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General Smedley Darlington Butler

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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.[1][2] 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:[3]


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

  1. Schmidt, 1998, p. 234
  2. Klehr, 1984, pp. 110–12, 372–73
  3. Schmidt, 1998, p. 231

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