Bombing Another Third-World Toilet

US Foreign Policy is insane. Why do we think bombing every third-world toilet on this planet is going to solve the world’s problems? The recent mess in Libya is another mis-guided venture that will surely have unintended consequences in the future as they always do. In honor of our leader’s stupidity (in both parties), I recommend this classic by Major General Smedley Butler of the USMC. General Butler was a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and was the most decorated Marine ever at the time of his death:

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.

 

Craig Rowland

I own the place.

16 Responses

  1. Panskeptic says:

    Butler is a fine man to quote.

    A bunch of hostile reactionary millionaires (including Bush’s grandfather) hired him to organize WWI vets, march on Washington and depose FDR in a military coup.

    Fortunately he got cold feet and withdrew, but his record is not sterling.

  2. craigr says:

    The coup idea seemed to not be very serious. Besides, FDR did a tremendous amount of damage to the country with his policies. So it’s not like he was an angel either.

  3. slk23 says:

    FDR wasn’t perfect, but who is? Seems to me that the U.S. entered a long period of prosperity in the years after FDR. After 12 years as president I think he deserves some credit for that.

    In the late ’30s there was a strong isolationist movement in this country as war began in Europe. FDR recognized what was at stake much earlier than many and did what he could to support our allies.

  4. craigr says:

    The 30′s also had a very strong communist movement in the country which FDR embraced and it seriously dragged out recovery. The National Recovery Act, a cornerstone of his New Deal efforts, was especially damaging for instance. FDR had a lot of problems.

  5. slk23 says:

    Craig, I respect your commentary about the Permanent Portfolio. But I can’t take you seriously when you say FDR embraced communism. I’m sorry, but that sounds like wingnut territory. Since you seem like a rational person I’m going to assume you don’t equate trade unions, etc. with communism. And yes, I realize the NRA went further than protecting unions, but nothing that I’d call communist.

    The NRA is generally considered a failure, but they were at least trying to get the country on its feet. Remember that the conditions were unprecedented and no one had the answer. It’s easy to criticize in hindsight, and I wouldn’t be surprised if FDR himself didn’t have some regrets later about mistakes made.

  6. craigr says:

    The National Recovery Act (NRA) created national production cartels for all major industry. They fixed prices, controlled productive output and imprisoned those that didn’t follow the guidelines. These were codified in “codes of fair competition” designed to basically create industry wide monopolies on production with ultimate state oversight of prices and productive output.

    Quoting from the Wikipedia entry on the NRA:

    “At this moment in time from the early days of the New Deal, it is difficult to recapture, even in imagination, the heady enthusiasm among a goodly number of intellectuals for a government planned economy. So far as can now be told, they believed that a bright new day was dawning, that national planning would result in an organically integrated economy in which everyone would joyfully work for the common good, and that American society would be freed at last from those antagonisms arising, as General Hugh Johnson put it, from “the murderous doctrine of savage and wolfish individualism, looking to dog-eat-dog and devil take the hindmost.”

    Sounds communist to me.

    The case that broke the NRA was Schechter Poultry vs. US. In this case the owners of the business were imprisoned for allowing customers to chose what chicken they wanted and, shockingly, selling the chickens for below the official price set by the industry control group! The reason this country had soup lines, etc was directly because of this piece of legislation. They artificially kept up prices and created supply shortages through mismanagement.

    Going further, several years back I interviewed a woman in her mid 90s that clearly remembers the Great Depression. She and her family lived in a rural area. Her Uncle would sometimes bring them excess food he had grown on his farm. He was not allowed to sell the surplus food. He wasn’t even allowed to give it away. He was told to destroy it! He would give them the food in secret and they would barter it with neighbors for things they needed. If he was ever caught doing this he would be thrown in jail! That’s crazy communist theory right there.

    These and other examples abound from that era. I suggest reading a book called the Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes. She goes into these and other kinds of insanity that was going on during this time.

    FDR was certainly pushing communist policies. That’s what the history shows. And these policies had the same disastrous results as they did in other collectively planned economies.

  7. slk23 says:

    Okay, Craig. FDR was a communist :-} I’m sure you’ll find some people who will agree with you but your opinions are on the fringe. FDR is regarded as one of the best presidents we’re had, which I don’t think would be the case if it were generally accepted that he supported communism.

    To maintain my image of you as a rational, non-ideological person I’d like to see you apply the same zeal in critiquing conservatives. Recent history offers plenty to criticize in the policies and actions or Reagan and the Bushes.

