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The Power of Weakness: Coercion in the American Alliance Network in Asia

Noelle C Troutman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


How can a weaker ally, or ‘protégé’ coerce their stronger partner, or ‘patron’ for greater autonomy? My primary argument is that protégés have agency; they can and do coerce their patron. I ask two interrelated questions within this study. First, when can allied preferences diverge? Second, if allied disagreement is likely, how can a protégé coerce their patron for greater autonomy? I argue that protégés with insecure regimes can threaten their own collapse to get their patron to give into their demands. This is a tough lie to get away with; patrons are therefore likely to concede when their protégé does threaten it. Failure to do so would waste resources the patron has, and may currently, contribute to the protégé’s defense. I test the theory with case work on the U.S.-ROK and U.S.-Japan alliances. My findings support the theory; protégés can and do coerce their patrons for greater autonomy.

Subject Area

International Relations|Public administration|Political science

Recommended Citation

Troutman, Noelle C, "The Power of Weakness: Coercion in the American Alliance Network in Asia" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30810847.