If you’re in DC tomorrow (register and) come on down to Cato for a forum on Bill Kauffmann’s new book Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism. I’d say “great new book,” but I don’t have it yet, so I can’t. But I’ve read other Kauffman books and his one-page history column in the old American Enterprise magazine was a consistent gem (or maybe a raisin), so I’m sure it’s great. You’ve gotta love a guy who retroactively opposes the interstate highway system, not just on constitutionalist grounds, but because it made America ugly. From the event flyer:
Conservatives love war, empire, and the military-industrial complex. They abhor peace, the sole and rightful property of liberals. Right? Wrong.
According to Bill Kauffman, true conservatives have always resisted the imperial and military impulse: it drains the treasury, curtails domestic liberties, breaks down families, and vulgarizes culture. From the Federalists who opposed the War of 1812, to the striving of Robert Taft (known as “Mr. Republican”) to keep the United States out of Korea, to the latter-day libertarian critics of the Iraq war, there has historically been nothing unusual about anti-war activists on the political right. And while these critics of U.S. military crusades have been vilified by the party of George W. Bush, their conservative vision of a peaceful, decentralized, and noninterventionist America gives us a glimpse of the country we could have had—and might yet attain. Passionate and witty, Ain’t My America is an eye-opening exploration of the forgotten history of right-wing peace movements—and a clarion call to anti-war conservatives of today.
Tyler Cowen recommends the book, though he suggests (by linking to a picture of kimchi) that antiwar conservatives were wrong to question our undeclared, conscript-fought war in Korea. I know, I know, the kimchi part’s a joke.