This discussion, like any that attempts to define war, begins with Clausewitz (the dictionary definitions that Long provides are irrelevant here as they are not used by strategists and have limited meaning to us). It would be helpful to read Clausewitz's definition of war in total from Book One, Chapter 1 (from the Howard/Paret translation of On War even though I generally prefer the Graham translation - I seem to be in the minority on this point, so Howard/Paret it is):
I shall not begin by expounding a pedantic, literary definition of war, but go straight to the heart of the matter, to the duel. War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale. Countless duels go to make up war, but a picture of it as a whole can be formed by imagining a pair of wrestlers. Each tries to through physical force to compel the other to do his will; his immediate aim is to throw his opponent in order to make him incapable of further resistance.Italics are in the original. Parenthetical comments aside (to be addressed in a moment), Clausewitz is quite clear on what war is: the use of force (I would probably use the term violence instead) as a means to achieve some political objective (from the discussion later in Chapter 1) that is the coherent statement of a group's will. One can infer that Clausewitz intends that acts of violence by political groups are war and that other non-violent acts by political groups are not war. Naturally for a treatise titled On War, Clausewitz provides almost no discussion of this latter set of actions, but based on comments throughout the rest of the book it seems he intends that political groups are at peace if they are not at war. But he does not expressly define peace as such.
War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.
Force, to counter opposing force, equips itself with the inventions of art and science. Attached to force are certain self-imposed, imperceptible limitations hardly worth mentioning, known as international law and custom, but they scarcely weaken it. Force -- that is, physical force, for moral force has no existence save as expressed in the state and the law -- is thus the means of war; to impose our will on the enemy is its object. To secure that object we must render the enemy powerless; and that, in theory, is the true aim of warfare. That aim takes the place of the object, discarding it as something not actually part of war itself.
Long says this is too limiting to modern war. War is, rather, "all means to bring about sufficient adherence to a nation's will." What would normally, but not doctrinally, be conceived as a spectrum from peace (if such a thing truly exists) to competition to conflict (non-violent) to war is, per Long's construct, really spectrum of war. She explicitly states that "world peace" (I am not sure why she included the descriptor "world" here) is an element of war, as are all political interactions up to and including "unrestricted armed conflict" (another phrase I am unsure of, but assume equates to total war). This is an extreme view of the state of human interactions to suggest that even when we are at peace we are at war. More importantly, this worldview is unhelpful in understanding war if war consists of every form of political activity. It is so comprehensive as to require specialization into the study of the many facets of war as to bring us right back to where we are today in understanding war. Further, what becomes of the study of warfare? Is the wielding of economic influence now to be considered an element of warfare? While economics can be corollary or complimentary to the conduct of war, it is by no means warfare itself. Philosophically, this combative worldview, if widely accepted, could only darken man's approach to political interactions - the last thing that should happen to the already stark interactions. For these reasons alone Long's definition should be abandoned.
Long fails to adequately describe how the world has changed or how the "Global Era" plays into this. She states that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 have changed how we should perceive the world. It seems that the she believes that that day should have awakened Americans to the threat of non-state actors. Long also states that "'interconnected systems of trade, finance, information, and security' demand a larger perspective when considering the engagement of imposing national will on others." Both of these points are stated in defiance of history. Globalists enjoy selling the greatness and threats of our "interconnected systems" in the modern day, but that presumes that the world is newly interconnected. We know this is not true. Interconnection in today's world may be faster and easier, but it is not new. States and other political groups have interacted over the elements listed for millennia - look only to the period of global colonization to see how long we as humans have been at this. Long does not describe how today's globalization is unique and why that changes how we define war.
The issue of state versus non-state actors, as pertains to the definition of war, is a silly discussion. The idea that this new "globalization" has resulted in the rise of non-state actors is also historically inaccurate and is prima facie absurd. Civil wars have raged as long as long as humans have fought wars (indeed, civil war comprise a significant proportion of the wars humans have fought). Who are these wars supposed to have been fought by if not by non-state actors? Insurgencies and terrorism are also not new to the 21st Century (or even the Common Era) and it would take a peculiar interpretation of history to argue otherwise.
It is important to note that in his definition, Clausewitz does not describe war as act of force between states. War is engaged between enemies as the means to achieve political objectives. Of course, political objectives are not the sole purview of states as many non-state groups have exhibited and Mao so logically codified. This is not to say that Clausewitz did not intend his definition and the rest of the book to discuss war between states in the best traditions of the post-Westphalian world. He clearly speaks of states throughout the book, as indicated in the parenthetical comment in his definition of war (I did say I would return to that point). But this does not limit On War solely to war between states as mean scholars have, most prominently historian John Keegan and strategist Martin van Creveld to name a couple. It does not take that large of a leap of thought to read On War and understand that states can be any organized political group, that princes can be any leaders of those political groups, and armies can be the armed elements of those political groups. A literalist reading of Clausewitz would be as unwise as a literalist reading of Plato or Aristotle and saying their writings do not apply to the modern world because we are no longer city-states. A non-literalist exegesis of On War easily provides for the incorporation of non-state war into Clausewitz's thesis. As a last point on non-state actors, Long indicates that these offspring of globalization are driving this need for a new definition of war and yet her new definition specifies that means required are to bring about "sufficient adherence to a nation's will." This suggests that only nations have wills or that the means of war could only be used to achieve national wills. Ergo, only nations can be at war. I suspect that non-state actors would like to know how to label their activities if "war" is closed to them.
The world and the nature of the interactions of its politically organized inhabitants have not changed so much in the past 11 years as to require a new definition and view of war. Lt Col Long's proposal is at the same time both too inclusive and too restrictive and is based on this perceived change in human activity. To call activities beyond the use of force towards political ends threatens to create the view of a Hobbesian international order. The world is bleak enough without calling all state activities "war," nor is it helpful in understanding what war actually is. I assume that Long intended to broaden the focus of state activities to combat terrorism to include activities not traditionally within the purview of war, i.e., the combat. The problem with this intention is that it attributes to war activities that, while possibly conducted in support of war, are intellectually, scholastically, and philosophically outside of war. Activities we engaged in, in support of war and as elements of other means, long before 9/11. As such, Lt Col Long's proposed definition does not help us understand war or how to wage it and that Clausewitz's definition continues to serve us well.