Monday, May 25, 2015

War is a Racket

From the SpearheadFiles
Originally Published on December 31, 2009

The following excerpt is from a speech made by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC. Butler joined the Marine Corps when the Spanish American War broke out, earned the Brevette Medal during the Boxer Rebellion in China, saw action in Central America, and in France during World War I, he was promoted to Major General. Smedley Butler served his country for 34 years, yet after he retired after a long career of venerable service, he came to a point where he became publicly outspoken against American armed intervention into the affairs of sovereign nations.

Just about every point he makes in this speech is relevant today. Remember the key points that Butler makes the next time you turn on the boob tube or read in the papers quoting politicians, pundits and their sycophants and useful idiots who repeatedly tell us that our soldiers are in foreign lands to “keep us safe” and to preserve or promote the biggest lie of all: “Democracy!”

Excerpt from Speech delivered in 1933

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. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Evil minds that plot destruction...

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones.

Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the “war to end all wars.” This was the “war to make the world safe for democracy.”

No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a “glorious adventure.”

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month

If you don’t believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran’s hospitals in the United States.

Until 1898 we didn’t own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became “internationally minded.” We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington’s warning about “entangling alliances.”

We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000.

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.

Does anyone really believe that what our troops are doing — in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and anywhere else our government is gearing them up to send them to fight, kill and die — is doing anything different than what Butler described in 1933?

The US is not a “democracy.” We are a corporation, and the military division of this global corporation is simply carrying out hostile takeovers around the world to expand production capacity, acquire cheap labor, and seize capital for their own profit at the expense of our soldiers blood and our nations treasury.

I completely concur with Butler when he stated:

“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.”

It’s time we brought our soldiers home, end this racket, and engage the real enemies of this country…those who continue to wage their subversive cultural, economic, spiritual and demographic war on our home front.

Notable Commentary from the Original Post

JDApostasy December 31, 2009 at 04:39

As a Marine, Smedley Butler is one of my personal heroes. I wrote a post on my own blog about Marine Corps ethics and touched briefly on Butler – who is one of only nineteen people to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor twice. He was also warning about the ‘military industrial complex’ long before Eisenhower would give his famous speech (though I don’t think he used the same terminology). Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to see this post on the Spearhead today. Kudos!

djc December 31, 2009 at 04:47

I have absolute zero trust in the US Gov’t. And voting is meaningless. You just replace one bought and paid for racketeer with another. The events of just the last five years have convinced me that the President, and Congress, are taking orders from somebody else. They have completely ignored what the majority of the American people want, and have robbed our treasury. Stick a fork in US. We’re done.

Migu December 31, 2009 at 05:24

Vote? Hahahahahahahahah. The delusian of voting. If I vote I consent, I don’t consent so I don’t vote. Now if only about 20% of us quitnpaying taxes. Starve the beast it is the only way it ever dies.

December 31, 2009 at 06:37

Major General Smedley Butler is one of only 19 people to have received the Medal of Honor twice.

I completely agree with this post.

War is especially important for men because it has always been men & boys who have been used as cannon fodder for the elite.

Our media & movies try to glorify war but ask people who have served in combat & most of them describe what a horror it was. I have had two uncles serve in Vietnam, one of them was killed there at age 21. The other one who survived still has nightmares to this day about what he saw over there & lost all trust in gov’t when it came out that the Gulf of Tonkin incident which LBJ used to sharply escalate the war NEVER happened. After 9/11 all he said was “watch the gov’t lie their way into more wars using this excuse” and he turned out to be absolutely right.

By the way the most pro war types very often are chickenhawks who dodged service when it was their time. To give an example John Bolton had this to say:

Though Bolton supported the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard, but did not serve in Vietnam. He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.”

This is the same guy who today gets on Fox news saying that US needs to bomb Iran, invade Somalia etc. He was also a cheerleader for the Iraq war.

Expatriate December 31, 2009 at 06:51

The robbery of Iraqis & Americans only benefits a few of the elite like those who own KBR, Blackwater etc.

For ordinary Americans the wars are actually a net drain on our economy & make us more indebted to the Chinese.

The military’s job is not travelling the world & spreading “democracy” or whatever bullshit they are telling the sheeple now but to defend the US. That was what the founders wanted & envisioned. This country was intended to be a constitutional republic not an empire. Spraying napalm & agent orange on the Vietnamese people was not about defending America, hell this degenerate gov’t refused to even acknowledge the effects of Agent Orange on our own veterans for a long time.

