Smedley Butler

Michael Pollak mpollak at
Sun Feb 14 21:37:21 PST 1999

On Sun, 14 Feb 1999 Rkmickey at wrote:

> (1)There have been a few referrences on this thread to a plot in the 1930s to
> use a retired general to seize the White House. I believe that the general
> involved was not Smedley Butler, who during much of the 1930s was associated
> with the popular front rather than the right e.g., he was a leader of the
> American League Against War and Fascism.

I thought the same thing at first, K -- Smedley's speech about making Nicaragua safe for Brown Brothers is famous. But when I double checked on the web, I found Paul Rosenberg was right after all. That speech seems to have come in reaction to this plot. Perhaps he didn't make any public speeches on the politics until he was out of the military, so the boys at Morgan didn't know? I admit it makes the whole incident doubly weird. Below is some background info, a citation, and a copy of the famous speech I found while I was trolling around:


General Smedley D. Butler was the most decorated soldier in American

uniform; Commander of the Marine Corps school; and passed over for

Marine Corps commandant only because of his increasingly

anti-imperialist views.

He was very popular with rank-and-file soldiers and veterans. He

strongly defended the "Bonus Marchers", attacked by U.S. troops under

General Douglas MacArthur and Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower in

Washington DC in 1932.

In an incident whose history is suppressed today, Gen. Butler was

approached by representatives of the Morgan Bank who wished him to

lead a fascist military coup d'état against the Roosevelt government

in 1932. He refused and went to the press. A Congressional

investigation was eventually suppressed. See Jules Archer, The Plot to

Seize the White House for a recent, documented version of this

cover-up, well-publicized at the time but virtually "blacked out"


-- Grover Furr)

[From Grover Furr's Politics and Social Issues Page:

And here is a key excerpt from the famous and wonderful speech, which, it turns out, dates from 1933:

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley

Butler, USMC.

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.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If

a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble

with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over

here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent.

Then 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.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang

is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its

"muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war

preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison.

Truthfulness compels me to. 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.

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


During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say,

a swell racket. 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.

__________________________________________________________________________ Michael Pollak................New York City..............mpollak at

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