Interventionism

War's Still a Racket

Smedly Butler's lessons from the '30s still relevant today

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From 1898 to 1931, Smedley Darlington Butler was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. By the time he retired he had achieved what was then the corps's highest rank, major general, and by the time he died in 1940, at 58, he had more decorations, including two medals of honor, than any other Marine. During his years in the corps he was sent to the Philippines (at the time of the uprising against the American occupation), China, France (during World War I), Mexico, Central America, and Haiti.

In light of this record Butler presumably shocked a good many people when in 1935 — as a  second world war was looming — he wrote in the magazine Common Sense:

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 [corporatism]. 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.

That same year he published a short book with the now-famous title War Is a Racket, for which he is best known today. Butler opened the book with these words:

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.

He followed this by noting: "For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out."

Butler went on to describe who bears the costs of war — the men who die or return home with wrecked lives, and the taxpayers — and who profits — the companies that sell goods and services to the military. (The term military-industrial complex would not gain prominence until 1961, when Dwight Eisenhower used it in his presidential farewell address. See Nick Turse's book The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives.)

Writing in the mid-1930s, Butler foresaw a U.S. war with Japan to protect trade with China and investments in the Philippines, and declared that it would make no sense to the average American:

We would be all stirred up to hate Japan and go to war — a war that might well cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit — fortunes would be made.  Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers. Bankers.  Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They would fare well.…

But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children?

What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

Noting that "until 1898 [and the Spanish-American War] we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America," he observed that after becoming an expansionist world power, the U.S. government's debt swelled 25 times and "we forgot George Washington's warning about 'entangling alliances.' We went to war. We acquired outside territory."

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people — who do not profit.

Butler detailed the huge profits of companies that sold goods to the government during past wars and interventions and the banks that made money handling the government's bonds.

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. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and 'we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,' but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket — and are safely pocketed.

And who provides these returns? "We all pay them — in taxation.… But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill."

His description of conditions at veterans' hospitals reminded me of what we're hearing today about the dilapidated veterans' health care system. Butler expressed his outrage at how members of the armed forces are essentially tricked into going to war — at a pitiful wage.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars." This was the "war to make the world safe for democracy." No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that 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 United States patents. They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

Butler proposed ways to make war less likely. Unlike others, he had little faith in disarmament conferences and the like. Rather, he suggested three measures: (1) take the profit out of war by conscripting "capital and industry and labor" at $30 a month before soldiers are conscripted; (2) submit the question of entry into a proposed war to a vote only of "those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying"; (3) "make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only."

It's unlikely that these measures would ever be adopted by Congress or signed by a president, and of course conscription is morally objectionable, even if the idea of drafting war profiteers has a certain appeal. But Butler's heart was in the right place. He was aware that his program would not succeed: "I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past."

Yet in 1936 he formalized his opposition to war in his proposed constitutional "Amendment for Peace." It contained three provisions:

  • The removal of the members of the land armed forces from within the continental limits of the United States and the Panama Canal Zone for any cause whatsoever is prohibited.
  • The vessels of the United States Navy, or of the other branches of the armed service, are hereby prohibited from steaming, for any reason whatsoever except on an errand of mercy, more than five hundred miles from our coast.
  • Aircraft of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps is hereby prohibited from flying, for any reason whatsoever, more than seven hundred and fifty miles beyond the coast of the United States.

He elaborated on the amendment and his philosophy of defense in an article in Woman's Home Companion, September 1936.

It's a cliche of course to say, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," but on reading Butler today, who can resist thinking it? As we watch Barack Obama unilaterally and illegally reinsert the U.S. military into the Iraqi disaster it helped cause and sink deeper into the violence in Syria, we might all join in the declaration with which Butler closes his book:

TO HELL WITH WAR!

Postscript: In 1934 Butler publicly claimed he had been approached by a group of businessmen about leading half a million war veterans in a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the aim of establishing a fascist dictatorship. This is known as the "Business Plot." A special committee set up by the U.S. House of Representatives, which heard testimony from Butler and others, reportedly issued a document containing some confirmation. The alleged plot is the subject of at least one book, The Plot to Seize the White House, and many articles.

