Smedley Darlington Butler

  • Born: West Chester, Pa., July 30, 1881
  • Educated: Haverford School
  • Married: Ethel C. Peters, of Philadelphia, June 30, 1905
  • Awarded two congressional medals of honor:
    1. capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914
    2. capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti, 1917
  • Distinguished service medal, 1919
  • Major General – United States Marine Corps
  • Retired Oct. 1, 1931
  • On leave of absence to act as

    director of Dept. of Safety, Philadelphia, 1932
  • Lecturer — 1930’s
  • Republican Candidate for Senate, 1932
  • Died at Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, June 21, 1940
  • For more information about Major General Butler,

    contact the United States Marine Corps.

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War Is A Racket

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.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it
seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it
is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very
many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the
conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States
during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax
returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them
dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out?
How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and
machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of
them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are
victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the
few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public
shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones.
Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression
and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a
racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the
international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to
stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and
Germany cast sheep’s eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion],
their dispute over the Polish Corridor.

The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each
other’s throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was
Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people — not those who
fight and pay and die — only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to

There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our
statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.

Hell’s bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being
trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in
“International Conciliation,” the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, said:

“And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the
future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the
moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. . . . War
alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility
upon the people who have the courage to meet it.”

Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained
army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war — anxious for
it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter’s dispute with
Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border
after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose
sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.

Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for
more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently
increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.

Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of
Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when
Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then
our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison
us against the Japanese. What does the “open door” policy to China mean to us?
Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent
about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and
industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.

Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect
these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all
stirred up to hate Japan and go to war — a war that might well cost us tens of
billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds
of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.

Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit —
fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few.
Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They
would fare well.

Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn’t they? It
pays high dividends.

But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit
their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their

What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge

Yes, and what does it profit the nation?

Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn’t own a bit of territory outside
the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than
$1,000,000,000. Then we became “internationally minded.” We forgot, or shunted
aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington’s warning
about “entangling alliances.” We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At
the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international
affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade
balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a
purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade
might well have been ours without the wars.

It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average
American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this
racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost
of operations is always transferred to the people — who do not profit.

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Who Makes The Profits?

The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the
United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure it out. That means $400 to every American man,
woman, and child. And we haven’t paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will
pay it, and our children’s children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six,
eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits — ah! that is another
matter — twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per
cent — the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money.
Let’s get it.

Of course, it isn’t put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into
speeches about patriotism, love of country, and “we must all put our shoulders to the
wheel,” but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket — and are safely pocketed.
Let’s just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people — didn’t one of
them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved
the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic
corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were
$6,000,000 a year. It wasn’t much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let’s
look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight
million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the
profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside
the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their
1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal
citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump
— or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was
$49,000,000 a year!

Or, let’s take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the
five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the
war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was
$240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let’s look at
something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war
years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to
$34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914
period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let’s group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly
average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the
war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren’t the only ones. There are
still others. Let’s take leather.

For the three-year period before the war the total profits of Central
Leather Company were $3,500,000. That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in 1916
Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000, a small increase of 1,100 per cent.
That’s all. The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for the three years before the
war of a little over $800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits jumped to $12,000,000.
a leap of 1,400 per cent.

International Nickel Company — and you can’t have a war without
nickel — showed an increase in profits from a mere average of $4,000,000 a year to
$73,000,000 yearly. Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.

American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a year for the
three years before the war. In 1916 a profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.

Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth Congress, reporting
on corporate earnings and government revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat
packers, 153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel plants, and 340 coal
producers during the war. Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance the
coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856 per cent on their capital stock during
the war. The Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.

And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone
had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than
incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits
were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their
billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public — even
before a Senate investigatory body.

But here’s how some of the other patriotic industrialists and
speculators chiseled their way into war profits.

Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal
profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions
manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar
whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For
instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were
4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had
only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were
good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left
over. Bought — and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.

There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your
Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn’t any
American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had
to make a profit in it — so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have
those yet.

Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam
20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were
expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches — one hand
scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not
one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!

Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no
soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito
netting were sold to Uncle Sam.

There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in those days, even
if there were no mosquitoes in France. I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little
longer, the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would have sold your Uncle Sam a
couple of consignments of mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito netting
would be in order.

Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just
profits out of this war. Why not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000
— count them if you live long enough — was spent by Uncle Sam in building
airplane engines that never left the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion
dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France. Just the same the manufacturers
made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.

Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment —
knapsacks and the things that go to fill them — crammed warehouses on this side. Now
they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents. But the
manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them — and they will do it all over
again the next time.

There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.

One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch
wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The only trouble was that there was only one
nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the one that holds the
turbines at Niagara Falls. Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had
pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the
United States in an effort to find a use for them. When the Armistice was signed it was
indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make some nuts to fit
the wrenches. Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.

Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn’t ride in
automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of
Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for
the use of colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war

The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. They
built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of
the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn’t
float! The seams opened up — and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody
pocketed the profits.

It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers
that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was
expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits.
That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000
profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.

The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions industry and its
wartime profits, despite its sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the surface.

Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department has been studying
“for some time” methods of keeping out of war. The War Department suddenly
decides it has a wonderful plan to spring. The Administration names a committee —
with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street
speculator — to limit profits in war time. To what extent isn’t suggested. Hmmm.
Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold
in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitation of
losses — that is, the losses of those who fight the war. As far as I have been able
to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye,
or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12
per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a
division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters.

