An influential chorus within the Republican establishment is raising questions about whether Ted Cruz can be trusted on foreign policy. Among this crowd, Cruz’s use of the term “neocon” was seen as the latest evidence of his willingness to elevate politics over principle on matters of national security.

By the end of George W. Bush’s second term in office, the term “neoconservative,” once widely used to describe the hawkish foreign-policy views held by several of the president’s most senior advisers, had become radioactive. As critics began using it to describe a cadre of like-minded Jews who had allegedly hijacked American foreign policy and driven the U.S. to war in Iraq, it took on a conspiratorial tinge.

So when Ted Cruz, on the campaign trail in Iowa and again in an interview with Bloomberg News, recently pointed the finger at “neocons” in an attempt to defend his own understanding of American interests abroad, the response among some conservative foreign-policy experts — many of whom the term has been used to disparage — was of shock, anger, and dismay.

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