The United States is an empire, albeit a reluctant one. So vast are its interests that it is invariably drawn into conflicts, even difficult, faraway conflicts, it might otherwise avoid were it a weaker nation. But the United States cannot involve itself in every situation that impinges on its power; doing so would exhaust its resources and leave it vulnerable to challenges from potential rivals. It will instead use its military, economic and political influence to exploit regional rivalries around the world, rivalries that will keep larger countries consumed with one another rather than unified in their efforts to undermine the United States. Managing the interests of competing powers in volatile regions can be messy business, but such is the business of empire.