What is War?
War is one of the few global/universal concepts — almost every culture in recorded history has had some concept of warfare, and has risen or fallen due to war. War has been defined by different scholars in different ways over the period of Human history. Let us look at some of these definitions.
War is an organized and often prolonged conflict that is carried out by states(countries) or non state actors. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, social disruption and economic destruction. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of (collective) political violence or intervention. – wikipedia
In 1832, Prussian military general and theoretician Carl Von Clausewitz defined war as:
an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will
Simply put, “War” is defined as a long standing armed conflict between two or more groups over resources, land, cultural differences, or other matters of contention. It is usually instigated following a public declaration of war, but undeclared wars are quite common in the form of surprise attacks. War is considered different from murder or genocide, because of the organization of the participants.
Most would agree that these are understandable and accurate definitions in the general context of what the average person thinks when they hear the word war. However, from the strategic perspective, these definitions are arguably too simplistic to convey the complexity of war and the many facets which contribute to national success in the international arena.
To preserve self and promote National Interest, War is no longer limited to armed conflict between states or nations, War encompasses much more than the concept of armed conflict and acknowledges a nation’s capability to change their “natural state” based on the will of the people, political landscape, as well as a nation’s strength, ability, and desire to project power.
Clausewitz and Kautilya advocated use of diplomacy in war. This concept takes a more dramatic approach by including all means available to a nation-state or non-state actor. So the modern day conflict is not limited to an armed conflict. War is no longer a discrete action of armed conflict but a continuum of engagement in order to limit the dissonance between a nation’s will and that of other state and non-state actors. In war, nation-states and non-state actors utilize all means available; diplomacy, economic influence (including multi-national corporations and non-governmental organizations), information operations, social influence, and educational influence as well as military force in order to encourage adherence to their will. As such wars do not end; rather imposing one’s will and maintaining harmony between national objectives and those of the international community to the level of acceptable adherence precludes the use of armed conflict.
Hence, has emerged a new modern definition of war:
War is the coherent execution of all means to bring about sufficient adherence to a nation’s will in the international (global) arena; resulting in armed conflict only when all other means fail.
Though the above is still up for debate.