Clash of the Titans

Not a whole lot of time to write lately, but I stumbled on this the other day, and it deserves mention.

William F. Buckley might not be a well-known name in the debate world, but he's an incredibly important figure in conservative political thought in the United States. He founded the National Review, and did more than anyone else in his era to promote the theories of laissez faire capitalism and American primacy. If you've read cards from Khalilzad, Krauthammer, Kagan, Boot, or any Free Trade Good/Growth Good disad, you've encountered the influence of Buckley.

Equally important, but diametrically opposed, is Noam Chomsky. Longtime critic of US foreign policy, he's written dozens of books on the subject and has been cited more than any other author in discussion of US intervention abroad. He's been read directly plenty of times in debate rounds, and his influence extends through the Militarism K, Threat Construction, Statism, and Hege Bad debates pervasively. All this while holding down a "day job" as a Linguistics professor at MIT.

These two people may have had more influence over the american intellectual right and left, respectively, than any other over the past half-century. And what do you know? They met on live television in 1969 on Buckley's program Firing Line. Turns out that most of the interview is on Youtube. EDIT: Found the whole thing! And embeddable to boot.

The subject at hand is the Vietnam war, but both men touch on some essential themes of US Foreign policy debates (cost/benefits of intervention, preventing terrorism, the role of rhetoric and representation) that continue to be relevant today. This is the Hegemony debate that we've been having for decades. Really this should be required viewing for all policy debaters before next year. You might want to keep a tab to Wikipedia open while watching it, as Chomsky and Buckley both use a strong command of history and contemporary events to make their case.

1 comment:

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