History: Vietnam Debates Part 2


The Upper Fifth debate on whether or not US should pay the Vietnamese compensation for the war consisted of many mini sessions which focussed on the major aspects of the war, the causes of US involvement in the war, US and guerrilla tactics used in the war, the disastrous My Lai Massacre and the Tet Offensive. 

As we approached the final debate where we would encapsulate all the points we have previously put forward with new evidence and information on the Student Protest that played a major part in the end of the war, it was difficult to see who would come out on top. 

Both teams, the defence and the prosecution, had fought passionately behind their cause, sometimes despite their own beliefs, and the debates were tied.

The last mini session before the final debate on the Tet Offensive went to my team, the defence, with our Head, Hal Potter, putting forward some compelling points mainly about how much the USA suffered great problems with numerous American protests and demonstrations that came as a result of the surprise attack, so therefore should not have to pay compensation for the war.

Mr Potter, as Mrs O'Hara would refer to him, was supported by myself, the deputy, Ilayda Gezegen, Daniel Grimstone, Abigail Burton, Luc Foster, Harry Thorpe, Lily Draper, Bryony Dennis and Yang Cui. 

The intelligence of the defence was finally able to defeat Max Fischer's prosecution and his outstandingly lengthy opening statements. 

The prosecution had always fought us ruthlessly with convincingly passionate counter arguments and impressive, at times indisputable, opinions.

In our final debate, which took place on the day after Valentine's Day, there was definitely no love lost. The heat of the debate was some-thing Mrs O'Hara had only half anticipated, so we were joined by Mr Frame to judge the debate.

Even so, I don't believe she had anticipated the main arguments the two sides had come up with - arguments that we all thought were our winning points. 

The prosecution argued that the US should pay compensation due to the amount of trauma the war had left behind, the land devastation and the numerous children born with birth defects. 

The defence meanwhile argued that US should not have to pay compensation since firstly they already did, through the large amount of money they gave to South Vietnam with the Hearts and Minds project and public funding given when US were withdrawing troops, and also the American government also had to pay for the atrocities of the student protests.

However, the unreliability of the Wikipedia source that provided us, the defence, with the information made it difficult for Mr Frame to agree with our argument. 

After some strong deliberation, the prosecution and Mr Fischer's extra-long opening statement won the hearts of our belated valentine judges.

In my opinion, we should have won, but then again some may say I am slightly biased.

As we are always encouraged to not be sore losers however, I bit my tongue and congratulated my triumphant classmates.

The debating method, which is only one of the numerous practical ways through which we learn at Bede's, is something I enjoy and look forward to very much, mainly due to my competitive nature which is greatly encouraged by Mrs O'Hara.  

Not only does learning this way give us the knowledge to get the highest GCSE results possible, but it also teaches us important communication skills which will be necessary for any line of work the students in my accomplished class might follow.

Laura Adebisi

Upper Fifth, Crossways House