Thomas G. West argues that Washington neo-conservatives are not true Straussians:
"Quite a few of President Bush's critics maintain that since some prominent members of the administration and their defenders are known to be former students of Leo Strauss or of Straussians, one can trace Bush's foreign policy to Strauss's political ideas. Straussians in Washington tend to be neoconservatives, and, in foreign policy, prominent neocons like William Kristol and Robert Kagan advocate a policy of 'benevolent hegemony.' In their argument, a benign American imperialism is justified for two reasons. First, it provides security against foreign attack; that is, it delivers 'strategic benefits.' But their real enthusiasm is reserved for its second purpose, which is democratic reform of the rest of the world. That stance, they argue, not only serves American interest; it is a moral imperative. The policy of benevolent hegemony will 'relish the opportunity for national engagement, embrace the possibility of national greatness, and restore a sense of the heroic.' Kristol and Kagan also argue that their view is supported by the principles of the American founding: 'For conservatives to preach the importance of upholding the core elements of the Western tradition at home, but to profess indifference to the fate of American principles abroad, is an inconsistency that cannot help but gnaw at the heart of conservatism.' My impression as an outside observer is that Straussian influence in the administration has been grossly exaggerated. But let us assume for discussion's sake that it is strong. Since Strauss has been wildly accused of everything from being an admirer of Hitler to being a devotee of Wilsonian progressivism, I think it high time to clarify Strauss's understanding of foreign policy. I shall argue that although there is some common ground, Strauss's overall approach is quite different from that of Kristol, Kagan, and other prominent neoconservatives in and out of the administration."