We Must Take the Profit Out of War
The Wisdom of Smedley Butler
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.
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 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.
Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three CONTINENTS.
No one told these American soldiers 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 US patents.
If only more of today's military personnel would realize that they are being used by the owning elite's as a publicly subsidized capitalist goon squad.
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 normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits - ah! that is another matter - twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent - the sky is the limit.
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.
Why don't those damn oil companies fly their own flags on their personal property-maybe a flag with a gas pump on it.
The war (WWI) cost your Uncle Sam $52 billion. $39 billion was expended in the actual war period. This expenditure yielded $16 billion in profits.
War is a racket. It always has been... A few profit - and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.
We must take the profit out of war.
- Smedley Butler