War is a Racket
October 20, 2003 7:33 PM   Subscribe

"War is a Racket" Hardly news ? Yeah, but the source isn't your usual tree-hugger-rainbow-peace-hippy-noglobal-yourfavouritedissing pal, but no one less then U.S.M.C. Major General Smedley Darlington Butler two times recipient of the Congress Medal of Honor and the only Officer in the Corps to be awarded CMoH two times.Found it while browsing the net , the complete book ISBN number is 0922915865.
posted by elpapacito (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Butler deserves to be remembered for his role in thwarting an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States.

They wanted General Butler to deliver an ultimatum to Roosevelt. Roosevelt would pretend to become sick and incapacitated from his polio, and allow a newly created cabinet officer, a "Secretary of General Affairs," to run things in his stead. The secretary, of course, would be carrying out the orders of Wall Street. If Roosevelt refused, then General Butler would force him out with an army of 500,000 war veterans from the American Legion.

The plot fell apart when Butler went public.

Yes, conspiracies do happen. And, sometimes, men of integrity are there to stop them.
posted by SPrintF at 8:17 PM on October 20, 2003

I remember seeing that on the History Channel (or A&E). Disaffected veterans used as pawns in the 30s and 40s I guess.
posted by infowar at 8:23 PM on October 20, 2003

Great links elpapacito and SPrintF! I haven't been dumbfounded like that since reading about Operation Northwoods.
posted by ao4047 at 8:43 PM on October 20, 2003

oh, we loves us some smedley butler. him and good ole' dan daly, hoorah!

though...i wonder, who was the first billionaire in america. i thought rockefeller only had a fortune (only, he says) around 400 million. i'm not sure how many billionaires were around world war i.

anyway, fuck yeah, man. THIS is the kind of role model we need anymore.
posted by taumeson at 9:00 PM on October 20, 2003

"smedley, dahlinkton, would you ring the butler?"
posted by quonsar at 10:23 PM on October 20, 2003

My dad, who said of his Army service "I was a political prisoner of Franklin Delano Roosevelt," would no doubt have had an interesting reaction to this. He swore that he got shot at to make Europe safe for Standard Oil.
posted by alumshubby at 10:30 PM on October 20, 2003

Hardly news indeed
posted by y2karl at 1:09 AM on October 21, 2003

Oh, come on. I mean, this guy was writing about the military, like, fifty YEARS ago! It's obvious to anyone with eyes that the steady march of progress and civilization has made our military a fair and balanced servant of the civilians.

Though, I suppose that needs to be qualified by asking which civilians.

Awesome finds, guys. Always good to learn some American history that ain't in the dominant, military-funded, model.

There was a passage from Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow that I wanted to post here, but I've been unable to find it. So here's a different one, of similar (though less dialectical) effect, from the same volume.
And then we spoke of the weather, which had been awfully hot. After that, unable to think of anything more to say, we fell into a silence that was troubled and unwelcome.
Trying to end it, I said finally, "Well, we've had a time," speaking of the weather.
And Mat said, "Yes, we've had a time," speaking of the war.
We spoke in very general terms, then, of the war and other trials of life in this world.
Mat said, "Everything that shakes has got to be shook."
"That's scripture," I said, and he nodded.
Thinking to comfort him, I said, "Well, along with all else, there's goodness and beauty too. I guess that's the mercy of the world."
Mat said, "The mercy of the world is that you don't know what's going to happen."
posted by kaibutsu at 1:13 AM on October 21, 2003

Thanks, SprintF, for your post. I always wondered what, exactly, the American Legion was about. I am sure glad that following the Mussolini Fascist State model on behalf of Big Business was delayed for a good 70 years.
posted by zaelic at 1:42 AM on October 21, 2003

Wow. One man, 60+ years ago, who decried war -- AFTER he was earning a living from same, of course. Quite the condemnation, eh?
posted by davidmsc at 4:24 AM on October 21, 2003

Excellent link, elpapacito. Thanks.
posted by rushmc at 6:15 AM on October 21, 2003

davidmsc: So you would posit that a man can never change his mind, nor attempt to right the wrongs of his past.

Sometimes lucidity can be forged from hardship, pain, and bad experiences. Should we discount all of this insight solely because we do not like the past of the messenger?

I would say that his past is relevant only insamuch as it is proof he has been there and knows of what he speaks, I would not say it de facto prohibits him from ever coming out against war.
posted by jester69 at 6:50 AM on October 21, 2003

Jester, you missed your opportunity entirely. It is precisely because of his position that he has the authority to speak. That is the point of this entire post, without that fact, there would be no post. Davidmsc's post seems to serve no real purpose, other than to (quite unsuccessfully) deride that point.
posted by PigAlien at 7:26 AM on October 21, 2003

His solution:

everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches -- Butler

Hands please? Anyone? Lets get behind Butler, who's with me.
posted by stbalbach at 7:31 AM on October 21, 2003

AFTER he was earning a living from same, of course.

Ah yes, another one of those multi-millionaire plutocrat military figures we keep hearing about.
posted by badstone at 9:27 AM on October 21, 2003

stbalbach: Well, as the soldier in the trenches makes a good deal more than me...

Failure of communism aside, I think there is great merit in the idea of some kind of individual salary cap. If chosen well, it would mean that no one could sail through life on 'old money,' and thereby miss out on the issues of class and labor that so many of us little people have to deal with but that our esteemed leaders never have to think about. Additionally, if the excess money generated by such a cap is funneled into public ventures, we could have nifty things like free university and health care. The cries of talk radio be damned: beyond some point, one's personal income is in no way personally useful, and can only be used for investment purposes. Would we benefit from a system in which we streamline and refine the current practice of plutocrats funding efforts likely to preserve the plutocracy?
posted by kaibutsu at 10:14 AM on October 21, 2003

I recommend the Max Booth book "Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power". While he is definitely pro-intervention, it is a good insight to Smedley's background and experience.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 10:15 AM on October 21, 2003

kaibutsu: And what, pray tell, would this "individual salary cap" be? $50K for one adult per year? $100K? Or how about $25K - surely that should be enough to cover rent, food, and a bus pass. What about a man with a wife and four kids? Who would determine what the salary cap should be?
posted by davidmsc at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2003

It would have to be a statistically determined thing. What's the average income of an American? Why not make it that?

I'll say this: if I had 25K of untouched money a year, I could live quite well. My heritage is Midwestern Scandinavian, and folks, we wrote the damn book on frugal.
posted by rocketman at 2:12 PM on October 21, 2003

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