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Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement

Welcome to the companion website to Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement by Justin Vaïsse (Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution), a book published by Harvard University Press in 2010.

On this companion website, you will find information about the book, reviews, useful links, and a number of original documents relating to the history of neoconservatism of America. Each of these documents are referenced in footnotes in the book. None of them can be reproduced without the prior consent of the copyright owner.

1. Book launch

On May 13, 2010, the Brookings Institution hosted an event entitled "Neoconservatism and the Future of American Foreign Policy" to launch the book.
EJ Dionne (Washington Post), Francis Fukuyama (Johns Hopkins - SAIS) and Bill Kristol (The Weekly Standard) offered their views on the book and the issue. The event was introduced by Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution. You can access the audio recording of the event and the full transcript here. You can also watch the video of the full event on Book TV (C-SPAN 2). The book launch was accompanied by the release of a policy paper I wrote, entitled "Why Neoconservatism Still Matters."

Bill Kristol, Justin Vaïsse and EJ Dionne Francis Fukuyama, Bill Kristol and Justin Vaïsse

You can also watch the second book presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center on June 7, 2010, with author James Mann and historian Sam Wells offering comments, followed by a Q&A session.

All commentaries and reviews of Neoconservatism (one of the “books of the year 2010” for the Financial Times and the Toronto Globe and Mail) **are gathered here** .

A few quotes from selected publications:

Adam Kirsch, "Muscular Movement," The New Republic, July 20, 2010 (also in The Tablet, June 1, 2010).

Just as sunlight is the best disinfectant, so the best response to myths and rumors about neoconservatism is the actual history of neoconservatism. That is what Justin Vaïsse provides in his very intelligent and well-researched new book.

"Rich Lowry's review of books on neocons and the conservative movement," The Washington Post, July 4, 2010.

Justin Vaisse, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, has written a book on neoconservatism that is thoughtful and well-informed. Mirabile dictu! … In a crowded field, Vaisse has written a fine primer, judicious, thorough and sure-footed.

Barry Gewen, "Leave No War Behind," The New York Times, June 13, 2010.

It is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the contours of our recent political past. Vaïsse is a historian of ideas. “Neoconservatism” demonstrates, among other things, that ideas really do make a difference in our lives.

William Murchison, "Neocon movement then and now," The Washington Times, June 8, 2010.

A major virtue of Mr. Vaisse's painstakingly clear and beautifully executed narrative is its intellectually scrupulous tone: no malice; no abrasive score-settling. The author seeks neither to exalt nor vilify his subjects. He wants to understand, what with the names and deeds of the neocons ringing daily in all ears, their voices soaring above the rumble of discourse.

3. Original documents mentioned in the book

Introduction. The Three Ages of Neoconservatism

1. Table: the three ages of neoconservatism

Chapitre 1. Incubation: From the Cold War to the Collapse of Liberalism

2. Manifesto of the Americans for Democratic Action (1947) .

Chapitre 2. The First Age: Liberal Intellectuals in Dissent

3. The Public Interest: First table of content and editorial (1965)

4.'To Uphold Our Own Honor…': Petition in favour of Israel published by Americans for Democracy in the Middle East (7 June 1967).

5. 'The Moral Responsibility in the Middle East': Petition in favour of Israel published by Americans for Democracy in the Middle East (4 June 1967).

6. Dissent and the attack on 'neoconservatives' (1973).

Chapitre 3. The Second Age: Cold War Democrats in Dissent

7. Democrats for Nixon (1972)

8. Chronological table of the CDM (1972-1992).

9. Complete list of CDM members and directors (1972-1992)

10. "Come Home, Democrats" (1972): the original manifesto of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority

11. Analysis of signatories of the ‘Come Home, Democrats’ Manifesto (1972)

12. Members of Gene Rostow’s Task Force (1974-76)

13. "The Quest for Detente" (1974): the first head-on assault on Detente by Neoconservatives

Chapitre 4. Divergence: Inventing a Neoconservative Foreign Policy

14. List of CDM recommendations for Carter nominations (1976)

15. List of CDM recommendations to Jimmy Carter for ambassadorial appointments

16. Dinners and ceremonies organized by the CDM in support of Communist dissidents (1975-1980) and an original invitation to a “Human Rights dinner” in New York to nominate the Soviet Helsinki monitors for the 1978 Nobel prize (30 September 1978)

Chapitre 5. Nuclear Alarm: The Committee on the Present Danger

17. Soviet Strategic Objectives: an Alternative View. Report of Team B (1976)

18. Budget and sources of funding of the CPD (1976-1992)

19. The CPD manifesto: “Common Sense and the Common Danger” (11 November 1976)

20. The CPD operating rules: “How the Committee on the Present Danger Will Operate” (8 September 1976)

21. Chronological Table of the CPD (1976-1992)

22. Complete List of CPD Directors (1976-1992)

23. The Publications of the CPD (1976-1992)

Chapitre 6. Migration to Power: Joining the Reagan Camp

24. CDM Members Joining Reagan in 1980

25. CPD's reach in the media, including through Ronald Reagan's columns

26. Ronald Reagan, newly elected president, writes to his former CPD colleagues (7 November 1980)

27. Executive functions of CPD members in the Reagan administration

28. The CDM symposium in honor of Scoop Jackson (15 November 1983)

Chapitre 7. The Third Age: National Greatness Conservatives

Epilogue. Interpreting Neoconservatism

4. Table: The three ages of neoconservatism

Positioning, heroes and enemies Center of gravity, keywords and campaigns Sociological type and principal figures Main publications, organizations, think tanks, public institutions Presidential support
First age of neoconservatism:

