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Grey Matter

Sunday, May 29th

War Is A Racket

music: By Major General Smedley Butler

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:
capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914
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.






CHAPTER ONE

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 profit.

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 children?

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

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.





CHAPTER TWO

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 cent.

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.

Undershirts for soldiers cost 14 [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30 to 40 each for them -- a nice little profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers -- all got theirs.

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 profit.

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.





CHAPTER THREE

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 them."

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 left.

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.





CHAPTER FOUR

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 coast.

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.


We must take the profit out of war.


We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.


We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.





CHAPTER FIVE

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 war.

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?

Money.

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 too.

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,

TO HELL WITH WAR!


HL on 05.29.05 @ 10:30 AM PST [link] [1 Comment]


Why I'm joining the GOP

music: Leaving the left for fun and profit
mood: Jeff Gillenkirk

After a lifetime voting for and working for Democratic candidates and independents, I'm finally going to make the switch and become a Republican.

The reasons are many, not the least of which is age. I turned 55 recently and, having lived more than half my life, I can't afford to worry anymore about the other guy. It's time for me.

As a Republican, I can now proudly -- indeed, defiantly -- pledge to never again vote for anyone who raises taxes for any reason. To hell with roads, bridges, schools, police and fire protection, Medicare, Social Security and regulation of the airwaves.

President Bush has promised to give me more tax cuts even though our federal government owes trillions of dollars to its creditors. But that's someone else's problem, not mine. Republicans are about the here and now, and I'm here now.

As a Republican, I can favor exploiting the environment for everything she's got. No need to worry about quaint notions like posterity and natural legacy. There are plenty of resources left for everyone, and if we don't use them, someone else will.

I want a party that doesn't worry about things before we have to. Republicans refuse to get hog-tied by theories such as global warming, ozone depletion, fished-out oceans and disappearing wetlands. The real problems -- if there are any -- aren't forecast to take hold for at least 50 years. So what do I care? I'll be dead.

As a Republican, I can swagger and clamor for war -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, wherever -- even though I've never fought in one or even been in the military. I can claim that we're fighting for Democracy, ignoring reports of torture at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base and Guantanamo Bay, and a spreading gulag of secret detention centers around the world.

Freedom, as every American should know after spending $300 billion for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, isn't free.

As a Republican, I can insist on strict moral values when it comes to sex and ignore the growing moral chasms in business, politics, sports, journalism and the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

A society that loses control of its sexual urges faces unwanted pregnancies, socially transmitted disease, broken families. Those overzealous about wealth, however, produce only a higher GDP, lifelong security for their family and more minimum wage jobs for the lower classes. What's wrong with that?

As a Republican, I can favor strict punishment of criminals, except for those who happen to be my friends or neighbors. Isn't that the very definition of community -- looking out for friends and family?

I will be pro-death penalty and anti-abortion, pro-child but anti-child care, for education but against funding of public schools. As a Republican, I'll have a better chance of getting to spout my opinions in the media, which for some reason seems convinced that since Bush was re-elected with the smallest electoral margin of any sitting president in history, liberals are passe.

As a Republican, I'll say goodbye to "old Jesus" and hello to "new Jesus." Sure Christ started out as a liberal Jew, and look where that got him. Compassion, love and diatribes against the rich only encourage the weak and punish the most successful among us. The Jesus that Republicans worship is a muscular, decisive, pro-war crusader hard at work cleansing the world of evildoers, not, God forbid, turning the other cheek.

My decision to become a Republican didn't come easily. For years I clung to the idea that the foundation of a democratic society was our implied social contract, each of us committing some level of personal sacrifice to the common good of all.

I regarded taxes as dues we pay for better roads and schools, safe inspection of meat and dairy products, maintenance of parks and protection of wilderness areas. I see now that looking out for the common good resulted in shortchanging the most important element in this formula -- me.

Let Democrats continue promising the "greatest good for the greatest number." Republicans clearly have my number -- No. 1.

I'm sure a lot of my friends reading this will ask me, "How can you sleep?" My answer will be, "Who's got time? I'm busy earning money." While they're bellyaching about rising deficits, the outsourcing of jobs and casualties in Iraq, I'll be marveling at the march of freedom in the Middle East, upticks in the GDP and the president's plan to link Social Security to the magic of the marketplace.

As a Republican, I simply won't listen to bad news anymore. Bad news doesn't get me or my family anywhere. If you don't have anything good to say about somebody, don't say anything at all -- unless it happens to be about a Democrat, of course.

Jeff Gillenkirk was a speechwriter for former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. He lives in San Francisco. Contact us at insight@sfchronicle.com.


