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Proxy War

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Kate Laswell: Don't make this ugly, Captain.
John Price: You give me a reason not to!
Laswell: It's a proxy war, John. We're all just pawns in this.

A proxy war is a military conflict where neither nation directly fights the other. Instead they provide support to third parties who are opposed, essentially attacking their enemy's national interests rather than their enemy's territory.

This usually takes place in the context of a Space Cold War between superpowers that don't want to fight each other in the open (whether due to treaty obligations, fears of Mutually Assured Destruction, or other reasons such as simply not wanting to fight a full-scale war), but aren't afraid to get involved in smaller fights. Usually, they back opposite factions in a Civil War. No matter who wins, the real losers are often the proxies themselves: the big powers are mostly interested in achieving their goals of undermining each other and couldn't care less for the damage done in-country.

A form of Realpolitik. Often factors into a Balance of Power, as it's an easy way for the major powers to shift the balance in their favor without exposing themselves to direct conflict. Can be a form of Truce Trickery if the powers involved are using their proxies to evade a treaty preventing them from directly warring with one another.


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    Fan Works 
  • The War of the Masters: By the end of season 2 the Moab Civil War develops into one between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, who have just recently signed a peace treaty after an inconclusive border war during which the Moab Confederacy seceded from the Federation and allied with the Klingons. In "The Silence Ends" Captain Tyria Sark compares this to a war one of her previous hosts fought in on Trill between the nations of Vella and Moash over Dalaran.
    Tyria: It didn't end well for anyone involved, the Dalarani least of all.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen: Early in the film, a US government official essentially accuses Optimus Prime of turning Earth into a proxy battleground for the Autobots' war with the Decepticons, arguing that with the Allspark having been destroyed at the climax of the previous film, the only thing keeping the Decepticons here is that their enemies are. Optimus agrees that the Autobots will pull out if requested, but counters, "What if we leave, and you're wrong?"

  • X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar ends up in one of these, with Wedge Antilles backing one coalition on Adumar and the Imperial Remnant backing the other. Wedge's side wins because he teaches his side to fight in a more militarized fashion instead of the Proud Warrior Race stylings usually used by Adumari pilots.
  • Honor Harrington: Attempted several times by Haven early in the series.
    • In On Basilisk Station Havenite intelligence agents start arming the Iron Age Starfish Alien natives of Basilisk so that they'll attack the offworlder enclaves, thereby making it look like Manticore cannot govern the system properly and make their invasion of the Medusa system and slaughter of the native uprising seem like a rescue. All this to allow a two-pronged invasion of the Manticore system. Unfortunately their pet shaman attacks early, screwing up the plan and alerting Honor to the impending invasion.
    • The Second Grayson-Masadan War in The Honor of the Queen. Manticore and Haven are both trying to build alliances for the coming war. Manticore gets to Grayson first and gives them technical upgrades, while Haven has to settle for its Ax-Crazy sister planet Masada and gives them a modern battlecruiser and destroyer, which Masada uses in an attempted invasion of Grayson. The scheme backfires for Haven: the Masadans are so crazy they seize control of the battlecruiser from the Havenite military advisors and try to nuke Grayson cities. Honor destroys the ship and Manticore occupies Masada between books.
    • In The Short Victorious War Haven is mentioned to be backing the Zanzibar Liberation Front against the Manticore-allied Caliph of Zanzibar, mostly to use them as cover for raids on Manticoran convoys ahead of full-scale war.
  • RCN:
    • Several of the first seven books' plots deal with attempts by Alliance proxies to overthrow the governments of pro-Cinnabar planets and having to be stopped by RCN forces under Daniel Leary. In one case it costs the RCN an entire battle group after Alliance-backed rebels gain control of anti-ship missile batteries defending a harbor.
