United States Marine Corps, General, World War I war hero, twice the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, racketeer for capitalism, patriot.
What had happened behind the scenes was that Butler had told Roosevelt that either he could withdraw from office voluntarily or be forced out by 500,000 veterans from the American Legion there to "protect Roosevelt from plotters". Roosevelt gave in.
One of Butler's advisors, Gerald MacGuire from the Connecticut American Legion had this to say:
"We need a fascist government in this country... to save the nation from the communists who want to tear it down and wreck all that we have built in America. The only men who have the patriotism to do it are the soldiers, and Smedley Butler is the ideal leader. He could organize a million men overnight...The new Secretary of General Affairs began to take direction from various famous Wall Street investors. The gold standard that Roosevelt had abandoned was reinstated. Roosevelt continued to be active, but only as a figurehead - making appearances to shake hands and kiss babies. America was well on its way to joining the fascist dictatorships around the world.
"You know the American people will swallow that. We have got the newspapers. We will start a campaign that the President's health is failing. Everyone can tell that by looking at him."
You're right. Smedley Butler had more integrity than the plotters of the coup gave him credit for. Instead of making the ultimatum to Roosevelt, he went public and revealed details of the coup to the McCormack-Dickstein Committee.
The plot unraveled. However, the final report of the committee covered up the incident. Names of plotters who were powerful businessmen were deleted. The media did not report it because the plotters included executives from Du Pont (John J. Raskob), Goodyear (Grayson Murphy), J.P. Morgan (John Davis), and a former governor (Al Smith). Butler had his own friends in the press and in Congress, but not enough. He was ridiculed by Time magazine. The New York Times reported it as a minor story.
Butler gave this speech in 1933:
"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of 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 masses... the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
"I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
"...I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. 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. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
"I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
"...Looking back on it, I feel that I could 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."
Comment from thisisby.us by XavierOnassis
on Nov. 01, 2007 at 08:59am
delighted to see this posted, seeya. good on ya.
Yes, the brave Major General Smedley S. Butler was one of the most highly decorated Marines ever, and beloved by his men. Yes, he stopped a coup being plotted against FDR. The pamphlet "War Is A Racket" was once widely read.
I have yet to meet in person a fellow american who knows one bloody thing about him, or even knows his name. There used to be a great page all about him at the Marine Corps.' official website, but i don't know if it's still there. The entire text of "War Is A Racket" can easily be found by googling, though, and can be printed off to share with family and friends (or left behind in your dentist's waiting room.)
Those who don't know of him, his is a very interesting story.