What I'm reading
The Neoconservatives by Peter Steinfels. This book, written in 1979, is billed as the first major study of neoconservatism and covers both the obvious names (Kristol, Bell, Podhoretz, Decter) and some who now seem a bit surprising (Moynihan, Brzezinski, Jackson). It strikes me that there have been two main changes affecting the neoconservatives since Steinfels wrote.
First, the rise of the centrist ‘New Democrats’ associated with the Democratic Leadership Council in the 1990s attracted the support of the more moderate neoconservatives (confusingly, DLC supporters like Clinton are often called ‘neoliberals’ in the US, a term which is used in an entirely different sense elsewhere, much closer to neoconservatism in its meaning). The remaining neoconservatives are now strictly Republican partisans and have continued moving to the right.
Second, the Jewish element in neoconservatism (more dominant as a result of the first trend, which was more significant among non-Jewish neoconservatives) changed its character. Prior to Oslo, the general position was one of support for Israel, normally interpreted to mean support for the general position of whatever Israeli government was elected by the Israeli people. The neoconservatives in general took a rejectionist position on Oslo and became partisans of its opponents, Likud, the settler parties and the maximalist advocates of Eretz Israel. There was a piece by Podhoretz in Commentary about the time of Oslo making all this explicit. It will be interesting, in this context, to see how the neoconservatives react if Sharon finally comes to blows with the settlers. I predict that they will be bitterly divided.