    • Defied in book eight and later: With Cinnabar and the Alliance having signed a peace treaty of mutual exhaustion and trying very hard to avoid a resumption of hostilities, Daniel's job is turned on its head, with him trying to prevent a Cinnabar client state from invading a pro-Alliance planet, and removing a Cinnabar citizen leading a rebellion on an Alliance planet to prove the Republic wasn't involved.
    • Death's Bright Day sees Daniel in the unusual position of intervening in a proxy war that pits the Alliance against itself. More specifically, two rival generals in the Fifth Bureau, one of whom is marginally friendlier to Cinnabar than the other, are backing opposite sides in a civil war in an Alliance client state in hopes of currying favor with Guarantor Porra. This is repeated in Though Hell Should Bar the Way, albeit seen through the eyes of one of Daniel's junior officers rather than Daniel himself.
  • The conflict between Ellimist and Crayak in Animorphs. Because direct conflict between the two Sufficiently Advanced Aliens could potentially destroy the universe entirely and them along with it, they are forced to continue their war through mundane proxies such as the Animorphs and the Yeerks, respectively.
  • In Kris Longknife, the main conflict between the United Sentients (led by the Longknife family) and the Greenfeld Confederation (led by the Peterwald family) plays out (mostly) as a Space Cold War, usually with the Peterwalds using local proxies to destabilize a planet or mount a coup d'etat so it can be added to their empire, and Kris ending up in the middle of it while on-planet on ostensibly unrelated business and stopping them. It's explained a couple of times (notably by a Friendly Enemy Greenfeld captain in Intrepid) that both nations would rather avoid direct war because they're about evenly matched in size and technology, and therefore any such conflict would in all likelihood either become an unwinnable Forever War or end in a Mutual Kill, and likely would drag most of human space down with it. After a third party conspires with Greenfeld State Sec to provoke that war, the cold war defrosts: Greenfeld becomes too preoccupied with its internal conflicts to continue, and Kris and her opposite number Vicky Peterwald have become Fire-Forged Friends in the process.
  • Isaac Asimov's The Foundation Trilogy:
    • "The Mayors": Mayor Hardin shares how, after "The Encyclopedists", he convinced each of the Four Kingdoms that surrounds Terminus that allowing any one kingdom exclusive access to the Foundation's advanced technology and science would allow them to become more powerful than the others combined. He manages to keep a narrow balance between the kingdoms for thirty years. This changes when the Foundation restores the wreckage of a derelict battle cruiser and gives it to Anacreon; they're now powerful enough to conquer all three other kingdoms combined. However, by now the Scam Religion that Hardin created is so entrenched amoung the common populace that Terminus is a de facto government above each of the Four Kingdoms.
    • "The Merchant Princes": Trader Mallow figures out that the presence of new weapons with the icon of the First Galactic Empire means that the Empire remains a Galactic Superpower in the core of the galaxy, and is trading with systems along the Periphery of the galaxy. The Empire later supplies Korell with nuclear spaceships to attack the Foundation, whose capital is at the extreme end of the Periphery.
    • "Search by the Foundation": When the First Foundation starts to become complacent with the idea that the Second Foundation won't let them fall, the Second Foundation convinces a minor dictator, one with just enough strength to threaten the First, to attack them.
  • In Babylon Babies an outlaw biker war in Canada is the result of two rival religious sects using criminals to wage surrogate war on each other.
