Saturday, April 15, 2006

The more things change...

My friend, Brian, showed me this speech from 1933, and it blew me away. It could have been written today.

Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 20, 1940), A Major General in the US Marine Corps and, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in US history. Butler was awarded the Medal of Honor twice during his career, one of only 19 people to be so decorated. He was noted for his outspoken non-interventionist views and his book War is a Racket, one of the first works describing the military-industrial complex.

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.


Jim Marquis said...

Wow, what an amazing speech. I especially like where he talks about the finger men, muscle men and brain men.

Damien said...

Great extract lizzy, heck all the Generals were asking for is competent civilian leadership here, bye bye Rummy.

Snave said...

Wow... that is really great. And to think it was 73 years ago he said those things...

Recently I copied a speech by one of the Nazis, Goebbels I believe, into a Word document and used the editing function to substitute a few names of current U.S. leaders, countries currently in the news, etc. and the result was startling. I don't want to post it at my blog, as it might be considered too inflammatory by too many people... but if you'd like to read it, e-mail me at and I'll send it to you.

Tom Harper said...

Interesting post. This certainly could have been written today. I read somewhere that Smedley Butler (did I get his name right) was approached by a Wall Street gang to carry out a coup against FDR. He refused, and he reported it to Congress but nobody believed him. I don't know if that's true or not, but I wouldn't doubt it.

Angela K. Crandall said...

I really like your blog! I am sooo upset with everything bush has down to us! Please vist my blog at