What Is a Proxy War?

A proxy war is a conflict inflicted by a major power or powers that do not become involved in it directly. Often, proxy wars involve countries fighting their opponents' allies or helping their allies fight their opponents. The number of proxy wars increased gradually since the beginning of the Cold War.

An example of a proxy war is the Spanish Civil War. The conflict arose between the Second Spanish Republic and Francisco Franco's National Sindicalists, but soon the Soviet Union and Mexico got involved on the Spanish Republic's side, and Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Portuguese Republic became involved on the Spanish Nationalist side.

A number of proxy wars happened during the Cold War because the Soviet Union and the United States both had nuclear weapons and a direct conflict would have been too dangerous. In conflicts in Afghanistan, Angola, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, the United States and the Soviet Union used these countries as their proxies.

The Kargil War was a conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999. It took place along the Line of Control in Kargil, which is located in the Kashmir region of India. The conflict arose because some of the Pakistani soldiers infiltrated the Indian side of the Line of Control. This occurred after India and Pakistan had demilitarized the border. During the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting on Kashmiri insurgents.