Book Forum

Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle‐​American Anti‐​Imperialism

(Henry Holt, 2008)

May 8, 2008 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM EDT


Featuring the author Bill Kauffman, with comments by Michael Tomasky, Editor, Guardian America. Moderated by David Boaz, Cato Institute.

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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. But Michael Tomasky, the former executive editor of the American Prospect who now edits the Guardian newspaper’s American online edition, begs to differ.