Looking forward to debating you as well, @WilliamSchulz. Certainly looks like you’ve set up a sizable and strong case!
Let’s begin by defining the bounds of the debate, starting with some basic definitions.
The United Nations: "an intergovernmental organization established on 24 October 1945 to promote international co-operation... The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict."
The UN is composed of a wide variety of specialized agencies, many of which I’ll cover in this debate, but for an exhaustive list, here’s a link.
worth retaining: having positive value sufficient to warrant its continued existence.
Onto a bit of burdens analysis.
First, I’d just like to note that this is an equal burdens debate. It’s my burden to prove that the UN is worth retaining as an institution, and Con’s burden to prove that it is not. Voters are encouraged to compare the benefits of its being retained against the harms, and determine whether the continued existence of the UN is net beneficial. There is no specific threshold that needs to be met for this – we are simply comparing the benefits of a world with the UN and a world either without it or with some replacement.
Second, while we are certainly going to bring up past actions of the UN as part of our arguments, note that the resolution is about retaining the organization as a whole. As such, I am not required to argue that the UN in its current form is net beneficial, though I do believe that is the case. Part of the ground for my side of this debate is to propose changes to how the UN functions that would provide further support for its retention. My opponent is welcome to present the framework for a separate organization that should replace the UN, though bear in mind that the two must be mutually exclusive (i.e. the UN could not implement changes to make itself functionally equivalent to this other organization). The reason for this is that he would essentially be arguing that the UN as an institution actually should be retained, just in a slightly altered form. That would be an argument for my side of the resolution.
Third, it is part of the basic rules of debate that all of our constructive arguments are presented before the final round. I don’t mean to address any of the issues that Con presented in his opening round, but I can’t help but notice that he’s planning on presenting the entirety of his counterplan in the third round. Doing so would mean that I would only get 1 round to attack his case, while he gets 2 full rounds to attack my case. That's not just harmful for me, since it means any rebuttals I'd have for your case would remain unaddressed. I would rather have a solid set of argumentation on both sides for both of our cases, and as such, I would strongly encourage Con to present his counterplan in R2. If he wishes to simply argue over the net benefits of my case, he’s welcome to stick to rebuttals alone in the following round.
With that, I’ll start by focusing on the elements of the UN that have provided substantial benefits, focus on some key improvements that could be made in how the UN is run, and finally address the question of what a world without the UN would look like. I’ll save rebuttals for the next round.
I. Strengths of the UN
I’m not going to pretend that the UN has a flawless record with peacekeeping, which is something I’ll address in more detail later in my case. However, the UN has demonstrated successes as well. In Sierra Leone, the UN helped to “implement a peace agreement after the country’s devastating civil war… blue helmets disarmed more than 75,000 ex-fighters, including hundreds of child soldiers. The UN destroyed more than 42,000 weapons and 1.2 million rounds of ammunition.” Considering this war cost between 50,000 and 300,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million within the country, their mandates to protect civilians and to ensure that an agreement to end the war was effectively followed clearly saved untold lives. The UN has been successful at resolving a number of international disputes. In Burundi, the UN is credited with helping the nation recover from decades of ethnic war. That war cost 300,000 lives, and the recovery efforts were essential to ensuring that both sides continued to respect the ceasefire and disarmament agreements, as well as ensure the protection of civilians.
These successes extend to Côte d’Ivoire (“to facilitate the implementation by the Ivorian parties of the peace agreement” and “to control a ‘zone of confidence’ across the centre of the country separating the two parties”), Timor-Leste (“to support the Government in consolidating stability, enhancing a culture of democratic governance, and facilitating political dialogue among Timorese stakeholders, in their efforts to bring about a process of national reconciliation and to foster social cohesion”), Liberia (“to monitor a ceasefire agreement”), Haiti (mostly responding to the earthquake by providing security and distributing humanitarian aid ) and Kosovo (“to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo and advance regional stability in the western Balkans” ). “[B]y providing basic security guarantees and responding to crises, these UN operations have supported political transitions and helped buttress fragile new state institutions. They have helped countries to close the chapter of conflict and open a path to normal development, even if major peacebuilding challenges remain.”
