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by Major General Smedley Butler
Email: cea-usa (nospam) egroups.com
16 Jan 2002
To hell with war!
WAR IS A RACKET
by Major General Smedley Butler
United States Marine Corps [Retired]
WAR IS A RACKET. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable,
surely the most vicious. It is the only one
international in scope. It is the only one in
which the profits are reckoned in dollars and
the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something
that is not what it seems to the majority of the
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 very many. Out of war a
few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits
of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and
billionaires were made in the United States during the
World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in
their income tax returns. How many other war
millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle?
How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew
what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out?
How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights,
ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets?
How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy?
How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if
they are victorious. They just take it. This newly
acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few –
the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the
war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed
gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken
hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and
all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for
generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion
that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life
did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international
war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it
and speak out.
Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and
agreed to stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried
to make a similar agreement. Poland and Germany cast
sheep's eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce
[one unique occasion], their dispute over the Polish
The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia
[Yugoslavia] complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary,
long bitter enemies, were almost at each other's throats.
Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So
was Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war.
Not the people – not those who fight and pay and die –
only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to
There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today,
and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say
that war is not in the making.
Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to
Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what
they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank
enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in
"International Conciliation," the publication of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:
"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and
observes the future and the development of humanity
quite apart from political considerations of the moment,
believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of
perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest
tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility
upon the people who have the courage to meet it."
Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His
well-trained army, his great fleet of planes, and even
his navy are ready for war – anxious for it, apparently.
His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's
dispute with Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried
mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border after
the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are
others in Europe too whose sabre rattling presages war,
sooner or later.
Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant
demands for more and more arms, is an equal if not
greater menace to peace. France only recently increased
the term of military service for its youth from a year
to eighteen months.
Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The
mad dogs of Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the
maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when Russia
and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the
Russians and backed Japan. Then our very generous
international bankers were financing Japan. Now the
trend is to poison us against the Japanese.
What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us?
Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or
the Philippine Islands? We have spent about $600,000,000
in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our
bankers and industrialists and speculators) have private
investments there of less than $200,000,000.
Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or
to protect these private investments of less than
$200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all stirred
up to hate Japan and go to war – a war that might well
cost us tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of
thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds
of thousands of physically maimed and mentally
Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating
profit – fortunes would be made. Millions and billions
of dollars would be piled up. By a few. Munitions makers.
Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers.
Speculators. They would fare well.
Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't
they? It pays high dividends.
But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does
it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their
sweethearts? What does it profit their children?
What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war
means huge profits?
Yes, and what does it profit the nation?
Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of
territory outside the mainland of North America. At that
time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000.
Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or
shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country.
We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling
alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory.
At the end of the World War period, as a direct result
of our fiddling in international affairs, our national
debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total
favorable trade balance during the twenty-five-year
period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a purely
bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year,
and that foreign trade might well have been ours without
It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for
the average American who pays the bills to stay out of
foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like
bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy
profits, but the cost of operations is always
transferred to the people – who do not profit.
WHO MAKES THE PROFITS?
The World War, rather our brief participation in it,
has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000. Figure
it out. That means $400 to every American man, woman,
and child. And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are
paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's
children probably still will be paying the cost of that
The normal profits of a business concern in the
United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes
twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that
is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred,
three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent
– the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear.
Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.
Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time.
It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love
of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the
wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket
– and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:
Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people –
didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee
recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the
world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in
the war? They were a patriotic corporation.
Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the
period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn't
much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it.
Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the
war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a
year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal
times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good.
An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.
Take one of our little steel companies that
patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and
girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well,
their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000.
Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem
Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their
profits jump – or did they let Uncle Sam in for a
bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000
Or, let's take United States Steel. The normal earnings
during the five-year period prior to the war were
$105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war
and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for
the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.
There you have some of the steel and powder earnings.
Let's look at something else. A little copper, perhaps.
That always does well in war times.
Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during
the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the
war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.
Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during
the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000
yearly profits for the war period.
Let's group these five, with three smaller companies.
The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period
1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war.
The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed
A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.
Does war pay? It paid them. But they aren't the only
ones. There are still others. Let's take leather.
For the three-year period before the war the total
profits of Central Leather Company were $3,500,000.
That was approximately $1,167,000 a year. Well, in
1916 Central Leather returned a profit of $15,000,000,
a small increase of 1,100 per cent. That's all.
The General Chemical Company averaged a profit for
the three years before the war of a little over
$800,000 a year. Came the war, and the profits
jumped to $12,000,000. A leap of 1,400 per cent.
