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Über dieses Buch

This book analyzes U.S. pro-insurgency paramilitary operations (PMOs) or U.S. proxy warfare from the beginning of the Cold War to the present and explains why many of these operations either failed entirely to achieve their objective, or why they produced negative consequences that greatly diminished their benefits. The chapters cover important aspects of what PMOs are, the history of U.S. PMOs, how they function, the dilemmas of secrecy and accountability, the issues of control, criminal conduct, and disposal of proxies, as well as newer developments that may change PMOs in the future. The author argues that the general approach of conducting PMOs as covert operations is inherently flawed since it tends to undermine many possibilities for control over proxies in a situation where the interests of sponsors and proxies necessarily diverge on key issues.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. What Are Paramilitary Operations?

Abstract
The first chapter defines PMOs and distinguishes them from other, related activities such as special operations. The chapter explains the scope of the book in terms of the PMOs that are considered, namely only pro-insurgency PMOs that support rebel forces or guerrillas. The chapter discusses the motivations for undertaking PMOs and the challenge of measuring the success of PMOs. It is proposed that the ultimate measure of success is the battlefield victory or defeat of proxy forces. Furthermore, it is argued that the issue of ‘blowback’ should be also considered when judging the relative success of a PMO.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 2. A Short History of US Paramilitary Operations

Abstract
This chapter provides an overview of 25 pro-insurgency PMOs that have been undertaken by the U.S. government since 1949. The chapter is divided into six eras of covert operations: the early Cold War, the ‘golden era’ of covert operations, the Vietnam era, the post-Vietnam era, the Clinton era, and the War on Terror. It is demonstrated that PMOs have been a persistent feature of U.S. foreign policy and it is discussed how PMOs evolved over the course of 70 years. It is argued that covert operations changed in the 1980s and 1990s in the sense that they became more privatized and that other agencies became more directly involved in them. During the War on Terror, PMOs have become more overt and more integrated into conventional military operations, which is sometimes referred to as ‘hybrid warfare.’
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 3. Conducting Paramilitary Operations

Abstract
This chapter goes into some details about how the U.S. government typically conducts PMOs, as it concerns strategic and regional partners, the logistics of PMOs (sourcing material, bases, and proprietaries), personnel used in PMOs, and financial operations related to PMOs. It is emphasized that PMOs can rarely be undertaken without at least regional partner states, which would be in control of certain aspects of a PMO, that equipment is often sourced from the ‘gray’ arms market for purposes of deniability, that U.S. personnel present in a theater usually remains very small with most personnel being contractors or mercenaries, and that unorthodox funding mechanism and financial obfuscation is used for concealing a U.S. role.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 4. Dilemmas of Secrecy

Abstract
This chapter discusses the reasons for why the U.S. government may seek ‘plausible deniability’ for PMOs, which in a major way impacts on the way operations are approached. The reasons that are discussed include: operational necessity, escalation control, elite control over foreign policy, secrecy as a legal fiction, and the role of bureaucratic politics. The chapter argues that major reasons why secrecy is favored in PMOs is that it is mostly directed at the American population rather than the enemy to allow elites to pursue controversial foreign policies and that secrecy also shields the U.S. government and key decision-makers from legal repercussions since international law tends to be violated in the context of pro-insurgency PMOs.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 5. Accountability in Paramilitary Operations

Abstract
This chapter discusses the domestic legal basis of covert action and the accountability mechanisms that are in place to make covert action an effective aspect of U.S. foreign policy. The chapter provides an overview of key legislation and regulation and how it was historically put into place. It summarizes how Congress has interfered with PMOs over the years. It is argued that although no administration can hide a major PMO from Congress, there are also substantial congressional oversight limitations. First of all, there are a variety of evasive measures an administration can take to reduce the possibility and effectiveness of congressional interference into ‘secret wars.’ Secondly, there are often no strong incentives for the congressional oversight committees to rock the boat by interfering with an administration’s covert foreign policy.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 6. Critical Loss of Control

Abstract
This chapter applies principal-agent theory to the problem of proxy warfare, highlighting the various monitoring and control challenges that are inherent in the way the U.S. government has approached PMOs in the past. There are two sets of principals (Congress and White House) and three sets of agents (national security bureaucracy, partner states, and proxy forces) in a contractor, subcontractor, and sub-subcontractor relationship, which creates severe difficulties for control. The chapter outlines the motivations and moral hazards for the principals and agents to demonstrate the difficulty of keeping all principals and agents working towards the same goal. Finally, the chapter discusses control strategies of principals in PMOs and their pitfalls.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 7. War Crimes and Criminal Conduct

Abstract
Civil wars always create ungoverned spaces where atrocities occur and crime can flourish. The problem in proxy wars is that an outside sponsor is often confronted with the dilemma of supporting armed groups that are engaged in war crimes and that rely on organized crime (most importantly drug trafficking) for financing themselves. The chapter argues that war crimes and illegal activity in civil wars are not random or irrational, but are often part of a rational strategy by guerrillas. Their sponsors are faced with a commitment dilemma: they have to ignore or cover up war crimes and illegal activity of their proxies in order to sustain public and international support for an intervention on the proxies’ behalf or to abandon them and lose any influence over the conflict.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 8. Endgames and Outcomes

Abstract
This chapter looks at the score sheet for U.S. government proxy wars, indicating that 8 out of 25 of them can be counted as successes in the sense of proxies achieving military victory. In half of these successes, a more direct U.S. military intervention was necessary to secure the desired outcome. The chapter discusses causes of success and failure and argues that even the successes were highly problematic with respect to bringing into power incompetent and corrupted governments. Covert intervention resulted in the emergence of brutal dictatorships, criminal states, and regions of permanent political instability. PMOs are usually half-hearted measures that are often incapable of changing the outcomes of conflicts and that are often setting up countries for future malaise even when they are successful.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 9. The Disposal Problem

Abstract
The ‘disposal problem’ relates to the issue what to do with a paramilitary force that has been raised for one conflict after they are no longer needed. This chapter argues that the disposal problem is threefold as it concerns manpower, weapons, and covert networks, all of which would need to be dismantled or neutralized at the end of a PMO, which rarely happens. Many foreign individuals, who have received U.S. paramilitary training, went on to join other conflicts or to engage in terrorism. Weapons distributed to proxy forces end up permanently destabilizing affected world regions as they are never collected. Covert networks set up to facilitate the smuggling of weapons and equipment into a country turn into permanent drug trafficking routes.
Armin Krishnan

Chapter 10. New Developments

Abstract
The final chapter looks at some new developments that could potentially transform PMOs in the future, namely the rise of warlord enterprises, the growing importance of cyber warfare as a form of proxy warfare, and the new technology of ‘smart weapons.’ It is argued that the U.S. government has inadvertently contributed to a ‘durable disorder’ in many parts of the world, which makes proxy warfare both more viable as well as less consequential. Cyber warfare is becoming a form of proxy warfare since autonomous hacker groups and activists are needed for deniability and for getting access to a target society in an increasingly balkanized Internet. Smart weapons can change the dynamics of proxy wars and mitigate their consequences by enabling sponsors to exercise greater control over proxies.
Armin Krishnan

Backmatter

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