The United States has been for some time the leading power in the international community, which raises questions as to whether they are a hegemonic power or more of an imperialistic nation. Despite the views of political scientists such as Niall Ferguson an imperialist, America’s actions demonstrate that it is truly a hegemonic power. Niall Ferguson in his article, “America: an Empire in Denial,” states “It (America) is an empire, in short, that dare not speak its name. It is an empire in denial” (Chronicle of Higher Education, March 28, 2003).
Empires are synonymous with imperialistic sovereignties, domination and control. The United States does not seek to expand its territory nor do they purpose to desire control over other nations. The U. S. ‘s actions in terms of foreign policy have been misconstrued as imperialistic when they are merely exercising their right of sovereignty and national security. Historically, empires did not set out to become empires. Through the dynamics of economy and political strategies they eventually come to be stronger both economically and militarily and thus become aware that they are the dominant nation.When this happens, naturally friction will ensue as other nations struggle to compete.
Naturally, to defend itself from other nations, the dominant power must pursue missions in other territories not for the sake of conquest but rather for the defense of their national security. This is evident from America’s past. The U. S. expanded to the south and west in the 19th century because of the threat that the French, British and Spanish presented.
By defending their territory they subsequently acquired the surrounding territories and became the country it is today.During World War II, the threats that Germany and Japan presented compelled America to venture to Asia and Europe to defend national security. The dominance that the U. S.
acquired in both Asia and Europe was simply a consequence of their security concern. September 11, 2001 is another example of the U. S. involving itself in another area of the world. As terrorist threats grew greater and eventually culminated into the World Trade Center attacks, the Bush Administration was forced to travel to the Middle East in an effort to combat the national security threats that Afghanistan and Iraq introduced.Critics would say that the U. S. is occupying Iraq (which is not true as the U.
S. will transition the political section over to the Iraqi government on June 30, 2003) and forcing democracy on a people that do not want democracy. Here again, the U. S.
is not only trying to protect others, but it is most importantly protecting itself. Traditionally, democracies do not wage war with other democracies. If the U.
S. can further democracy in Iraq, it can perhaps be the stepping stone to democracy in the Middle East. Thereby, indirectly protecting the U. S. in the future.Therefore, it was always a threat that led the U. S.
to extend itself into the world. It was always the struggle for their sovereignty that resulted in acquiring territory, such as the Philippines during the Spanish Civil War. Their increased involvement is always initially the consequence of a security threat. If these actions are characterized as being imperialistic, they were not done by choice, they were done to provide stability for the U. S. and in doing so, the rest of the world. This is hegemonic power at its best.
It is not only with national security that the U. S. becomes involved with the world.
With the Bush Administration specifically, the United States seeks to partner with the international community but makes it quite clear that the U. S. is not about being the runner up. The Bush Administrations perception is that on the important foreign policy issues, the United States is at liberty to determine the outcome when it concerns their sovereignty. They also make it transparent that they should like to accomplish goals with the support of the international community, particularly their allies, but will have no problem with facing threats or making decisions unilaterally if the situation deems it so.This is the standpoint of a hegemonic, more so than an imperial power. Finally, imperialistic powers traditionally, want to dominate and rule another country and its people.
This is certainly not the case for the U. S. Again, the U.
S. is merely a dominant nation that seeks to collaborate with the other powers of the world and as mentioned previously, particularly with their allies, like Britain, France, Germany and Spain. These other powers are not secondary or inferior in their policies to the United States, especially in an imperialistic manner.
However, these states seem to usually support the U. S. or look to the U. S.
as a model as it behooves them to do so for their own national interests. In addition, the U. S.
has no colonies that they can impose any laws concerning warfare, trade or human rights on or even impose on countries that are considered less developed or least less developed; actions that a traditional imperialistic power would be able to do. Moreover, the territories that the U. S.
has, are treated as states such as Puerto Rico and Guam.The people of Puerto Rico and Guam enjoy the freedom and luxury they have as U. S.
territories. They are not slaves nor are they oppressed; another characteristic of imperial power. George Washington is quoted as saying, “safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies. ” (Chace, “Imperial America and the Common Interest,” 2).
Indeed the U. S. seems to have followed their forefather’s advice for they remained free from any permanent alliances until NATO in 1949. Even after NATO, the U. S.
as still kept to the advice of Washington and the Monroe Doctrine and seemed to take a bold stance in the global community because of their willingness to tackle dilemmas unilaterally. However, with the evidence presented in this paper, one can see that although the U. S. is certainly dominant in the world they were reluctantly thrust into that position.
What is seen as imperialistic is merely the ability to act unilaterally if necessary. The U. S. does not seek to own countries or dominate countries they seek to trade, aid and stabilize. What may be perceived as imperialistic power is truly hegemonic power.