International Nickel Company – and you can't have a war
without nickel – showed an increase in profits from a
mere average of $4,000,000 a year to $73,000,000 yearly.
Not bad? An increase of more than 1,700 per cent.
American Sugar Refining Company averaged $2,000,000 a
year for the three years before the war. In 1916 a
profit of $6,000,000 was recorded.
Listen to Senate Document No. 259. The Sixty-Fifth
Congress, reporting on corporate earnings and government
revenues. Considering the profits of 122 meat packers,
153 cotton manufacturers, 299 garment makers, 49 steel
plants, and 340 coal producers during the war.
Profits under 25 per cent were exceptional. For instance
the coal companies made between 100 per cent and 7,856
per cent on their capital stock during the war. The
Chicago packers doubled and tripled their earnings.
And let us not forget the bankers who financed the
great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was
the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated
organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders.
And their profits were as secret as they were immense.
How the bankers made their millions and their billions
I do not know, because those little secrets never become
public – even before a Senate investigatory body.
But here's how some of the other patriotic industrialists
and speculators chiseled their way into war profits.
Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business
with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales
abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions
manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to
the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes
from Germany or from France.
But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they
sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service
shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and
more, to a soldier.
My regiment during the war had only one pair to a
soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in
existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was
over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left
over. Bought – and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.
There was still lots of leather left. So the leather
people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of
McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't
any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid
of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit
in it – so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we
probably have those yet.
Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold
your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of
the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected
to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy
trenches – one hand scratching cooties on their backs
and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well,
not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!
Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make
sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net,
so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were
sold to Uncle Sam.
There were pretty good profits in mosquito netting in
those days, even if there were no mosquitoes in France.
I suppose, if the war had lasted just a little longer,
the enterprising mosquito netting manufacturers would
have sold your Uncle Sam a couple of consignments of
mosquitoes to plant in France so that more mosquito
netting would be in order.
Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too,
should get their just profits out of this war. Why
not? Everybody else was getting theirs. So $1,000,000,000
– count them if you live long enough – was spent by
Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left
the ground! Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion
dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in
France. Just the same the manufacturers made their
little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.
Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and
Uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them – a nice little
profit for the undershirt manufacturer. And the stocking
manufacturer and the uniform manufacturers and the cap
manufacturers and the steel helmet manufacturers – all
Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of
equipment – knapsacks and the things that go to fill
them – crammed warehouses on this side. Now they are
being scrapped because the regulations have changed the
contents. But the manufacturers collected their wartime
profits on them – and they will do it all over again
the next time.
There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making
during the war.
One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen
48-inch wrenches. Oh, they were very nice wrenches. The
only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made
that was large enough for these wrenches. That is the
one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls.
Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the
manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches
were put on freight cars and shunted all around the
United States in an effort to find a use for them.
When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow
to the wrench manufacturer. He was just about to make
some nuts to fit the wrenches. Then he planned to sell
these, too, to your Uncle Sam.
Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels
shouldn't ride in automobiles, nor should they even
ride on horseback. One has probably seen a picture of
Andy Jackson riding in a buckboard. Well, some 6,000
buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of
colonels! Not one of them was used. But the buckboard
manufacturer got his war profit.
The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of
it, too. They built a lot of ships that made a lot of
profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth. Some of the
ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them
were made of wood and wouldn't float! The seams opened
up – and they sank. We paid for them, though. And
somebody pocketed the profits.
It has been estimated by statisticians and economists
and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam
$52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was
expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure
yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits.
That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires
got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to
be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went
to a very few.
The Senate (Nye) committee probe of the munitions
industry and its wartime profits, despite its
sensational disclosures, hardly has scratched the
Even so, it has had some effect. The State Department
has been studying "for some time" methods of keeping
out of war. The War Department suddenly decides it has
a wonderful plan to spring.
The Administration names a committee – with the War
and Navy Departments ably represented under the
chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator – to limit
profits in war time. To what extent isn't suggested.
Hmmm. Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600
per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the
World War would be limited to some smaller figure.
Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any
limitation of losses – that is, the losses of those who
fight the war.
As far as I have been able to ascertain there is
nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss
of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds
to one or two or three. Or to limit the loss of life.
There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says
not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be
wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent
in a division shall be killed.
Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such
WHO PAYS THE BILLS?
Who provides the profits – these nice little profits
of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay
them – in taxation. We paid the bankers their profits
when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them
back at $84 or $86 to the bankers. These bankers
collected $100 plus.
It was a simple manipulation.
