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19 September 2007

Alfred C. Snider on WUPID

The CIMB Group World Universities Peace Invitational Debate is a unique debating opportunity that any eligible school should be anxious to attend. It provides a unique opportunity for competition, acting as a veritable “tournament of champions” as well as featuring a unique theme that the debating community should embrace more, “peace.” This is especially important at this time for American debating universities.

There are a number of elite schools that are eligible to attend the CIMB WUPID. Most of them get a chance to debate against a few other elite schools from time to time at tournaments in their region, or every year they might have a chance to debate some of them at WUDC. But, these opportunities are rare and punctuated by debates against other fine teams that are not among the global elite. At CIMB WUPID, however, debate after debate will be against the finest teams in the worlds, and the elimination rounds should be some of the finest debates anywhere in the world. Each round will consist of an incredibly impressive foursome of debate teams. Such an event would only happen in the later elimination rounds at WUDC. This will be a unique opportunity to debate the best and become even better in the process. Such an opportunity just before WUDC in Bangkok is ideal for teams hoping for a strong finish at WUDC. CIMB WUPID is, without a doubt, a tournament of champions. A strong CIMB WUPID showing, against the best in the world, is something any debate program can be extremely proud of.

Every debater knows many quotations from Winston Churchill, but one of my favorites is, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” It is a quotation I remembered reading in one of the first real international relations books that I saw as a very young man and it remained in my mind. It also seeded in me the idea that debate and discussion are not only better to be in than a battle, but that they just might, with effort and time, come to be a technique that might be used to replace battle. While in previous eras some deliberative establishments were mocked as just “talking shops,” now we see that such activities can be very useful in avoiding conflicts that cost sacred blood and valuable treasure. The CIMB WUPID has come out bravely with the theme of peace, and backs it up with the best debating universities in the world. This juxtaposition is a continuation of a theme that I have dedicated my life to. Events in a region such as Korea, on the brink of war with peace never negotiated, have themes such as “replacing weapons with words,” that has also been used with inner city American students from communities rife with gang violence and at various training programs in different parts of the world. We see around us the follies and difficulties of the pre-emptive use of arms while at the same time seeing the successes of pre-emptive use of discussion between those who disagree, such as the progress in the six party talks with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea about nuclear issues. We are not na├»ve, instead we are hopeful. We make a personal commitment to this process by supporting the CIMB WUPID. I think it is one of the most important things that those invited to attend can do. Stand and debate with us in a celebration of the possibilities that debate can promote peace and decrease the need for war.

Finally, I want to share some thoughts with American institutions that have been invited but have not yet confirmed. There is a growing movement in America towards British parliamentary debate in the WUDC mold. Many schools committed to American parliamentary debating are now embracing the WUDC format, a number of schools doing non-parliamentary debating are beginning to adopt WUDC style debating (such as a group of schools from New England who are beginning this fall) and American schools are doing better and better at WUDC. I urge all invited American schools to attend so that they can fully join this elite community at a tournament of champions while embracing a powerful theme for the 21st Century, peace. With the rewards that come with placing in the top universities in the world comes the responsibility to represent. I strongly believe that American debaters can show their talents, but to do so they should take this chance to debate the best of the best.

I am proud to have been invited as the external observer to CIMB WUPID. I intend to learn from the best and share my hopes for a better future. I urge all of you who are eligible to attend this wonderful and timely opportunity, the CIMB Group World Universities Peace Invitational Debate.

Written by:Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
University of Vermont
World Debate Institute
He can be contacted at

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