Jesús Velasco examines the origins and history of the neoconservative political movement so closely identified with the George W. Bush administration’s policies of regime change and democratization. Analyzing the movement’s intellectual background, institutions, financial supporters, publications, and points of influence, Velasco distinguishes the first generation of neoconservatives, which emerged in the late 1970s, from the generation that rose to power in the 2000s. Velasco’s study is based in large part on interviews with such key neoconservative figures as Irving Kristol and Richard Perle and on access to the archives of such organizations as the Committee on the Present Danger and the Coalition for a Democratic Majority. This work provides important new insights into how this cadre of intellectuals—once on the margins of the political scene—came so dominantly to affect U.S. foreign relations.

Jesús Velasco currently holds the Joe and Teresa Long Endowed Chair in Social Sciences at Tarleton State University. He worked for many years at the Center for Teaching and Research in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City. He was a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2004 and a visiting scholar at the Weatherhead Center and the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, both at Harvard university.


Preface and Acknowledgments

1. Introduction: An Analytical Framework

2. Who Is a Neoconservative?

3. Neoconservative Organizations as a Vehicle for an Ideological Crusade

4. Ideas, Institutions, and Interests: The Influence of Neoconservatism on Reagan’s Human Rights Policy

5. Ideas, Institutions, and Interests: The Influence of Neoconservatism on the U.S. Military Buildup

6. The Second Neoconservative Movement

7. Second-Generation Neoconservatives and Foreign Policy

8. Neoconservatives at War

9. Neoconservatism and American Foreign Policy after September 11

10. The Iraqi Debacle and the Partial Decline of Neoconservatism



“Professor Velasco provides an impressively comprehensive, clear, and careful account of neoconservatives’ rise to power in the late twentieth-century United States. Velasco is particularly good at revealing who constitute the core and peripheral members of the first and second generation of neoconservatives, at uncovering the personal networks and financial ties that connect and support individual neoconservatives, and at tracing the effects of the two generations of neoconservatives on American foreign policy.”—Bartholomew Sparrow, University of Texas at Austin

“This is an excellent and interesting book. Through extensive use of archival material, Velasco brings to light a number of facts that are not widely known, particularly with regard to the funding apparatus that financed the neocons’ political and policy endeavors.”—Benjamin Ginsberg, Johns Hopkins University