  • Alderamin on the Sky: The Kioka Republic sends special forces as military advisors to first start an uprising by the Katvarna Empire's Sinack vassals. They then use word of the racist Imperial general's atrocities against the Sinack to provoke Aldera to wage a holy war against the Empire, backing The Theocracy's army with one of their top strategists.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: It turns out that the Kingdom of Persepos is fighting the Empire indirectly through aiding its main enemy the mountain men when the story begins. This is done through supplying them with arms, apparently training so that they use better tactics, they're far more organized and most important of all many get possessed by shadows, making them much more formidable opponents.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Shadow-Vorlon conflict in Babylon 5 is one of these turned into a Forever War. The two Precursor races refuse to engage each other directly (apparently due to some arcane rules of war and because their Lensman Arms Race went too far), instead using the younger races as their proxies about every thousand years. This has lasted for hundreds of thousands of years. It began over an Order Versus Chaos disagreement in their approaches to how to guide the young races: the Vorlons thought orderly development and teaching was the way to help them grow, while the Shadows believed in fomenting conflict out of a Social Darwinist worldview. It finally ends in season 4 when Sheridan gets the young races to ally and demand both sides leave them all the hell alone.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: The Temporal Cold War had a future version of the Federation opposed to the Na'kuhl and the Sphere Builders, each of whom backed various factions in the 22nd century with the goal of tampering with the timeline to either ensure the Federation would form or prevent it from forming.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: "A Private Little War" has the Klingons supplying increasingly advanced firearms to one tribe of a primitive planet, to install them as a puppet leader of that world. Another tribe, one that Kirk had met years before, begins to demand similar weapons by the end, and Kirk begins arranging a Federation-aligned alliance of tribes to oppose the Klingon-controlled ones. He even references the brush wars of the 20th century as he does so.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Redemption": The Romulans secretly supply arms to the House of Duras in its rebellion against Chancellor Gowron, hoping to break the Khitomer Accords alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The Federation can't afford to get involved in the Civil War directly, but is able to expose the Romulan involvement and discredit Duras.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • "The Siege": This trope is critical to the climax. The Cardassians have covertly been supplying a Bajoran ultranationalist group called the Circle they hope will overthrow the Bajoran government and force the Federation out, allowing the Cardassians to reoccupy Bajor amidst the ensuing Civil War. Unmasking the Cardassian involvement publicly discredits the extremists and gets their backers in the government arrested, solidifying Bajor's alliance with the Federation.
      • "The Maquis": In order to get around the peace treaty between the Federation and the Cardassian Empire, the Cardassians have secretly been supplying weapons to their colonists in the Demilitarized Zone so they can attack Federation colonies while the Central Command keeps Plausible Deniability. The Federation colonies organize militias to fight back when the Federation government won't, and are helped by sympathetic Starfleet officers.
  • Season two of Madam Secretary sees the United States briefly get into one with Russia over Ukraine. Moscow invades Ukraine, but the Air Force enforces a no-fly zone while Ukrainian ground forces aided by US advisors and intelligence stop the Russian Army cold. After this they reach a peace deal that grants major concessions to the Russians.
  • Person of Interest. The conflict between Team Machine and those working for the rival Artificial Intelligence Samaritan is compared to the Cold War especially in the episode of that name; a conflict waged via surrogates with the potential for mass destruction if the two AI's were to battle each other directly.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms: The incessant Divine Conflicts between the hundred-plus deities in the setting usually play out as fights between their worshipers, from large-scale wars by the powerful cult of Bane that rules Zhentil Keep down to individual paladins and clerics. The gods taking the field themselves is a rare and usually cataclysmic occurrence.
  • Twilight Struggle: There are several "War" cards in the deck that represent the various proxy wars the US and Soviet Union had gotten involved with during the Cold War, including the Arab-Israeli wars, Indo-Pakistani wars, the Korean War, the Iran-Iraq War, and a more general "Brush War" that can be used to target any country on the board with only 1- or 2-stability. A favorable die rolls means victory points for the initiator and all of the opponent's influence in the attacked country flipping to the winner. (The Vietnam War and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan are represented differently with "Quagmire" and "Bear Trap", respectively, which reflects more on the slogging nature of those wars for their respective superpowers, though both Vietnam and Afghanistan can still be targeted with "Brush War" due to their low stability.)
  • Pathfinder: The Kingmaker adventure path (and the video game based on it) has Lady Jamandi Aldori of Restov bankroll the PCs efforts to settle the Stolen Lands in an effort to create allies for her planned bid for independence from Brevoy.
