Posts tagged Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler
Harvard and Columbia Ph.D. Tom Woods is as clear, concise and conscientious as ever in this brilliant critique.
His LibertyClassroom.com is a marquee source to discover the true roots of economic prosperity and history that strikes fear into the heart of every statist and allows the free spirit of man to create a far better society than any government could dream.
Twenty years ago, as I was completing my freshman year in college, I was a full-blown neoconservative. Except I didn’t know it. Having concluded that I was not a leftist, I simply decided by process of elimination that I must be a Rush Limbaughian.
Like most people, I was unaware that any alternative to those two choices existed, or that in some ways they were two sides of a common statist coin. In particular, I embraced a neoconservative foreign policy with gusto. The way to show you weren’t a commie was by supporting the U.S. military as it doled out summary justice to bad guys all over the world. And frankly, it was exciting to watch it all unfold on TV.
I never gave the human cost of war a second thought and became impatient with anyone who did. War was like a video game I could enjoy from the comfort of my home. Devastation and human suffering were quite beside the point: the righteous U.S. government was dispensing justice to the wicked, and that was that. What are you, a liberal?
The Persian Gulf War of 1991 was the first U.S. conflict of my college career. During the months-long U.S. military buildup in the Gulf known as Operation Desert Shield I eagerly promoted the mission to anyone foolish enough to listen.
When war came, it was swift and decisive. Very few American casualties were suffered, while the Iraqi forces were destroyed. Some 100,000 were burned alive by a chemical agent or buried alive in the desert while making a retreat.
Believe it or not, that actually bothered me, in spite of how voracious a consumer of war propaganda I was. No one defended Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, which he launched in response to that country’s slant oil drilling, but was the outcome of the Persian Gulf War not a terrible tragedy for the Iraqi people – virtually none of whom had had anything to do with Saddam Hussein’s fateful decision – all the same? A far poorer country than ours suddenly had a lot more widows and orphans, not to mention a great many civilian deaths to grieve over and much destruction to repair.
Major General Smedley Butler USMC is among histories most decorated soldiers and officers; he once reflected on his experience as a military man and listed the beneficiaries of his actions. You might be surprised:
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I helped make Mexico and 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 benefit of Wall Street.
I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.
Looking back on it, I might 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.”
Maj. General Butler later wrote War Is a Racket and detailed the powerful financial interests that steer us towards war for their benefit, not the American people’s.
Although I have profound and limitless respect for our armed forces; and it is incredible to imagine The United States as the Christian saviors of the world it is a logistical impossibility that almost always comes with more problems than benefits long term. Everything I need to know on this topic I learned from Mickey Mouse and his tragic apprenticeship (hint: our arrogance creates monsters we can’t control).
Beyond the horrific reality of war and the cost to our youth’s humanity, mental health and quality of life outside of battle back in the real world; war is an economically devastating event. Prices on common goods like leather, steel and kevlar are increased exponentially, invoices are fudged, defense contractors rake Uncle Sam’s credit card through fire and much more en route to incredible profits for “defense” contractors and mile-high debts for American taxpayers. Not to mention the true lotto winners: the financiers who often finance both sides of a conflict and bankroll entire nation’s war chests.
Although we’re often told that WW2 got us out of the depression imagine what our economy would have been like with the resources spent in war being driven into socially useful goods, businesses and bank accounts.
For an infalliably precise perspective on this check out Austrian (in philosophy, not birth) economist Robert Murphy’s brilliant article on WW2 and our exit from The Depression here.
As Marine Major General Smedley Butler said, “War is a racket!” This same sentiment was echoed by President Eisenhower in his farwell address to America regarding the military-industrial complex, the corporations that run it, and the incredible risk to The American Way that it poses.
If we seek to return to prosperity, peace and passionate pride we must redefine what it means to be a “good American.”
Here’s the article about our involvement in Lybia continuing indefinitely, arg.