Smedley Butler on Military Spending, Endless Wars, and the Military Industrial Complex.
Military spending, endless wars, and the military industrial complex. What do they all have in common?
"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 by taking the profit out of war."
That’s what Smedley Butler had to say about it.
Smedley Butler was outspoken about war. What’s particularly interesting about that is that Smedley Butler was Marine General. A Major General, the highest rank authorized at that time.
At the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I.
By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (along with Wendell Neville and David Porter) and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.
Butler later became an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences. His nickname was the “fighting Quaker”. In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars. SOURCE: Wikipedia
He detailed the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.
It’s a very interesting story.
America has long been a defender of freedom around the world. Marines have fought famous battles like Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Bella Woods and recent battles like Khafaji and Fallujah.
This history is profound. It’s shaped the world and, in many ways, ironically enough those battles were instrumental in creating peace.
The question is, how much is enough and where does it end?
Once weapons were manufactured to fight wars. Now, wars are manufactured to sell weapons. It seems the whole system has been flipped upside down.
I spoke about this back in April after Trump ordered a missile strike on Syria. Here’s what I wrote:
"The bombs are falling and the people are smiling. Everybody is happy with Trump. Even Chuck Schumer made a statement in support of the president. The bombs have started falling. All we can hope for is that this doesn't start WW3. But nobody seems to care, everybody is happy it's like were one big happy country again and all it took was about a hundred million dollars in bombs. Was it worth it? $100 million dollars in bombs. Tell me exactly how that helps society? It's eerie to me how happy and supportive everyone is. All the news channels, even his enemies. The one issue the country's not divided on."
Fast forward to the State of the Union Address. Trump made a comment about ending endless wars. There’s seems to be no clear goal, no clear out come and no clear end to modern conflicts.
This leads to two questions:
One, why is there so much conflict?
Two, do we really need to spend so much?
The missile attack on Syria was a revenge attack for the gassing and killing of 40 people. The actual circumstances and whether or not the gassing was true, or who even did it are clouded in conspiracy. Setting that aside and taking the attack at face value, 40 people were killed.
The United States, on orders by Trump launched 100 missiles at Syria. At a million dollars each 100 million dollars was spent on retribution for the gassing.
Trump said in a speech announcing the attack, "To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?"
He’s right about that, a country gassing innocent civilians is a tragedy, but at the same time there are major U.S. cities that experience 40 murders in any given month. Where’s the action and massive outcry to solve those problems.
The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001.
The figure reflects the cost across the U.S. federal government since the price of war is not borne by the Defense Department alone.
The report also finds that more than 480,000 people have died from the wars and more than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of fighting. Additionally, another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.
These statistics don’t even address the cost in terms of veterans. Not just the financial cost of taking care of injured veterans but the human cost.
It’s quite a path to peace wouldn’t you say? Is it working? How could you answer yes?
The $5.9 trillion dollars spent on middle east conflict over the last 18 years is twenty thousand dollars for every man woman and child in this country. About one thousand dollars per year per person.
That’s not the total cost of the military. That’s just the cost of fighting those wars and even that’s an estimate. It’s like the true, real cost over time will be much higher once veteran costs are factored in.
Is it worth it? What have gained? What has anybody gained? In real terms, what’s been the benefit to the world?