ar Is A Racket
WAR is a racket. It always
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.
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
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 parried a bayonet
thrust of an enemy? 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, forgetting for the
nonce [one unique occasion], their dispute over
the Polish Corridor.
The assassination of King
Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated
matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter
enemies, were almost at each other's throats.
Italy was ready to jump in. But France was
waiting. So was Czechoslovakia. 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
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. Only the other day, Il Duce in
"International Conciliation," the publication of
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
above all, Fascism, the more it considers
and observes the future and the development
of humanity quite apart from political
considerations of the moment, 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 -- anxious for it, apparently. His
recent stand at the side of Hungary in the
latter's dispute with Jugoslavia 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. France only recently increased
the term of military service for its youth from
a year to eighteen months.
Yes, all over, nations are
camping in their arms. The mad dogs of Europe
are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering
is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia and
Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the
Russians and backed Japan. Then our very
generous international bankers were financing
Japan. Now 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
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 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.
Yes, they are getting ready
for another war. Why shouldn't they? It pays
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
Yes, and what does it profit
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, the advice
of the Father of our country. We forgot 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. Our total
favorable trade balance during the
twenty-five-year period was about
$24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely
bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year
for year, and that foreign trade might well have
been ours without the wars.
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.
Who Makes The Profits?
The World War, rather our
brief participation in it, has cost the United
States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That
means $400 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 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. 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? Or something? How did they do in the
war? They were a patriotic corporation. 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
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
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
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.
But here's how some of the
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 pocketed.
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
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
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.
Why, 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.
Still another had the
brilliant idea that colonels shouldn't ride in
automobiles, nor should they even ride on
horseback. One has probably seen a picture of
Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some
6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the
use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But
the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.
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 (Nye) 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 matters.
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
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"
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 gone.
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
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
But don't forget -- the
soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill
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
Napoleon once said,
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
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
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
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.
How To Smash This Racket!
WELL, it's a racket, all
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
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
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
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.
There is ample precedent for
restricting the voting to those affected. Many
of our states have restrictions on those
permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary to
be able to read and write before you may vote.
In some, you must own property. 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
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.
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 Los Angeles.
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.
We must take the profit
out of war.
We must permit the youth
of the land who would bear arms to decide
whether or not there should be war.
We must limit our
military forces to home defense purposes.
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
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
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
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. Even this, if it were
possible, would not be enough.
The next war, according to
experts, will be fought not with battleships,
not by artillery, not with rifles and not with
machine guns. It will be fought with deadly
chemicals and gases.
Secretly each nation is
studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier
means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes,
ships will continue to be built, for the
shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns
still will be manufactured and powder and rifles
will be made, for the munitions makers must make
their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course,
must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must
make their war profits too.
But victory or defeat will be
determined by the skill and ingenuity of our
If we put them to work making
poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical
and explosive instruments of destruction, they
will have no time for the constructive job of
building greater prosperity for all peoples. By
putting them to this useful job, we can all make
more money out of peace than we can out of war
-- even the munitions makers.
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Smedley Darlington Butler
- Born: West Chester, Pa., July 30,
- Educated: Haverford School
- Married: Ethel C. Peters, of
Philadelphia, June 30, 1905
- Awarded two congressional medals of
- capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico,
- capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti,
- Distinguished service medal, 1919
- Major General - United States Marine
- Retired Oct. 1, 1931
- On leave of absence to act as
director of Dept. of Safety,
- Lecturer -- 1930's
- Republican Candidate for Senate,
- Died at Naval Hospital,
Philadelphia, June 21, 1940
- For more information about Major
contact the United States Marine Corps.