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Individual Rights Vs. National Security sample essay

I negate the resolution, “Resolved: When the United States is engaged in military conflict, national security ought to supercede conflicting claims of individual rights. My value for the round is Human Dignity, or what can be defined as a respect for the individual and his or her rights and virtues. John Stuart Mill states that “Everyone who receive the protection of society owes a return for the benefit… but not to the point that it violates constituted rights.” Thus those rights which are the fundamentals of human dignity must be maintained. No fundamental goal should ever undermine this fundamental goal. The criteria which must consistently achieve is the maintenance of a legitimate government, or a govt. that maximizes the rights of its citizens

My sole contention proves that a government’s legitimacy is contingent upon its preservation of individual rights. According to Charles Ogletree, Professor of Law at Harvard University, “The U.S. has not been a fertile breeding ground for terrorism… diversity, religious and ethnic tolerance, a reliance on legal proceedings open to public scrutiny… are all values make it hard to nurture in the U.S. the ethnic or religious hatred that fuels much terrorism.” Unfortunately, sacrificing such virtues for temporary security would undermine these values. The impact is clear, that a removal of individual rights, such as freedom of speech or freedom of press, would uproot key American ideals and neglect the value of the individual within the United States. . The government would no longer protect the foundation upon with it was built, and such actions would illegitimatize the government.

As reported by Susan Stanberg, political analyst for National Public Radio, “Muslim communities throughout Florida have placed complains in the FBI’s strategy in placing undercover agents in mosques to find our terrorists.” This type of drastic action has also been taken up by new laws that grant police powers to search people travelling on public transportation without notifying them of their right to refuse the search and without sufficient evidence or suspicion; a severe incursion on the right to privacy. Police acknowledge this fact, stating that they have nothing else to go on. This impact is that investigations based upon ethnicity encourage citizens to do the same thing. This arouses xenophobia and hostility towards foreign groups of American society.

Secondly, Prioritizing national security gives the govt. license to violate human worth in 3 ways: i. Dictating life choices – relocating people/Japanese internment camps ii. Dictating moral choices – whether to fight in war (draft) iii. Actually taking liberty and property – violating the rights of innocents in war/taking prisoners of war. The impact is that denying worth w/in borders is wrong because it defeats the purpose you’re fighting for, and denying worth outside of borders is wrong b/c it’s hypocritical. The government no longer serves its role as a protector of the people, but rather a big brother like institute that dictates to its people their own moral codes.

Finally, security loses its worth if not accompanied by rights. Benjamin Franklin states that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither liberty or safety” Without Liberty, Security is purposeless. The entire purpose of national security is to protect the American way of life and what our nation stands for. Thus, if upholding national security comes at the cost of sacrificing those rights that it is fighting to protect, it does nothing but erode the very purpose for its existence and become a self-defeating pursuit.


I offer an overview against the affirmative case. In order for the affirmative to affirm, (s)he has to prove three things. Firstly, that security is able to be achieves, secondly, why there is an imperative need to sacrifice individual rights, and thirdly, (s)he must address all instances and types of military conflicts. Failure to do any of these things means that (s)he is upholding her burden as the affirmative. (s)he doesn’t prove this because:

1) (s)he assumes that she will be able to provide for national security, however, there is no guarantee for this safety. We might have implement heavier security measures in airports, but our chemical factories are just as vulnerable as they used to be.

2) (s)he just discusses the possible benefits that come from prioritizing national security, (s)he doesn’t show how it is fundamental. Just because national security is important, doesn’t mean that it is absolute. The benefits achieved on the affirmative, such as unification, maintenance of sovereignty, still exist on the negative side. (s)he isn’t showing why we have to sacrifice our rights. Moreover, benefits don’t determine fundamentality. Just because we might be able to hunt down an extra terrorist or two, doesn’t mean that random lock downs and strip searches will win the war on terror or that an inability to do so will lose us the war on terror.

3) All of the affirmative arguments premised on the relative size of the conflict, but a military conflict does not assume a small or large proximity. Most conflicts such as the Persian Gulf are entirely within the United States ability as a superpower to control through alternative methods than violation individual rights. So this argument does not determine the fundamentality of prioritizing national security above individual rights.

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