Think of all the ink spilled on foreign policy during the 80's. Yet for all of Clinton's "accomplishments" on foreign policy (Middle East "peace," NAFTA, Haiti), the subject did not even appear on the political radar screen during the 1994 elections. Frankly, voters do not care, and no fact of American political life brings a neoconservative to tears more quickly.
To understand the neoconservatives, we need to be aware of their implacable pursuit of American empire. Their military program requires keeping massive numbers of troops, ships, planes, spies, and bombs stationed around the world, ready for use at a moment's notice, as well as keeping the public hopped up to fight any foreign country labeled an enemy. It was the New Left's skeptical view of this program that led the neocons to defect to the official right, which—thanks to the Cold War—was far more hospitable to empire.
The relationship between the official right and the neocons was cozy during the late 1970's and 80's, and over time, these formerly distinguishable movements became largely indistinguishable. Both, for example, were dedicated to Reaganism, which meant a bigger welfare-warfare state in the name of limited government.
For the social democrats, the end of the Cold War was a terrible moment. It meant they could no longer paint every skeptic of the military machine as a "Blame America...