“War is just a racket.”
– Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, 1933
Smedley Darlington Butler is famous for two things. First, winning two–TWO!–Medals of Honor, as well as 14 other medals in his 34-year career in the Marines. Second, for loudly denouncing U.S. military policy as a mere agent of Big Business. In 1933, he laid it all out in nauseating detail:
“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
Because no one in the U.S. government apparently reads (or understands) history, I don’t think Butler would be all that surprised to read today’s Associated Press story datelined from Canberra, Australia:
“The growing number of U.S. Marines in northern Australia is enhancing the security of the nation’s burgeoning gas industry, which extends across the remote and sparsely populated northern coast, a senior American general said on Wednesday.
“Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock, Hawaii-based deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific, was commenting after an executive of U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp. told a conference of concerns that gas rigs off the Australian northwest coast and tankers shipping liquid natural gas through Southeast Asian waters could be vulnerable to attack.”
Of course, the world has changed since Butler’s fiery 1933 speech. We now have private military contractors like Triple Canopy that are staffed with well-paid ex-soldiers and provide “high threat protection” so we can hold the Marines back for matters of a more national importance like times when foreign powers invade the United States.
Then again, if I was Chevron, why would I want to pay some contractor to protect me when I could convince Washington to do it for free? That’s just good business sense.
Photo of Smedley Butler: US Marine Corps/Wikimedia Commons