POL SCI 121A Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Proxy War, Persian Gulf, Iranian Revolution

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Lecture 6
Political Science 121A
21 October 2014
Proxy war
Between 1946 to 2003 world governments had spent on average
U.S. record
U.S. Proxy war in syria 2011-2014
between late 2011 and Aug 2014 some moderate Syrian rebel groups have received
around 1.7 billion in non-lethal aid (medical supplies, trucks, food etc)
June 2013: Following evidence of Assad's use of WMDs the Obama administration
decided to start providing Lethal aid as well
U.S. past policy in Syria cont.
Islamist rebel groups (ISIS etc.) have been increasingly defeating moderate rebel groups
over 2014 and becoming dominant element in the insurgency
given the increasing weakness of the moderate Syrian rebels the U.S.
Reason for use
1. (relatively) cheap way to coerce/weaken an unfriendly government
2. a way to remove an unfriendly government (FIRC)
3. proxies more effectively for certain tasks (occupying own country's territory etc)
4. Canceling out/removing the intervention of another unfriendly actor in the target
5. secret or semi secrecy sometimes the public might not even know a proxy war is going
1. An armed group has been created and/or is available within the target which is willing to
be a proxy/accept aid
1. local group need to exist to accept the aid
2. (related to 1) the would be proxy is neither too strong nor too week
1. if rebels are too strong as the government or too strong, various costs to
the proxy would need to comply with the foreign policy of the intervener
2. if too weak intervener would not help because the intervener would have
to help out a lot which would not be worth it
3. not a "do or die" situation for the intervener
1. stuff that we care are important, but not survival issue like the Cuban
missile crisis
Benefits for the intervener
1. much cheaper then a regular interstate war
1. less political cost
2. no need to use of personal troops
3. does not require much domestic support
2. related to 1 (in democracies) easier for intervener to do and/or gain public support
1. can do a proxy war in secret
2. much easier for public support in aid and training for someone else doing
the fighting instead of putting our own soldiers in harm
3. less risk (or liabilities) to intervener
1. less chance of a proxy war escalating into a big conflict like an interstate
2. intervener can avoid liability of the misdeed of the rebels
4. easier to end support to a proxy then end a interstate war
1. to end interstate war we must get the other side to agree with you
2. proxy warfare are easy to end unilaterally; just stop sending
3. easier exit strategy
Downsides (for intervener)
1. Less control over proxy and/or of the aid given to it then of interveners own military
1. may use the weapons the fight each other instead of the government
2. sell the weapons instead of using it
3. still attacking the government when the government agreed for a
4. reduces the chance of foreign policy being successful
5. less control of what our proxy troops are doing
2. (related to 1) possible blowback
1. Blowback an unforeseen and unwanted effect, result, or set of
repercussions to the intervener from a secret (or partly secret) operation that it
conducted in the past in another country or countries
1. much of the aid given to rebel groups doesn’t expire when the war
2. weapons last for years modern military equipment lasts with little
to no repairs
3. "your grandfathers weapon are still in use today"
4. transfer to another insurgents to another country could be used
towards civilians
5. could be able to shoot down civilian airplanes
U.S. Proxy war in Afghanistan 1979-
- April 21, 1978: Afghanistan's ruler Mohammad Doaud (1973-1978) is removed in a PDPA
(Afghan Communist Party) Coup and replaced by Nur Taraki
March 15-19, 1979: A revolt in Heart against the Afghan government
is brutually surpressed (with Soviet assistance)
September 14 1979: Taraki removed in a domestic coup by a fellow Afghan
communist, Hazifullah Amin
December 27, 1979: The Soviets remove Amin in a FIRC, install Kamal Babrak and, at
the Afghani government's "invitation", the Soviet government sends 80,000 troops to
Afghanistan, taking over the main cities (installed by the KGB)
within days Soviet forces controlled main cities in Afghanistan
Causes of the U.S. intervention
1. the effects of the Iranian revolution
2. the increasing evidence of a significant insurgency within Afghanistan- the Mujahedin
(arabic for 'Fighters of the Holy War')
1. Rebel groups interested in U.S. aid
2. FIRC in December 1979 was seen by the U.S. as an act of aggression
by the Soviets
3. U.S. proxy war will weaken the Soviet of any expansion
3. The increasing Soviet involvement and the Soviet FIRC and invasion in December 1979
1. Persian gulf majority of oil came from that oil
2. U.S. was worried the Soviets will have control of that area
Stage 1 The Proxy (operation cyclone) begins, July 1979-1982
July 3rd, 1979: President Carter approves a small amount of non-lethal aid (500,00 in
medical supplies and communication equipment) to the Mujahedin
January 1980 following the Soviet FIRC and invasion the U.S. starts supplying 30 million
dollars lethal aid per year (mostly Soviet made light weapons)
operation done in close cooperation's with Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (the
Minimal CIA/U.S. military contact with Mujahedin - mostly training the Pakistani trainers
of the Mujahedin
Main purpose of U.S. proxy war - "make the [Soviet] bear bleed"
January 1981: Reagan replaces Carter as president
initially just continues the existing proxy war
Stage 2: the Proxy war grows in scrope Late 1982-1984
Late 1982: the Reagan Administration increases magnitude of arm shipments, type of
weapons provided (Soviet made anti-tank missiles
Stage 3
Results of the proxy war
A major factor in forcing the Soviets out of Afghanistan and ending a brutal Soviet
(defacto) occupation
The soviet defeat in Afghanistan was a major contribution to the end of the Cold war and
the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union
Unlike U.S. we were able to overcome unlike the Soviet Union were more fragile who
were resentful of the ethnic Russians
1. Increase the rate of terrorism around the world:
1. Former foreign fighters in Afghanistan found participating in numerous
deadly terrorist attacks in (among other countries) : Algeria, China, Eqypt,
India, Isareal. so on
2. Blowback: led to terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and made 9/11 possible
1. The U.S. had nothing to do with Bin Ladin (or Al Qaeda) during the proxy war.. but
unintentionally created the conditions that made 9/11 possible
2. former fighters in the Mujahedin behind the first (1993) World Trade Center bombing (6
Americans dead, 1000 injured)
Weakened the Pakistani state and enabled it to get nuclear weapons
ISI - Egypt secret service