Major Smedley Butler USMC (1881-1940) was the only soldier in the history of the United States to win the Congressional Medal
of Honor twice. He was deeply respected, not just by the military establishment, but by the enlisted men who served under
him. In his later years Butler was increasingly dedicated to peace as he came to see the institution of war as a massive con
game. Butler had a reputation for outspoken opposition to war profiteering and what he viewed as nascent fascism in the United
States. He gave hundreds of speeches to veteran's groups and pacifist organizations. He observed that the people who lead
a nation to war always use God and freedom as the motivating pretexts. The following text is excerpted from one of his speeches.
"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
Allan Greenspan, former chairman, Federal Reserve
War is a Racket
By General Smedley D. Butler
That war is a racket has been told us by many, but rarely by one of this stature. Though he died in 1940, the highly decorated
General Butler (two Congressional Medals of Honor) deserves to be heralded for his timeless message, which rings true today
more than ever. His riveting 1935 book War is a Racket merits inclusion as required reading for every high school student,
and for every member of our armed forces today. Below is a ten-page summary of the best of this powerful exposé. For a concise,
two-page version, click here.
Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933 by General Smedley Butler, USMC
War is just a racket. 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.
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.
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 safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National
City Bank boys. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. I helped
purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. 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.
CHAPTER ONE: War Is A Racket
War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It
is international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the 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 very
many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires
were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns.
How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows. [Please note these are 1935 U.S. dollars. To adjust
for inflation, multiply all figures X 10 or more]
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant
to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and
machine gun bullets? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory
promptly is exploited by the few; the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders
the bill. And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and
homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
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.
Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make
a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast sheep's eyes at each other. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people
– not those who fight and pay and die – only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to profit.
There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that
war is not in the making. Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?
Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak
out. The publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: "And above all, Fascism… believes
neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace…War alone brings up to its highest tension all human
energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."
Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy
are ready for war. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's dispute with Yugoslavia showed that. And the hurried
mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe
too whose sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later. Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for
more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace.
Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. The trend is to poison us against
the Japanese. What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us? Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a
year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers
and industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.
Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect these private investments of less than $200,000,000
in the Philippines, 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
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. Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays high dividends.
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? Yes, and
what does it profit the nation?
Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our
national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted
aside, George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory.
At the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international affairs, our national debt had jumped
to over $25,000,000,000.
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.
CHAPTER TWO: Who Makes The Profits?
The World War cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 [over $4,000 in today's dollars]
to every American man, woman, and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and
our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.
The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are 6, 8, 10, and sometimes 12%. But war-time profits –
ah! that is another matter; 20, 60, 100, 300, and even 1,800%; 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. Let's just take a few examples.
Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people; didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their
powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? How did they do in the war? Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts
for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let's
look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find!
Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than
950 per cent.
Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to
manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910 - 1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal
citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump; or did they let Uncle Sam in for a
bargain? Well, their 1914 - 1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!
Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000
a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914 - 1918 was
$240,000,000. Not bad. There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let's look at something else.
A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times. Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the
pre-war years 1910 - 1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914 - 1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year. Or Utah
Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910 - 1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for
the war period.
Let's group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910 - 1914
were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000. A little
increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent. Does war pay? It paid them.
But they aren't the only ones. There are still others. Let's take leather. For the three-year period before the war the
total profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916 Central
Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all. The General Chemical Company averaged
a profit for the three years before the war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000;
a leap of 1,400 per cent.
International Nickel Company; and you can't have a war without nickel; showed an increase in profits from a mere average
of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent. American Sugar Refining Company
averaged $2,000,000 a year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.
Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government revenues.
Considering the profits of 122 meat packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal producers
during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the coal companies made between 100 per cent and
7,856 per cent on their capital stock during the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.
And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers.
Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were
as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little
secrets never become public; even before a Senate investigatory body.
Here's how other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.
Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad
to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is
a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam
35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment
during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes.
But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought and paid for. Profits recorded and
There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles
for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody
had to make a profit in it; so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet.
Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers
overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches; one hand scratching
cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!
Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000
additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam. There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days,
even if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer, the enterprising mosquito
netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more
mosquito netting would be in order.
Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else
was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000; count them if you live long enough ; was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines
that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France.
Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.
Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them; a nice little profit for
the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the
steel helmet manufacturers; all got theirs. When the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment; knapsacks and the things
that go to fill them; crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the
contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them; and they will do it all over again the next time.
There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.
One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble
was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the turbines
at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put
on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed
it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned
to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.
The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More
than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn't
float! The seams opened up; and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.
It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000.
Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That
is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is
quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.
The Senate committee probe of the munitions industry and its wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly
has scratched the surface. Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying "for some time"
methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names
a committee; with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator; to limit
profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested. Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those
who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.
Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of losses; that is, the losses of those who fight the war.
As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one
arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.
There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle,
or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed. Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling
CHAPTER THREE: Who Pays The Bills?
Who provides the profits; these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them –
in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to
the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers control the security marts. It was
easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then all of us; the people; got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or
$86. The bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par; and above. Then
the bankers collected their profits.
But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.
If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals
in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen
government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men; men who were the pick of the nation
eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living
dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.
Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks.
There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of
the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple
of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.
Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face"! This time they had to do their
own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't
need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or
parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final
"about face" alone.
In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with
steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These
boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are
There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement
of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement; the young boys couldn't stand it.
That's a part of the bill. So much for the dead; they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally
and physically wounded – they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too –
they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle
Sam; on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled
while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they
shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain; with
the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.
But don't forget; the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too. Up to and including the Spanish-American War,
we had a prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many instances,
before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American
War they gave prize money. When we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share; at least, they were supposed to.
Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting]
the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn't bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn't.
Napoleon once said, "All men are enamored of decorations...They positively hunger for them." So by developing
the Napoleonic system; the medal business; the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked
to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments
easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.
In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn't
join the army. So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined
in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our side...It is His will that the Germans be killed. And
in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the allies...to please the same God. That was a part of the general
propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.
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. All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give
up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill...and be killed.
But wait! Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe
at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon
his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance; something the employer pays for in an enlightened
state; and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.
Then, the most crowning insolence of all; he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and
food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days. We made them buy Liberty Bonds at
$100 and then we bought them back; when they came back from the war and couldn't find work – at $84 and $86. And
the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!
Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does.
As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their
beds and tossed sleeplessly; his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.
When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too; as much as and even sometimes
more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders
and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers
after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.
And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves
are still suffering and still paying.
CHAPTER FOUR: How To Smash This Racket!
Well, it's a racket, all right. A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end
it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't
wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.
The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted.
One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation; it must conscript capital and industry and labor.
Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and
our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as
well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted; to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.
Let the workers in these plants get the same wages; all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all
managers, all bankers; yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office
holders; everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!
Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors
and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds. Why shouldn't
they? They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren't
sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't hungry. The soldiers are! Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think
it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket; that and nothing else.
Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of
war until the people; those who do the suffering and still pay the price; make up their minds that those they elect to office
shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.
Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should
be declared. A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying.
There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international
banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant; all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in
the event of war; voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would be called upon to shoulder arms;
to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have
the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.
It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did
in the draft during the World War and be examined physically. Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon
to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the power
to decide – and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical
condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.
A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces
for defense only.
At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington
(and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don't shout that "We need a
lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced
by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly
and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy?
Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.
Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh. The Pacific is a great big ocean. We
have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers
will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast. The Japanese, a proud people, of course
will be pleased beyond expression to see the United States fleet so close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as would be
the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off
The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had
that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would
have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense
purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes
might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave
the territorial limits of our nation.
To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket: 1.) We must take the profit out of war; 2.) We must permit
the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war; 3.) We must limit our military forces
to home defense purposes.
CHAPTER FIVE : To Hell With War!
I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use
in saying we cannot be pushed into another war. Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform
that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five
months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.
In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men
who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die. Then what
caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?
An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The
President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what
he told the President and his group:
"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers,
American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.
If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money...and
Germany won't. So....."
Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that
conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But
this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told
it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war to end all wars."
Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether
Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists
or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy. And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure
us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.
Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed;
the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our
diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?
The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to
be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And
at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who
profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments. The chief aim of any power
at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself
and less for any potential foe.
There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap
every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane.
So...I say, TO HELL WITH WAR!