conclude that the US is bogged-down and it is a good time to attack Taiwan.

Sixth, there are a number of defense arguments that can be made against the claim that China will attack Taiwan or dominate the world.

You can find the Michigan camp version of the disadvantage here (it’s free).

Download the camp files as they are released here. Download is free for every registered user (free) and subscriber ($49)

You can find the additional DebateUS! blocks (approx 100 pages) here.