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

    1. Go, Warriors!
      Go, Warriors!
      Go, go, gonads!
      Rah, Rah, Ree!
      Kick ’em in the Knee!
      Rah, Rah, Rass!
      Kick ’em in the other Knee!

      1. Ya know what else I have to say about Smedley Darlington Butler?
        The Cabin Boy,
        The Cabin Boy,
        The Dirty Little Nipper!
        He lined his ass
        With broken glass
        And circumcised the Skipper!

        Sad to say, the Skipper, undaunted, went on to become President of the USA, which is AKA the Evil Intergalactic Empire now.

        1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCOxG1chTes
          I don’t think there are any Russians
          And there ain’t no Yanks
          Just corporate criminals
          playin’ with tanks

          1. If we are truly patriotic and peace-loving humanoids, we should all do our patriotic duty to persuade young people to chose a profession? any profession, other than warrior. I say that as a former warrior. American military might is being used for purposes that have diddly squat to do with legitimate self-defense. ***ANY*** profession other than warrior, whore for the Mighty Government Almighty! Serve with your Noble Conscience, not with your slutty body! Become an illegal drug-seller instead, even THAT is far better! It sure pays better, for one thing! And you can sleep better at night, knowing that you are merely selling people what they want. I have often heard folks asking for another hit on the bong. I have NEVER heard folks asking for another hit of bombs! BONGS NOT BOMBS, I say!

        2. Another Higgins Boys and Gruber fan!

  2. Hark! I hear a wailing and a gnashing of teeth in the distance! It is coming our way!

    1. Neocon derp incoming…

  3. If only it were this simple.

  4. My ‘Amendments for Peace’ would contain a fourth provision: stop electing fuckheads.

    1. Kinda pie-in-the-sky, that one.

    2. See? This is why we need a bitch scanner.

      We’ll calibrate it for both sexes.

      Hopefully, the constant and non stop alarm going off will drive the fuckheads away.

  5. Sheldon Richman is americansocialist?

    It all makes sense.

    1. No, AmSoc would vomit forth a pile of steaming snark about how American soldiers are stupid fascists in the employ of the Bank of America or something and then yell at Libertarians for controlling the government.

  6. What, no mention of soccer?

  7. Dude seems to know what he is talking about.

    http://www.WentAnon.tk

  8. What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits?

    Zero sum economics. Profits is theft. Businesses steal money and provide nothing of value in exchange. Throw off your chains. you oppressed masses.

    1. You think wealth increases when the government takes money from people and buys bombs with it?

      1. You think wealth increases when the government takes money from people and buys bombs with it?

        It depends on where the bombs are dropped. I can think of several targets that would absolutely guarantee an increase in US wealth if destroyed.

        Unfortunately they tend to target Pakistani weddings instead of members of the US bureaucracy.

        1. Ah yes. Very true.

        2. I like how you had that in two parts. The second part was like a punchline — that I found excellent.

        3. +1 My Big Fat Greek Bombing

    2. It’s all zero sum when money for war, or any government spending really, comes from taxation and/or inflation.

      The profit motivation here is the crony profit. Out of my pockets and into the crony’s pockets.

    3. Dear Lord… Oppression? The ne plus Ultra of oppression are the states that practice the very socialism you are preaching here.

      And, really, like Marx (no, I don’t mean Groucho) much?

      No, profits are NOT theft. Profits are the business man’s payment for bothering. He provides a valuable service. You think you can get along without it? Go ahead.

      Finally, economics is ***NOT*** a zero sum game. If it were no one would play. It wouldn’t be worth the effort. Economic transactions make BOTH parties better off, each exchanging what they value less for what they value more and each being made better off in the process.

  9. “Postscript: In 1934 Butler publicly claimed he had been approached by a group of businessmen about leading half a million war veterans in a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the aim of establishing a fascist dictatorship. This is known as the “Business Plot.” A special committee set up by the U.S. House of Representatives, which heard testimony from Butler and others, reportedly issued a document containing some confirmation. The alleged plot is the subject of at least one book, The Plot to Seize the White House, and many articles.”

    Why bother with a coup? FDR was trying to slowly make that happen on his own.

    1. The New Deal itself and the accompanying showdown with the Supreme Court was a coup. Between the war veterans and FDR, I’d probably side with the veterans.

