I know that The Great Game was between UK & Russia and done through parts of Asia, Middle East & Europe. I was wondering if the Great Game was basically two empires trying fighting each other with politics and espionage. I guess I'm trying to ask if the Great Game is a war or not; or even on a technical scale?

  • This should be on English SE, not history... – Tomas By Sep 17 '18 at 19:28
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    That depends entirely on your definition of "war", which I don't think is best addressed here. Was the Cold War a war? – David Thornley Sep 17 '18 at 19:37
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    While I think that this will depend of the meaning of "war" what you want to apply, it is worth remembering that at the time the differences between peace and war (at least between European powers) were rather well defined (ultimatums, formal declarations of war, invocation of alliances). So I would be tempted to consider it as not a war (although it included the Crimean War as part of it). – SJuan76 Sep 17 '18 at 20:21

There won't be a good answer to this question, because it really isn't about history, it is about English Language Usage. That said, I don't think that migrating the question will get better results.

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Wikipedia:War

From my college courses on the subject, which are so long ago that I can no longer read the cuneiform, one of the critical features of war is that it is fought between uniformed combatants. If the combatants are in uniform, they are entitled to legal forms and treatments (prisoner of war, etc.) If the combatants are not in uniform, they are spies, and have effectively no legal protection. (there may be reasons to preserve the life of a spy to interrogate or to trade later, but there is no legal obligation to do so).

The term "cold war" and "hot war" are anachronistic, but perhaps illustrative. Hot war means that bullets are flying and uniformed combatants are trying to make the other guy give his life for his country. The Great Game was not a hot war.

Prior to most hot wars is a period of tension wherein both sides attempt to shape the context of the conflict. At least to my mind, the Great Game was an attempt to shape the coming conflict - to affect alliances, supplies, logistics, politics, etc.

Is that a war?

" Clausewitz’s masterwork On War proclaims — uniformly — that war is a mere continuation of policy “with other means” (mit anderen Mitteln), or sometimes “with the addition of other means” (mit Einmischung anderer Mitteln). Nowhere in On War or his prefatory notes does the Prussian write “by” other means. The Diplomat

I'll finish with a frame challenge. Does applying the term "war" to a specific behavior improve our understanding of that behavior, or does it impede understanding? I'm more interested in the goals and effects of the Great Game than I am in labeling it.

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