“War Is A Racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest,
easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.
It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which
the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”
– Marine Corps Major General (Ret.) Smedley Darlington Butler, 1935
before WW I
during WW I
|Canadian Car & Foundry||$1,335,000||$2,201,000||165%|
|American and Brit Manufacturing||$172,000||$325,000||189%|
|Republic Iron & Steel||$4,177,000||$17,548,000||420%|
|Niles Bement Pond||$656,000||$6,146,000||937%|
This table comes from a little book, War Is A Racket, written after World War I by a 3-star general retired from the Marine Corps after winning the Congressional Medal of Honor twice and spending a career strong-arming the Third World on our behalf. It is available in its entirety on-line.
While ordinary citizens were being gassed in the trenches, shot, sold Victory Bonds, and put in debt by their government, obscene profits were given to anyone fortunate enough to have gotten a buddy elected to Congress and appointed to an appropriation committee. At the same time our young men were fighting and dying in the trenches overseas, we were looted by fellow citizens.
All kinds of equipment was manufactured and sold to the military but never needed or used. We, the taxpayers, paid for eight times the number of boots actually used and the rest were sold for pennies on the dollar back to the civilian market where Army Surplus Stores sold them at a discount well past the end of World War II. We paid for buckboard wagons which were never requisitioned and never needed, thanks to some thoughtful congressman at the behest of a faithful contributor and paid for with credit. Even Victory Bonds themselves were a racket.
Of course, a lot of stuff was actually used. Generally, it was transported to a Third World venue where it was blown up or otherwise destroyed in an attempt to wrest North Africa from German control, to protect the Suez Canal for our shipping or to gain control of massive oil reserves in the Middle East, recently “liberated” from the decaying Turkish Empire; black gold replacing yellow gold as the spoils of war.
After gifting hundreds of millions of dollars to the already wealthy during World War I while the average American family sacrificed physically, emotionally and economically, Congress delayed a small $1000 stipend to each returning serviceman for many years.
World War II was essentially a redo of World War I, with some areas being contested again and the endgame morphing seamlessly into the Korean Conflict and the Cold War, a fight ostensibly with two of our former superpower allies but a fight carried out entirely in the Third World while the average Third World citizen just wanted to be left alone and the average American citizen was fed inflammatory rhetoric, historical myths, boldface lies about “fighting for our freedom” and quite a few lies about our various “enemies” in the Cold War.
Again, the wealthy benefited and the average citizen sacrificed.
In the Twentieth Century, while ostensibly “fighting for democracy,” we installed kings and dictators in the Middle East, in the Philippines, in Cuba, in South and Central America, and anywhere else we thought we could get away with it. We helped England take over Palestine and use this Arab land to pay a massive war debt to Baron Rothschild, leader of the Zionist1 movement.
Much later, we expended the lives of 68,000 Americans and 3 million Vietnamese as well as massive amounts of materiel to support a succession of dictators and despots in Saigon in a civil war created by NATO and its wealthy South Vietnamese allies because we were ignorant of the thousands of years Vietnam had been an independent and united country.2 Immediately after we left, Vietnam deposed Communist China’s puppet government in Cambodia and repelled China’s invasion from the north. Had our goal been to stop the spread of communism, staying out of Southeast Asia would have been far more effective.3 Our goal wasn’t the end of communism. Our goal wasn’t freedom or democracy. Our goal was twofold: to control raw materials and consumer markets in the Third World and to spread warfare, wherever and whenever possible. For the corporate arm of the NRA and the numerous other Pentagon suppliers, war is an end in itself, a source of sales and profit.
Wars have always been used to create nations and empires; to garner wealth and power; and later, to justify maintaining that wealth and power; to keep others distracted from the hand in their pocket.
In modern times, the people who benefit from wars have used their power and influence to keep us fearful and glassy-eyed, to wave the flag every day and tie it to our religious beliefs, and to create a semblance of threat when the real threat is the distrust, violence, and selfishness which makes us foolishly gullible; which allows others to lie to and manipulate us; and which forces others around the world to build stockpiles of weaponry and make unfavorable alliances so that they might oppose our blatant and ongoing aggression, an example being the Hanoi government which we forced into a limited alliance with the Soviet Union to protect its airspace from both Chinese and US air power.
The really sad part is that we, the average people, know the threat isn’t real. We want that “defense” plant to stay open so we can keep our current job. We are fearful of another depression where nobody had a job and the banks took over everything. We like having gasoline prices lower than the rest of the world. And, saddest of all, we like bullying other countries. It makes us feel powerful and in control, an illusion we’ve come to cherish, an illusion which brings tears to our eyes as we pledge our allegiance.
Let us, for a few moments, review history and take an honest look at these “acts of patriotism” which “saved our democratic way of life.”