    2. Correction: “In 1934 Butler publicly claimed he had been approached by a group of businessmen about leading half a million war veterans in a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the aim of establishing a competing fascist dictatorship.”

  10. “Nigerian atheist declared insane and locked up…

    “When Mr. Bala told his family that he had renounced Islam, they took him to a doctor and asked if he was mentally ill, according to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, which has taken up the case. The doctor gave him a clean bill of health, but the family turned to a second doctor, who said his atheism was a side-effect of a personality change.

    “Mr. Bala was admitted to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital on 13 June and has since been held there against his will….

    “But Mr. Bala’s father tells a different story, according to lawyer Muhammad Bello Shehu. “The father was aware that he had stopping praying and going to mosques for a year now. But when he started tweeting about it and going public, that might have endangered his life and his family. So according to the father, the major reason he took him to the hospital was for his own safety.””

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/i…..151033.ece

  11. You think wealth increases when the government takes money from people and buys bombs with it?

    I think there are better ways to make the case against war than “OMG KKKapitalismz!”

    1. I did not see the same argument from those comments as you did. Capitalism involves private entities trading. Government making huge purchases is more like crony capitalism.

      It is exactly what is wrong with America’s current health care system, and has been for decades. Government spending fuels consumption, which causes prices to skyrocket, and it does so irrespective of product quality, which removes corporate incentives to produce quality. It also unwittingly picks winners and losers, which reduces competition and ultimately leaves the private consumer with less choice.

      Not good. And not capitalism. See that spot in the article where Butler (incorrectly) bemoaned the ‘capitalism’ and Reason helped him out by changing it to the more accurate ‘[corporatism]’? Butler was spot on, minus the error in terminology.

  12. These things happened in the past. The result? The Western Roman Empire became the Vatican.

    1. We really got the short end of the stick with that change.

      I’d take a million pissed of Romans clamoring for my blood over one pissy little Old Catholic Woman rapping my knuckles with a ruler.

  13. Every modern war that the US has been involved in was directly caused by munitions merchants, except:
    WWI
    WWII
    Korean War
    Vietnam War
    Cold War
    War on Drugs
    Dessert Storm
    Afghan War
    Iraq II

    Just like every modern war was waged for oil except WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, CW, woD, Dessert Storm, Afghan War & Iraq II.

    1. Dessert Storm

      Most delicious war ever.

      1. +1 Rocky Road

  14. Did Richman just write a 2 page article without the JOOOOS?

    1. Holy shit. You are right.

    2. Normally he sticks to 500 words about the Jooooos.

  15. I reference it in a comment, and up it goes on Reason two weeks later.

    Ha ha.

  16. While it’s true that there are corporations which profit from war, they cannot declare a war. Only government can declare a war.

    Personally I think the “war profiteers” cry is just a way for progtards to pretend that their precious government is blameless of the great evil of war. Obama wouldn’t be doing it except for all the evil merchants of death tricking him.

    1. Wait a minute. I thought Halliburton declared war on Iraq. Didn’t they?

    2. There is some merit to this take.

    3. Depends if those who profit were the ones who lobbied and voted for it. Actually it doesn’t even matter if you profit.

      This is the way I see it: if you lobbied or voted for it and it passes (war or any government action) then you’re complicit in the government’s aggression and theft of other people’s money.

      If you participate only incidentally, like munition makers and contractors who did not lobby or vote for it, then you are not complicit.

    4. It’s not bad to point out all the bad symptoms of bad policy. The important thing is to distinguish symptoms from causes, which Comrade Barry and other Demmunists do a horrible job of.

      Libertarians don’t do enough to talk about these symptoms, like crony capitalism and corporate welfare (these are synonyms anyway). If they did, they would convert a lot more otherwise intelligent liberals people into economic literates and ultimately libertarians.

      Some libertarians have scoffed at me when I make that suggestion. My question in response is, “Do you want non-shitheads to win elections some day? Or do you want libertarianism to be an irrelevant fringe movement forever?”

  17. No doubt war is still a racket.

    Here’s another good one. There are a bunch of folks today who will agree with this and yet ALWAYS lean toward the political party which favors war MUCH MORE….look up the votes in congress over the last 20 years.