Remember the domino theory crap, ya well we left & I didn’t see the whole of Asia become communist as predicted and today Vietnam is a trading partner of the US.

Jabherwochie December 31, 2009 at 07:18

If you take this article at heart, which I do, then you understand why I say tax the top 1% to pay off our national debt. It’s really not our debt. It’s their debt. They are the puppet masters who drove us down this road. I’m sorry for those in the top 1% who didn’t do anything wrong, but by their complacency or willful ignorance, they allow it to happen.

Trickle down economics is true enough if you focus on the “trickle” part, but money “flows” to the top, and down right “gushes” there in times of prosperity. I hate handouts, welfare, etc., but real household income, inflation adjusted, has been stagnant since 1973, while productivity has soared a great deal more than 30%. It’s time the middle class stops paying for the elite’s wars, protective bureaucracies, and corporate welfare.

NO more tax loopholes, off-shoring of assets, legal advantages, and false sense of earned entitlement by the rich. Plenty of rich people deserve to be rich. Just as many inherited it, got lucky, or knew the right people. But the top 1% pays 40% or our taxes, you say! Think about that you idiot. That's because they control well over 40% of the wealth. Someone with 10’s of millions of dollars can do without the third home and second yacht, at least right now, when our country is about to go bankrupt.

Time to pay your fair share. Instead of donating 10k to a politician to insure your 10k tax break, instead of donating 10k to a charity and then just write that off as a tax break, instead of paying an accountant 10k to save 10k in taxes, why don’t you just donate that 30k to help pay off our debt, thereby help everyone, not just people who will kiss your ass for doing so. Once the books are even, you can start to screw over the middle class again, but come on, we’re on the fucking edge of a financial cliff, and what do we do? Raise taxes on those who can afford it? No. We go into more debt to bail out rich bankers and corporate giants! Who watches the watchmen? It apparently isn’t the middle class. I’m telling you! I’m not nuts! Class warfare. It’s inherently capitalistic. Its just fighting for what you think you deserve.

How do we know what we are worth, until we demand what we are worth? Is it wrong to ask your boss for a pay raise? Then why is it wrong to ask the rich to pay more taxes? Those taxes pay cops to protect the rich people’s gated communities first and foremost, and I’ve seen it first hand, while those same cops look to nickle and dime me through driving violations and busting me for weed. You think a burglary in the hood gets adequately investigated. I’ve seen a burglary in a golf course neighborhood get a response that makes shows like CSI look like a bunch of light weight amateurs. Almost a dozen cops?! Really, almost a dozen cops because your plasma screen got stolen! I’m sure your buddy next to you who owns the local Best-Buy and will give you another discount. How many people around here know rich people and have seen the willing and dealing that goes on. It’s like celebrities getting free clothes, drinks and gadgets all the time. It makes me sick. I’ve even skimmed the cream off the milk of those cash cows a few times myself, and I have nothing to offer in return other than my sparkling personality, I can’t imagine the extent of what they do for each other behind closed doors.

Charles Martel December 31, 2009 at 09:49

The full text of “War Is A Racket” can be downloaded at several web sites. Here is one.

Every father should give this to his teenage son.

After I served in South Armagh I visited the hospital bed of a friend of mine who was, like me, a paratrooper and Platoon Commander. He had suffered 60% third degree burns. Almost enough to kill him, but not quite, but enough to burn off all his facial features including his ears, lips, nose and eyelids. This guy had been better than me in all respects. Better looking, a better athlete, better with women, a better person, a better soldier. War is pointless random violence.

Sh0t December 31, 2009 at 11:46

Smedley was right.

They never told us in boot camp or OCS that one of our Marine demi-gods felt this way. When I found out years later, I was quite shocked.

They still won’t listen Smedley.

Joseph December 31, 2009 at 11:50

To All:

Simple point. We are not a Democracy, we are a Constitutional Republic. A democracy is two wolves and a sheep arguing over what’s for dinner. In the Constitutional Republic, the sheep gets a gun!

Dat_Truth_Hurts December 31, 2009 at 11:57

You might as well curse the sun for being bright. War is tied to civilization, and has been lamented since we could articulate the hypocrisy of the venture. Look at the quotes on war through history/ “War is old men talking and young men dying”. War is about treasure.

