VIDEO: Online Debate: Can War Ever Be Justified

By World BEYOND War, September 21, 2022

Debate set up by World BEYOND War on September 21, 2022, International Day of Peace.

Arguing that war can never be justified was David Swanson, an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of World BEYOND War and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He hosts Talk World Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and U.S. Peace Prize recipient.

Arguing that war can sometimes be justified was Arnold August, a Montreal-based author of three books on US/Cuba/Latin America. As a journalist he appears on TelesurTV and Press TV commenting on international geopolitical issues, is a Contributing Editor for The Canada Files and his articles are published world-wide in English, French and Spanish. He is a member of the International Manifesto Group.

Moderating was Youri Smouter, host of 1+1, a topical history and current affairs program on his YouTube channel 1+1 hosted by Yuri Muckraker aka Youri Smouter. He is based in Southern Belgium and is a left-wing media critic, NGO critic, anti-imperialist, an advocate for Indigenous solidarity and a Native Lives Matter movement and socially liberal thinker.

Doing tech support and timekeeping and polling was WBW Organizing Director Greta Zarro.

Participants on Zoom were polled at the beginning and end of the event on the question “Can war ever be justified?” At the beginning 36% said yes and 64% no. At the end, 29% said yes and 71% no.


  1. October 2016 Vermont: Video. No poll.
  2. September 2017 Philadelphia: No video. No poll.
  3. February 2018 Radford, Va: Video and poll. Before: 68% said war could be justified, 20% no, 12% not sure. After: 40% said war could be justfied, 45% no, 15% not sure.
  4. February 2018 Harrisonburg, Va: Video. No poll.
  5. February 2022 Online: Video and poll. Before: 22% said war could be justified, 47% no, 31% not sure. After: 20% said war could be justified, 62% no, 18% not sure.
  6. September 2022 Online: Video and poll. Before: 36% said war could be justified, 64% no. After: 29% said war could be justified, 71% no. Participants were not asked to indicate a choice of “not sure.”

7 Responses

  1. Greetings from Australia where it is 22/9/22, and raining as we collectively “mourn” our dear departed Queen. The Queen is dead; long live the King. The transfer of authority is as simple as that!!! An example of what can happen in a “World without War”.

    And a thank you to Greta, you ensured the smooth progress of this debate. Yuri, David and Arnold who provided a very “civil” debate.

    The one unfortunate negative aspect of this debate was the “chat” feature. Rather than listening to the actual debate, a handful of Zoom participants were more involved in presenting their own ideologies. Rather than having positive questions for the team, they spent most of their time arguing their own sometimes “uncivil” agenda.

    I enjoyed viewing the debate again without these distractions. Arnold presented a very informed history of the reasons for the Ukraine/Russian conflict going back to 1917. The role of the “Empire” and their lap dog, NATO, highlights why a “World without War” is a long way off.

    I felt that Arnold was in a difficult position; most of his debate could be construed as supporting the positive argument that war can never be justified.

    These forums tend to be “preaching to the converted”; the challenge is how to reach out to the “uninformed”, those who childishly believe the lies propagated by those who justify and profit from war. What is sad are the institutionalised religious groups, who have to make statements about what they determine to be ‘just wars” so as not to offend and lose the support of their opulent donors.

    Keep the conversation going David, your opening address had many interesting points.

    Peter Otto

  2. There was a good justification of Korean War. This was a civil war between North Korea and South Korea to unify the Korean people, same race and one country for thousands years. The foreign powers said this has been a war between communism and capitalism. It does not reflect the real reason of war between two countries. Why the US and other Western countries were involved in this civil war?

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