Perhaps not the best choice of words by American ex-pat, Meghan McBride, writing in defence of Donald Trump and the United States’ Republican Party in today’s Irish Times newspaper:
“I believe in American hegemony. To those who question the value of American superpower, I ask who else can act as a broker for freedom around the world. Europe is not resourced enough. Freedom is not free and therefore hard power is sometimes needed. Exercising soft diplomacy, or even retreat, is the recipe of the western liberal order and look at what we have: Islamic State, homegrown terrorism in the West, an undaunted and unruly Putin, a deal with Iran that weakens the US, a US ambassador and his staff dead in Benghazi, and what is promising to be a failed negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”
From the oxforddictionaries.com:
“Hegemony: Leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others: Germany was united under Prussian hegemony after 1871“
As for Benghazi, this poignant article by Andrew O’Hehir for Salon says it all.
Why a bad choice of words? Hegemony is a word that is thrown around a lot these days. In this case though, if you replace it with the word leadership, it has a positive connotation, if you replace it with imperialism, it’s negative. Hegemony is a soft word in this case, and is simply used to make the writer sound more academic, even though I usually only hear it said by academics on the left.. point is, the argument sees to be about American exceptionalism, which of course translates to a form of American hegemony. Although I don’t agree with it, I think it shows the problem when people especially on the left use words like hegemony, hegemonic power, they tend to be referring to almost anything which is deemed “normative”, nor matter how trivial, so naturally, the heavily negative connotations are diluted and someone can simply say “yeah, I believe in American hegemony”, because dominant thinking or ideals seem like common sense. Either way, my point is knowingly or not she used the right word. I don’t see it as blunder as it describes what she meant.
I think most contemporary English-speaking readers would associate “hegemony” with the negative, along the lines of political domination or as you say, imperialism. That is certainly how I use it. If that indeed is what she meant it shows how out of touch the Trumpite world-view truly is. It should be obvious that such a statement would be inherently unappealing to non-Americans. That she thinks otherwise speaks to an almost imperialist – or “exceptionalist” – mind frame.
Without the USA the same thing that now happens in eastern Ukraine would happen in my country too. Obama’s relationship “restart” with Russia a few years ago was pathetic. People who are against “the evil American imperialism” for some reason always happen to be Putinbots.
I personally don’t believe that the US is “imperialist” in any comparable sense to Britain or other European powers during the 18th and 19th centuries.. Though there are certainly nationalists in the US who would wish it so, at least in terms of global power and control. Given a choice between Putin and Obama the latter would win every time.
Pontius Pilate was Hegemon of Judea.Kind of hard to avoid the Empire connection.