Public Forum

The Current Resolution

2017 September/October Topic Area: Korean Peninsula • Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.

Public Forum: North and South Korea and Anti-Missile System

Past Public Forum topics:

Resolved: In East Africa, the United States federal government should prioritize its counterterrorism efforts over its humanitarian assistance.

• Humanitarian or Security Priorities for U.S. East Africa Policy?

How best can the U.S. government best deal with security and humanitarian challenges in East African countries? … Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto… argues that the legal exclusion of most Africans from formal rule of law institutions restricts their options for engaging in world markets. DeSoto argues that online one-third of the world’s population has access to the rule of law, and that elites of the world tend not to be bothered by that.

April Public Forum

“Resolved: The United States ought to replace the Electoral College with a direct national popular vote.”

• Campaign Changes Without Electoral College

March Public Forum

“Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.”

• More Startups, not States

The stories from Startup Rising paint an optimistic future for the Middle East. Israel already enjoys a dynamic tech sector, and now capital and expertise are surging into nearby Arab countries.

• March (US/Israel) Public Forum: Entrepreneurs vs. Oligarchy

For the Public Forum U.S./Israel two-state topic, residents of the Palestinian territories currently lack an option to consent to their governance. Without consent, how can governance of the Palestinian territories be legitimate? From the U.S. Declaration of Independence:

• China to Palestine: Economic Freedom and Charters

Nation-states can be more trouble than they’re worth. For the Middle East, federalism, soft-partition, enclaves, and charter cities offer non-state paths to peace and prosperity.


Public Forum Debate – 2017 Feb Topic Area: Cuba

Resolved: The United States should lift its embargo against Cuba.

• Pollution and Politics for Cuban Embargo and Sugar Quotas

Ending the Cuba trade embargo would shift sugar production back to Cuba and away from ecologically fragile lands in the U.S. “Protect the Everglades, not sugar farmers,” (Florida Sun Sentinel, Feb 16, 2017) argues

• Balseros: Story of the Cuban Rafters

Balseros (Cuban Rafters) [is] much grander humanist statements because they give a particularly human face to the horror of two separate Cuban refugee debacles.”

• Freedom for Cubans to Trade or Depart?

For decades the Cuban government has claimed the U.S. trade embargo is the cause of Cuba’s poverty. Economists agree the embargo blocked trade that would have allowed both Cubans and Americans to prosper.

• Time to End the Half-Century Cuban Embargo?

Why did the U.S. government relax trade restrictions with China, the USSR, and communist countries in Eastern Europe in the 1970s, but not with communist Cuba?

In an April 19, 1971 press conference, President Nixon said:

“If the want to trade … we are ready,” he said. “If they want to have Chinese come to the United States, we are ready. We are also ready for Americans to go there, Americans in all walks of life.

Chinese could visit America and Americans could visit China. Why weren’t similar doors opened for travel between Cuba and the U.S.?

By the time of the Cuban revolution United States had a long history of “engagement” with Cuba. The U.S. military occupied Cuba from 1989 to 1902 and again from 1906 to 1909 and again from 1917 to 1922. U.S. firms controlled much of Cuban sugar and other industries.

Cuba’s political and economic history is complicated, and U.S. interventions in Cuba, as in many other countries, led to unexpected and unwanted consequences. [Full post here.]

China and Cuba Trade, Labor, and Migration

[a combined China policy/ Public Forum Cuba embargo post]

In Mexico, China, and Cuba, labor rates are far lower than in the United States. And not just labor rates, but rules about how many hours a day or a week employees can work, and what benefits employers are required to pay.

NSDA debaters have a US/China engagement topic, and the February Public Forum topic is: Resolved: The United States should lift its embargo against Cuba.

The last days of the Obama Administration ended the long-standing wet-foot/dry-foot policy for Cubans (see below), and the Trump Administration wants to build a bigger wall along the Mexican border, renegotiate trade agreements between the US and Mexico (NAFTA), and also with China. The stated goal is to restore jobs lost as companies automated and shifted manufacturing operations to Mexico and China.

Lifting the trade embargo with Cuba would open doors to similar job displacements as US firms open new factories and upgrade agriculture in Cuba. Cubans are very poor after a half-century of communist rule, so Cuban demand for goods produced in the US will be minimal. [Full post here.]



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Resources from Older Topics

NSDA Nationals 2016: Presidential Primary Process

“Resolved: On balance, a one-day national primary would be more beneficial for the United States than our current presidential primary process.”

Nationals 2016 Public Forum Topic Guide (Pro & Con)


March 2016: Okinawa Military Presence

Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.

Pro & Con Topic Guide


February 2016: Carbon Tax

Resolved: The United States federal government should adopt a carbon tax.

Pro & Con Topic Guide


January 2016: Russia Economic Sanctions

Resolved: On balance, economic sanctions are reducing the threat Russia poses to Western interests.

Pro & Con Topic Guide


November 2015: Refugee Crisis

Resolved: In response to the current crisis, a government should prioritize the humanitarian needs of refugees over its national interests. 

Pro & Con Topic Guide


September/October 2015: Reparations for African Americans

Resolved: The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans

Pro & Con  Topic Guide


NSDA Nationals 2015: 1st Amendment & Anonymous Speech

Resolved: The benefits of First Amendment protection of anonymous speech outweigh the harms.

Pro & Con Topic Guide


April 2015: Ground Troops Against ISIS

Resolved: Committing United States ground combat troops to fight ISIL is in the best interest of the United States.

Pro & Con Topic Guide


March 2015: Free Community College Education

Resolved: In the United States, students should be guaranteed two years of free tuition to a community or technical college.

Pro & Con Topic Guide


November 2014: GMO Foods

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh the harms.
Pro Topic Guide

Con Topic Guide

Nationals 2014: NATO deterrence against Russian aggression in Ukraine

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

April 2014: Economic development vs. environmental protection in India

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

March 2014: Single-gender classrooms

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

February 2014: Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

January 2014: Sahel region of Africa

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

December 2013: Immigration reform

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

November 2013: NSA surveillance

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

Free Evidence

September 2013: Non-Proliferation

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April 2013: Drug Policy

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

March 2013: Health Care

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

February 2013: China Rise

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

January 2013: Citizens United

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

December 2012: Fiscal Cliff

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

November 2012: Middle East

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

October 2012: Climate

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown

September 2012: Assault Weapons Ban

Pro Breakdown

Con Breakdown


March 2012: Aid to Pakistan.

February 2012: Birthright citizenship.

January 2012: College costs.

December 2011: Income inequality.

November 2011: Electoral College.