What is the significance of the proxy wars?

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As both the United States and the Soviet Union possessed extensive nuclear capabilities, their respective geopolitical goals needed to be achieved without direct confrontation. Thus it became necessary to conduct the Cold War to a large extent through proxy states. As well as potentially avoiding the dangers of nuclear armageddon, this strategy enabled the United States and the USSR to advance their ideological agendas. The United States could, through developing relations with their proxy states, allow the opening up of new markets to American industry. Such partners could take various forms, whether they were military dictatorships in Latin America or European liberal democracies.

The Soviet Union, for its part, increasingly posed as the defenders of countries in the developing world in their anti-colonialist struggles. Although there was some ideological underpinning to the Soviets' strategy—the spread of international Communism among the world's oppressed masses—there was also a...

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