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General Smedley Darlington Butler
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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 (WP) and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico (WP) safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank (WP) 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 (WP) 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 (WP) right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil(WP) 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.
In addition to his speeches to pacifist groups, he served from 1935 to 1937 as a spokesman for the American League Against War and Fascism WP. In 1935, he wrote the exposé War Is a Racket, a trenchant condemnation of the profit motive behind warfare. His views on the subject are summarized in the quoted passage, from a 1935 issue of the socialist magazine Common Sense:
In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot WP, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt (WP) , with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to other Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations. A final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler's testimony.
In 1935, Butler wrote a book entitled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.
See also Gerald MacGuire, the conspirators' contact with Butler