War and Money: One General's View of the Military and Capitalism

Major General Smedley Butler, former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps gives his view of the U.S. military and the reason money is at the root of war.
By Major General Smedley Butler
September/October 1971
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The following is an excerpt of a speech from GIDRA, a California Asian paper, 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 we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns six percent over here, then it bets 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 than 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 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 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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