A War Hero’s Prescription for Ending War

by Nick Byrne


I feel that Independence Day should be a celebration of the American independent spirit. I am going to explain about an American patriot, who is in fact a hero, but receives little attention because his message does not fit our current ruler’s standards for heros.

Smedley Darlington Butler was born in Westchester, PA, July 30, 1881. He was educated at Haverford School and married Ethel C. Peters of Philadelphia on June 30,1905. He was awarded two Congressional Medals of Honor. One for the capture of VeraCruz, Mexico in 1914 and the second for the capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti in 1917.

He also received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919. He was a Major General in the US Marine Corps and retired October 1, 1931. He was a lecturer in the 1930s and was a Republican candidate for senate in 1932. He died at Naval Hospital in Philadelphia June 21, 1940.

Smedley Butler had faced gunfire 120 times. Columnist Will Rogers wrote, “He is what I would call a natural born warrior. He will fight anybody, anytime… He carries every medal we ever gave out.” Butler spent the last third of his service in police work and administration. He became disillusioned as wars spread through Europe and America.

Here are some quotes from Major General Butler: “ I spent 33 years in the marines…most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the banker. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.” “ I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers from 1909 until 1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba decent places for the National City (bank) boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street…”

“ In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested… I had a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, promotions.. I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The marines operated on three continents…” New York Times August 21, 1931.
This is some of his testimony before a House of Representatives committee
investigating Nazi and other propaganda in 1935: “ You know very well that it (the American Legion) is nothing but a strike breaking outfit used by capital for the purpose and that is the reason I pulled out of it. They have been using the dumb soldiers to break strikes.”

He delivered this after his appearances before the Un-American Activities Committee:

“Do you think it could be hard to buy the American Legion for un-American activities? You know, the average veteran thinks the legion is a patriotic organization to perpetuate memories of the last war, an organization to promote peace, to take care of the wounded and to keep green the graves of those who gave their lives. But is the American Legion that? No Sir, not while it is controlled by the bankers. For years the bankers, by buying big club houses for various posts, by financing its beginning, have tried to make a strike breaking organization of the Legion. The groups, the so called Royal Family of the Legion, which have picked its officers for years, arenʼt interested in patriotism, in peace, in wounded veterans, in those who gave their lives… No, they are interested only in using the veterans…”

From Forum Magazine, Sept., 1934: “War like any other racket, pays high dividends to the very few. But does it profit the masses? The cost of operation is always transferred to the people who do not profit. But there is a way to stop this racket. It cannot be smashed by disarmament conferences, by peace parlays at Geneva, by resolutions to well meaning but impractical groups. It can be effectively smashed only by taking the profit out of war. The only way to stop it is by conscription of capital before conscription of the nation’s manhood. Let the officers and directors of our armament factories, our gun builders, and munitions makers and shipbuilders all be conscripted to get $30 a month, the same wage paid to the lads in the trenches. Give capital 30 days to think it over and you will learn by that time, there will be no war. That will stop the racket; that, and nothing else.” Have I gotten your attention? I hope so.

Nick Byrne is Director of Kenmax Foundation and Kids Against Pollution and has been featured in US News and World Report, Parenting Magazine,And the WatertownTimes,and former county legislator.

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