The Neoconservatives

From 1965 to the 1990s: Reaction to leftward evolution of American liberalism, to counterculture, to Sixties protests, and to failures of social engineering

A branch of liberalism, a faction still located on the left

Alexis de Tocqueville
Lionel Trilling
Sidney Hook
Tom Hayden
Free Speech Movement
Irving Howe
Michael Harrington
New York Review of Books
Black Panther

Domestic Policy

Key words:
“Law of unintended Consequences”
“New Class”
“Adversary Culture”

Against New Left
Against counterculture
Against feminism
Against ecology

Intellectuals and academics, past radicals (New York)

Irving Kristol
Nathan Glazer (2)
Daniel Bell
Pat Moynihan (2)
Seymour. M Lipset
James Q. Wilson
Norman Podhoretz (2) (3)
Midge Decter (2) (3)
Aaron Wildavsky
Edward Banfield
John Bunzel
Paul Seabury (2)
Lewis Feuer

The Public Interest

Commentary (after 1970)

Hubert Humphrey

Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey for the primaries, then divided between McGovern and Nixon (mostly Nixon)

Second age of neoconservatism:

The Scoop Jackson Democrats

Reaction to George McGovern and the “New Politics”; attempt to move Democratic Party back to center. Opposition to détente and isolationism. Failure to take party back and migration to Reagan right in 1980

Centrist family of Democratic party, then shift to Reagan

W. Churchill
H. Truman
J.F. Kennedy
L.B. Johnson
Reinhold Niebuhr
Max Shachtman
Scoop Jackson
Albert Wohlstetter
Pat Moynihan
Ronald Reagan
Soviet Dissidents
The Contras

George McGovern
George Kennan

Foreign Policy:
Paul Warnke
Tony Lake
Jesse Jackson
Henry Kissinger

Foreign Policy (and a dose of domestic policy)

“Culture of appeasement”
“Nuclear War”
“Vietnam Syndrome”
“Human rights”
“Silent majority”
“Economic Growth”

Against Détente
Against isolationism
Against Helsinki
Against SALT II Treaty
For intervention in Central America

Political activists of the Democratic Party and Hawks (Washington, DC)

Jeane Kirkpatrick(3)
Max Kampelman
Eugene Rostow
Ben Wattenberg (3)
James Woolsey (3)
Peter Rosenblatt
Penn Kemble
Michael Novak (3)
Bayard Rustin
John Roche
Joshua Muravchik (3)
Paul Wolfowitz (3)
Richard Perle (3)
Elliott Abrams (3)
Martin Peretz (3)
Linda Chavez
Carl Gershman (3)
Richard Pipes
Walter Laqueur (3)
Michael Ledeen (3)
Elmo Zumwalt
Charles Krauthammer (3)
William Bennett (3)
Frank Gaffney (3)
Francis Fukuyama


The New Republic (to some extent)

The Wall Street Journal (editorial pages)

The National Interest (to some extent)

* Coalition for a Democratic Majority
* Committee on the Present Danger
* Committee for the Free World
* American Enterprise Institute
* Freedom House
*National Endowment for Democracy
* Institute on Religion and Democracy

Scoop Jackson (for primaries), then Carter



G.H.W. Bush

Divided Clinton/G.H.W. Bush

Third age of neoconservatism:

The Neocons

After 1995: a distinct voice within conservatism, essentially on foreign policy. Hegemonism and democratic globalism. An inherited neoconservatism, no longer a conversion.

A family of the Republican right, still at war with liberals but now especially against realists

T. Roosevelt
W. Churchill
Ronald Reagan
Rupert Murdoch
Joe Lieberman
Tony Blair
Bernard Lewis
Natan Sharansky

Pat Buchanan
Brent Scowcroft
Colin Powell
S. Hussein
Y. Arafat

Foreign policy

* “National greatness”
* “Benevolent Empire”
* “Unipolarity”
* “Chinese threat”
* “World War IV”
* “Islamofascism”
* “Regime change”
* “Democratization”
* “Transformation of the Middle East”

For intervention in Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran.
Against the UN

Conservatives who were born conservatives(Washington, DC)

William Kristol
Robert Kagan
David Brooks
Gary Schmitt
Tom Donnelly
David Frum
Christopher Caldwell
Lawrence Kaplan
Max Boot
Abram Shulsky
Randy Scheunemann
Doug Feith
John Podhoretz
Daniel Pipes
Reuel Gerecht
I. Lewis Libby
Mark Lagon
Bruce Jackson
Clifford May
Frederick Kagan
David Wurmser
Hillel Fradkin
Danielle Pletka
George Weigel
Dan Senor
Charles Fairbanks

The Weekly Standard


The New Republic (to some extent)

The Wall Street Journal (editorial pages)

* PNAC (Project for a New American Century)
* Hudson Institute
* Ethics and Public Policy Center
* Center for Security Policy
* CPD-3
* Committee to Expand NATO
* Committee for the Liberation of Iraq
* Project on Transitional Democracies
* Foundation for Defense of Democracies
* Foreign Policy Initiative

Bob Dole

John McCain (for primaries), then G. W. Bush

G. W. Bush

John McCain

Note: People mentioned in column 4 do not necessarily consider themselves neoconservatives.

(2): Indicates belonging to second age.
(3): Indicates belonging to third age.

start.txt · Last modified: 2018/05/13 19:30 (external edit)