Very few conservatives today seem to realize that the “strong defense” label applied to this Wilsonian/Trotskyite nonsense is just so much spin. Prior to 9/11, nation-building - U.N. doublespeak for aggressive invasion - was a reviled phrase in old-right circles. Once 9/11 occurred, it was acceptable to defend these same failed policies because the event “changed everything.” But, if 9/11 changed everything, why didn’t foreign policy change?
Because 9/11 didn’t change anything. 9/11 merely gave neoconservatives a ready-made excuse to further escalate. The constant threat of terrorism issued by neoconservative columnists alienated the anti-war faction of the GOP base, and convinced the mushy GOP moderates to support what they had so recently protested under Clinton. So much did they protest nation-building prior to 9/11, they elected a Republican as President who promised not to engage in it.