There is no doubt that the UN has reduced the loss of life in these countries, and the fact that they have a clear set of factors required for a mission to be a success, and they aren’t guided by unilateral, single nation interests sets them apart from every other effort at peacekeeping.
2. Just… So Many Agencies…
I don’t think there’s much question that many of the agencies under the umbrella of the UN perform extremely beneficial actions. I’ll highlight just a few.
UNICEF has a remarkable record of improving children’s lives. The numbers are staggering, with tens of millions of kids vaccinated against polio, millions gaining access to clean water, massive educational outreach services, access to necessary nutrients, psychological support, critical health care and protection services, and much more. All of this in war-torn areas like Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria.
The World Health Organization works in offices across 150 countries, connecting governments and partners to control a variety of infectious diseases and ensure safe food, water and air. More specifically, the WHO functions as a central leadership organization for “shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge… setting norms and standards and promoting their implementation… articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options… providing technical support, catalyzing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity… monitoring the health situation and addressing health trends.” As an actor in an international system, it has a unique advantage in all of these areas to engage with individuals, organizations and governments across borders and boundaries. And they’re tackling a great deal of problems that cross those boundaries and chiefly affect nations that can’t afford to combat them, like malaria, HIV, child mortality, maternal health, and poverty and hunger.
The UN Development Programme works in 170 nations and territories to help poor countries develop to reduce inequalities and exclusion. It has invested 130 initiatives in 70 countries, “partnering with government and private sector to leverage alternative finance, behavioral insights, data innovation, and public policy labs.” These efforts have yielded substantial decreases in the incidence of HIV, malaria and TB in countries where these efforts would have otherwise been impossible. They’ve also sought to promote rights in a number of nations where LGBT communities lack basic protections.
The UN Population Fund (UNPFA) and UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) both have a strong track record of improving the lives of women in numerous nations.[19, 20] The UNFPA is seeking to put an end to obstretic fistulas and female genital mutilation, to make pregnancy safer for women, and to promote their equality and physical safety. Though these are daunting tasks, they’ve made great progress in “improv[ing] the health of mothers, slow[ing] the spread of HIV/AIDS, and mitigat[ing] the virus’s impact”. The UNDFW has a strong track record across continents of ensuring peace and security, achieving gender equality and promoting the human rights of women, reducing violence against women, strengthening the economic capabilities of women, and reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
And all of this is just 4 of the 15 agencies, not including any related organizations or sub-agencies. Again, I don’t think there’s any question that these agencies have done an incredible amount of good, bringing in employees and partners from nations around the world to solve a variety of dramatic problems.
II. How to Improve the Formula
1. A Standing Military Force
This will emulate the proposal summarized here. While there is a lot of detail in this, let’s just focus on the major hits to simplify. This includes the formation of a standing army composed of approximately 12,000-15,000 members, ranging widely but trained by the UN directly. They would function under a single command structure, being directly loyal to the UN. The deployment can be authorized by the Security Council, requiring two vetoes in order to vote down a given action. I won't provide all the details here, but the reasons for deployment and training methods are spelled out in that link. The costs are $2 billion to start, $900 million annually, contributed by member nations, with larger shares of the cost covered by the Security Council.
As I’ve already explained, the UN's functionality, in large part, is peacekeeping. They play an important role in the national and international stability, stopping egregious rights violations. However, they could do so more effectively.
The army I'm proposing would make them more efficacious. At least two of the five pillars on which the UN stands – peace and security and development – are facilitated directly by having a force they can directly deploy to assist in either facet. My case ensures that these soldiers would be trained and equipped sufficiently. They will have volunteered to enlist, improving dedication to each cause. They will be commanded and controlled better by a centralized leadership, and will be more likely to work with one another instead of for their own interests, as they will have trained and fought together for a mutual cause.
