- 1: a former liberal espousing political conservatism
- 2: a conservative who advocates the assertive promotion of democracy and United States national interest in international affairs including through military means
Neoconservatism is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s. Many of its adherents rose to political fame during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Neoconservatives peaked in influence during the presidency of George W. Bush, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the invasion of Iraq. Prominent neoconservatives in the Bush administration included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer.
The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist left to the camp of American conservatism. Neoconservatives frequently advocate the "assertive" promotion of democracy and promotion of "American national interest" in international affairs including by means of military force. The movement had its intellectual roots in the monthly review magazine Commentary. C. Bradley Thompson, a professor at Clemson University, claims that most influential neoconservatives refer explicitly to the theoretical ideas in the philosophy of Leo Strauss (1899–1973).
The term "neoconservative" was popularized in the United States during 1973 by Socialist leader Michael Harrington, who used the term to define Daniel Bell, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Irving Kristol, whose ideologies differed from Harrington's.
The "neoconservative" label was used by Irving Kristol in his 1979 article "Confessions of a True, Self-Confessed 'Neoconservative.'" His ideas have been influential since the 1950s, when he co-founded and edited the magazine Encounter. 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". 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.
The term "neoconservative", which was used originally by a socialist to criticize the politics of Social Democrats, USA, has since 1980 been used as a criticism against proponents of American modern liberalism who had become more conservative. The term was the subject of increased media coverage during the presidency of George W. Bush, with particular emphasis on a perceived neoconservative influence on American foreign policy, as part of the Bush Doctrine.