Insurgency and American Foreign Policy: the case of George McGovern

Roberta Haar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


As a distinct foreign-policy group, neoconservatives emerged in a period of social unrest and political cynicism—a time when insurgent presidential candidates can have profound effects on the outlook and conduct of foreign policy. The George McGovern insurgency is an important historical event that was accompanied by social unrest, distrust in government and the splintering of the Democratic Party into disparate foreign-policy groups, including the neoconservatives. McGovern, and in particular his 1972 nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, is key to understanding the neoconservatives’ disaffection with their own party. This research investigates the catalyzing and unifying effect that McGovern’s 1972 run for the presidency had on those intellectuals who became neoconservatives. Taking McGovern’s role into account is vital for understanding the genesis of neoconservative ideology as well as comprehending the movement’s present day legacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-61
Number of pages29
JournalWorld Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2017


  • foreign policy, United States, America, political parties, George McGovern, roots of neoconservative ideology, presidential candidates, social unrest, Democratic Party

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