Realize as well that this is an army that functions solely as a neutral peacemaker and peacekeeper, something that no individual country can reasonably claim. This means that, unlike the concerns with other nations, their entry wouldn't be construed as a declaration of war, or as meddling on the part of the countries behind the participating troops.
The need here is obvious. People are dying rapidly in genocides and wars, and the UN has to be responsive to that concern on a much more pragmatic level. The U.S. and NATO forces, in particular, both utilize such forces to respond to concerns both at home and abroad, and these forces play key roles in numerous conflicts. It's important for nations to protect their interests, but all the more important for an international body like the UN to be able to act in a manner that can protect human rights from the most severe transgressions. Having this standing force makes them both more effective and more rapid in their responses.
2. Making the Security Council Accountable
The United Nations Security Council is an important part of the functionality of the organization as a whole, particularly the P5, a group of 5 nations that have a permanent seat on the council and retain veto power. As it is, these nations represent a rather outdated power structure that no longer resembles the world we live in to a sufficient degree. While the US, Britain, France, China and Russia are all undeniably powerful, it leaves out important powerhouses like Germany and India. Perhaps more importantly, it lacks representation from Africa and Latin America, effectively leaving them powerless to address any vetoes from any of these countries. It doesn’t help that the P5 nations often feel little to no need to pay their UN dues, which often leads the UN to lack substantial funding, particularly from the US.
The fix for this is rather simple: give these countries reason to feel that they have some buy-in, and require that any retention of those seats be based on paying their dues on time. While these 5 countries could retain their seats and some measure of their power, other countries should be added to these permanent seats, including the G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan), as well as South Africa. Any veto would require at least 3 of these countries to take effect. All of these countries would only retain these seats so long as they pay their dues annually in full or contribute national resources towards UN efforts at similar financial cost.
III. A World without the UN
What, exactly, would a world without the UN look like? Without an institution that has such a large and diverse membership and a relatively strong history of support, there’s little chance that any other organization could fill that void.
If the goal is to create a new institution like the UN, that would be no simple task. The League of Nations, which was the first major attempt at such an organization, failed miserably as a result of minimal buy-in. And getting that kind of buy-in would be incredibly difficult. The end of World War II was a rallying cry that brought the major nations of the world together to build the UN. Ignoring whether or not such an organization could actually take the positive functions of the UN and avoid the negative, just managing to bring in a wide variety of member nations and function on any meaningful level would be quite the undertaking.
If you’re looking at any other multinational group (say, NATO or the African Union), you’ll find that these are really only effective at representing a subset of interests, usually to the detriment of other nations. It is highly doubtful that nations in other regions of the world would treat peacekeeping forces and efforts from these countries as anything but an effort to benefit its member nations. So these would be functionally similar to individual nations acting: most of the purported efforts at peacekeeping would be anything but (i.e. efforts to garner resources or obtain a powerful position in the region), and local populations would be largely hostile to efforts at intervention.
That just leaves not intervening at all, which seems likely to happen in a lot more cases in the absence of the UN. That means allowing a great deal of civil wars and genocides to take place without response. I view that result as entirely untenable, and I think my opponent would agree.
Back to you, @WilliamSchulz.
Coupled with another self-critical analysis of the UN role in the fall of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war, the report is sure to fuel the growing international debate about the imperative of the United Nations and its member governments to stop grave violations of human rights."
Now, it would be easy to say that this was one mistake that the UN failed to grasp at the time, and yes, every institution makes mistakes, but this has always been a constant problem in Africa, to which the UN constantly fails to respond.
Enter rape issues in Africa, to which the UN itself is responsible for. According to USA Today, UN peacekeepers would rape children and women in the Central African Republic, which led to a recent 2014 scandal against the UN. Here is a quote from an affected mother.