    Period.

    1. So is craig one of Mary’s alter egos, or a new wellspring of stupid?

      1. Pretty sure the later.
        Mary can be surprising; craig’s a predictable lefty ignoramus.
        Oh, and a liar besides; ask him about how the EPA conducts cost/benefit analysis. Without quantifiable metrics.

    2. Why just 20 years?

      1. Because cherries must be picked if they are to be eaten.

        1. And for some reason this cunt always seems to think we’re republicans.

          And that we give a shit about republicans.

          And that we vote republican.

          And that we sit around salivating over the thought of our republican god, George W. Bush.

          Man, the more I think about it, maybe craiginmass is a secret republican, trying to edge us over to the right with reverse psychology.

          1. “And for some reason this cunt always seems to think we’re republicans.”

            Plus the idiotic presumption that only rethugs make war.

            1. Plus the idiotic presumption that only rethugs make war.

              Yeah, it’s like he didn’t bother to check out the biggies:

              WWI — Wilson (D)

              WWI — FDR (D)

              Korea — Truman (D)

              Vietnam — Started small with Truman (D), escalated under Kennedy (D) and Johnson (D)

              1. You forgot about the Cold War, which was a Truman project as well. The body count wasn’t as bad as the others, but the cost was astronomical.

              2. Sounds like a lot of us are making excuses for Republicans amid an otherwise legitimate point made about libertarians who pretend the GOP is anything but a bunch of liar commies.

                I don’t see any portion of craiginmass’ comment that indicates he was directing that statement at anyone here. How do any of you know he was not speaking in general?

                I am a libertarian, and I’m not too sensitive to listen to criticism of libertarians. We do have too many people (whether they are you folks or not) who compromise their principles by voting “R” while willingly ignoring the massive un-conservative, not to mention unconstitutional, track record of modern Republicans.

  18. What about when for defense? That’s also considered war? How about the American revolution? “War is bad” is kindergarten logic. Fighting is bad, until someone punches you in the face. War is not inherently good or bad, it just is. And it’s value is based off what’s accomplished or not accomplished.

    1. War is not inherently good or bad, it just is.

      Bullshit. War is inherently bad, it is a great evil. Tyranny is a greater evil, which is why war can sometimes be justified. But it remains a ghastly, nasty, terrible thing.

    2. I recently had an exchange with a coworker who said “I only support war if it’s not fought in our country.” I responded with “i believe that we should only fight wars if they’re in our country.”

      Revolutionary War was fought on our soil. There are no good wars but at least that one was just.

      1. I’m for bombing the ever loving piss out of a country that attacked us on our own soil. I mean really, turn the political centers into huge smoking craters that blast radiation and will be uninhabitable for another 500 years.

        But boots on the ground in other countries? Nah, I’d rather not. Just blast the decision makers into dust and fly home, boys.

        1. I have a rule of thumb regarding war. In no way is it the final word, but the rule is: “If something is worth killing for, then it is something worth dying for.”

          Talk about slippery slopes — just read today’s headlines to see how our superior technology (overwhelming, actually) drives the decisions and demagoguery.

      2. Homework:

        Go look at the cited reasons for fighting the Revolutionary War and compare them to how our current government treats the citizenry.

        1. Amen to this. We had it made in 1775. Per Gary North:

          “I do not celebrate the fourth of July. This goes back to a term paper I wrote in graduate school. It was on colonial taxation in the British North American colonies in 1775. Not counting local taxation, I discovered that the total burden of British imperial taxation was about 1% of national income. It may have been as high as 2.5% in the southern colonies.”

          http://archive.lewrockwell.com…..h1002.html

      3. “I only support war if it’s not fought in our country.”

        I’m trying to wrap my head around this, and I can’t do it. Does it make sense on any level? Did your coworker mean that if enemy ships arrived on our beaches tomorrow, we would hoist the white flag?

