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WHERE IS SMEDLEY BUTLER WHEN WE NEED HIM?
by Butler Shaffer
Smedley Butler is a name with which you may not be familiar, even though he twice won the Congressional Medal of Honor. If he were to appear on television today, he would be identified as "Maj. General Smedley Butler, USMC (ret.)" But even if he were still alive, he would not appear on any network television news shows because, late in life, he openly expressed his opposition to the war system. He went on to expose the symbiotic relationship existing between the institutional interests of corporate America and the state. Many former top generals and admirals have written memoirs around the theme "war is hell," but Gen. Butler went a step further, writing a book titled War Is a Racket.
Smedley defined a racket as "something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people." War, he goes on, "is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious" of rackets. Reflecting upon his own early 20th century career, he noted that, "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." He related how he had helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests, Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank, a number of Central American countries more pleasant for Wall Street interests, the Dominican Republic more conducive to the sugar industry, and China more compatible with the interests of Standard Oil. Then, after observing how he had helped supply the coercive, deadly force to advance corporate interests throughout various parts of the world, Butler added: "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." You can see that his book does for adults what The Emperor's New Clothes does for children.
I have my doubts that we shall be hearing such candor anytime soon from the Bush administration's appointed military ruler of Iraq, Lt. Gen. Jay Garner. I have seen far too many retired military officers on network television news and talk shows faithfully reciting the Establishment's position on the necessity for, the success of, and the bright prospects for the American government's military involvement in Iraq (and, perhaps, other Middle Eastern countries as well). The media – which has been eager to ferret out the economic or ideological interests of those who oppose administration policies – could demonstrate a bit of "truth-in-advertising" by identifying the defense industry interests for whom these various retired generals, admirals, and colonels now work!
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R.W. "Dick" Gaines
(The Original "Gunny G")
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952- (Plt #437-PISC)-'72
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