The neocon taste for American empire is not the liberal hawk’s belief in the bond between American power and freedom’s progress. ~Roger Cohen
But the neocon “taste for American empire” (a characterisation that many neoconservatives would, of course, actually vehemently reject) is bound up with their equally ideological belief in “the bond between American power and freedom’s progress.” Neocons were once “liberals mugged by reality,” but now they are people who would like to mug reality–and strafe it and bomb it–in the name of liberalism (broadly defined). They don’t prattle about democracy and liberal revolution for their health–they actually think that our hegemony and other peoples’ freedom are compatible. No, really! One thing both groups do have in common is that they are profoundly, impressively wrong.
(Needless to say, I completely reject the idea that there was something high-minded or noble about the interventions of the ’90s. Low-risk imperialism is no less morally repugnant.)