    3. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, ? is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

      -John Stuart Mill

  19. I got this book several weeks ago. As the saying goes, what is in it was both original and convincing. Unfortunately, the parts that…
    The claim that wars are fought for economic reasons will surprise someone, I guess. The claims that they are all conspiracies between big X and gov’t presumes a guile far beyond the talents of our gov’t. And his claims of thwarting a putsch are worthy of an Oliver Stone flic.
    AFAICT, it was a trial balloon for this guy’s run at some office or other; amusing in a way. Read it as an artifact of Americana from the time that gave us Huey Long and FDR.

    1. There were concerns about war profiteers beginning in the Civil War, at least. Selling substandard food to the Army, that sort of thing. And WWI generated bad publicity for the Krupps and others. There was one freelance arms dealer (can’t recall his name) who got rich selling arms to (e.g.) Balkan countries by telling Country A that B was buying from him, and then telling B about his sales to A and to convince them to buy as well.

      So certainly some people can get rich on war, but I think it’s a huge stretch to say that that’s the reason for war. War involves rackets, but that doesn’t mean war is a racket.

      1. There were concerns about war profiteers beginning in the Civil War, at least.

        Hell, there’s recorded instances of this going back to the Second Punic War, when bakers contracted to make biscuits for the legions didn’t cook them properly. War is certainly a racket, in the same way as an economic boom based on speculation.

    2. Sevo,

      I finally identified your literary style. It’s called late shit house.

      When you got that book several weeks ago, someone must have read it to you first.

      Have a nice weekend.

      1. I finally identified your literary style. It’s called late shit house

        Yours seems to be early scat fetish.

        1. Hey there Red Rocks Rockin Up Your Ass

          Fuck you!

          1. Thanks for proving my point, Mary.

            Dance, monkey!

            1. Kiss My Ass Monkey.

        2. Red Rocks Rockin|6.29.14 @ 11:19PM|#
          “Yours seems to be early scat fetish.”

          And you’ll notice how the evidence is carefully presented and cited to…
          Oh, wait! This is the road guy!

          1. Hi there Ass Wipe,

            Fuck you yet again.

  20. AFAICT, it was a trial balloon for this guy’s run at some office or other; amusing in a way.

    It definitely sounds like a Prairie Populist stump speech.

    “Dem evul bankerz needs some comeuppance!”

    1. It’s worse; there’s a posed shot of him with a broom, making a ‘clean sweep’. I’m not joking.

  21. We were not fighting the Soviets and the Chinese on their soil; we were busy setting the developing world back a century in their development.

  22. “GILMORE|6.15.14 @ 1:05PM|#

    “Sheldon Richman is an idiot.

    Why do they let him keep phoning in the same gibberish? We got the message at least a few years ago. All he does these days is borrow things other people said and rearrange them to re-write the same piece again.”

    I figure i might as well comment the way he writes.

  23. “The removal of the members of the land armed forces from within the continental limits of the United States”-

    This law would solve a lot of our foreign policy issues.

  24. “and of course conscription is morally objectionable”

    Au contraire. Conscription is morally desirable according to the modern progressive movement. Quoting Ariana Huffington, “The goal is to make universal national service a new American rite of passage by creating one million national service positions for those aged 18 to 28.” Michael Kinsley, Rahm Emmanuel, Stanley McChrystal, Charlie Rangel, and Michael Gerson argue for compulsory national service as a social and moral good. Barack Obama has been politick enough to come just short of calling for the compulsory part.

    At one time, everybody recognized that conscription and corvee labor are repugnant in a free society. Among modern American progressives, this is no longer the case.

    1. What i find most remarkable is that this conscription boner is strongest amongst those who were old enough to actually have protested being drafted for the vietnam war.

      This time, *they’re* in charge!

      The twisted logic seems to be that if we forced people to *care* then they’d all have the Right Opinions!finally.

      i.e. – if we HAD a draft, people would Oppose War! The “skin in the game” theory.

      Scratch a prog, find a fascist.

      “The pool of cheap labor available to the federal government would broadly lower its current personnel costs and its pension obligations ? especially if the law told federal managers to use the civilian service as much as possible, and wherever plausible. The government could also make this cheap labor available to states and cities. Imagine how many local parks could be cleaned and how much could be saved if a few hundred New York City school custodians were 19, energetic and making $15,000 plus room and board, instead of 50, tired and making $106,329, the top base salary for the city’s public school custodians, before overtime. “”

      Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato

      1. I like the union-busting aspect of that quote, which is why the idea will never gain traction on the left.

      2. Imagine how many local parks could be cleaned and how much could be saved if a few hundred New York City school custodians were 19, energetic and making $15,000 plus room and board slaves, instead of 50, tired and making $106,329, the top base salary for the city’s public school custodians, before overtime. “”

  25. War is a racket. It always has been.

    No, it’s diplomacy by other means. Read your Clausewitz.