"I am ashamed of the so-called international community," a tearful Marie-Blanche Marboua said as she described how a U.N. soldier raped her 10-year-old son a year ago in Bouar, 300 miles from this capital city. "My son is still traumatized."
An attempt to clean up a civil war ended up resulting in corruption and issues regarding morality in their peacekeepers themselves, who only worsened the conflict rather than solving it. This is a recent 2014 issue, thus it should be noted that if the UN faces these issues today, then how can they be trusted to carry out global tasks? Thus, we either have to replace the entire labor force for the UN or resolve how the UN handles and prepares such men for the role of peacekeeping. If the UN is spreading wrongful morale or is not supervising/training the peacekeepers, what is to prevent a similar issue from happening later?
"I didn't rape because I am angry, but because it gave us a lot of pleasure," says 22-year-old Mateso (not his real name). "When we arrived here we met a lot of women. We could do whatever we wanted." (The Guardian)
I have now discussed global issues concerning the UN, particularly in Africa, whose countries are heavily abused by the UN and the world at large. I will frequent Africa, because if the UN shows preferences to countries, then can it be trusted with setting up institutions in the country?
I will now concern myself with the inner workings of the UN, and how they exploit countries, and how the system is corrupt at large.
Contention 1: The UN has served its purpose:
A weaker point in the fold, but a good starting point for arguments to follow. The UN, as an ideology, is sound, and actively works to prevent wars and maintain peace. However, the UN no longer has the authority to reach fair decisions for countries (Later). The original intent of the UN was to divide up Europe and prevent a Third World War from occurring. After nations signed on, the organization grew in influence, yet this made it harder for world decisions to be made. Therefore, the power has now resided in the most powerful countries, who now dictate affairs to the lower countries. This was not the purpose of the UN. The UN was created to prevent this mindset from becoming the focal point of the present day UN. As a starting point, therefore, the UN was created for a purpose and served it, and with its current branching systems, the power is tilted toward the more powerful countries and away from the countries in need of assistance. This is an issue that can not simply be revised, this is an issue that has to be remodeled completely, which the UN will not change in the future.
According to Sunday Guardian,
"It can be no one's case that there is no requirement for inter-governmental agencies to solve problems that involve a large number of countries or which spill over borders. But any objective analysis will tell you that the UN, WHO (even the World Bank has struggled to play a meaningful role in the Ebola crisis) and other such institutions set up almost seven decades ago are not doing what they are supposed to. It is hard to radically change these institutions by tinkering around the edges. The only way forward is to abolish these institutions and build new ones, which recognize the reality of the 21st century."
Yet, five major countries run the majority of the UN, which I will delve into right now.
Contention 2: The Security Council:
The biggest issue that I have with the UN is that the Security Council, which is designed to prevent future wars, and delegates most of foreign policy from the UN, is run by five countries, The US, UK, France, Russia, and China. This simply is not representative of the whole world. While the UN tries to diversify this, the UN favors the strongest and most capable countries to make decisions for the rest of the world, and with these countries, it is near impossible to reach a unanimous decision, as they work for their own benefit, not that of the world. Let me explain:
The US and Russia have generally been at odds, especially since the end of the Cold War, and although we are trying to thaw tensions, issues in Syria involving ISIS have only increased tension between the two countries. In addition, China and Russia have been at odds in many issues, including, communism and free market principles. Thus, the five nations rival each other, and having veto power given to us allows the five countries to veto bills in their own interests and not that of the world. Here is an example from https://stiffkitten.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/is-the-un-serving-its-purpose/.
"The International Court of Justice rejected Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara in 1975. Morocco’s transfer of over 300.000 civilians into Western Sahara in late 1975 was in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Morocco’s presence in Western Sahara is illegal, a fact that has been upheld by over 100 resolutions in the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The Charter of the United Nations states that those nations who are responsible for non-self-governing states, such as Western Sahara, must protect the citizens of such states and take account of their political aspirations, none of which Morocco is doing. And Morocco’s theft of Western Sahara’s natural resources is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, something that has been reaffirmed by several UN Opinions.
