From exile to redemption to exile again: a history of "militaristic idealists" known as neocons. (Link to a larger version: The Neocons)
First, note that they are "idealists" and not "realists" (I will discuss the political realists elsewhere), so in that sense their version of international democracy promotion will have a different slant, one that we might call "Wilsonian" going back to President Woodrow Wilson. When the Bush administration's Middle East policy is referred to as Wilsonian, that's the connection.
Second, they are militarists. That's the connection to the Scoop Jackson Vietnam Hawks, the military industrial complex, and to the Cold War anti communist attitudes that carried over after the fall of the Soviet Union, with no target to pin it on.
This might be worth looking at: They are not so much about being against the idea of communism as a philosophy, since they once were once willing to wear the trappings of that ideology, but more anti the political existence of something identified as communism as a competing power entity in the world, and here we have the connection to a quote I've seen: " Ideology is the disease of the modern era." You might say they don't so much care what the idealism is, so long as they have one, and they wield it's abstract logical characteristics as a weapon of sorts. Perhaps a weapon of mass destruction?
That difference in their concern between political idealism and the meaning of political power itself is important distinguish, I believe, because it is also the basis for their anti terrorist concerns today, which for them are quite real, and helps to reveal their own urge for power. An urge that will be explained as an urge for the good of humanity, and necessary because there is this idea of "evil," evil is present in the world, (human beings are by nature evil and must be taught to be good) and it must be guarded against. The military is thus a necessary structure in society for the protection of good, and a price we must pay for our safety.
The underlying issue to explore here, I believe, is authoritarianism. Authoritarianism not so much as an ideal to be imposed, but as a philosophical and psychological structure that makes up a particular world view. Words like "individualism" and "freedom" can be used within this structure and the structure itself may turn out to negate the subjective sense of interpretation of what those words mean to each of us. This connects to the meanings we explore in propaganda, power, and the spectrum of power from hegemony to coercion.
I'd like to recall Stan Goff's simple but clear definition clarifying hegemony from coercion:
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” (Steven Beko)
It’s much easier to exercise control over a population whenever they consent to their own domination. They sort of accept the official story, accept the official ideology and then we all just sort of go around and cooperate. That kind of control, where we internalize the control, is hegemony. Where when I come up and hold a gun on you and you do it out of naked fear, that’s coercion. And the idea is you’ve got sort of hegemony on one pole, exercising ruling class power and coercion on the other pole and as hegemony fails then coercion becomes the more prominent instrument. (from a talk: Exterminism)