Neoconservatism as discourse: virtue, power and US foreign policy

Pan, Chengxin and Turner, Oliver 2017, Neoconservatism as discourse: virtue, power and US foreign policy, European journal of international relations, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 74-96, doi: 10.1177/1354066115623349.

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Title Neoconservatism as discourse: virtue, power and US foreign policy
Author(s) Pan, ChengxinORCID iD for Pan, Chengxin
Turner, Oliver
Journal name European journal of international relations
Volume number 23
Issue number 1
Start page 74
End page 96
Total pages 23
Publisher Sage
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2017
ISSN 1354-0661
Keyword(s) Discourse analysis
discursive formation
US foreign policy
Summary Neoconservatism in US foreign policy is a hotly contested subject, yet most scholars broadly agree on what it is and where it comes from. From a consensus that it first emerged around the 1960s, these scholars view neoconservatism through what we call the ‘3Ps’ approach, defining it as a particular group of people (‘neocons’), an array of foreign policy preferences and/or an ideological commitment to a set of principles. While descriptively intuitive, this approach reifies neoconservatism in terms of its specific and often static ‘symptoms’ rather than its dynamic constitutions. These reifications may reveal what is emblematic of neoconservatism in its particular historical and political context, but they fail to offer deeper insights into what is constitutive of neoconservatism. Addressing this neglected question, this article dislodges neoconservatism from itsperceived home in the ‘3Ps’ and ontologically redefines it as a discourse. Adopting aFoucauldian approach of archaeological and genealogical discourse analysis, we trace itsdiscursive formations primarily to two powerful and historically enduring discourses ofthe American self — virtue and power — and illustrate how these discourses produce aparticular type of discursive fusion that is ‘neoconservatism’. We argue that to betterappreciate its continued effect on contemporary and future US foreign policy, we needto pay close attention to those seemingly innocuous yet deeply embedded discoursesabout the US and its place in the world, as well as to the people, policies and principlesconventionally associated with neoconservatism.
Language eng
DOI 10.1177/1354066115623349
Field of Research 160607 International Relations
Socio Economic Objective 940399 International Relations not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2016, Sage
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