Sunday, January 25, 2009

Smedley Butler 1881-1940

Two weeks ago I wrote about the plot that George W. Bush's grandfather Prescott Bush was involved in to overthrow the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That scheme was discovered and foiled by a great American hero of World War One, retired general Smedley D. Butler. Just this morning one of the readers of the Rant, Chuck Welch, sent me the following quotation from General Butler's memoirs:
"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service in the country's most agile military force, the Marines. I served in all 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 the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
"I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
"Thus I helped make Mexico, and especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the raping of half-a-dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers and Co. in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras 'right' for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped 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. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotion. Looking back on it, I feel that I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three city districts. The Marines operated on three continents."

I can't improve on those words and won't even attempt to do so. Smedley Butler was not only a great American patriot, he was one brave, honest and tough son-of-a-bitch. The fact that his is not a household name is our nation's shame.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


War Is A Racket
by Smedley Butler

To read Smedley's book in its entirety, just click below:

Special thanks to my old chum John Harragin for that link.

For more recent postings on this positively treasonous, Left-leaning, French-loving, latte-swirling, anti-American blog, kindly go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan


keep voting republican. there will be.


At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

All I can say is wow...this is very eye-opening.

But then, I've heard it said that a big reason the British fought so hard and ruthlessly to keep this continent in their hands was to protect their industy here...particularly the tea industry. Make North America safe for tea!

Hmm...interesting...I will have to look into this fascinating figure.

As far as the original thought comment from General Butler is concerned...just remember a famous quote from the late, great George Carlin, "It's like 'military intelligence,' man, the words are mutually exclusive!"


At 8:50 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

The "Business Plot" (also known as "The Fascist Plot"), initially conceived in 1933 by a group of wealthy businessmen and large corporations, was publicly revealed by retired Major General Smedley Butler, who testified before the McCormack-Dickstein Congressional Committee (precursor to the House Un-American Activities Committee) in 1934.

In their final report, the Congressional committee corroborated most of the specifics of his testimony, and supported General Butler's allegations of the existence of the plot, but no prosecutions or further investigations followed. After that, the matter was mostly forgotten. Why does that not surprise me? (Could the McCormack-Dickstein Congressional Committee also have been the precursor to the Warren Commission?)

Does anyone know of any memorials, monuments, public buildings, public parks, or even just a bench seat in a public square, that has been named in honor of this patriot?

I didn't think so. Neither do I.

But...they did rename National Airport, across the Potomac from Washington DC, in honor of the most notorious anti-government figure in modern times. I cringe every time I see the sign for Ronald Reagan National Airport when I enter the airport grounds.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Jeff's Guard....

My older brother Jack informed me yesterday that there is in fact a statue of General Butler in Philadelphia. It had not a thing to do with his patriotism but as his tenure as chief of police in that city. That is the only statue in his memory.

All the best,

Tom Degan

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Wow....his confessions remind me of the lyrics to " Sympathy For The Devil " !! It sure provides some clues as to why the world hates the USA.The " economic hitman " interviewed in the movie Zeitgeist Addendum tells a similar more modern day story of the establishment up to the same dirty unethical tricks it considers business as usual. See, Amerika isn't only financially bankrupt, it is ethically and morally bankrupt too !!

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Please make a point of copy-and-pasting the link provided by John. We all know "war is hell", but if you're a member of an exclusive group, war is...has always been...very profitable. Pay particular attention to Chapter 2.

That's why we occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. It's why we fought in Vietnam. It's why we squander our national treasure, and risk American lives. It's never about national security any longer, or bestowing freedom and democracy, or any of those other empty reasons and excuses we hear from our elected (and un-elected) leaders. It's all about profit. All of it.

As Ellis mentioned, John Perkins provides a more modern rendition in his excellent book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. General Butler's story was told about 70 years earlier than Mr. Perkins's, but the premise is the same: the United States government, in partnership with international banking cartels and multinational corporate interests, has one prime motivation and objective in mind; to exploit the world's people, their land, and their resources, and to enhance their benefactors' bottom-line -- no matter the cost. It's happening today, right under our noses, and we're barely blinking an eye.

Yes, Ellis, the United States is ethically and morally bankrupt. It's been that way for a very long time.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

I pasted John's link at the bottom of the Smedley Butler piece.

I have had this computer for seven years and only learned how to "cut and past" a few days ago. How utterly pathetic is that?


At 10:40 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

JG......that certainly doesn't speak well for Amerika's collective karma, does it ?? Why should good come to a country so insistent upon sticking its nose where it doesn't belong and acting as self righteous as it does ?? Karmically, I think we are gonna get what we deserve. It's a shame that the small percentage of our society with bad karma are the one's in control and will cause the karmic downfall of the good hearted folks who are the repressed majority. What a country !!!

At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You just can't keep those fascists down, can you?

They must have overheard my grandmother when she invented the line 'If at first you don't succeed...'

