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Retired Major General Smedley D. Butler of the U.S. Marine Core (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) has been one of the many retired U.S. military officers to be critical of how our country uses its armed services overseas.  

In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. . . . 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 in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. . . Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. So, I say, To hell with war! --Wikipedia
However, what makes him unique is that he was probably the first to do so very publicly and devote most of the later years of his life to trying to reform our foreign policy.  He was also the most decorated Marine in the history of our country at the peak of popularity as a reformer and brutally honest about what he felt.

General Smedley Butler portrayed

To the right is actor Bart Haggin's portrayal of General Smedley Butler.  Please re-post and provide a link in credit to either EWPolitics.org or Eastern Washington Voters for the video. Below is an approximate transcript.  

It should be noted that General Smedley Butler was no pacifist.  He believed in protecting our boarders.  He simple realized that our government was not using our military to protect U.S. citizens.  It was used to pacify (i.e., threaten and murder) people around the globe so that U.S. owned businesses could conduct their trade at great profit to themselves but even greater cost to countries and territories they invaded.  

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.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. 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 (where have I heard that name before?). 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.

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. 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. So, I say, To hell with war!

Originally posted to bryanb on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 05:39 PM PST.

Also republished by DKos Military Veterans, Military Community Members of Daily Kos, and Group W: Resisting War.

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