HL on 05.29.05 @ 10:28 AM PST [link] [No Comments]


Thursday, May 26th

Joe Bageant: 'Free people do bad things'


A while back there was a wrestling promotion campaign in which young children were encouraged to attend local wrestling bringing weapons of their own creation. The weapons would later be used in the ring. One small boy returned with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. Asked about the wisdom of encouraging the child to create such brutal weapons, the kid's father appeared dumbfounded: "This is just entertainment! It's fun!" World champion Wrestling's Vince McMahon's indignant response was, "This is still a free country. I will not let anyone stop me." The implication being of course, "I am a great defender of freedom against evil liberal regulation." Then he looked into the camera to his fans and said: "DON'T LET ANYONE STOP YOU!"

Well kick my ass and call me Henry! Spare us all from liberal sissies unable to see the good clean family fun in clubbing folks bloody with barbed wire wrapped baseball bats. About the only consolation here is that, were Vince McMahon to be pulverized by the very same bat on TV, the same people whose basest instincts he exploits for profit would LOVE IT. Hell, I'd love it. At any rate, McMahon is an example of true, unregulated "freedom-in-business." And to think that we once thought football was about as bad as America's bread and circuses would get.

Why does it feel like the brutality of a Vince McMahon, football, the NRA, Wall Street, Republicans and America's far-flung network of secret prisons and desert wars all have something to do with one another? Connected in some way? Why this unnamable suspicion in the back of the mind, and darting sense of fear? Ah yes! Something is happening here, and we all know what it is, don't we Mr. Joooooones! Things are bound to turn more ugly.



For now though, our attention is absorbed in the efforts of our armed and clueless youth who, rather like pit bulls, are turned loose on the rest of world. About 1,500 of them have been killed, but not before killing a hundred thousand or so Iraqis, nearly all of them civilians. The carnage in Iraq is not a problem. "Free people do bad things," said Donald Rumsfeld (referring to the murderous Iraqi clusterfuck masquerading as a government over there.) But at least we are returning to our violent roots. As any indigenous person can tell you, we are coming home to the values that made America great. Abu Ghraib was a fresh start at reestablishing our violent national heritage that began with Indian slaughter and seemed to stall out a bit after Vietnam. But we're baaaaaack! And we're as bad-assed as ever.

Presiding over all at this critical but vulgar time in our history is, rather appropriately, a vulgar idiot whose second bogus inaugural was hosted by Trent Lott, a deliberate "fuck you" precisely equivalent to those Mississippi men groping themselves for the cameras of Life magazine back in the 1960s. Our esteemed president IS one of those men. Things smell more ominous by the day, and to quote the late Dr. Thompson, "Big darkness, soon come." Feels like it's already here. Hunter also said "a man with a greed for the truth should expect no mercy and give none." Damned good advice, I would say. Because from this desk at the edge of Washington D.C., it looks like we are not about to get any at all. (Bear with me; there is a theme in here somewhere. I promise to find it.)

Speaking of bringing up America's brutal Reich tykes, there is Scott Hildreth of Pinellas Park, Florida who is grooming his 10-year-old son Joshua to do jail time. Josh is one of six children --- ages 10 to 14 --- arrested for crossing a police line at the Woodside Hospice to take water to Terri Schiavo. Josh pestered his dad (himself arrested many times at abortion clinics) to drive him there from Kannapolis, N.C., so he could be arrested at the Schiavo circus. Meanwhile, other children stood by with duct-taped mouths labeled "JAIL" in black magic marker.

God told Josh to do it. "My wife and I felt like God really put it on his heart, and that we should come down, to allow him to live out what God had put on his heart," says Scott Heldreth.

So there goes little Joshie, doing his daddy proud, walking right up to the sheriff's deputies, carrying his plastic cup of water. After he refused two orders to halt, deputies cuffed his hands behind his back and loaded him into a van with 14-year-old twin girls. At the courthouse, the three youngsters were photographed, fingerprinted and released. Josh described the event with smarminess worthy of the most self-righteous fundamentalist: "We were smiling for Jesus and they didn't like that much," he said. Which proves that if you get to a kid early enough, you can probably have him throwing his first firebomb into a clinic before he even discovers masturbation. You canyou're your sweet ass he will be combat ready for North Korean duty by age eighteen.

My redneck psychotherapist friend Brad Blanton tells me that militarization and open democratic societies do not work together at all and produce pathologies at both the individual and collective levels. Thus we get such conflicted bullshit as the U.S. soldiers being kind to that Iraqi boy wiggling around in his pus stained bed like a bandaged grub because an America bomb took off his arms and legs. "Attention private first class Leroy Rodriquez Jackson! Stand forward and give that dusky little torso with a head a chocolate bar and a Wal-Mart teddy bear. And grin for the camera, for Christ sake! Hey let's airlift the kid to Germany, mount four metal claws on the stumps, and hang him on the playground monkey bars. Make a great PR shot! One thing for sure, that one won't ever be driving any suicide car bombs into the compound, right private?" (Heh, heh,heh!)

