Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

From a speech given by Major General Smedley Butler:

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism. It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

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Smedley Butler is a very interesting person with many, many interesting things to say.  What he says above, when applied in the context of just about every conflict we have been involved in since this speech was made, paints a grim and stark picture of what the American people have allowed to happen, versus what they believe they have allowed to happen.  Even worse, it is almost impossible to “unteach” generations of educations about what we have done while overseas fighting the commies/insurgents/guerillas/dragons.

What really tends to frustrate is the realization that there have been so many of our own sons, daughters, fathers, etc that have either died or been permanently effected.  They had this happen while conducting life threatening work in the name of the United States of America.  Were they to know what it was that they were putting their lives on the line for, would they have still served?  I would guess that in most cases the answer is yes.   For our best and bravest are most often duty driven, and it is this trait that drives my unflinching love and respect for our soldiers.  And because of this love and respect, the topic of Major General Butlers speech just angers me that much more.

Be it opium in Afghanistan and Laos, oil in Iraq, trade routes in Panama, or cocaine in Colombia, we have always had our troops in the areas surrounding the most lucrative resources known to mankind, providing protection for “US Interests”.

Does this mean that we pull troops out?  Well, as is obvious, that is complicated.  We made a mess and have a duty to help clean it up.  But we likely aren’t doing that (and if we are, we suck equally bad at the war on drugs in Afghanistan as in the US and Mexico) at high levels.  No, we cannot just pull out.  We have to “fix” it, whatever that means.

What we CAN do is remember this.  Remember the words of men like Maj. Gen. Butler.  The next time the drums of war are beaten, remember that any war against someone who is not an aggressor is an unjust war.

For more information on Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, here is his Wiki.  A brief excerpt, highlighting his decorations and achievements:

Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed “The Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye”, was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America during the Banana Wars, the Caribbean and during World War I, he served in France. By the end of his career he had received 16 medals, five of which were for heroism. He is one of 19 people to twice receive the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.


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