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Who Pays The Bills?

Who provides the profits — these nice little profits of 20, 100,
300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them — in taxation. We paid the bankers
their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to
the bankers. These bankers collected $100 plus. It was a simple manipulation. The bankers
control the security marts. It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then
all of us — the people — got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86. The
bankers bought them. Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went
to par — and above. Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don’t believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the
battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran’s hospitals in the United States. On a
tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have
visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000
destroyed men — men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able
chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the
living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those
who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices
and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were
made over; they were made to “about face”; to regard murder as the order of the
day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely
changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of
killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another
“about face” ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers’ aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn’t
need them any more. So we scattered them about without any “three-minute” or
“Liberty Loan” speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are
eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final “about
face” alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are
in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside
the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys
don’t even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in
good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are
coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of
that excitement — the young boys couldn’t stand it.

That’s a part of the bill. So much for the dead — they have paid
their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded — they
are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too — they paid
with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to
don the uniform of Uncle Sam — on which a profit had been made. They paid another
part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their
jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches
where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept
in the mud and the cold and in the rain — with the moans and shrieks of the dying for
a horrible lullaby.

But don’t forget — the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents
bill too.

Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a prize system,
and soldiers and sailors fought for money. During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in
many instances, before they went into service. The government, or states, paid as high as
$1,200 for an enlistment. In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When we
captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their share — at least, they were supposed
to. Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of wars by taking all the prize money
and keeping it, but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then soldiers couldn’t
bargain for their labor, Everyone else could bargain, but the soldier couldn’t.

Napoleon once said,

“All men are enamored of decorations . . . they positively hunger for

So by developing the Napoleonic system — the medal business —
the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be
decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor
was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued
until the Spanish-American War.

In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept
conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn’t join the army.

So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it.
With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the
Germans. God is on our side . . . it is His will that the Germans be killed.

And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the
allies . . . to please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to
make people war conscious and murder conscious.

Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die.
This was the “war to end all wars.” This was the “war to make the world
safe for democracy.” No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going
and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they
might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the
ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United
States patents. They were just told it was to be a “glorious adventure.”

Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to
make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones
behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get
it) and kill and kill and kill . . . and be killed.

But wait!

Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a
laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to
support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we
made him pay what amounted to accident insurance — something the employer pays for in
an enlightened state — and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month

Then, the most crowning insolence of all — he was virtually
blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy
Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back
— when they came back from the war and couldn’t find work — at $84 and $86. And
the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays
too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At
nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in
their beds and tossed sleeplessly — his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters,
his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind
broken, they suffered too — as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and
they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers
and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty
Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus
of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken
and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.

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How To Smash This Racket!

WELL, it’s a racket, all right.

A few profit — and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it.
You can’t end it by disarmament conferences. You can’t eliminate it by peace parleys at
Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can’t wipe it out by resolutions. It can be
smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.

The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry
and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government
can conscript the young men of the nation — it must conscript capital and industry
and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our
armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders
and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as
the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted — to get $30 a month, the same wage
as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages — all the
workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers — yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all
politicians and all government office holders — everyone in the nation be restricted
to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those
workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their
monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn’t they?

They aren’t running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies
mangled or their minds shattered. They aren’t sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren’t
hungry. The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and
you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket —
that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has some say. So
capital won’t permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people — those who
do the suffering and still pay the price — make up their minds that those they elect
to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the
limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all
the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying.
There wouldn’t be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory
or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a
uniform manufacturing plant — all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the
event of war — voting on whether the nation should go to war or not. They never would
be called upon to shoulder arms — to sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who
would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of
voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected.
Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary
to be able to read and write before you may vote. In some, you must own property. It would
be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their
communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically.
Those who could pass and who would therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of
war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite. They should be the ones to have the
power to decide — and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit
and fewer still of whom are in physical condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer
should have the right to vote.

A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make
certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval
appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a
lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don’t shout that “We
need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation.” Oh no. First of all,
they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these
admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and
annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy.
For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For
defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the
Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The
maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond
expression to see the united States fleet so close to Nippon’s shores. Even as pleased as
would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist,
the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.

The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited,
by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine
would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would
have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample,
in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war
if its ships can’t go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted
to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army
should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

  1. We must take the profit out of war.
  2. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide
    whether or not there should be war.
  3. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.

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To Hell With War!

I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know
the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another

Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a
platform that he had “kept us out of war” and on the implied promise that he
would “keep us out of war.” Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare
war on Germany.

In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they
had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed
away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?


An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the
war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers.
The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he
told the President and his group:

“There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The cause of the
allies is lost. We now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American
manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.

If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lose) we,
England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money . . . and Germany won’t.

So . . . ”

Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned,
and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been
available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War.
But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our
boys were sent off to war they were told it was a “war to make the world safe for
democracy” and a “war to end all wars.”

Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had
then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France
or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or
Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.

And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that
the World War was really the war to end all wars.

Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms
conferences. They don’t mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have
been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and
our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don’t want to disarm. No admiral
wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men
without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at
all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the
sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not
disarm or seriously limit armaments.

The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to
achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for
any potential foe.

There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability.
That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle,
every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.

The next war, according to experts, will be fought not with
battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and not with machine guns. It will be
fought with deadly chemicals and gases.

Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier
means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the
shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and
rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the
soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits

But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of
our scientists.

If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish
mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the
constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this
useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war — even the
munitions makers.

So…I say,


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