But you have to feel sorry for Private Jackson. It is his ass that gets caught in the disconnect, as he tries to wrap his head around how to be "lethal and compassionate." As in "Kill the motherfuckers, but be loving and kind to children as you blow their parents' guts out onto the sidewalk." People who kill other people are desensitized. Humans are hardened to the face of suffering; the killing becomes reality, compassion an abstraction. Private Jackson is totally screwed. When he does his soldierly duty of causing misery, death and maiming, he must do it compassionately, according to some hallucination generated in the Pentagon by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. The hallucination is transferred through the chain of command until it reaches where the rubber meets the road---then five privates go on trial for hurting an enemy they were specifically trained to kill. Anyone who has ever been in the armed forces understands the certain hypocrisy of the proposition.

For some reason though, civilians, smugly ensconced in their recliners and on barstools, cannot grasp why ignorant kid soldiers do horrible things during wars. I once defended Lynndie England in print and got hundreds of emails demonizing the poor Appalachian mutt girl, saying that she dishonored our "heroes" in Iraq. State generated garbage such as "Lethal and compassionate" works fine for these people, whose entire lives have been spent in the controlled environment of America's industrial military state marketing messages. All these post-teens in desert camo, the ones making the "good kills," as an appropriately conducted murder of an Iraqi is deemed military parlance, they are heroes on the TV news. Funny how you cannot see their Clearasil on TV. I have never seen as much acne medicine as when I was in the military during the Nam era, of which this war reminds me greatly.

As James Carroll brilliantly put it in "A Nation Lost" (Boston Globe 4/22/03):
"Photographic celebrations of our young warriors, glorifications of released American prisoners, heroic rituals of the war dead all take on the character of crass exploitation of the men and women in uniform. First they were forced into a dubious circumstance, and now they are themselves being mythologized as its main post-facto justification -- as if the United States went to Iraq not to seize Saddam (disappeared), or to dispose of weapons of mass destruction (missing), or to save the Iraqi people (chaos), but ''to support the troops.'' War thus becomes its own justification. Such confusion on this grave point, as on the others, signifies a nation lost"
I just heard that Vern and Sherry's kid, Glen, got killed in Iraq. Vern and Sherry lived in a log cabin near me on the Coeur de Alene Reservation in Idaho a couple decades ago, back when many white people live on little plots inside the res. Vern had emphysema, Sherry weighed over 300 pounds, and they had a white malamute dog named Ike. The isolation bothered us older people sometimes, and Vern and I drank a lit of whiskey during the six winters I lived there. Hell it was two miles to the mailbox and seven miles to the main road, there was no electricity, and about the only fun available in winter was drinking, guitar picking and horse logging when the ground froze solid enough. But Glen was a little loner and never seemed to mind.

Anyway, Glen, that skinny kid in the fatigues who loved to fish and hunt and damned near set my cabin on fire once while playing with matches, is dead. Killed by a roadside IED. And I cannot help but think about the road that led him to Baghdad. The one that started with the deepest love of his crippled up ole daddy and ended, right along with his chances in life, right after high school when there was no possibility of college and no work within a hundred miles of the reservation. The kid was quick as a whip, just like his daddy who could draw, do calc in his head and break horses on those days he had enough wind to tackle the job. And like his daddy, Glen was born into on of those corners of America where people are rooted in the earth they were born upon and grow up grounded enough not to care about making it in the big city or imitating what they see on television. They also grow up proud of their country, untroubled by the bitter truths borne by more educated people. Their notion of patriotism has to do with a sense of place and people, blood, kin and whatever higher power rustles the branches great red fir trees, animates both the chipmunk and the mountain lion, and stirs fish to leap in the rivers. Hard as it will be for urban readers to understand, Glen was a stone cold country boy of a kind mostly vanished from America. The real thing. Now he is dead and now the Iraq War has plucked the most sacred thing from the lives of a poor crippled up old man and his huge sad wife crying in their shabby little cabin on the range above the Minneloosa Valley in Idaho. People like Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld could give a goddamned what I think. In fact, millions of fellow Americans who support the war could care less what banged up old writer down in Virginia thinks. So I know I am yelling into the wind. But I think there is not one goddamned thing in the entire nation of Iraq worth the life of that boy.

One wonders just how long the slaughter can be sanitized by the state. A quarter million young men and women will eventually return. At least a few of them will speak the truth, though our supine media will not hear them unless it is sweeps week and they need the ratings.

But overall, we can expect more of the same. Thousands more dead, blood and treasure hemorrhaged on desert sand for the satisfaction of an elite cult of aging rich men obsessed with power. Americans seem not too worried. They knowingly reelected the men who orchestrated perhaps the bloodiest public hoodwinking in American history, one spawned in secrecy, hatched behind closed doors and launched upon the world amid a flurry of the most vulgar sort of lies. Lies so huge, so brazen that even now most Americans simply do not believe anyone would have that kind of balls. Dick Cheney has said that: "The American people will continue to support this ongoing effort to establish freedom and democracy in the world."