  • Leviathan: The Tempest: If a Leviathan is directly injured by another Leviathan (or another Leviathan's Cult), it sends the Leviathan's inhuman natures berserk, making it essentially impossible for the Leviathan to back down or abandon the conflict with its rival. For this reason, Leviathans almost never attack other Leviathans directly or enter battle in person, lest they lock themselves into a war that might prove too expensive to prosecute to the end. Instead, Leviathans prefer to battle through proxies, manipulating mortal authorities or sending their own Beloved to battle those of their rival.
  • Warhammer Fantasy:
    • Chaos cults have little problem sparking wars between different countries (who are already at war with each other more often than not). The in-universe Crusades were started by a Tzeentchian daemon manipulating the Sultan of Araby into declaring war on the Empire.
    • The War of Vengeance/War of the Beard between High Elves and Dwarves started when Dark Elves attacked a Dwarf caravan posing as High Elves. When the dwarves demanded reparation, the elf king performed the extremely undiplomatic move of shaving the dwarf delegation before sending them home empty-handed.
  • Warhammer 40,000: As the Craftworld Eldar are a Vestigial Empire, they often manipulate other species into fighting each other to protect Eldar interests.
    • The Dawn of War series uses quite a lot of this in its plot: The Eldar send orks to invade Tartarus to prevent a daemon from awakening, manipulate an ork clan and a Chaos splinter cult to serve as speed bumps against the player on Kronus, and hide the Tyranid presence on Typhon to distract from the presence of a crashed Craftworld. This tends to backfire more often than not: The Tartarus daemon was awoken by the copious slaughter waged on the planet, the cultists/orks surrender and join the Chaos/ork player (other factions get elite units), and the Imperium's response to the Tyranids was to declare Exterminatus on Typhon, destroying the Craftworld.
    • The Eldar manipulated the rise of Ghazghkull Thraka and aimed him at Armageddon in an effort to get him stuck in fighting the Imperium rather than ravaging Eldar Craftworlds that were also within his reach.

    Video Games 
  • In Galactic Civilizations it's possible to manipulate other civilizations into making war on your behalf. In canon the Drath Legion (experts at this in game) paid the Korx to attack the Altarians in revenge for supposedly driving them off their homeworld millennia ago. Additionally, the Drengin tried to get rid of humans this way, by getting a minor race to attack Earth, which they assumed was poorly defended. In response, the humans ramped up production and built a massive fleet, which they used to drive that race to extinction. The Drengin were not only horrified but also felt that humans were cheating by not maintaining such a fleet at peacetime, as they would have done.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Knights of the Old Republic: The Selkath of Manaan enforce their neutrality by threatening to ban exports of kolto, a critical medicine, to people who violate it. The Republic and the Sith both maintain embassies, however, and are conducting covert operations against both each other directly and against their supporters on-planet. When you assault the Sith embassy, you discover that they're training Force-sensitive Selkath in the ways of the Force and planning to back them in a coup d'etat.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic: At the start of the game, the Treaty of Coruscant is still in effect, preventing the Republic and Empire from going after each other directly, but it doesn't stop them from fighting proxy wars in neutral territories.
  • Team Fortress 2: At first, the game's Excuse Plot consisted of mercenary teams hired by two brothers who hate each other, and are trying to achieve superiority over the other via complete ownership of a gravel pit. Later events changed the status quo as The 'Verse was further developed.
  • In Crusader Kings II it's possible under certain conditions to join wars of coreligionist rulers even if you aren't formally allied, a mechanic that can be used to wage proxy wars. For example, you could join a war against an ally of one of your enemies in order to remove them as a threat to your own interests (alliances being tied to the ruler via Altar Diplomacy, rather than the nation), or back a revolt against a ruler you have a truce with.
