By World BEYOND War, February 24, 2022
This debate was held online on February 23, 2022, and was co-sponsored by World BEYOND War Central Florida and Veterans For Peace Chapter 136 The Villages, FL. The debaters were:
Arguing the Affirmative:
Dr. Mark Welton is Professor Emeritus at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is an expert in International and Comparative (U.S., European, and Islamic) Law, Jurisprudence and Legal Theory, and Constitutional Law. He has authored chapters and articles on Islamic law, European Union law, international law, and the rule of law. He was Past Deputy Legal Advisor, United States European Command; Chief, International Law Division, U.S. Army Europe.
Arguing the Negative:
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is a Co-Founder and Executive Director of World BEYOND War and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include Leaving WWII Behind, Twenty Dictators Currently Supported by the U.S., War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk World Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation.
In polling of participants in the webinar at the beginning of the debate, 22% said war can be justified, 47% said it cannot, and 31% said they were not sure.
At the end of the debate, 20% said war can be justified, 62% said it cannot, and 18% said they were not sure.
Since the end of World War II, the United States has made military incursions into Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan to name a few. Of particular relevance to the present crisis in Ukraine is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Russia was planning to install missiles in Cuba which of course was very threatening to the United States because of Cuba being so close to our shores. This is not unlike Russia’s fear that NATO weaponry will be installed in Ukraine. We in the United States were terrified during the Cuban missile crisis when President Kennedy’s response was to threaten nuclear retaliation. Fortunately, Khrushchev backed down. Like most Americans, I am not a fan of Putin, and I distrust him. Yet, I do believe the United States and our NATO allies should encourage Ukraine to declare itself a neutral nation, just as Switzerland and Sweden did during World War II, thereby successfully avoiding being attacked. Ukraine could then enjoy the benefits of peaceful relations with both Russia and the NATO nations – thereby simultaneously avoiding the current terrors of war. I was personally very persuaded by David Swanson’s position that warfare is never justifiable and can be avoided with determination.