Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Price of Proxy Wars

Michael Burleigh focuses mainly on the British experience, but as you can see from the image, the American experience figures heavily into his new account of Small Wars, Far Away Places.  Burleigh offers a catalog of failures and a handful of qualified "successes" in what has been a very long Cold War since the end of World War II, linking past and present regimes and the support they have received from one side or the other (in some cases both) along the way.

The current situation in Syria is a vivid example of the lingering manifestations of the Cold War, as the Cyrillic lettering on the stores of chemical weapons dates back to the Soviet era, and Syria's foreign minister has expressly said that these weapons weren't meant as a deterrent of American-backed Israeli invasion.  As a result, the current Russian leadership had to step in and essentially offer the Assad regime a way out of the impasse, since its predecessors has essentially created the situation.

Of course, the US, Britain and France have found themselves in similar situations since the Cold War ostensibly ended with the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991, but the repercussions are still felt in Eastern Europe and the Caucuses with thwarted independence bids like that in Chechnya, and the divisions created when NATO interceded in the Balkan Wars.

Burleigh focuses mainly on the past (1945-65), recapping proxy wars fought during the Cold War, and hopefully shedding some light on current conflicts.

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