But despite this overwhelming evidence of Morocco’s gross violation of international law for over 35 years and Western Sahara’s right to independence, France and the USA, both permanent member of the Security Council, has managed to veto any attempts at solving the Western Saharan conflict through the United Nations for strategic reasons. France is Morocco’s main trade partner and investor. Morocco was one of the USA’s closest allies in their fight against communism and is one of its main allies in its fight against terrorism."
Thus, in supporting allies who favor freedom instead of communism, the UN manages to make biased choices in favor of major countries with power and money.
Final Contention: Colonialism:
The UN faces moral issues when dealing with developing countries, offering alternate solutions to problems in those countries rather than providing the assistance they need. For instance, many individuals are starving in Africa and the Middle East because of overpopulation and the need for food. However, instead of food, the UN ships condoms to reduce birth rates, yet this does not solve the problem, and is equally morally reprehensible. If countries want help from the UN, they have to accept these immoralities to get the help they need, which shows the UN using their power abusively to push ideals and beliefs onto weaker countries.
Here is evidence from Crisis Magazine:
"So here’s the surprise: According to the latest research, condom promotion is ineffective for anything but lowering the rate of AIDS in concentrated, high-risk groups, like homosexuals in San Francisco or prostitutes in Bangkok. Condoms have never been shown to reduce HIV infection rates and AIDS deaths in general-population epidemics like those in sub-Saharan Africa. Paradoxically, the more condoms AIDS activists send to Africa, the more widespread the disease has become.
Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same thing: Spinning masses of air sucking moisture from the ocean, dumping it back on us and destroying things in their path. A hurricane is just a giant wind drain—a low-pressure center with winds flushing into it. The wind always blows counter-clockwise inwards in Northern Hemisphere hurricanes—check out this picture of Hurricane Katrina and the United States. Notice the direction the wind is traveling with a compass, depending on where the Hurricane is.
However, in the Southern Hemisphere, the wind travels the opposite direction. Here’s a picture of Hurricane Catarina, a very rare Southern Hemisphere Atlantic Hurricane:
Notice that Catarina is very clearly spinning in the opposite direction. That’s because of the Coriolis effect—the wind changes direction as the planet spins. If the Earth wasn’t spinning, the wind should blow straight into the middle of the hurricane from all directions. But the Earth spins faster at the equator than at the poles, because our planet’s midsection has the furthest distance to travel with each rotation. Winds traveling northwards or southwards curve as they travel from slower spinning to faster spinning regions of the planet. The wind carves the opposite direction based on whether you are above or below the equator since the Earth’s rotation gets slower on alternate sides.
You can recreate this by spinning a basketball on your finger, and moving a marker from the bottom up or the top down—notice what the line looks like above and below the middle of the ball.
Okay, let’s try to explain all that with a flat Earth. If Earth was a giant spinning plate with the North Pole at its center, all hurricanes should spin in the same direction and should have a much more spiral shape the further south (i.e., away from the center) you head. You could maybe slow down the spins further from the center of the spinning plate, but then you should see the continents ripping apart from the different speeds. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Look at this, a guy sent a camera to space and the Earth is round: https://www.geek.com/geek-cetera/homemade-spacecraft-reaches-100000-ft-films-the-whole-way-1287792/.
The video proves why the Coriolis effect is real and is dictated by hemisphere. The important parts are from 1:44-5:35. It has a controlled experiment. At the end, it explains why there is a difference between hemispheres. It works because it does. To understand this, think of a pool at the geographic poles. It is stationary relative to Earth, but every sidereal day, it is actually completing one full rotation. The part further away from the pole and closer to the equator move faster because it has to complete a larger movement in the same amount of time (that is why rockets are launched closer to the equator. When the plug is pulled (part of the experiment) everything is moving toward the drain in the middle. The far side is faster so it gets ahead while the slower part is too slow so it lags behind.
