What Neoconservatism Is—and Isn’t: Where Neoconservatism Came From, What it Stands For, and How it Became Associated with the War in Iraq


Publication Date: January 2008

Publisher: Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace; Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Author(s): Peter Berkowitz

Research Area: Government; Politics

Keywords: Foreign Policy; Neoconservatism; Iraq

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


It was only with the Iraq war that neoconservatism came to be falsely identified by its critics with a single crude foreign policy idea: that the United States should use military force, unilaterally if need be, to overthrow tyrants and establish democracy. It violates the spirit of neoconservatism to select a single goal from those that command the nation’s attention and then pursue it heedless of costs. Neoconservatism has its origins in a critique of policy making—in both domestic and foreign affairs—that fails to take consequences into account.