Or to put it in the parlance of the dwarves of darkness behind the thick oval room curtain: "The dumb fucks will never see through it."

Copyright 2005 by Joe Bageant

Joe Bageant is a writer and magazine editor living in Winchester, Virginia. He may be contacted at bageantjb@netscape.net.

HL on 05.26.05 @ 12:28 PM PST [link] [1 Comment]


Monday, May 16th

Welcome to H.Ls Interactive Blog


Whats up people, let me know whats on your mind, You can talk about anything, its your Forum. Thanks for tuning in H.L.
HL on 05.16.05 @ 07:45 AM PST [link] [2 Comments]


Tuesday, May 3rd

Your Comments to Todays (or Yesterdays) Stories

music: Tell me what you think

Hi, Welcome to H.L.s Blog. Add your comment to any of the stories we put up. Just say which story you want to Talk about. You can talk about the story itself, or H.L.s Takes: Hell you can talk about whatever you want. I will comment, on the good comments tomorrow. H.L.
HL on 05.03.05 @ 11:03 AM PST [link] [14 Comments]


Monday, May 2nd

Bloodied Marines Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men


music: by Michael Moss

Bloodied Marines Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men
By MICHAEL MOSS

Published: April 25, 2005


On May 29, 2004, a station wagon that Iraqi insurgents had packed with C-4 explosives blew up on a highway in Ramadi, killing four American marines who died for lack of a few inches of steel.

The four were returning to camp in an unarmored Humvee that their unit had rigged with scrap metal, but the makeshift shields rose only as high as their shoulders, photographs of the Humvee show, and the shrapnel from the bomb shot over the top.
"The steel was not high enough," said Staff Sgt. Jose S. Valerio, their motor transport chief, who along with the unit's commanding officers said the men would have lived had their vehicle been properly armored. "Most of the shrapnel wounds were to their heads."

Among those killed were Rafael Reynosa, a 28-year-old lance corporal from Santa Ana, Calif., whose wife was expecting twins, and Cody S. Calavan, a 19-year-old private first class from Lake Stevens, Wash., who had the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, tattooed across his back.

They were not the only losses for Company E during its six-month stint last year in Ramadi. In all, more than one-third of the unit's 185 troops were killed or wounded, the highest casualty rate of any company in the war, Marine Corps officials say.

In returning home, the leaders and Marine infantrymen have chosen to break an institutional code of silence and tell their story, one they say was punctuated not only by a lack of armor, but also by a shortage of men and planning that further hampered their efforts in battle, destroyed morale and ruined the careers of some of their fiercest warriors.

The saga of Company E, part of a lionized battalion nicknamed the Magnificent Bastards, is also one of fortitude and ingenuity. The marines, based at Camp Pendleton in southern California, had been asked to rid the provincial capital of one of the most persistent insurgencies, and in enduring 26 firefights, 90 mortar attacks and more than 90 homemade bombs, they shipped their dead home and powered on. Their tour has become legendary among other Marine units now serving in Iraq and facing some of the same problems.

"As marines, we are always taught that we do more with less," said Sgt. James S. King, a platoon sergeant who lost his left leg when he was blown out of the Humvee that Saturday afternoon last May. "And get the job done no matter what it takes."

The experiences of Company E's marines, pieced together through interviews at Camp Pendleton and by phone, company records and dozens of photographs taken by the marines, show they often did just that. The unit had less than half the troops who are now doing its job in Ramadi, and resorted to making dummy marines from cardboard cutouts and camouflage shirts to place in observation posts on the highway when it ran out of men. During one of its deadliest firefights, it came up short on both vehicles and troops. Marines who were stranded at their camp tried in vain to hot-wire a dump truck to help rescue their falling brothers. That day, 10 men in the unit died.

Sergeant Valerio and others had to scrounge for metal scraps to strengthen the Humvees they inherited from the National Guard, which occupied Ramadi before the marines arrived. Among other problems, the armor the marines slapped together included heavier doors that could not be latched, so they "chicken winged it" by holding them shut with their arms as they traveled.

"We were sitting out in the open, an easy target for everybody," Cpl. Toby G. Winn of Centerville, Tex., said of the shortages. "We complained about it every day, to anybody we could. They told us they were listening, but we didn't see it."

The company leaders say it is impossible to know how many lives may have been saved through better protection, since the insurgents became adept at overcoming improved defenses with more powerful weapons. Likewise, Pentagon officials say they do not know how many of the more than 1,500 American troops who have died in the war had insufficient protective gear.




HL on 05.02.05 @ 02:48 PM PST [more..] [No Comments]