Why do states engage in proxy warfare? How does what scholars call principal-agent theory explain the way proxy warfare actually plays out—particularly the challenges that arise when the interests of a principal and a proxy diverge? And as the US military continues to prepare for large-scale combat operations, how should the ability to leverage proxies factor into planning? Particularly as US planners seek to conceptualize how proxy warfare should be accounted for in an era characterized by strategic competition, these questions are vital.

This episode addresses features a wide-ranging discussing on the subject of proxy warfare with three guests. Dr. Nakissa Jahanbani is an assistant professor in West Point’s Department of Social Sciences and a researcher at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Dr. Vladimir Rauta is a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Reading and the editor of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Proxy Wars. And retired Lieutenant General Ken Tovo served for almost forty years in the Army, including as commanding general of US Army Special Operations Command.

You can hear the full episode hosted by Kyle Atwell below. And be sure to subscribe to the Irregular Warfare Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode!

Note: This episode was originally recorded and released by the Social Science of War podcast, a coproduction between the Modern War Institute at West Point and West Point’s Department of Social Sciences.

Image credit: Sgt. 1st Class Jared N. Gehmann, US Army