(Originally written 05/11/2012.)
During the Cold War, because of fear of escalation between NATO and the Soviet Union, proxy wars were undertaken in third party locations.
Massive economies; substantial training and arming of civilians to produce armed militia from otherwise unarmed civilians; a legacy of weapons and gun-culture; little or no risk to the sponsors of damage; vast amounts of matériel could be deployed upon the citizens of the target country.
End-of-life or redundant weapons and date-expired ammunition and explosives can be disposed of en masse quickly and cheaply without the cost of safe disposal nor any fear of the consequences of their failure.
Consequently, huge amounts of damage are done to the victim country where the proxy war is played out.
Used as a way of striking at an opponent through a third party, at great cost in life and suffering to the third party. The damage to the third party is far greater than to the opponent.
They also function as weapons testing grounds, thereby ensuring the newest, most unpleasant and yet-to-be-banned weapons can be tested on the people of the proxy country, without risk to the user or even the opponent. Hence the effects can be far worse.
This is what providing arms and air support in the Arab Spring is all about.