- the dominance of one power on the global stage; or
- the regional predominance of a single country.
Such 'hegemonic dominance' rests on cultural influence, non-military resources, and economic power. Russia's influence over its 'near abroad' is an obvious example, as is US sway in Canada and Central America; Washington is also sometimes described as the 'global hegemon'. China might increasingly be seen to exhibit some hegemonic characteristics in South-east Asia.
Most analysts prefer the term hegemony over 'empire' due to its relative empirical accuracy in describing present global affairs. Although some media commentators and politicians (particularly on the Left) refer to the 'US empire', the United States does not fit this description in any meaningful sense. This is because it does not:
- make territorial claims of other states;
- seek directly to control other countries in order to extract and exploit their resources; or
- impose an ideology on other peoples by force (though Iraq may be an exception).
Instead of describing US 'imperialism' it is more apposite to refer to Washington's position as a hegemonic power in a number of dimensions, such as its dominant position in international political and economic organisations, its cultural reach, and its relative military prowess.