chapter  4
The intellectual antecedents of the Bush regime
Pages 23

This chapter provides a concise overview of some of the key intellectual-ideological debates that have formed the intellectual and political outlooks of some of the key individuals within the Bush administration. Charting the trajectories of different conservative ideas, and of the networks of people holding them, shows the Bush foreign policy since 11 September 2001 is radical but not altogether surprising. The second section begins with American conservatism in the 1940s, showing how traditional and libertarian strands became synthesised in the 1950s and 1960s as, propelled by the rise of the Sun Belt, a ‘movement conservatism’ formed to overturn a liberal establishment that was fragmenting amid disputes over Vietnam, the war on poverty, and the question of how virtuous or moral technocratic policy-making could be. Conservatives ensured politics would remain in the terrain of values by contesting the scientific basis of policy, setting up think tanks to market policies whose truths, being conservative, were always already known, and which exerted clear influence upon the Ford and Reagan administrations.