War Is a Racket

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This is
a speech delivered in 1933.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Smedley
Butler was a major general in the USMC.

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