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War Is a Racket

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War Is a Racket is a speech and a 1935 short book, by Smedley D. Butler, a retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two-time Medal of Honor recipient. Based on his career military experience, Butler discusses how business interests commercially benefit, such as war profiteering from warfare. He had been appointed commanding officer of the Gendarmerie during the United States occupation of Haiti, which lasted from 1915 to 1934.

After Butler retired from the US Marine Corps, he made a nationwide tour in the early 1930s giving his speech "War is a Racket". The speech was so well received that he wrote a longer version as a short book published in 1935. His work was condensed in Reader's Digest as a book supplement, which helped popularize his message. In an introduction to the Reader's Digest version, Lowell Thomas praised Butler's "moral as well as physical courage".[2] Thomas had written Smedley Butler's oral autobiography.

In War Is a Racket, Butler points to a variety of examples, mostly from World War I, where industrialists, whose operations were subsidized by public funding, were able to generate substantial profits, making money from mass human suffering.

The work is divided into five chapters:

War is a racket

Who makes the profits?

Who pays the bills?

How to smash this racket!

To hell with war!

It contains this summary:

"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."


Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler later became an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences. He also exposed an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.

By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (along with Wendell Neville and David Porter) and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.


In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations, but a final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler's testimony.

In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those in which he had been involved, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular advocate, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.

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The embedded version is an audio book. 

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Posted by George Freund on October 8, 2019 at 11:04 AM 66 Views