Page 78 - Cormorant 2019
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The first rule of Debating Club is there is no Debating Club Lt Col James Ashworth
DEBATING AT ACSC SHARES with rugby’s Lerwill Cup the privilege of
testing oneself against peers from France’s École de Guerre. Unlike
the rugby where the right to compete was bestowed upon those who remained injury free (not many...), the debating team was drawn from those who volunteered for the inter-divisional debates.
For those volunteers, the realisation that debates required significantly more reading and preparation than an average SRA came as something of a shock. In retrospect, the depth and rigour of self-directed learning
involved was absolutely in keeping
with post-graduate level study and
of significant value. Whether the UK should launch an armed attack in response to the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury; and whether the UK should establish a Cyber and Information Force gave plenty to consider. A vocal and impassioned audience (a polite way of saying ‘fuelled by merlot’) offered the teams plenty of challenge when opened up to the floor. It needed all of Professor Matt Uttley’s considerable wit and charm to maintain order and adjudicate with C Division emerging victorious.
Despite the École de Guerre winning every debate in corporate memory, the team, captained by Lt Col Rob Money, felt confident going into the first fixture. Not only did ACSC have home advantage, the team also received invaluable tuition from Oxford University’s former Debating Union
The victorious C Div team
Chair, Andrew Seow. You can imagine our surprise at Andrew being a 23 year old undergraduate. Talent clearly isn’t defined by age; which may surprise some in the military...
However, the home field advantage was levelled by a large travelling group from the École de Guerre and apparently every Frenchman within a 30 mile
radius descending upon the Defence Academy. It was also a tough motion for ACSC to carry – that this House would invade the Crimea. What followed was
a fiercely contested debate against a superbly prepared French argument whose research included time with RUSI and the UK’s Chair of the Foreign Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP. In the end, the ACSC team convinced
a panel of four judges and carried the motion. ACSC had finally won a debate, in English, against our French peers.
And so to the return leg in Paris. The ACSC team argued against the
Lining up against the École de Guerre
establishment of national ‘Space Forces’ against another strong French team whose nation are decidedly
more forward leaning in space than
the UK. The debate ultimately hinged on Realist versus Liberalist tendencies with a Hobbesian view of human nature winning through. A sterling performance by the École de Guerre carried the motion perhaps foretelling the demise of liberalist values as we return to global great power competition.
In sum, debating presented a hugely challenging endeavour. The ability to distil the logic of an argument and deliver it in the face of a convincing counter-view and intense questioning is hard earned. The École de Guerre clearly takes debating seriously with impressive investment behind it. ACSC could learn from their example. With regards debating, the adage of getting out what you put in couldn’t be truer. Not least, a free trip to Paris.
       C Div vs B Div

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