It is an ugly reality that must be accepted, just as the impending collapse of any empire that sheds the roots of success. America has thrown away its libertarian Christian roots, and allowed the unworthy to vote. Women, people who pay no taxes: they all vote.

Now we fight wars of waste with new, wonderful technology – we have the technology to win any war, we just do not have the stomach. We shouldn’t be losing one more man in Afghanistan; Afghanistan should have been turned into a parking lot decades ago.

Jabherwochie December 31, 2009 at 12:10

This is from


Below are Jesus’ words. Jesus never advocated any form of violence or dominance. Instead, He commanded us to love, show mercy, and to forgive others. It is inconceivable that Jesus would support war. (Sermon on the Mount Analysis)

Non Violence: Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Matt 26:52.

Meek, Merciful, and Peacemakers: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth… Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy… Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matt 5:5-9.

Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us: Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven…” Matt 18:21-22

Love your Enemies: But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. Luke 6:27-32


I’m not saying I agree. I’m no pacifist. But Jesus was a sly cat, and he wasn’t going to give an inch to some sociopath so they could stretch it into a mile, and I can’t help but think of his words when I think of neo-con aggression, and the fact that Cheney put biblical quotes on the front of Bush’s daily intelligence briefings.

Pax-America? Not anymore. It’s time for Fortress-America. Isolation for now. I’m pro big-military as a deterrent and last resort, but a deterrent is pointless if its wielded about sloppily and ineffectually. People stop taking us seriously if we reveal the cards in our hands and show our weaknesses. If it needs to happen? I’d follow the Powell doctrine, primed and finished off with Sun-Tzu like tactics and stratagems.

Sugar December 31, 2009 at 15:40

Major General Smedley Butler, I salute you!

Red December 31, 2009 at 15:47

I have an issue with WW2. We fought it to stop Hitler from enslaving Europe and killing a ton of people. So we won and instead Stalin enslaved Europe and half of Asia and killed a ton of people. We then had to fight a 40 year cold war that came close to getting us wiped out (See Cuban missile crises). What exactly was the point of WW2?


Carlos said...

This documentary is related material as to why WWI and WWII were fought.

Brian said...

G. Edward Griffin outlines this in something he calls the Rothschild Formula:

Anonymous said...

Can't really agree that war is mostly about money and is driven by war profiteers these days. I think that the Republicans and W. wanted war mostly to take their supporters minds off the fact that he had no real domestic agenda, that he was basically glad to go along with their political opponents to the detriment of those supporters. Business enters into it only to the degree that the Republican/Conservative elite don't care about anything else. There's no money in bucking the media and the Social Justice Warriors, so they're not going to bother with that, but they have to keep their not-so-bright voters from realizing it. What better way than a foreign enemy? It's classic. It's also a last-ditch desperate effort that is bound to fail in the not-so-long run.

Have you noticed that the Republicans have nothing to say about the Trayvon/Ferguson/Baltimore circus that's been dominating headlines for the last three years or so? Full scale riots, arson, looting, cops being shot, hate crimes being committed and the only Republican I've heard make any comment was Rand Paul and what he had to say was mostly PC boilerplate. What's important here is not what they believe but the fact that they don't dare comment. You cam bet that if they were forced to comment what would come out from most would be PC or some blather about "enterprise zones", nothing controversial. They constantly triangulate between their interests, subserviently placating the liberal establishment, and conning their followers. It's mainly the result of a quasi-totalitarian media. With no real domestic agenda to sell they sell patriotism against Johnny Foreigner instead. Last refuge and all that. And as the ultimate ironic proof of this cynical reality they invite millions of the Muslims they're fighting overseas to colonize America. Give their followers patriotic wars and prove to the establishment they're not racist. Triangulation.

Jace said...

Yup. People always say how war is about religion yada yada. It has never been about religion its always about money. Money is ALL!

Brett Stevens said...

War is a racket because politics is a racket. There are good wars, and there are some wars that happen for some good reasons and some bad ones. I think Vietnam was on the whole a noble war with a noble goal, to stop Sino-Soviet expansion in the near East. Iraq was a similar war: spank down the sponsors of terrorism and make all Islamic extremists cower in caves while Hellfire missiles blow up their camels. The problem is that our political system is corrupt because democracy is always corrupt. Good blog. Glad I found it.