  • Star Trek Online:
    • The Federation and the Klingon Empire back the upstart Romulan Republic against the fractured Romulan Star Empire, which ends in the Empire breaking up between royalists loyal to Empress Sela and a military junta led by the Tal Shiar, and the Republic ruling over most of the Empire's former space.
    • The Iconian War takes place as a series of proxy wars between the Alpha Quadrant powers and a series of Iconian servitors and Unwitting Pawns, before the Iconians finally take center stage themselves in Season 10.
  • BattleTech: The Magistracy of Canopus bankrolls Kamea Arano's bid to reclaim the throne of the Aurigan Coalition from her usurping uncle Santiago Espinosa, because his saber-rattling is rattling up tensions between The 'Verse's superpowers and they think she can restore things to status quo ante. The Espinosas eventually counter by getting the Taurian Concordat to join the war on their side (they'd been cozying up to them for a while), but the Taurians bail after learning the truth of atrocities the Espinosas committed and blamed on Arano's people and the Federated Suns.
  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker: The Player Character is a catspaw in a proxy war between House Aldori, which wants to regain Rostland's independence from Brevoy, and House Surtova, currently the ruling house of Brevoy. Lady Jamandi Aldori bankrolls your effort to establish an independent nation in the Stolen Lands in hopes of creating an ally to help her break away. The PC has the option to switch sides to Surtova, or remain neutral and negotiate a peaceful resolution. Depending on their immediately preceding choices, Jamandi can feel ill-disposed towards the PC enough to reject overtures of alliance, limiting options to neutrality or aligning with Surtova.
  • Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is a multiplayer Tactical Shooter set during The Vietnam War. Of special note is that the US Army, USMC, and Australian factions do not represent themselves (particularly in campaign mode), but rather, are shown as fighting under the banner of the South Vietnamese Flag. This is in stark contrast to the North Vietnamese factions, which fight under their own banner.
  • Zeus: Master of Olympus: At high enough favor, you can order other cities to attack on your behalf, although this causes a lot of resentment to prevent you from abusing this mechanic (and no end of Gameplay and Story Segregation if a colony you explicitly founded as a military base decides it has better things to do with its soldiers). Conversely, other cities will sometimes request troops from you to conquer one of their rivals. One level in the Trojan War campaign consists almost entirely of this, and if you know your Greek mythology, you'll know it's not a good idea to send your best and strongest regiment to help...

  • In Drowtales the Sullisin'rune Clan and the ruling Sharen Imperial Family were doing this using the Sarghress and the Vloz'ress respectively, especially since after being beaten by the Sharen centuries ago the Sullisin'rune are officially at peace with them and support the Sarghress,who started as a mercenary band and eventually became a great clan, to get around this. The Sharen in turn sponsored the Vloz'ress, formerly a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits group of demon worshipers, to themselves becoming a great clan.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Older Than Print: The Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persian Empire engaged in a proxy conflict over Yemen in the 6th century CE, sending Christians and Jews respectively to proselytize on their behalf. (The Sassanids were not Jewish—they were Zoroastrians—but they had a strategic relationship with the Jewish community in their empire, and used them as representatives.) The Yemenite king eventually converted to Judaism and adopted a pro-Persian policy. This continued for a while, but at some point the Axumite Empire, which had converted to Christianity a while earlier, attacked and conquered Yemen. This war between Axum and Yemen appears to have been encouraged by Constantinople to reduce Persian influence in the Arabian Peninsula. Of course, both empires would lose a few decades later after the Muslim Arabs appeared out of nowhere (well, the Hijaz, but close enough) to conquer not only Yemen, but also half the Byzantine Empire and all of Persia.
  • The Second War of Scottish Independence started as a proxy war between the crowns of England and Scotland, though it didn't stay that way. King Edward III of England officially claimed neutrality but still unsubtly backed Edward Balliol (son of John Balliol, the King of Scotland whom Edward I "Longshanks" had imprisoned during the First War) as a pretender to the throne of Scotland against the young King David II (son of Robert the Bruce), and turned a blind eye to Balliol and a group of anti-Bruce Scottish lords leading a mostly English army to invade by sea even though he had forbidden them to cross the land border. Edward III only joined the war officially once David's supporters drove Balliol back out.
