The Human Cost and Arrogance of American Hegemony

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Though
recent American presidents have pursued a policy of global hegemony,
the Bush administration has pursued world dominance with a vengeance.
The administration's National Security Strategy, for example, calls
for preemptive wars against potential threats to American security
and commits America to forcefully preventing other countries from
attempting to match it militarily. Many Americans are proud of America's
commitment to controlling the rest of the world. On numerous occasions,
I have heard people say things like, "Well, someone
has to police the world." Others, like the neoconservative
William Kristol, argue that America should dominate the rest of
the world in a period of "benevolent global hegemony."
All ignore the human cost and arrogance of American hegemony.

Believing
that America must dominate the rest of the world smacks of arrogance.
Though some say that 9/11 gave America the right to declare itself
world hegemon, nothing has given us that right. In fact, America's
hegemonic policies, such as supporting dictators like Saddam
Hussein
, contributed to the hatred that produced 9/11. Rather
than arrogantly pursuing hegemony, America should work to roll back
its global presence that incites hatred; it would be prudent to
start by pulling troops out of the 120
countries
where America maintains a military presence. However,
it should come as no surprise that George W. Bush believes America
must respond to 9/11 by "benevolently" controlling others;
he thinks of his own countrymen as 10-year-old
children
that must be guided.

Some
refuse to accept American dominance and resist it violently. The
Bush administration learned this lesson the hard way in Iraq. They
expected the Iraqis to greet them with flowers, not guns. Now thousands
of young men have been forced to kill Iraqis who resist American
domination, and thousands of civilians have been killed as well.
How "benevolent" is American hegemony for those who have
been killed and the soldiers who are forced to kill or be killed
to enforce it?

The
phrase "benevolent hegemony" is an oxymoron. Military
hegemony can never be benevolent. Merriam Webster's Collegiate
Dictionary defines hegemony as "preponderant influence
or authority over others." Iraqis
speak four languages, and many different ethnic groups reside there;
they differ drastically from each other, even more so from Americans.
Therefore, America will never peacefully exercise "preponderant
influence or authority" over such a complex country, especially
after the uproar caused by prison abuse at Abu Ghraib, and authority
maintained through violence is not positive. Even if the Iraqis
could be peacefully coerced into accepting American hegemony, it
would still not be benevolent. Imposing a foreign system on another
nation is hubristic, not benevolent.

Some
argue that this war is about spreading freedom, not American hegemony.
If that is the case, why does the administration plan to maintain
military bases in Iraq for decades to come? Jay Garner, who helped
lead Iraq's reconstruction in 2003, said in an interview
that Iraq is "our coaling station that gives us great presence
in the Middle East."

Most
of those who defend America's pursuit of hegemony, like George W.
Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney, have never fought in war.
They have never killed anyone to enforce the doctrines they espouse.
Nor have they sent their children to do it. Would they? If not,
they are hypocrites. If they would, they could only be megalomaniacs
to sacrifice so much to accumulate power.

November
3, 2004

Andrew
Young [send him mail] is a
junior history major at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro,
Kentucky.

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