Neoconservatism

Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon when labelling its adherents) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among liberal hawks who became disenchanted with the increasingly pacifist foreign policy of the Democratic Party, and the growing New Left and Counterculture, in particular the Vietnam protests. Some also began to question their liberal beliefs regarding domestic policies such as the Great Society.

Many of its adherents became politically famous during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as neoconservatives peaked in influence during the administration of George W. Bush, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[1] Prominent neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration included Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle and Paul Bremer. While not identifying as neoconservatives, senior officials Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listened closely to neoconservative advisers regarding foreign policy, especially the defense of Israel and the promotion of American influence in the Middle East.

Historically speaking, the term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist left to the camp of American conservatism during the 1960s and 1970s.[2] Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and American national interest in international affairs, including by means of military force and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism.[3][4] The movement had its intellectual roots in the Jewish monthly review magazine Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee.[5][6] They spoke out against the New Left and in that way helped define the movement.[7][8]

Terminology

The term "neoconservative" was popularized in the United States during 1973 by the socialist leader Michael Harrington, who used the term to define Daniel Bell, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Irving Kristol, whose ideologies differed from Harrington's.[9]

The "neoconservative" label was used by Irving Kristol in his 1979 article "Confessions of a True, Self-Confessed 'Neoconservative'".[10] His ideas have been influential since the 1950s, when he co-founded and edited the magazine Encounter.[11] Another source was Norman Podhoretz, editor of the magazine Commentary from 1960 to 1995. By 1982, Podhoretz was terming himself a neoconservative in a New York Times Magazine article titled "The Neoconservative Anguish over Reagan's Foreign Policy".[12][13] During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the neoconservatives considered that liberalism had failed and "no longer knew what it was talking about", according to E. J. Dionne.[14]

Seymour Lipset asserts that the term "neoconservative" was used originally by socialists to criticize the politics of Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA).[15] Jonah Goldberg argues that the term is ideological criticism against proponents of modern American liberalism who had become slightly more conservative[10][16] (both Lipset and Goldberg are frequently described as neoconservatives). In a book-length study for Harvard University Press, historian Justin Vaisse writes that Lipset and Goldberg are in error as "neoconservative" was used by socialist Michael Harrington to describe three men – noted above – who were not in SDUSA and neoconservatism is a definable political movement.[17]

The term "neoconservative" was the subject of increased media coverage during the presidency of George W. Bush,[18][19] with particular emphasis on a perceived neoconservative influence on American foreign policy, as part of the Bush Doctrine.[20]

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