Ain’t My America

by on April 20, 2008 at 8:05 am in Books | Permalink

The author is Bill Kauffman and the subtitle is The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism.  Here is one excerpt:

Above all, they feared empire, whose properties were enumerated well by the doubly pen-named Garet Garrett: novelist, exponent of free enterprise and individualism, and a once-reliable if unspectacular stable horse for the Saturday Evening Post.  Writing in 1953, he set down a quintet of imperial requisites.

1. The executive power of the government shall be dominant.

2. Domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign policy.

3. Ascendancy of the military mind to such a point at last that the civilian mind is intimidated.

4. A system of satellite nations.

5. A complex of vaunting and fear.

He could have listed this too.  In my view this book goes wrong by failing to consider that the right-wing, anti-militarist tradition was wrong on some pretty critical cases.  Nonetheless if you are looking for a well-informed, well-written, and up-to-date book on that tradition, consider this your go-to source.

1 Bob Murphy April 20, 2008 at 10:52 am

In my view this book goes wrong by failing to consider that the right-wing, anti-militarist tradition was wrong on some pretty critical cases.

I was expecting a link to a picture of Auschwitz or something, and was utterly baffled.

I’m assuming I don’t get a joke. Can someone explain?

2 MarkJ April 20, 2008 at 11:27 am

Some casual observations. I’ll have to read the book, but it’s obvious that when Garet Garrett penned his “imperial requisites” in 1953:

1. There were no nuke-tipped ICBM’s.

2. Therefore, we could still pretty much count on two oceans protecting this country.

3. The notion of our having to deal with a fanatical, suicidal, homicidal death cult slithering out of 7th Century backwaters like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan was nothing short of laughable.

4. The only other “great powers” worthy of the name in 1953 were Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. One of them is now history, and the pretty much the only thing that keeps the UK, La Belle France, or post-Soviet Russia now “great” is that they’ve still got nukes.

5. There was no irredentist “undocumented alien” problem in 1953.

6. China had no force projection beyond its immediate borders (e.g., northern Korea).

I invite your additions to this list.

3 Jacob Oost April 20, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Well, as somebody who is against the imperialist annexations of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. and the continued occupations of Germany, Japan, etc. yet who supports the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq where do I fit in?

And MarkJ makes good points, and some reasons why I adhere to Milton Friedman’s style of solving many problems: weighing up pros and cons and making decisions relevant to the here and now rather than making maxims to be followed for all time.

4 TGGP April 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm

MarkJ, there is still no real threat from ICBMs and backward Muslims should be laughed at rather than feared.

Jacob Oost, asking where you fit in while mentioning you supported the Iraq war at this point is not going to get a very positive response.

How was Korea “pretty critical”?

5 Jacob Oost April 20, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Should all rules be stuck to religiously though? I for one do not think so, Rule X may not apply in Situation Z, even if it applied in Situation A, Situation B, Situation C, etc.

TGGP, I know the hip libertarian thing to do is oppose the war, but I cautiously supported the invasion then and I still do, though I have problems with a lot of what followed. I do not regard the high death rates as an inevitable outcome of the war. If you recall, the actual war went smoothly, it was the occupation that was hell in a hand bag.

I do not disagree with fighting the Axis Powers in WW2, but I do disagree with the draft, segregation, the use of nuclear weapons on civilians, etc. Not every war is one entire huge issue you must categorically support or oppose.

6 Tom April 21, 2008 at 10:12 am

“3. Fanatics such as the ones who struck on 9/11 are not a threat to the entire country and never will be.
They can do damage, including mass murder, but so can a nut with a gun on a college campus or a mall. Are “gun nuts” a threat to the Republic?”

Name a gun nut who has killed 3000 people, please.

I think fanatics are going to be increasingly dangerous.
Technology has made very bad bio weapons more easily made and deployed.

7 David R. Henderson April 21, 2008 at 4:53 pm

I’ve been waiting for over a day, but I guess Tyler’s never going to tell us what Kauffman got wrong on that “critical case” of kimchee. What is Kauffman’s position on kimchee, anyway? I couldn’t find it in Kauffman’s index?

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