  • The Abyssinial-Adal War was essentially a proxy conflict between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Ottoman Empire. The Portuguese backed the Abyssinian Empire of Ethiopia since they were fellow Christians (albeit adherents of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church rather than Catholics like the Portuguese) and believing their emperor was the mythical Prester John, a legendary Priest King that ruled a lost Christian empire in either Africa or Asia, while the Ottoman Turks backed the Somali Sultanate of Adal, who were their Sunni Muslim clients. The war ended on a stalemate, though Ethiopia managed to survive being conquered by Somalia.
  • After his disastrous defeat at the Battles of Poltava and Perevolochna in The Great Northern War, Swedish King Charles XII fled to the Ottoman Empire, where he tried to get Sultan Ahmed III to start his own war with Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. This failed after some false starts (Peter bought off the Ottomans' grand vizier on the eve of battle, which led to chaos in the Ottoman court), and Charles was eventually forced to flee back to Sweden after several years as an increasingly unwelcome Otttoman guest.
  • The lead-up to The American Civil War saw the nascent state of Kansas become a battleground in what was essentially a proxy war between the northern states, where chattel slavery was banned, and the southern states, where it was legal. Kansas gaining statehood could tip the balance of power in Washington in either direction, resulting in extremists on both sides going in as death squads while the fate of slavery there was being determined, which became known as "Bleeding Kansas". Kansas was ultimately admitted as a free state on 29 January 1861.
  • The War of the Triple Alliance was precipitated by a small scale civil war in Uruguay between two political parties: the blancos and colorados. Imperial Brazil and Argentina supported the colorados, while Paraguay backed the blancos. When the Paraguayan president Solano Lopéz sensed that his allies were about to lose, he decided that it was time to intervene and ordered an invasion into Brazil to distract them, while his army was sent to assist the blancos in Uruguay but ended up having to cross into Argentinean territory to reach them. Having angered two major countries now, Lopez soon found himself on Uruguay's bad side when the colorados won the war and the three formed the Triple Alliance against Paraguay.
  • The Spanish Civil War was a pre-WWII example that gave a taste of what was about to come. The right-wing, conservative Nationalists received financial support and logistics from Germany, Italy, and Portugal; while the left-wing, liberal Republicans were aided by the Soviet Union and Mexico. Britain, France, and the USA were hesitant to back either side of the conflict, since they didn't want to escalate another pan-European war, so they signed a pact of non-aggression.
  • The Cold War saw many of these between The United States, The Soviet Union, and their respective allies, due to mutual fears of global nuclear war discouraging them both from direct confrontation. The two superpowers often supported opposite factions in various (civil) wars around the world, with the USA and/or USSR occasionally involving their own militaries in the conflicts. Making things more complicated is that another major power, China, had turned communist and initially aligned with the Soviets, until they turned against each other, so the Chinese then followed their own geopolitical goals.
    • The Korean War. South Korea was actively aided in battle by an American-led United Nations coalition, while the communist North Korea was backed by the Soviets (who provided advisers and some pilots) and China (their army helped drive the UN coalition out of North Korea).
    • The Vietnam War that ravaged the former French colonies of Southeast Asia for a few decades. The governments of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were actively supported by the USA, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, which all provided troops and advisers; while North Vietnam and various communist insurgencies were supported by the Soviets and Chinese who again provided advisers, while North Korea provided some combat troops.
    • The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan was an inversion of the usual pattern. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan to prop up a Moscow-friendly government against a tribal and Islamist rebellion, and were opposed by an American-led alliance that aided the mujahideen whose most fanatical elements laid the foundations for the rise of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Ironically, after 9/11, the Northern Alliance that the US aided in retaking the country from the Taliban was partly composed of The Remnant of the former pro-Soviet government (the rest being the moderate anti-Taliban elements of the mujahideen), and the Russians are as of the mid-2010s reported to be providing arms to the Taliban.
