Smedley Butler on Interventionism
-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler,

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-

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.