1776-1795: The US Government invaded land traditionally belonging to the Cherokee Nation and other Native American peoples in support of settlers and poachers. These wars were generally carried out in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. During this period and succeeding invasions, persecutions, and exploitation of the indigenous populations, the general sentiment of the US government and its citizens was, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” (territorial expansion)
1786-1787: Shay’s Rebellion: The Massachusetts state militia removed a great number of farmers from their homes and their livelihood because a credit squeeze had rendered them unable to reimburse bankers. In other words, land was forcibly taken from the poor small farmer and given to already wealthy bankers because of a fluctuation in or even a manipulation of the money supply and credit rates. The US government wanted to support the Massachusetts state militia but had no funds to do so, thus bolstering the argument for a stronger federal government. (greed, acquisition)
It is important to realize that this type of “legal” acquisition of family farms, along with property taxes on subsistence farmers is a sure-fire “legal” way for wealthy people to add to their wealth while bankrupting and dispossessing poor and marginalized people and has been a source of suffering and discontent in many countries over several centuries. It was part of the problem in South Vietnam where colonial taxation policies moved wealth from farms into the cities.
1791-1794: The Whiskey Rebellion: Once strengthened by the Articles of Confederation, the United States government imposed a tax on alcoholic beverages. The money was needed to finance the wars further West. This was violently opposed throughout most of Appalachia, an area of poor people who weren’t interested in the expansion but were forced to support it. (violence to support taxes to support territorial expansion)
1798-1800: The US defaulted on its debt to France and continued to trade with Britain, with whom France was at war. The US Congress authorized a number of actions throughout French Colonies in the Western Hemisphere such as the Dominican Republic. Please note that, while it is not OK for poor farmers to default on their debts, the government supports its own default with the poor farmers’ tax dollars … and uses them to control various colonial “assets.” (money, commerce)
1801-1809: First Barbary War: US Merchant Marine vessels were being pillaged by pirates in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya. Refusing to pay tribute to the Kingdom of Tripoli, US and British naval forces blockaded the port. A peace treaty and payment of a ransom bought us a temporary peace. (greed, piracy, international commerce)
1806: A platoon of US troops invaded Spanish territory on orders from their commanding General after constructing a fort at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. (territorial expansion)
1806-1810: naval battles with Spanish and French privateers in the Gulf of Mexico. (greed, piracy)
1810: Louisiana, on orders from President James Madison, invaded and occupied parts of Spanish Florida. (territorial expansion)
1812: Amelia Island in Eastern Florida was brutally seized from the Spanish but the action later disavowed by the President. (“temporary” territorial expansion)
1812-1815: War of 1812. The US declared war against the British. Please note that neither the French nor the British were happy with our emerging presence in their squabbles over colonial territories and their use of piracy to harass and interrupt each others plundering of colonies in the Western Hemisphere. All three wanted the spoils of conquest. The British were impressing US sailors, and seeking to blockade trade that would aid their enemy and colonizing rival, France. (colonialism, greed, piracy, territorial expansion)
1813: Mobile Bay in West Florida was seized from the Spanish and held in support of retaining areas acquired in 1810. (extending territorial expansion)
1813-1814: US forces build a fort on the island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia to protect prize ships captured from the British. (colonialism, piracy, counter-piracy, territorial expansion)
1814: US forces (General Andrew Jackson) take Pensicola, Florida from the British. (colonialism, territorial expansion)
1814-1825: Battles between pirates and US Naval forces in the West Indies. (piracy, colonialism, counter-piracy, international commerce)
1815: Barbary States declared war on the US. A military expedition attacked Algiers, Algeria and Tripoli, Libya and obtained indemnities. (colonialism, piracy, anti-piracy, commerce)
1816: US forces destroy Negro Fort to squelch a group in Spanish Florida freeing and harboring fugitive slaves from US owners. (slavery, commerce)
1816-1819: Seminole Indians, a lawless element, and Spanish troops were all fought and defeated by the US in wresting Florida from Spanish control. (slavery, commerce, territorial expansion)
1818: US asserted territorial claims to Oregon on the West Coast. The British acceded to this but the Russians and the Spanish didn’t. (colonialism, territorial expansion)
1820-1823: US Naval units attacked slave ships bringing slaves from Africa. (anti-slavery)
1822-1825: Various landings to suppress Cuban piracy. (anti-piracy, commerce)
1827: Anti-piracy activities on Greek islands in the Mediterranean. (anti-piracy, commerce)
I hope you see the pattern here. While our rhetoric was clearly about “freedom,” our actions were about preserving the perquisites of the wealthy and powerful. We didn’t consider the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for Native Americans. We didn’t grant freedom to the underprivileged or blacks or women. All along, our concept of “us” has been truncated with large groups of people marginalized, demeaned, and disempowered.
This attitude comes to us straight from Saul of Tarsus and his colleagues, men who believed that God divided us up into “good” and “evil” based on specific thoughts and beliefs and characteristics. Because Saul (“Saint Paul” as he was later called) was a bigot, he imagined and campaigned for a bigoted god. Because this man didn’t like women or sex, these two were disliked by the god of his imagination.
The Bible exhorts us to abandon logic AND compassion for others not like ourselves and to believe in violence and its rightness and efficacy; to ignore the suffering it causes everyone and to concentrate on hating our “evil” current enemy who, nevertheless, will be our ally next time around and vice versa.
1Zionism is a racist doctrine. This is indisputable, no matter what religion supposedly supports it.
2Vietnam’s history as a nation goes back to 2879 BC. During this history, they were occupied by other powers but their persistent enemy has been China. Like our own country, the industrial north dominates the agricultural south.
3Jane Fonda told us this at the time, but we shunned her mercilessly until she recanted.
©David N. Dodson, July, 2015, Phoenix, AZ