    It is possibly the oldest

    Certainly not, at least not if government precedes war as Butler would imagine it.

    easily the most profitable

    Nope.

    surely the most vicious

    No. The bloodiest wars and governments of the 20th century had nothing to do with corporate profit, and were the result of powers which defined themselves against such.

    It is the only one international in scope

    Sure, if you don’t count the hundreds of mafia networks in operation when the book was written.

    It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

    Written by a Marine? You don’t say.

  26. Meh, I’d say making some region safe for commerce and industry is a legitimate .military objective. Yes, big businesses will profit from this. No, this isn’t a bad thing unless you’re some sort of socialist who thinks profit is synonymous with exploitation.

    1. “making some region safe” = killing people

      What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Lots of things, sure. The potential costs of any military action are often very high, but sometimes, the benefits are, too. British businesses and citizens alike benefited for centuries from the projection of British naval power around the globe, making the oceans safe for commerce to an unprecedented degree, and the result was higher profits for merchants and cheaper and more goods available for European consumers.

        Obviously, profits for the United Fruit Company and cheap Carribean sugar at the grocer isn’t worth the lives of thousands of young men, but when you think about raising living standards substantially over several generations, facilitated by expanding trade and an expanded sphere of security for businesses and workers, then maybe the equation changes a bit. My point is that there are some pretty complicated cost-benefit considerations here. Simply opposing all war as destructive orbecause it involves killing is to me short-sighted and intellectually lazy.

  27. Mr. Richman,

    Thank you so much for this article. I read “War Is A Racket” a few years ago. It should be required reading for all Americans, and especially our politicians. Butler’s views are very important. The man writes about things that he actually knows about through direct experience. In addition, as a Medal of Honor winner he can’t be dismissed as some “left wing liberal fool” by the righteous right wingers in this country, many of whom have not even seen military service. Dick Cheney should read Butler’s book. So should Oliver North.

    1. “The man writes about things that he actually knows about through direct experience.”

      Unfortunately, he also writes about things of which he has no knowledge whatsoever which are claimed to be the important parts of his campaign brochure.
      The things which are true are trivial, the parts that matter are false. He, like you, is an ignorant conspiracy buff.

      1. Sevo,

        I figured you would show up sooner or later with your usual stuff.

        I take it you don’t like Mr. Richman’s article? Are you jealous because Butler was a General in the Marines, with 2 Medals of Honor?

        Interesting that you dismiss Butler as “an ignorant conspiracy buff”. Have you ever read “War Is A Racket”.

        Anyway, thanks once again for being consistent and predictable with your remarks, which continues to prove that your are a first class fucking moron.

        Have a nice evening dip shit.

        1. “Interesting that you dismiss Butler as “an ignorant conspiracy buff”. Have you ever read “War Is A Racket”.”

          If you had bothered to read instead of posting your standard ration of bullshit, you would have seen that I read it several weeks ago.

          1. Hey there Sevo,

            Fuck you, you piece of shit. Fuck yourself up the ass with a cucumber and then lick it.

            I once thought you were an abortion that lived. However, I now realize that you were actually a bowel movement that some retard jerked off on, and his sperm actually fertilized the piece of shit, and it became you.

            Again, fuck you.

            1. No, that was me.

              1. I’m not sure he can tell the difference. Does he recognize an individual passing before the enclosure when he flings the poop? Or does he fling in at anyone?
                Evidence suggests there’s very little discrimination here.

  28. So we should have stayed out of the European theater in WWII? Not supported Great Britain against Hitler? Then sat back idly while Stalinism engulfed the world?

    Great plan.

    Reason writers should staple that “join or die” revolutionary war cartoon to their walls. When free people say “not my problem, not my fight”, they get picked off by thugs one by one. Freedom is only possible when people who wish to be free band together against those who would enslave them.