The bankers control the security marts. It was easy
for them to depress the price of these bonds. Then
all of us – the people – got frightened and sold the
bonds at $84 or $86. The bankers bought them. Then
these same bankers stimulated a boom and government
bonds went to par – and above.
Then the bankers collected their profits.
But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.
If you don't believe this, visit the American
cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any
of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. On
a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at
the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen
government hospitals for veterans.
In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men –
men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago.
The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital;
at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead,
told me that mortality among veterans is three times
as great as among those who stayed at home.
Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the
fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put
into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made
over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder
as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to
shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were
We used them for a couple of years and trained them
to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.
Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to
make another "about face"! This time they had to do
their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology,
sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide
We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them
about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan"
speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine
young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally,
because they could not make that final "about
In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800
of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a
barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside
the buildings and on the porches. These already have
been mentally destroyed.
These boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the
looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good
shape; mentally, they are gone.
There are thousands and thousands of these cases,
and more and more are coming in all the time. The
tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting
off of that excitement – the young boys couldn't stand it.
That's a part of the bill. So much for the dead – they
have paid their part of the war profits. So much for
the mentally and physically wounded – they are paying
now their share of the war profits.
But the others paid, too – they paid with heartbreaks
when they tore themselves away from their firesides
and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam –
on which a profit had been made.
They paid another part in the training camps where they
were regimented and drilled while others took their
jobs and their places in the lives of their communities.
They paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were
shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where
they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain –
with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible
But don't forget – the soldier paid part of the dollars
and cents bill too.
Up to and including the Spanish-American War, we had a
prize system, and soldiers and sailors fought for money.
During the Civil War they were paid bonuses, in many
instances, before they went into service. The government,
or states, paid as high as $1,200 for an enlistment.
In the Spanish-American War they gave prize money. When
we captured any vessels, the soldiers all got their
share – at least, they were supposed to.
Then it was found that we could reduce the cost of
wars by taking all the prize money and keeping it,
but conscripting [drafting] the soldier anyway. Then
soldiers couldn't bargain for their labor, Everyone
else could bargain, but the soldier couldn't.
Napoleon once said,
"All men are enamored of decorations...they positively
hunger for them."
So by developing the Napoleonic system – the medal
business – the government learned it could get soldiers
for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated.
Until the Civil War there were no medals.
Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out.
It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new
medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.
In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys
accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed
if they didn't join the army.
So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was
brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen
joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill
the Germans. God is on our side...it is His will
that the Germans be killed.
And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans
to kill the allies...to please the same God. That was
a part of the general propaganda, built up to make
people war conscious and murder conscious.
Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were
sent out to die. This was the "war to end all wars."
This was the "war to make the world safe for
No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that
their going and their dying would mean huge war profits.
No one told these American soldiers that they might
be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers
here. No one told them that the ships on which they
were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines
built with United States patents.
They were just told it was to be a "glorious adventure."
Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it
was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So,
we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.
All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave
their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in
swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could
get it) and kill and kill and kill... and be killed.
Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter
in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe
at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to
support his dependents, so that they would not become
a charge upon his community.
Then we made him pay what amounted to accident
insurance – something the employer pays for in
an enlightened state – and that cost him $6 a
month. He had less than $9 a month left.
Then, the most crowning insolence of all – he was
virtually blackjacked into paying for his own
ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to
buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at
all on pay days.
We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we
bought them back – when they came back from the war and
couldn't find work – at $84 and $86. And the soldiers
bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!
Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill.
His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break
that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights,
as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst
about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed
sleeplessly – his father, his mother, his wife, his
sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.
When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or
with his mind broken, they suffered too – as much as
and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too,
contributed their dollars to the profits of the
munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and
the manufacturers and the speculators made. They,
too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the
profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the
hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.
And even now the families of the wounded men and of
the mentally broken and those who never were able
to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying.
HOW TO SMASH THIS RACKET!
WELL, it's a racket, all right.
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
It can be smashed effectively only by taking the
profit out of war.
The only way to smash this racket is to conscript
capital and industry and labor before the nations
manhood can be conscripted. One month before the
Government can conscript the young men of the nation –
it must conscript capital and industry and labor.
Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered
executives of our armament factories and our munitions
makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders
and the manufacturers of all the other things that
provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and
the speculators, be conscripted – to get $30 a month,
the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.
Let the workers in these plants get the same wages –
all the workers, all presidents, all executives,
all directors, all managers, all bankers – yes, and
all generals and all admirals and all officers and
all politicians and all government office holders –
everyone in the nation be restricted to a total
monthly income not to exceed that paid to the
soldier in the trenches!
Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business
and all those workers in industry and all our senators
and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30
wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and
buy Liberty Bonds.
Why shouldn't they?
They aren't running any risk of being killed or of
having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered.
They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren't
hungry. The soldiers are!
Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to
think it over and you will find, by that time, there
will be no war. That will smash the war racket – that
and nothing else.
Maybe I am a little too optimistic. Capital still has
some say. So capital won't permit the taking of the
profit out of war until the people – those who do the
suffering and still pay the price – make up their minds
that those they elect to office shall do their bidding,
and not that of the profiteers.
Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war
racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether
a war should be declared. A plebiscite not of all the
voters but merely of those who would be called upon to
do the fighting and dying.
There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old
president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head
of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed
manager of a uniform manufacturing plant – all of
whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event
of war – voting on whether the nation should go to
war or not.
They never would be called upon to shoulder arms – to
sleep in a trench and to be shot. Only those who would
be called upon to risk their lives for their country
should have the privilege of voting to determine
whether the nation should go to war.
There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to
those affected. Many of our states have restrictions
on those permitted to vote. In most, it is necessary
to be able to read and write before you may vote. In
some, you must own property.
It would be a simple matter each year for the men
coming of military age to register in their communities
as they did in the draft during the World War and be
Those who could pass and who would therefore be called
upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible
to vote in a limited plebiscite.
They should be the ones to have the power to decide –
and not a Congress few of whose members are within the
age limit and fewer still of whom are in physical
condition to bear arms. Only those who must suffer
should have the right to vote.
A third step in this business of smashing the war
racket is to make certain that our military forces
are truly forces for defense only.
At each session of Congress the question of further
naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair
admirals of Washington (and there are always a
lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are
They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to
war on this nation or that nation." Oh no. First of all,
they let it be known that America is menaced by a great
naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell
you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike
suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like
that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For
what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For
defense purposes only.
Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the
Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.
The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous
coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the
coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers
will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five
hundred miles, off the coast.
The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased
beyond expression to see the united States fleet so
close to Nippon's shores. Even as pleased as would
be the residents of California were they to dimly
discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet
playing at war games off Los Angeles.
The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be
specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles
of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the
Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never
would have been blown up. There would have been no war
with Spain with its attendant loss of life.
Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts,
for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an
offensive war if its ships can't go further than 200
miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to
go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of
reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the
territorial limits of our nation.
To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the
We must take the profit out of war.
We must permit the youth of the land who would bear
arms to decide whether or not there should be war.
We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.
TO HELL WITH WAR!
I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of
the past. I know the people do not want war, but there
is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.
Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president
in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war"
and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out
of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to
declare war on Germany.
In that five-month interval the people had not been
asked whether they had changed their minds. The
4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched
or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted
to go forth to suffer and die.
Then what caused our government to change its mind
An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over
shortly before the war declaration and called on the
President. The President summoned a group of advisers.
The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its
diplomatic language, this is what he told the President
and his group:
"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer. The
cause of the allies is lost. We now owe you (American
bankers, American munitions makers, American
manufacturers, American speculators, American
exporters) five or six billion dollars.
"If we lose (and without the help of the United States
we must lose) we, England, France and Italy, cannot
pay back this money... and Germany won't.
Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations
were concerned, and had the press been invited to be
present at that conference, or had radio been available
to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have
entered the World War. But this conference, like all
war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When
our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a
"war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war
to end all wars."
Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of
democracy than it had then. Besides, what business
is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England
or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies
or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists?
Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.
And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to
assure us that the World War was really the war to end
Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and
limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean
a thing. One has just failed; the results of another
have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers
and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats
to these conferences. And what happens?
The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to
disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No
general wants to be without a command. Both mean men
without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot
be for limitations of arms.
And at all these conferences, lurking in the background
but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents
of those who profit by war. They see to it that these
conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.
The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences
has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but
rather to get more armament for itself and less for any
There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of
practicability. That is for all nations to get together
and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every
tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible,
would not be enough.
The next war, according to experts, will be fought not
with battleships, not by artillery, not with rifles and
not with machine guns. It will be fought with deadly
chemicals and gases.
Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer
and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale.
Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the
shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns
still will be manufactured and powder and rifles
will be made, for the munitions makers must make
their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course,
must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make
their war profits too.
But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill
and ingenuity of our scientists.
If we put them to work making poison gas and more and
more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of
destruction, they will have no time for the constructive
job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By
putting them to this useful job, we can all make more
money out of peace than we can out of war – even the
So... I say,
TO HELL WITH WAR!
Citizens Executive Administration