Major General Smedley Butler was, at the time of his death in 1940, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. In 1934 Butler testified before the Congressional McCormack-Dickstein Committee, claiming that the American Liberty League was the primary means of funding a plot to overthrow FDR. The main backers were supposedly the Du Pont family, as well as leaders of U.S. Steel, General Motors, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank, and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. A July 2007 BBC documentary claims Prescott Bush, father and grandfather to the 41st and 43rd US Presidents respectively, was also connected to the plot. Is it any wonder then, that the current President Bush has done so much to further the military-industrial complex?But General Butler was better known at the time for his anti-interventionist book, War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America’s Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It.
I just recently came across a speech General Butler gave in 1933 in which he said, in part-
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.
While the sentiment is not exactly startling to me today, the fact that even military men have been openly declaring such thoughts for more than 35 years now came as a bit of a shock. How is it that I am constantly surprised at the lengths American’s will go to bury their heads in the sand. More than 200 years ago, another General, George Washington, warned against against political factions and foreign alliances in his farewell address. Less than 50 years ago, yet another General and outgoing President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, made the term “military-industrial” complex famous-
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
A few days ago none other than Rolling Stone came out with an article warning of the same thing-
Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush’s war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity — to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.
Despite their poor use of the phrase “a fully privatized American government” (they later make some great points about the funds actually being taken from the lowly taxpayers) is there any chance that American’s will finally listen? I mean, this story was found within the same covers as such hard hitting expose’s as the members of Maroon 5’s heated battle over where their second album, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, should fall in the sonic spectrum between polished R&B and the chaos of energetic rock and the compelling details of M.I.A.’s childhood crackhead neighbors. Even the most addled American has to take notice now, don’t they?