Remaking the world in America's image: surprise, strategic culture, and the American ways of intervention

Michael Boyle, Anthony Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Why does the United States seek to export its own political and economic system as part of an intervention? We argue that the U.S. has an ideologically-inflected strategic culture which has yielded two ‘ways’ of intervention over time. The limited model is cost conscious and cedes control over the future of the state to local actors provided that they guarantee open markets and good government. The vindicationist model involves the U.S. paying costs to remake another society in its own image. We argue that the vindicationist way of intervention is activated at moments of strategic surprise, which cause policymakers to react by gambling on large interventions to remake another society. To empirically demonstrate the validity of this explanation, we examine the record of America of limited and vindicationist major interventions from 1946-2005 and present two contrasting case studies of Cold War interventions in Lebanon and the Dominican Republic.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberoraa020
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Volume17
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Intervention
  • Strategic culture
  • US foreign policy

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