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War is just a racket

War is just a racket

[The following is an excerpt of a speech
delivered in 1933 by Major General
Smedley Butler, former Commandant of
the United States Marine Corps.]

“War is just a racket. A racket is best
described, I believe, as something that is
not what it seems to the majority of the
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 in nothing else. If a nation
comes over here to fight, then well, fight.
The trouble with America is that when
the dollar only earns six 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 defend some lousy investment of the
bankers. There are only two things that
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
our country’s most agile military force -the Marine Corps. I served in all
commissioned ranks from a Second
Lieutenant to Major General. And, during
that period, I spent most of my time
being a high-class muscleman 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 a part of a racket
at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all
members of the military profession, I
never had an original thought until I left
the service. My mental facilities
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. I brought light to
the Dominican Republic for American
sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped
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.
I was rewarded with honors, medals and
promotions. Looking back on it I feel that
I might 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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