Smedley Butler on Interventionism
-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley
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"
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.