Who is Smedley Butler?
a.k.a: The Fighting Quaker, Old Gimlet Eye and Old Duckboard
lived: July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940
served: 34 years in USMC
awarded: Navy Medal of Honor
Navy Medal of Honor
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Major General Smedley Darlington Butler was the most decorated US Marine at the time of his death. Realizing wars are fought for corporate interests, Butler became a critic of US war profiteering. He gave speeches in hopes of saving young military men’s lives. He ultimately wrote a book, ‘War is a Racket’, where he explained, through his military experience, the truth about war and the consequences of fighting them.
Who is Smedley Butler? A HERO DEFINED
‘War is a Racket’ was a speech written and given by Butler. It’s success led him to write a longer, 14 page, booklet with the same name.
Excerpts from Butler’s speech, ‘War is a Racket’, given in 1933…
“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. 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…”
– Smedley Butler, 1933
Excerpts from Butler’s 14 page booklet, ‘War is a Racket’…
War Is A Racket
WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the 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 very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.’
Who Pays The Bills?
…In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn’t join the army.
So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our side . . . it is His will that the Germans be killed.
And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the allies . . . to please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.
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.”
– Smedley Butler, 1935
Butler supported the men of the Bonus Army and on July 19, 1932, Retired Major General Butler spoke to the WWI Veterans at the Anacostia Camp where they were waiting for politicians to decide if they would get their ‘bonus’ pay.
More interesting stuff…
Smedley Butler speaks about US politics at Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, September 25, 1935
‘Get All Americans out of China, says General Butler’, September 2, 1937
Snippet from Smedley Butler’s speech, ‘War is a Racket’
“There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.”
– Smedley Butler
“We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.”
– Smedley Butler
“Why don’t those damned oil companies fly their own flags on their personal property — maybe a flag with a gas pump on it.”
– Smedley Butler
“How many of these war millionaires shoulder a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dugout? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?”
– Smedley Butler