U.S.M.C. Major General Smedley Butler

On War and Interventionism

by Stan Moore

Dissident Voice

June 2, 2003


There is nothing new under the sun.  Wars have been fought from time immemorial, and more often than not, for reasons other than those stated by the kings, and emperors and presidents who fight them.  The United States has engaged in wars and "military actions" for many years, including many in Latin America.  While the public has been told these wars were to protect "freedom" and "democracy", the truth is that these wars have often been fought to protect the profits and interests of American corporations.  And often America's wars have stymied democracy and freedom of local peoples in order for U.S. corporations to dominate the natural resource extraction of foreign resources.  Often these wars have resulted in massacres of indigenous peoples, impoverishment, displacement and denial of basic human rights for the benefit of America's wealthy elite.


Major General Smedley Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps had an illustrious career in the early years of the twentieth century.  He fought in a number of those campaigns.  He won, not one, but two Congressional Medals of Honor for combat heroism.  Major General Butler was a real warrior.  During his military career, he followed orders, he did his job, and he did not question why he was called on to fight in those wars.


But after his retirement from the Marines, Major General Smedley Butler had more opportunity to give serious thought to his career and to the proper role of the military in U.S. affairs.  He wrote an essay, which is copied below, and is well worth considering, because the issues involved, of U.S. military use in furtherance of corporate issues are very much alive today. 


The U.S. government is now seeking, even more than ever, to dominate the world by use of the American military for the purposes of America's strategic (corporate) interests, as revealed by policy papers written by key members of the Bush administration under the Project of the New American Century, and other policy advisory groups.


Note the words of two-time Congressional Medal of Honor Award winner Major General Smedley Butler:



Smedley Butler on Interventionism

Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933

by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.


"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."



Stan Moore lives in San Geronimo, CA., and can be contacted at: hawkman11@hotmail.com



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