Public debate over surrogate forces and proxy warfare has been largely dormant since the end of the Cold War. The conventional wisdom has been that with the end of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry, state sources of support for proxy guerrilla, insurgent, and terrorist organizations dried up. This only forced them to look to criminal activity to survive and precipitated the growth of dangerously independent and well-resourced militants, mercenaries, and warlords. But in the few years since 2001, a wide range of issues raised to prominence by wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere suggest that armed proxies, and the forces that drive and shape their use, are part of a larger dynamic. From the legacies of the wars in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, to the growth of privatized security and military companies, and to increased reliance on intermediaries of all kinds, these surrogate forces bear further study.
Making Sense of Proxy Wars seriously challenges Cold War assumptions about terrorism and proxy warfare, and offers an alternative view of armed surrogates—whether they are private armies, indigenous militias, or unwilling victims—as complex, self-interested actors on the international stage.
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