Veterans for Peace publish new edition of War is a Racket
Charles Willett
November/December 1995

War is a Racket by Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940). Foreword by Joe Haldeman. Introduction by Ed Roberts. Gainesville, CRISES Press, 1995. 55 pages. $5.00.

The Gainesville chapter of Veterans for Peace has brought out a new edition of this famous pamphlet. Smedley Butler, whose father and grandfather served in Congress, enlisted in the Marines when he was 17 years old and rose to the rank of Major General. During an amazing career, Butler saw combat in the Philippines, China, Mexico, Central America, Haiti, and World War I, twice winning the highest medal for bravery, the Medal of Honor. After the First World War he became increasingly outspoken against U.S. military interventions, realizing that he had been a participant in something dark and sinister. His blunt, bitter words hit home.

In a 1940 speech shortly before his death, he said: "I spent 33 years and four months in active miliary service and during that period I spend most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. 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 to collect revenues in. I helped in the reaping of half a dozen central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua 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 right for American sugar interests in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested."

In their introductions, Vietnam War veterans Joe Haldeman and Ed Roberts show how War is a Racket puts America's continuing military adventures in a historical context stretching back more than a century. Zoltan Grossman's ten-page "partial list" of over 100 U.S. military interventions from Wounded Knee (1890) to Haiti (1994) is valuable both for its scope and for including a dozen instances of the U.S. government using military force against its own people right here at home. The policies and practices of imperialism continue; only the places and the weapons change.

Illustrated with eight contemporary photographs from the Library of Congress and the National Archives, the book is available at Goerings Book Center and Books, Inc. You can also check it out from the Civic Media Center, 1021 W. University Ave., if you become a member.

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