The desire to defend and to extend American freedoms is what leads many Jews to be left-liberals; but it is only a different interpretation of what that same defense requires, and who freedom’s enemies really are, that leads some Jews to be neoconservatives.
So, too, did George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Chertoff, L. Paul Bremmer, and the rest of the non-neocon Bush administration honchos believe that they were bringing freedoms to that part of the world (if we take them at their word; Cheney is most questionable in this respect because he believes not in freedom, just in personal gain, greedhead that he is).
Would Kirsch have us believe that this segment of the Bush cabal is also liberal? I think not.
What he's glossed over here is the difference between liberal in the American political context versus liberal in the sense of the big picture liberal political philosophy a la John Stuart Mill. The latter characterizes our entire political system; the former is a modern construct we use to distinguish between poles within that limited spectrum.
Is the obfuscation intentional in order to make a point to liberal readers of TNR? Maybe. These noecons and their apologists are not above intentionally misleading people, after all.