I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers.
-Major General Smedly D. Butler
After his retirement from the Marine Corps, Major General Smedley D. Butler made a nationwide tour in the early 1930s giving his speech “War is a Racket.” What separates Butler from other historical military figures is that he is one of only 19 people in history to win the Medal of Honor, twice. So, when a highly decorated, two-star general takes to the stage to assert that war is a racket, people listen — most people, anyway.
In one of his speeches, Butler decried war and pointed out how so many people died just to benefit a very small ‘inside’ group. The speech read in part,
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.
On Tuesday, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson courageously asserted in an extended interview with Salon, “I think Smedley Butler was onto something.”
“Was Bill Clinton’s expansion of NATO – after George H.W. Bush and James Baker had assured Gorbachev and then Yeltsin that he wouldn’t go an inch further east – was this for Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, and Boeing, and others, to increase their network of potential weapons sales?” Wilkerson asked. “You bet it was,” he answered.
Wilkerson pointed out that the military industrial complex “is much more pernicious than Eisenhower ever thought it would be,” pointing to Lockheed Martin’s role in providing arms to repressive Middle Eastern regimes like Saudi Arabia and increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Earlier this month, US-supplied missiles were used by Saudi Arabia to kill dozens of innocent women and children after an attack on a market place in Yemen.
As Sputnik reports, since the middle of the 20th century, the US military-industrial complex has branched out from simple weapons manufacture to promulgating think tanks and other forms of legal and tax-exempt non-profit organizations that purport to be impartial, writing editorials and policy proposals that support the agenda of the military-industrial infrastructure, and often adopted as policy by Congress and the executive branch.
“Is there a penchant on behalf of the Congress to bless the use of force more often than not because of the constituencies they have and the money they get from the defense contractors? You bet,” said Wilkerson.
“In many respects it is now private interests that benefit most from our use of military force, whether it is private security contractors that are still all over Iraq or Afghanistan or it’s the bigger known defense contractors, like Lockheed Martin,” he stated.
“It’s not like Dick Cheney or someone like that went and said let’s have a war because we want to make money for Halliburton, but it is a pernicious on decision-making,” the former Bush official explained. “And the fact that they donate so much money to congressional elections and to PACs and so forth is another pernicious influence.”
“Those who deny this are just being utterly naive, or they are complicit too,” Wilkerson added.
“Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents,” Wilkerson said, once again channelling Smedley Butler.
Finishing off his interview, the retired Army Colonel stated, powerfully, “We are the death merchant of the world. We’ve privatized the ultimate public function: war.”