Sunday, November 15, 2009

"War is a Racket"

When I was in Marine Corps boot camp, back in 1979, we had classes in Marine Corps history. One of the Marines often mentioned was Major General Smedley Butler. During his 34 year career with the Corps, General Butler was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the French National Order of Merit, the Marine Corps Brevet Medal, Seven campaign medals, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, and TWO Medals of Honor.

What was not mentioned however, was that General Butler, after his retirement, became an outspoken critic of war, especially the wars that he had served in.

In 1935 his book, "War is a Racket" was first published. A section of the book that is often quoted is:

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and 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 benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, 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."

General Butler was a patriot who loved his country, but opposed the interventionism that he had been a party to during his service. He was against men being sacrificed in the interests of big business instead of the interests of the country. He was a frequent spokesman for the American League Against War and Fascism.

While I do not agree with everything that General Butler wrote, specifically his statements that we should not concern ourselves with what is going on in other countries, I do respect his stand against war on principle.

Too often wars are waged in the interests of the few, while the many suffer the consequences.

As a Freemason who believes in the brotherhood of humanity, I find the thought of killing others repugnant. Unless it is absolutely necessary in self-defense, I could not support unleashing such misery on my fellow creatures. War, in my opinion, should always be a last resort.

I would recommend reading his book, which is available free online at the following link:

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