The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, on war: words for our times

with 10 comments

Smedley Butler, USMCSmedley Butler was one of the very few Americans awarded the Medal of Honor twice. In the first half of the 20th century, he was the most decorated Marine alive – and is possibly the most honored Marine of all time.

He wrote a short book about war some years after his retirement. You can read the entire short book online here (this link’s at the bottom of the page, also). And just below is an excerpt from a speech he gave in 1933.

This is one of the truly important documents about the motives of warfare in American history. I hope you’ll ponder and save these words.

Smedley Butler on Interventionism

— Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

Medal of Honor 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. …

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 … 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.

Read, as he details his case, here.

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Written by Monte

February 13, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Politics, Terrorism

10 Responses

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  1. It sounds as if General Butler was unable to separate war and economics in his work. They go hand in hand and every nation from the earliest pages of history has brought an economic impact to the nations it conquered. Sometimes the conquered nation benefited, Japan and Germany certainly did following WWII. Sounds as if the General was ashamed of his work, and maybe he should have given back the two Medals of Honor he won. A soldier cannot pick and choose wars he will fight based on whether the cause is a righteous one or not. A look at the Crusades tell us that many nations and their soldiers were caught up in fervor and reasoning that reflected their nations values at the time, values and reasons that do not make sense today. We call that second guessing. I believe the General did not understand his role nor the times in which he lived. I have a son and a brother who served in the Marine Corps and I have the utmost respect for them and their branch of the service.

    Gerald Hounchell

    March 25, 2011 at 9:46 am

  2. So good to see it coming from a Command level officer.Have passed it around friends since first sight of it 2006.This should have been shoved up a certain females nose prior to getting her Nobility payoff.


    January 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  3. I am “afraid” to think Monte. I am afraid to think that Jews were victimized by the Jews (and other racist creatures of the earth). I am afraid to think that he WWII ensured the American supremacy. I am afraid to think how easily the Nazi Germany dissolved into American hegemony, with the Nazi scientists finishng the “Bomb” for the Americans. I am afraid to think that Hiroshima deaths were an unnecessary price that humanity paid, not to save the world from Japanese imperialism, but to subordinate the humanity to American Imperialism.

    I am afraid to think Monte.

    And I am afraid to question because people who ask questions are branded racis and anti-semetic, or fanatic or what not.

    I think of the Israeli Jews who live under fire
    And I think of the racism within the Jewish community, with the European Jews always being the superior ones

    I am afraid to think that the Jews, and the Russians, and the Polish and the Germans paid HEAVY dues … Holocaust doesn’t weigh only on the German history … it weighs on the hole history of humanity. And I think we have escape goated the Germans too easily, just as we are escape goating the Muslims too easily …

    The holiest of the jewish who occpy Palestine, do not want ANY of these wars … this conflict is winning a few a lot of $$$$$$$s …

    I am afraid to think who …


    February 15, 2007 at 2:36 pm

  4. So, Naj – what are you thinking?


    February 15, 2007 at 12:41 pm

  5. hmmm 1933:
    Eustace Mullins
    “When Hitler had been soundly established, Samuel Untermeyer, a New York Jewish Lawyer, called for war on Germany. The call was made through radio station WABC on 8-7-33. He had just returned from a world conference of Jews at The Hague. In the broadcast, he said he was calling for a “holy war”, and described the Jews as “the aristocrats of the world”.
    This same gentleman was connected with the Foreign Policy Association of New York and the worldwide organisation to move Jews out of Germany, not only into the United States, but to Palestine and other countries. These activities were tied in with the organisation known as the “International Boycott on German Goods”, of which Untermeyer was the head!


    February 15, 2007 at 8:02 am

  6. What an insightful post. The phrase “the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. I used to be of a neo-con nature, but this situation in iraq has really opened my eyes to much. I think that the no-bid contracts for Haliburton were the final straw that broke the camels back. it was such a blatent display of corporate intrests ovetaking the paraded objective.
    Wars to defend our country or defend the bill of rights. Tjhat is another notable statement. Thanks for posting this. Have a blessed day in christ:


    February 14, 2007 at 11:27 am

  7. Yes, homeyra, I hadn’t thought about it in those terms – but there he is after a lifetime of military service in the waning days of outright colonialism – and somehow he sees through it. Must have been a remarkable fellow.


    February 14, 2007 at 9:46 am

  8. Thank you Monte for introducing this incredible story, 1933… amazing.


    February 13, 2007 at 11:31 pm

  9. Thanks, Ann – I dragged it out because I was harangued by a fellow who suggested that people who thought the Iraq war was a waste of lives were non-military – and possibly draft dodgers! So I left this in his comments and decided to post it here, too.
    You’re right, the relevance hasn’t changed since 1933 – and most Americans still believe that American warfare has ever been for good and noble causes.
    If only the truth were commonly known, surely it would be harder for politicians to fool us into sending our kids off to die.
    So here’s one feather’s-weight more to add to cultural knowledge, I guess. Thanks, you’re encouraging!


    February 13, 2007 at 10:15 pm

  10. An excellent read, good to see Smedley Butler featured. His work is as relevant now as it ever was. Its amazing to think it was written in 1933 (War is a racket)


    February 13, 2007 at 7:46 pm

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