No form of government can survive… when the life of the nation is at stake.” Because I agree with Clinton Rossiter, I affirm the resolution that When the United States is engaged in military conflict, the demands of national security ought to supersede conflicting claims of individual rights. Definitions from Encarta World English Dictionary Engaged in Military Conflict means fighting open warfare. Demands of national security means protection against loss, attack, or harm to the citizens. Ought to supersede means that there is a duty or obligation to take the place or position of something. Conflicting means not able to be followed or acted on, because each requires different and incompatible actions. Claims of individual rights are demands for entitlements, freedoms, or privileges a person has. Before I begin, I have an observation about the resolution. The demands of national security and claims to individual rights must be viewed as legitimate. Because the resolution says ought, we are debating about whether or not national security is a justifiable cause to limit rights.
I am upholding SOCIAL WELFARE as my value. Societal welfare is the conditions under which somebody may live satisfactorily in a community. The criterion upholding my value is the PRESERVATION OF SOCIAL ORDER. The United States has the obligation to its citizens to preserve the society by acting on the demands of national security. Contention I: Government is created to preserve welfare by restricting individual rights. Before government was created, we live in what John Locke called the state of nature. In this state of nature, humans were absolutely free. However, we are not able to enjoy these rights because we are not provided safety. We enter a government in order to preserve life, liberty, and property. Locke states: “[Man] gives up [self-power] to be regulated by laws made by the society, so far forth as the preservation of himself, and the rest of that society shall require; which laws of the society in many things confine the liberty he had by the law of nature.” Even when man is in harmony with government, certain individual rights are limited.
When in military conflict, however, justice and security are both compromised, and something must be done to protect them. Contention II: Government must provide for the safety of the society during war by further restricting rights. The highest obligation a government has is to provide the protection of its citizens, and certain rights that may be allowed in less vulnerable times may jeopardize national security during military conflict. Because new forces endanger the society, new measures must be taken to preserve societal order. Jean Jacques Rousseau affirms this. “Only the greatest dangers can outweigh that of changing the public order, and the sacred power of the laws should never be interfered with except when the safety of the country is at stake.” Even certain constitutional rights may be temporarily superceded during these times. Political Science Professor Martin Shaffer explains: “To meet the challenge of a major emergency, the barriers against omnipotent government established by the constitution must oftentimes be transcended.”
Contention III: Government has the duty to protect its citizens. When the government restricts rights, it does so to provide security to its citizens. Assuming, as we should under this resolution, that national security is at risk, government, by entering this social contract with its people, has the overall obligation to protect societal welfare. It must restrict certain freedoms of expression, privacy, and due process if it will protect the people. Security must come before rights. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places security just above physical needs such as food, water, and shelter. Without security first, rights become invalid and government is unable to function. Men cannot respect a government that does not preserve society. In conclusion, as a legitimate government, the United States has the obligation to protect societal welfare. Because it must protect its citizens above all, temporary infringements on rights are necessary.