That depends on your definition. The notion of “making the world safe for democracy” is unquestionably a liberal or “progressive” sentiment, but it is also true that it has been standard foreign policy for the mainstream Right for sometime. Self-described conservatives have associated endless military intervention with American “toughness” and viewed those who questioned the government’s wisdom in waging war as “weak” or “anti-American.” This has certainly been the view of Limbaugh and Hannity and for most of Bush’s eight years, it was also the view of [Glenn] Beck.
Yet the notion of America as the world’s policeman is not remotely conservative in the traditional sense, but “neoconservative,” a term most mainstream right-wingers are either ignorant of, embarrassed of, or don’t use because the wholesale takeover of the conservative movement by the neocons has made using the “neo” prefix unnecessary.
Neoconservatives care about one thing—war (and where they can wage it). Says contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, neocon Max Boot: “Neoconservatives believe in using American might to promote American ideals abroad,” a progressive, Wilsonian vision, if there ever was one.
As for traditional conservative concerns like limited government, fiscal responsibility and constitutional fidelity, these are ideas neoconservatives will occasionally pay lip service to, so long as none of these principles interferes with their more important task of global military domination. It is no coincidence that George W. Bush—the first full-blown neoconservative presidential administration—did not limit government, was not fiscally responsible and shredded the Constitution, while still implementing the most radical foreign policy in American history. ...
Being part of the “rank-and-file of the Republican Party” meant being a neoconservative, whether mainstream conservatives were conscious of it or not. But as the grassroots Right continues to revisit conservatism’s limited government roots—this ideological shift is much less fertile ground for neoconservatives, most of whom remain either too busy applauding Obama’s troop escalation in Afghanistan or criticizing the President for not attacking Iran, Yemen or North Korea yet.
Neoconservatives never have been conservative, neither was Bush on “national security,” and these points must be hammered home before the Right can achieve a sturdier ideological footing.
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