Thanks to @WilliamSchulz for inviting me to debate this topic. I honestly don't get to debate a lot of history, though I love doing it, and this is something that's particularly near and dear to me. I’ll start by adding a bit to the framework.
When we’re talking about benefits, I will note that those benefits are to the international community in general rather than one single country. We cannot reasonably limit this debate to America’s interests, though I will address those as well, since the effect of dropping the bombs go well beyond the US. Pro’s second contention seems predicated on the notion that Japan was benefited by the dropping of the bombs, so I don’t think that he will disagree with this.
We are playing a bit with alternate history in this debate. As Pro stated, we are not going to look back with 20-20 hindsight, but we can employ any information that was available at the time that the bombs were dropped, as well as any resultant effects. My role in this debate is to provide alternatives to this decision, and to compare the benefits and risks against those of dropping these atomic bombs. I am not required to stick to a single advocacy, but merely to show that at least one alternative would have led to a generally more net beneficial outcome.
For that, I need to provide a bit of background.
The point in WWII that we are talking about is past July 16, 1945. That is the date on which the Trinity Test was launched, which was the first test of a nuclear weapon, so it must precede any decision to use the atomic bomb in warfare. If we take a step further, to mid-August of that year, they were in the process of losing Manchuria to the Soviets. What was Japan’s situation at this point? “Japan had no allies; its navy was almost destroyed; its islands were under a naval blockade; and its cities were undergoing concentrated air attacks.”. So, Japan was not in great shape. They’re losing access to the resources they desperately need to continue fighting a war that they are now fighting alone.
Why is all this important? It comes back to the two main assumptions Pro is making:
1. Japan was not suing for peace before the nuclear bombs were dropped.
"The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan."
— Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet 
It was the explicit goal of the US to receive an unconditional surrender from Japan, which meant that the telegrams sent by Tokyo (often encrypted, but with a code they knew both the Americans and British could read) seeking anything shy of unconditional surrender were ignored.
“His Majesty the Emperor, mindful of the fact that the present war daily brings greater evil and sacrifice upon the peoples of all the belligerent powers, desires from his heart that it may be quickly terminated. But so long as England and the United States insist upon unconditional surrender, the Japanese Empire has no alternative but to fight on with all its strength for the honor and existence of the Motherland.”
Numerous communications indicated a willingness to conditionally surrender, and some even left the door open for unconditional surrender, though the latter was a harder sell. The condition that Japanese leadership all agreed upon was that the Japanese Emperor remain in office, though they did seek to pursue their own disarmament, dealing with war criminals, and have no occupation of their nation whatsoever after the war. These latter 3 clearly stepped over a line that the US was not willing to allow, but the fact remains that there was a basis for negotiation over what would have been a conditional surrender.
2. The chief reason Japan surrendered was because of these bombs being dropped.
“The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”
— Major General Curtis LeMay, XXI Bomber Command, September 1945 
“The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment ... It was a mistake to ever drop it ... [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it.”
— Fleet Admiral William Halsey Jr., 1946 
Pro’s argument hinges on the idea that nuclear explosions were the major deciding force for the Japanese to sue for peace. My arguments above indicate that conditional surrenders had already been offered, and that non-conditional surrenders were coming soon. However, for the moment, let’s assume that those circumstances don’t exist. Pro appears to be arguing that the nuclear weapons were a turning point; that their destructive capabilities led the Japanese to surrender out of fear for what those weapons could do to other cities. This is a crucial link to his solvency: he must show that the Japanese lost their resolve to continue fighting chiefly as a result of the nuclear weapons alone.