    “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

    1. buybuydandavis,

      Seems the U.S. did not really support Great Britain very much until we were forced into the war as a result of Pearl Harbor. Remember that it was the Royal Air Force that saved Great Britain from invasion in 1940. (If course the channel islands got occupied).

      The British were already beating the crap out of the Germans in North Africa before we ever got there, and especially after they (the British) had broken the German codes.

      The British also became very good at sinking German Navy U Boats in the Atlantic before the U.S. got involved.

      I’m sure you can think of other things the British did to “turn the tide” before Uncle Sam arrived.

      However, you do have a point about Butler, who, as I recall died before World War II or right at the beginning. Butler’s main beef was he was fed up with U.S. adventures in The Caribbean and Central America during the 1920’s.

      1. “Seems the U.S. did not really support Great Britain very much until we were forced into the war as a result of Pearl Harbor.”

        Seems you’re quite ignorant of history. Lend-Lease, the destroyer deal, the US Navy all but at war with the Germans in the Atlantic.
        What would you call all that?

        1. Seems like you’re still an asshole. Obviously, we did give lend-lease, but we did not have any forces in England until 1942. So, the British had to do a lot on their own tactically and otherwise. That was my point, asshole. Of course you knew exactly what I was saying to begin with, but because you always like to pick a fight, you came up with that shit. Did we send the British Spitfires so they could win the Battle of Britain with the skills of their flyers? Get some new material before you open your fucking pie hole again.

          1. On The Road To Mandalay|6.29.14 @ 8:53PM|#
            “Seems like you’re still an asshole”

            Here’s what you posted, dipshit:
            “Seems the U.S. did not really support Great Britain very much until we were forced into the war as a result of Pearl Harbor.”
            Post bullshit, get called on it. PUSH those goal posts!

            1. Here’s what I posted, again.

              You can still go fuck yourself. That lend lease by the way was not a hell of a lot. A great deal of it was second hand stuff. The Brits sure as hell didn’t need it to produce those Spitfires for the Battle of Britain.

              Anyway, fuck you. You are nothing but an asshole chunk who posts bullshit and then attempts to call people’s attention from it but by attacking others.

              Anyway, Happy 4th of July to you. Stick a large rocket up your ass and light it.

              Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you, and fuck you many times over.

              1. Awww, I think you hurt his feelings Sevo.

                1. Habitual Morons like Sevo never hurt my feelings.

                2. DesigNate|6.30.14 @ 1:54AM|#
                  “Awww, I think you hurt his feelings Sevo.”

                  I think they just let the restraints loose for a couple of minutes.

    2. WW2 should be considered an exception for going to war,
      Obviously we should have stayed out of most of the pre and post ww2 adventures we dabbled in,
      However, the Pacific theater was more of a clash of expanding empires

  29. Butler bemoans the soldier’s low wages. Interestingly, in the present day, troops are paid well, as long as they survive the discharge cuts a few years after enlisting. So perhaps his statement still applies, in that the bulk of the troops (the E-1 through E-3s) are still being paid dogshit and do most of the work. But even then, many of their expenses are covered for them.

    If on the other hand they survive in the pole-licking career system until 20 years in as a Senior NCO, or God forbid, an officer, they can retire as early as age 38 with a pension and health care benefits for life. With current average life expectancy at 78, they have over half of their life (and two-thirds of their adult life) to receive a tax-funded paycheck and benefits simply for what they used to do.

    I intend no ill will towards the troops. But the point is that for many modern troops, the financial incentives to stay in the military are not the dumpster-diving, can’t-afford-electricity slave wages that Butler seemed to imply of his era.

    http://www.dfas.mil/militaryme…..tables.htm

    1. “I intend no ill will towards the troops. But the point is that for many modern troops, the financial incentives to stay in the military are not the dumpster-diving, can’t-afford-electricity slave wages that Butler seemed to imply of his era.”

      That was also during the FDR-promoted depression, so the military was acting as employer-of-last-resort to some degree (and I doubt it was planned).
      While they didn’t get much, the fact is there was no major war going on, so the chances of dying were slim. And they got the 3-squares and a bunk.

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