If you could take a nation wide poll of all types of Americans on who their favorite American general is, I believe that my favorite military/ political leader, Major General Smedley Butler, would probably not even garner one percent of the vote. In fact, I suspect an overwhelming majority of Americans do not even know about his great accomplishments. Here is a brief bio of him taken from Wikipedia:
Smedley Butler was a Major General in the U.S. M.C., an outspoken critic of US military adventurism, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in US history. During his 34 year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France during the first World War. By the end of his career, he had received 16 medals, 5 for heroism; he is one of 19 men to twice receive the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only one to be awarded the Brevet and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions. In 1934, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow FDR. The purported plot would have had Butler leading a mass of armed veterans in a march on Washington D.C. The individuals identified denied the existence of a plot, and the media ridiculed the allegations. The final report of the committee stated that there was evidence that such a plot existed, but no charges were ever filed. The opinions of most historians is that while the planning of the coup was not very advanced, wild schemes were discussed. In his 1935 book War is a Racket, he described the workings of the military-industrial complex and, after retiring from military service, became a popular speaker at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists and church groups in the 1930's.
Smedley Butler on Interventionism (excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933)
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 six percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get one hundred 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 the 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 in three continents.
Libertarians should honor and identify with Smedley Butler for many reasons especially since the War on Terror (just like the Cold War before it) along with the privatization of our National Defense (just like the privatization of our natural resources that resulted in the leeching of our energy independence and financial well being from non-accountable abusers of human rights like Exxon/Mobil) are the same exact kind of racketeering that he stood up to. "Those who do not learn from History are doomed to repeat it, evermore, evermore, evermore..."- this sick condition is a deep cancer even within the Libertarian party; because those who blindly serve the principles of free market philosophy are currently going hand in hand with the selfish, manipulative, powerful exploiters (big money bandits) of the Business of War, the Shock Doctrine Opportunists and the Demican/ Republicat tyranny of the Electoral College.
Smedley's ghost visited me last night and compelled me to champion new, added missions on top of helping to inspire the end to the Electoral College (step one) and then the call for a mass boycott of all the warmongers for president (step two). Here are Smedley's requests: revoke all corporate charters for warprofiteers (step three); nationalize all American energy resources (step four); demand renewable energy programs (step five); revoke all corporate charters for the American companies that have traded with our enemies and then hold those immoral individuals as collaborators and/or traitors (step six); demand a worthwhile national defense system based on "boots on the ground" for our borders (step seven); a conversion of some of our Navy's resources into the Coast Guard (step eight); total nuclear disarmament (step nine); a fair and uncomplicated tax system (step ten); a stronger regulatory system for the polluters (step eleven) and the end of the privatizing of essential resources like water (step twelve). When I started to complain about such a difficult list, he reminded me that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step" and that once our Herkulean labors are accomplished We The People will be enslaved nevermore, nevermore, nevermore...
May 11, 2012