By Frank Whalen
At this time in American history, there is an entire generation of young people who have not been alive when the United States was not engaged in war. This sad fact is highlighted by the current state of the economy, when jobs and the necessities of life are hard to come by. These children might be the future CEOs of corporations that peddle death, having learned early the lesson that war is profitable to those who direct it, supply it and fan the flames of hostilities.
Just recently, three major military contractors announced their first-quarter profits for 2012, with Lockheed Martin raking in $668M, Northrop Grumman making $506M and Boeing, an astonishing $923M. These numbers are made all the more jaw-dropping when you consider that these are only three corporations, claiming profits made in only three months, during a “War on Terror” that has been ongoing for almost 11 years now.
In 1935, Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler wrote a book entitled War Is a Racket.* In it, Butler, a double recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, described his military experiences:
“I spent 33 years and four months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force—the Marine Corps. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I suspected I was part of a racket all the time. Now I am sure of it.”
Butler explained how he and the members of the U.S. military have been used to further the war profiteering of major corporations, saying,
“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 benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. 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.”
Butler, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, continued speaking out against the exploitation of war for corporate benefit until his death in 1940. Another military man, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had a similar word of warning in his “Farewell Address” in 1961 when he said:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”
Despite these informed and credible caveats, military contractors reap the profits of war while the American heartland continues to be taxed to death.
After decades of the war-is-business-as-usual mentality, time will tell if the youngest generation of Americans comes to understand the warning of Butler—that war is still and forever a racket.
*Get a copy of Butler’s War Is a Racket for just $5 from THE BARNES REVIEW, P.O. Box 15877, Washington, D.C. 20003. Call 1-877-773-9077 to charge.
Frank Whalen has been a radio talk show host for the past 17 years, and worked as a consultant for Maxim magazine. For more news and views from Frank, see www.frankwhalenlive.com.