Scale and Scope of Proxy wars
Proxy wars were commonplace during late 1700’s and even in the times of the Vikings, and once again became popularized during the cold war to combat communism and to prevent the domino theory from becoming a reality. Through the use of third party combatants, both the United States and the Soviet Union were able to engage each other without actual combat and the use of nuclear weapons. Generally, the third party combatants that were fighting were rebel groups that sided with one or the other super powers, mercenaries, and religious groups, etc. Examples of proxy wars are the Vietnam War, French/ Indian wars, the Afghan–Soviet war and the Syrian civil war. Even though the cold war has been over for more than 20 years, proxy wars still seem to spring forth.
Proxy wars are still fought today, though they are not between super powers or communists and democratic governments. Today’s proxy wars are fought between the West and its allies against Islamic militants and its supporters. Motives such as political, religious, and ideological states will fund these third party surrogates through whatever means they can afford. Even after the cold war, the United States, the emerged hegemonic power, has proxies chambered in its arsenal. Unlike proxy wars of the past, which prevented all out wars, the overall goals have changed.
Today Proxy wars throughout the world are used to keep whichever ideology, religious, or political groups in power. According to Al Jazeera, the United States is sponsoring countries from all over the world through means of military training, joint operations exercises with special forces and providing arms and information. Through these methods it helps support the U.S., and the West’s ideals of democracy and interests. This, of course is without having U.S. troops on the ground or at the very least limited numbers which keep U.S. soldier deaths to a minimum.
The Obama presidency has created the largest influx of proxy wars in Africa. U.S. funds have been stepped up from Libya, all the way to fight rebels like the Lords Resistance Army moving in various parts of Africa. The U.S has supplied regional drone campaigns, provided arms, supplies, logistics, and money. This does not extend to Somalia, where the, “CIA campaign against Islamist al-Shabab militants that include intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, a secret prison, helicopter attacks and commando raids. Now, it is also backing a classic proxy war using African surrogates.”
Syria is a country that has the potential of facing a proxy war. Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War rebel factions have been calling on the United States to supply them with “aid” in their fight against Bashar Al Assad. So far the United States has only provided communications equipment. On the other side of the fence, the Russians are reluctant to give up their last military base in the Middle East, thus they help to maintain Assad’s military. Syria is a prime example of one of the last cold war proxies. Both the U.S. and its old foe Russia are battling it out, except this time diplomatically and over different ideological differences than the old domino theory. To prevent another Middle Eastern country from falling into the hands of Islamic radicalism the U.S. is trying to sponsor a group that will best suit the U.S. and Western ideals. The Russian’s on the other hand don’t want to give up their last foothold to the West in order to remain a global player. China is also helping Russia to maintain power via diplomatic engagements against the U.S.
Although Proxy wars have changed in terms of the cold war, as in the old standard of preventing a nuclear holocaust, proxies still seem relevant in the world today just under a different guise. Proxies have new enemies and old foes still vying for support. The main difference is that is that the enemy is not a super power; they are often non-state actors or small unstable states. The duration of proxies and how they are used is also different; they can start before a major player decides to enter a war or at the end of a war when a major power leaves and funds the war from its own country.