    • This was alleged of the Arab–Israeli Conflict: that this was a way for the West and the Soviets to practically test the combat efficiency of their best kit without directly going to war with each other. Israel got American, British, and French materiel; their Arab opponents got the best the USSR had to offer. The after-combat reports furnished the opposing superpowers with the best possible information as to how well their equipment performed in combat, with minimal loss of American and Soviet lives in the fighting.
    • Various colonial wars in the region of Southern Africa were also treated in the same cynical way. South Africa, Rhodesia, and Portugal (which had ruled Angola and Mozambique as colonies at the time) received covert Western aid to fight against various African nationalist/communist rebellions, who were in turn supplied with Soviet assistance via Cuba, a reliable third party.
    • In Cuba, following the overthrow of the U.S. backed Batista regime, Fidel Castro aligned himself to the Soviet Union once he found out the Americans tried to get rid of him, and install a puppet regime, which led to the Missile Crisis of 1962 that almost led to nuclear war.
    • In South America, during Operation Condor, the U.S. backed the Argentine junta, Pinochet's Chile, the Brazilian Military Regime, and the other right-wing governments of South American nations who, collectively "disappeared" tens of thousands of left-wing dissidents in the name of preventing what happened in Cuba from happening somewhere in Uncle Sam's Backyard.
    • In Central America, the Soviets and the Chinese usually backed and armed groups of Guevarist guerrillas who fought against the American-backed military dictatorships in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Though in post-revolutionary Nicaragua, it was the American-backed right-wing Contras who fought against the Warsaw Pact-sponsored democratic socialist Sandinista government.
  • Despite the official end of the Cold War by the early 1990s, which had seen the fall of the Soviet Union and most of the other communist states, it can be argued that it never really ended. After a long pause, there have been renewed tensions between the United States, the Russian Federation, and their respective allies in the 2010s, which has become very intertwined with numerous conflicts in the Greater Middle East (and other regions to some extent).
    • The war in Donbas, Ukraine, that started in 2014 is essentially a continuation of the Cold War, touched off after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in a popular uprising and after Russia annexed Crimea. The current Ukrainian government is loosely allied to NATO, while the Eastern provinces are largely controlled by pro-Russian militias who totally don't have the Russian Army helping them out.
      • In early 2022, Russia "crossed the Rubicon" and launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine. Said invasion is still seen in some circles as a proxy war between NATO (which Ukraine hasn't joined, but many NATO countries supply weapons to it) and Russia.
    • The civil war in Yemen is one between Iran and Saudi Arabia, regional rivals in the Middle East. This is to a large extent a sectarian war: the Sunni Saudis back the Yemeni government, which is mostly Sunni, while Shiite Iran backs Shiite Houthi rebels.
    • The civil war in Syria is a rather convoluted example of a proxy war, which could partially be seen as an extension of both the Iranian/Saudi and Russian/American rivalries. On one hand are the Syrian government loyalists (both the regular Syrian armed forces and allied militias), which are supported by Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia. On the other hand are various different rebel factions (which are also fighting each other), some of which are supported by the Saudi-led GCC and US-led NATO coalitions. Complicating the situation is ISIS, whom everybody opposes, and the Kurdish rebel factions, who are aided by the US but shot at by US ally Turkey for being Kurds, which eventually forced the US to withdraw their support in order to not come to blows with their own ally.
    • Syria's neighbor Iraq, which had already been fighting a pre-existing civil war years before, which has since become combined with the Syrian civil war due to the shared presence of ISIS insurgents. Ironically enough, the government of Iraq has been cooperating with Syria, Iran, Russia, and America against ISIS, despite all their aforementioned rivalries.