OUTSOURCING CONFLICT: AN ANALYSIS OF THE STRATEGIC UNDERPINNINGS OF PROXY WARFARE
Paffenroth, Adam William
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The Cold War and the ensuing thaw in tensions between East and West has marked a period of 60 years in which there has not been a truly global conflict. This lack of great power conflict however has been marked by a number of low-level asymmetric conflicts in which weaker states or non-state parties have often complicated the goals of numerically and technologically superior adversaries. Proxy warfare in particular, in which one state provides support to an outside/third party and avoids direct conflict, was used extensively by the Soviet Union and the United States during this period and continues in certain forms today. This thesis explores three distinct case studies in which states employed varying forms of proxy warfare, either through a selected surrogate organization or through support to a nation-state within the context of a larger conflict. Pakistan’s support to militant organizations in Afghanistan, Iran’s role in shaping Hezbollah as well as the United State’s involvement in the Iran-Iraq War through proxy all underscore the value nation-states place on this form of warfare and its role as a tool of foreign policy. In each of these instances these three states sought to avoid outright military involvement while also seeking to advance their interests in strategically valuable venues, while recognizing strategic strength serves as a deterrent to adversarial action. Through an examination of why states conduct proxy warfare and its role as a tool of international policy the following chapters reveal states, both autocratic and democratic, employ differing forms of proxy warfare to advance their national security interests, while minimizing the risk of provoking a wider conflict, as well as to advance a state’s influence in a strategic venue.