By Major General Smedley D. Butler
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Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler later became an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences. He also exposed an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.

By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (along with Wendell Neville and David Porter) and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations, but a final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler’s testimony.

In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.

2 thoughts on “WAR IS A RACKET”

  1. America is the only nation since its independence that has conduct more wars than any other nation. There has hardly been periods of peace in its chequered history.

    War is big business for multinational corporations. Trillions of dollars has been invested in ensuring a pro American global order. But American war projections and global political dominion is slowly being erased. Countries are looking for partnerships and they are finding it in China.

    The war in Afghanistan was a $2 trillion experiment. Men hiding in caves targeted by black hawks. Afghanistan is a mountainous region governed by a network of tribes. They fought an ideological war and 20 years later the Taliban has once again occupied the seat of power. The players are coming out with China and Pakistan supporting the Taliban.

    The chief export of a Taliban government will be heroine and terrorism. Anyone who can chop off the hands of their citizens, rape young girls, stone to death those taken in adultery, implement the Sharia laws, certainly cannot take their nation forward into civility.

  2. One aspect of war that keeps repeating itself, we see it in the Vietnam War, in the fall of Saigon and the Taliban conquest of Afghanistan, is the misinformation that is fed to the people of the occupying armies and to the world. If truth is the first casualty of war, then this proves it beyond doubt. In Vietnam and in Afghanistan, the people are told constantly how much the occupying armies are loved and held up in such high regard (in Vietnam for their courageous stand against Communism, in Afghanistan for their struggle to liberate the women of Afghanistan) and are winning the war. “Brandishing a captured Chinese machine gun, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara appeared at a televised news conference in the spring of 1965. The United States had just sent its first combat troops to South Vietnam, and the new push, he boasted, was further wearing down the beleaguered Vietcong. “In the past four and one-half years, the Vietcong, the Communists, have lost 89,000 men,” he said. “You can see the heavy drain.” That was a lie. From confidential reports, McNamara knew the situation was “bad and deteriorating” in the South. “The VC have the initiative,” the information said. “Defeatism is gaining among the rural population, somewhat in the cities, and even among the soldiers.” In 1965 McNamara wrote that even though “the U.S. killed-in-action might be in the vicinity of 500 a month by the end of the year,” the general’s overall strategy was “likely to bring about a success in Vietnam.” By 1967, McNamara was totally disillusioned, “McNamara argued in a 1967 memo to the president that more of the same — more troops, more bombing — would not win the war. In an about-face, he suggested that the United States declare victory and slowly withdraw.” In Afghanistan, the US intelligence appeared to think that with the withdrawal of the US forces, it would take the Taliban at least several months to overrun the country. The speed of the Taliban’s victory surprised almost everybody. From these two inglorious wars, what could have been learned? Firstly the media never seemed to report the casualties of the occupied people. “A 1975 US Senate subcommittee estimated around 1.4 million civilian casualties in South Vietnam because of the war, including 415,000 deaths.” “Not until 1995 did Vietnam release its official estimate of war dead: as many as 2 million civilians” In Afghanistan, the Watson Institute of Brown University estimates that about 241,000 have been killed in the war. In Afghanistan, those 241,000 people who have been killed, did they not have mothers and sisters, female relatives? Did they not grieve for the dead? It seems to me the one thing that should have been learned is that the people of Vietnam and Afghanistan are not really different from the people of America. If an occupying army invades America would not its people rise up and fight the invading army? If their civilian populations are being killed by the hundreds of thousands, would they love and hold in high regard the occupying army? Or would they wait, sometimes in silence, for the chance to see some liberator, whoever he or she may be, to get rid of the occupiers? Maybe the lesson is that people are the same everywhere and react the same everywhere. And if that is the case, maybe the peoples of the world should turn towards those institutions (the UN for example) that were in the first case set up to prevent war and to promote dialogue and peace. Perhaps that is the lesson to be learned.

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