Tom's original post mentions 'Brown Brothers' later to become ' Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.' which has a very interesting history particularly with regard to financial activities before and during WWII. The implication is they were funding both sides (I'm not sure about the allies - but the axis is for sure) W. Averell Harriman (future governor of NY) was senior partner at this time. Another partner was Prescott Bush (future Conneticut senator). A little research and speculation may take you to the conclusion that Prescott's legacy was what george junior was attempting to live up to.

The Harrimans are of local interest in the region of New York that both Tom and I live in. Members of the family owned and own huge amounts of land here and have left an imprint on the region. I believe W. Averell was influential in the construction of the rather beautiful Bear Mountain Bridge (over the Hudson). Other family members contributed to park-land in the area. Sadly one of the gifts to the locality (of Harriman) became the shopping mecca (and if you'd been there you might wonder why) Woodbury Commons.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


Do you remember that scenic overlook on Route 6 above what is now the Woodbury Commons? There were always cars parked there taking in the beautiful view. A hot dog vendor was always there doing a fairly substantial business.

No one parks there any more. The dog seller is long gone. The view has been ruined by that fucking monstrosity. I hate that place with a passion I can't even describe. Monroe, NY is one of the towns in our area that have been ruined by hideously bad planning. Chester and Middletown also fall into that category.


At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is more or less the same view that the Harrimans had from Arden - it has really been downgraded over the years. It may be a factor in why they gave the estate up. That and the stink of Nepara Chemicals. I guess they have another mountain top retreat.

The rich people still breathe the same air as us (heh, heh).

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Kevin Swanwick said...


Great posting! I'll be doing some reading on this. perhaps more people will begin to read Howard Zinn's freat book 'A History of the American People."

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Saltwater said...

"I have had this computer for seven years and only learned how to "cut and past" a few days ago. How utterly pathetic is that?"

Well don't feel too embarrassed, Tom. It took me about 4 or 5 years. I just couldn't understand the concept. One day I "got" it, and went "sheesh, I am a dummy for sure".

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you saying Tom should take up shopping at the 'commons?

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

John, you're so right! It truly is tough to keep those fascists down. Jim Marrs makes a very compelling case in his recent, The Rise of the Fourth Reich. If you haven't already, check it out from your local library (if your "commons" still provides one).

Fascism is alive ... and oh, so well ... in America today.

At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post. Here's another post I found on the subject.
Also, here's a good one to get you excited Tom, and JG too:

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Joel, I'm not sure, exactly, what it was you felt would "excite me" from Pat Buchanan's blog.

Personally, the man doesn't do anything for me. Whenever he appears on MSNBC (which, is too much), I find him whiny and way too ideological. I realize the network has to show some kind of effort to show a "balance", but I just wish they'd do it with someone else.

As far as Buchanan's perception of President Obama as having overtones of "neoconservative Reaganism", I'm not sure. As with most inaugural speeches, the new president colored the canvas with broad strokes and catchy phrases. That's nothing new. The real barometer of what he's about will occur within the first 100 days. I think we'll get a real sense of where he's heading within that timeframe.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

I would like to invite Smedley Butler to my "choose 5 people to have dinner with" soirée.

I'd enjoy having a man with the courage of his convictions not only to vocalize them but put them down on paper for us to read decades after his death.

Thank you for letting me know of and about Smedley. I have his book on my reading list.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Yes, Prairie Waif, I would also add General Butler to my list of people I would like to get drunk with!


While I agree with you about Pat Buchanan's world view, there is something about the guy that I love. I can't explain it!


Tom Degan

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Avram Mirsky said...

Beautiful, Tom. I've been waiting for someone to excerpt Smedley's amazing insights into a readily emailable and readable nugget and you done it, mon frere!

At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i easily love all your posting style, very unique.
don't give up and keep writing for the simple reason that it just good worth to look through it,
looking forward to look over much of your own web content, goodbye ;)

At 10:09 AM, Blogger SummerRain said...

Now this is most interesting. Thank you for letting others know and I wonder why this didn't get out to the mainstream media.

At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Will Shirley said...

Everyone knows the world hates us for our freedom! Not our napalm, our Agent Orange, our rapes, murders, drones and bribes. It's our freedom they hate. Henry Ford was free to help Hitler attain political office. Truman was free to irradiate generations of Japanese until they made their own bomb. My first wife was apparently free to bed every man she bumped into at a local bar. Freedom makes others angry and they hate us for our freedom. Otherwise they'd have to hate us for our bombs and our lies.

Interestingly enough, for all the fighting we have done to defeat the fascists overseas we forgot to insulate ourselves from fascist thinking here at home, so that now we have lost the cold war we are free to openly embrace fascism as "not communist" and therefor "good". We also embrace intolerance as "not weak" and ignorance as "not uppity". We are therefor free to remain as ignorant, intolerant and as violent as we feel free to be...

At 5:12 AM, Anonymous kamagra said...

Butler became an outspoken critic of the business interests in the Caribbean.


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