That’s going to be pretty difficult for him to prove. We had already firebombed Tokyo, which killed between 80,000 and 130,000 civilians and displaced over a million, yet Pro asserts that the atomic bombs were significantly different. I’ll admit that it was probably horrific to see the giant mushroom cloud and watching the survivors struggle with radiation poisoning, but in terms of numbers and sheer impact, the Firebombing of Tokyo did far more. They attacked a more crowded city, including factories necessary for producing war materials, and burnt much of it to the ground. Three cities had more square miles destroyed than Hiroshima, it was seventeenth in terms of percentage of the city that was destroyed, and it was second in terms of civilian deaths. If Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the tipping points in ending the war in the Pacific, why wasn’t this firebombing sufficient?
General Anami remarked on the atomic bombings himself, saying that they were “no more menacing than the fire-bombing that Japan had endured for months.” Japan’s leaders certainly didn’t seem to care. Their Foreign Minister Shidehara Kijuro made quite clear how much he was concerned for his people: “the people would gradually get used to being bombed daily. In time their unity and resolve would grow stronger.” Taking it a step further, he also said “even if hundreds of thousands of noncombatants are killed, injured, or starved, even if millions of buildings are destroyed or burned,” that additional time was needed for diplomacy. And this someone that would have been considered a moderate in their leadership. Attitudes were similar among the Supreme Council. Hell, Pro’s whole argument regarding the Kamikazes and the government’s facilitation of it indicates that they were willing to sacrifice a tremendous amount of lives to see their way to victory.
More importantly, Pro is missing out on another key piece of information from the time. The Japanese were also trying to sue for peace with the Soviets. The Soviet Union declared war on them on August 8, 1945, and when they did, the Japanese knew they had no chance of winning the war. With a Soviet invasion virtually guaranteed on their east coast, not to mention the proximate loss of Manchuria, the Japanese were already backed into a corner.
This is crucial, mainly because we can actually determine based on the timeline of events exactly which factor (the atomic bombs or a potential Soviet attack) led to Japan’s unconditional surrender. Japan was considering two options: a diplomatic end to the war (using the USSR as a mediator), and a militaristic end. The latter would have resulted in a decisive battle between the US and Japan on Japanese soil, one which they may have been able to win. Both options were still on the table after Hiroshima was bombed on August 6th. That bombing did not diminish their military strength in any meaningful way. It wasn’t until August 8th that the Soviets declared war on Japan, and at that point, the USSR couldn’t act as a mediator. Moreover, it was clear that the Soviets would attack a completely different part of Japan than the US, which is a problem when you’ve already got your forces spread thin. It’s an even greater problem when those same Soviet forces were ready to move on Japan within days. Japan’s leadership clearly acknowledged that Soviet entry into the war would put them in a very bad spot. Meanwhile, the US threatened to nuke more cities. That threat was lacking, since only four major cities remained that could be readily hit with atomic bombs.
Essentially, Japan was put into a situation where the only choice it had was fighting against two superpowers on two different sides of the country in a war they knew they couldn’t win, or surrender. They chose the latter, and they chose to surrender to the US because they knew that a Soviet occupation was a worst-case scenario. In fact, it is commonly argued that the reason the bombs were dropped was to achieve this exact goal: bring a rapid end to the war so that Russia could be contained.
All this undercuts Pro’s whole argument. If the USSR is the one responsible for their surrender, then the atomic bombs were, at best, functionally redundant. They did not substantially alter the willingness of the Japanese to surrender.
But all of this just challenges Pro's solvency. How should voters be assessing the arguments we're presenting as a whole? We’re talking net benefits, which basically means we’re talking about lives. Pro is playing a bit of a numbers game, though I think that somewhat undercuts the reality. A death of a soldier in combat should not have the same weight as the loss of a civilian life. Soldiers are trained and prepared to face the possibility of death by entering a battlefield. Civilians are separate from those battles, and should not be subject to the same looming threat of death. Yet both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were populated almost entirely by civilians, and neither were particularly strategic targets for their military.