    Back to FDR, the record speaks for itself. He was president during the most tumultuous period our country has seen outside of the war for independence and the civil war. By the end of his 12 years as president the country was entering a period of long prosperity. Whatever false steps he took I don’t think his legacy can be dismissed.

  8. craigr says:

    I was taught the same thing in school about FDR and only his efforts saved us in the Great Depression. Etc. But the narrative made no sense to me. The recovery capacity of a free market should not have allowed that situation to continue that long (A 16 year depression? Really? In a free market economy? I don’t think so.). He is regarded as one of the best presidents certainly by historians that love big government though. But outside this circle his greatness is certainly open to question and I do question it having come from your position initially.

    I never said I was non-ideologcal though. I’m a very strong free-market proponent and dislike anything with a collectivist bent to it. Those solutions never work and make problems much worse. But that’s another debate. Even so-called conservatives are quick to limit free-markets and impose their own will on people to suit their needs. So I wouldn’t even put me ideologically in their camp.

    FDR’s actions made the Great Depression worse. There isn’t a doubt in my mind about it when you review the evidence. As for this prosperity, well we came out of a war and disabled his price controls and rationing legislation that existed in various forms for years. So the full productive capacity could be used to build more useful things than tanks and planes and tight control of the economy was loosened. So yes there was prosperity. But the cynical side of me points out that it only happened *after* he died. :)

  9. craigr says:

    Also I’m not looking to turn this into an FDR bashing commentary (as fun as that is). The point here is yet again we have unilateral military action with no constitutional authority. I normally don’t talk politics in this blog, but these actions really make my blood boil.

  10. slk23 says:

    I certainly don’t see FDR as a saint. Admittedly he made mistakes and I can’t agree with all his policies. However, sitting here 80 years later it’s easy to pick apart his efforts to end a terrible depression. BTW, I don’t see how you can count WWII as part of the depression.

    Also, some collective structures work. Insurance, for example.

    And weren’t there many govt controls during WWII on prices, wages, etc.?

  11. slk23 says:

    Why don’t you go a little deeper and direct some outrage at the military-industrial complex? That and the financial ‘industry’ are destroying the soul of this country, IMHO.

  12. craigr says:

    WWII is often counted as part of the Depression by many. After all, many prominent economists say that WWII helped end the Depression. This is Broken Window Fallacy error though. There were price, wage, rationing during WWII for certain. Those that think WWII ended the Depression must think rationing of butter and other daily goods along with getting millions of people killed is a good thing. I don’t, but my text books in school didn’t seem to consider this point. They just talked about FDR’s leadership through the Great Depression and how evil businesses got in the way of his vision. No, I’m not exaggerating. That’s what I was taught in grade school in a nutshell.

    Collective structures like insurance can work, but there is still a risk of abuse which is why insurance companies are very careful about who they allow in, etc. But I would point out that govt. interference in health care (like requiring insurance companies to allow in anyone regardless of condition or how long they’ve been paying) is going to break the entire model. Kind of like allowing someone to buy fire insurance when the house is burning. It will, of course, be blamed on the free market though when it happens. :(

  13. craigr says:

    “Why don’t you go a little deeper and direct some outrage at the military-industrial complex? That and the financial ‘industry’ are destroying the soul of this country, IMHO.”

    Eisenhower’s farewell address is worth watching on this topic. He was decades ahead of his time. You’ll note that the Butler book in this post directly addresses the military industrial complex as well (a term coined by Eisenhower in his speech).

    Excerpt of Eisenhower’s farewell speech:

  14. slk23 says:

    Now it sounds like you’re blaming FDR for WWII! Gosh, he just can’t get anything past you ;-}

    And yes, I’m aware of Eisenhower’s farewell address. I didn’t mention it because I assumed that as a reasonably informed person you would be aware of it too.

    I didn’t agree with HB’s politics, but I really admired his humility and modesty. I’m not saying you lack those qualities… but it’s something to keep in mind.

    I can see this will go on forever until I stop since you’re obviously a ‘last word’ kind of person. But I suspect you’ve heard that before ;-} So I will retire after this comment.

  15. craigr says:

    I’m not addressing his leadership during WWII which was a very difficult time for our country. But I do question his leadership during the 1930s.

    I was actually going to let you get the last word but I just wanted to clarify that one point. Yes I’m more blunt than HB was. We all have our faults.

  16. Jimbo says:

    535 idiots starting at the top slowly but surely destroying a once great nation.