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The unbridling of virtue: neoconservatism between the Cold War and the Iraq War

McClelland, Mark Jonathan Lamdin (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

During the years between the Cold War and the Iraq War, neoconservatism underwent an important shift from a position sympathetic to realist thought to a position much closer to a particularly conservative form of liberal internationalism. This change has largely been ignored in the literature, and when discussed, simply attributed to new, more radical neoconservative actors replacing a more cautious cadre. This thesis utilises a ‘history of ideas’ approach to examine the evolution of neoconservative thought from an emphasis on stability and normality to one of ambitious transformation abroad and wide-ranging democracy promotion. It argues that this modification can be attributed to several material and ideational drivers. In material terms, the end of the Cold War and the ensuing decline of bipolarity in the international system in combination with the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 were pivotal events in neoconservatism’s evolution. The former removed the primary constraint on the use of American power overseas, while the latter demonstrated, as far as neoconservatives were concerned, the cost to the US of inaction and restraint abroad. Ideationally, the advent of Francis Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ thesis, an embrace of liberal democratic peace theory, and a religious ‘turn’ in neoconservative thought, all contributed to the development of a neoconservative foreign policy much more sympathetic to ideas of democracy promotion and humanitarian intervention.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Dunn, David H and Quinn, Adam
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Department of Political Science and International Studies, School of Government and Society
Subjects:D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
E151 United States (General)
JC Political theory
JK Political institutions (United States)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3615
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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