What Is War? A Debate (Or … Something You Wish You’d Read before the Comp)

There was an interesting piece published in the Small Wars Journal Wednesday on the potentially changing nature of war (sound familiar?). In “What Is War? A New Point of View” LtCol Jill Long, a student at the Army War College, argues that “[w]ar 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.”

Jason Fritz, Army vet turned consultant, counters LtCol Long in a post over at Ink Spots (a blog you should add to your regular reading, btw), arguing “[t]he world is bleak enough without calling all state activities “war,” nor is it helpful in understanding what war actually is.”

Since this question of the enduring nature and changing character of war hits center mass of one of your comp questions from last week, I wanted to share this exchange with you. First, these questions are important and smart people can disagree in their responses. Second, the level of discourse and depth of reasoning found in these two (very brief) pieces is where we’re moving you this year. (Yes, I know that’s passive voice, CG1; I did it on purpose.) Don’t just read these pieces for their arguments; take a minute and look at how they structure their logic and develop their positions.

Dr. Johnson