This is what makes his comparison to D-Day particularly flawed, as he’s talking about a military engagement whereas this debate centers on dropping two bombs on cities full of civilians. The weight of lives lost in D-Day should be significantly less because the target is entirely different. That weight should extend to the people who died after the bombings, particularly as this ignores the long term effects of radiation poisoning that the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were doomed to suffer. This included “vomiting, fever, fatigue, bleeding from the gums, thinning hair, diarrhea and, in the worst cases, death. Those that did survive had an increased risk of cancer, though there has been no evidence of abnormalities in their offspring.”  These numbers are more difficult to estimate, but estimates for cancer alone number in the thousands, and that does not take into account the number of people who were dramatically harmed in a non-lethal manner. Moreover, if any other country had used such a weapon against the US or its allies, we would have characterized it as a war crime. The idea that we should ascribe some nobility to what was, effectively, indiscriminate murder of civilians is absurd and inherently dehumanizing. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were treated as means to an end, and no matter how good that end may have been, it should never have been built on a foundation of civilian corpses.
All of this is base harm caused by the atomic bombings. Pro must overcome these harms by showing that these two bombs a) were responsible for ending the war, b) that ending the war resulted in a positive impact that outweighed these harms, and c) that that outcome could not have been achieved with fewer losses by other means. I’ve already addressed a) and b), so now I’ll focus on c).
What alternative options did the US have?
Pro keeps on arguing that an invasion of Japan could have been far more deadly. I’ll grant him that. I’m not going to argue for an invasion, so it’s not relevant to this debate.
However, that’s not where the options stop. I’ll provide two counterplans that would both work better than the atomic bombs did. Both counterplans function independently, meaning that Pro will have to address each and show how they are insufficient.
1) Accept a conditional surrender
“…[General Douglas] MacArthur's reaction to the issuance by the Allies of the Potsdam Proclamation to Japan: ". . . the Potsdam declaration in July, demand[ed] that Japan surrender unconditionally or face 'prompt and utter destruction'. MacArthur was appalled. He knew that the Japanese would never renounce their emperor, and that without him an orderly transition to peace would be impossible anyhow, because his people would never submit to Allied occupation unless he ordered it. Ironically, when the surrender did come, it was conditional, and the condition was a continuation of the imperial reign. Had the general's advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary."
If, at the Potsdam Conference, the Americans had agreed with the British and allowed that the emperor be retained in his position post-war, then there would have been a basis for a peace agreement that Japan would have been under a great deal of pressure to accept. It would have looked virtually identical to the Potsdam Declaration, excepting that it would allow the emperor to retain his seat and the figurehead status that it granted him, particularly over the Shinto religion. This issue alone may have been enough to sway them. Removing the related clause for unconditional surrender also would have put them in a much more willing position to accept. As the above quote shows, that’s basically how the Potsdam Declaration was enforced, even if it was written with more of a hardline stance. Better writing could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
2) Accept an unconditional surrender
However, it was never outside of the realm of possibility that we could achieve an unconditional surrender by force without either the atomic bombs or a land invasion.
“…the use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons ... The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
— Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to President Truman, 1950 
American military leaders advised President Truman that there were other far more standard means of ensuring that Japan would surrender. They were arguing for a standard bombardment and naval blockade.[17, 18] Japan could not hold out long against this, particularly with the USSR ready to flank them. The US had a substantial aerial advantage, particularly with its aircraft carriers, which meant that even without the help of the Soviets, they were virtually guaranteed to be subdued within a brief period.
“…it seems clear that, even without the atomic bombing attacks, air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945,…Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” 
With both counterplans, I garner all my opponent’s benefits, except I improve upon them. The life-loss count is dramatically improved in my case, the US doesn’t commit a clear war crime, and we don’t jump-start the nuclear arms race that characterized much of the Cold War. Japan could have ended the war on more peaceable terms with the US and not hold a gigantic amount of enmity for bombing two cities, which would have made the transition period smoother. Whether together or apart, these counterplans offer a far more beneficial outcome than does dropping atomic bombs on these two cities.
With that, I hand it back to @WilliamSchulz.