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The Empire TrapThe Rise and Fall of U.S. Intervention to Protect American Property Overseas, 1893-2013$
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Noel Maurer

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691155821

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691155821.001.0001

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The Empire Trap in the Twenty-first Century

The Empire Trap in the Twenty-first Century

(p.433) Eleven The Empire Trap in the Twenty-first Century
The Empire Trap

Noel Maurer

Princeton University Press

This chapter reviews the patterns of U.S. government intervention on behalf of its citizens' overseas property rights over the course of the twentieth century. The point of departure was the following paradox: although U.S. governments throughout the century categorically rejected interventionism designed to favor or protect Americans, time and again they found themselves compelled to interfere in the affairs of foreign nations on behalf of private American interests. The mechanism of the empire trap explains U.S. administrations' apparent inability to avoid overseas entanglements, even when presidential preferences and the national interest pointed toward nonintervention. The political clout of private interests meant that the domestic political costs of refusing to intervene were often far higher and more immediate than the costs of intervening.

Keywords:   U.S. government, interventionism, property rights, foreign nations, American interests, empire trap, nonintervention, domestic political costs

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