War Is A Racket

 

Major General Smedley Butler
War Is A Racket - Smedley Butler on Interventionism
Wed Apr 2 13:04:16 2003

War Is A Racket

Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933

by: Major General Smedley Butler, former Commandant 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% over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100%. 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 muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.


I suspected I was 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 interest in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. 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.
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Smedley Butler on Interventionism
-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.
http://www.fas.org/man/smedley.htm

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 unmolested.

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.
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Testify! : Dollar vs. Euro - Hegemoney.
... January 01, 2003 Dollar vs. Euro - Hegemoney. The Federal Reserve ... international transactions from a dollar standard to a euro standard. Iraq actually made ... administration. Further, the dollar-euro threat is powerful enough that ...
more hits from: http://praesentia.us/archives/000227.html site down

Dollar vs. Euro - Hegemoney.

The Federal Reserve's greatest nightmare is that OPEC will switch its international transactions from a dollar standard to a euro standard. Iraq actually made this switch in Nov. 2000 (when the euro was worth around 80 cents), and has actually made off like a bandit considering the dollar's steady depreciation against the euro.

The real reason the Bush administration wants a puppet government in Iraq - or more importantly, the reason why the corporate-military-industrial network conglomerate wants a puppet government in Iraq - is so that it will revert back to a dollar standard and stay that way." (While also hoping to veto any wider OPEC momentum for the switch from Iran - which is seriously considering switching to euros as their oil transaction currency as of Sept 2002 - and other OPEC members including Saudi Arabia whose regime appears increasingly weak/threatened from an internal coup).

This administration is acutely aware of this and in preparation for invading Iraq we will create a huge and permanent military presence in the Persian Gulf region, just in case we need to grab Saudi's oil fields as well as Iraq’s…

Saddam sealed his fate when he decided to switch to the euro in late 2000 (and later converted his $10 billion reserve fund at the U.N. to euros) - at that point, another manufactured Gulf War become inevitable under Bush II. Only the most extreme circumstances could possibly stop that now and I strongly doubt anything can - short of Saddam getting replaced with a pliant regime.

Big Picture Perspective: Everything else aside from the reserve currency and the Saudi/Iran oil issues (i.e. domestic political issues and international criticism) is peripheral and of marginal consequence to this administration. Further, the dollar-euro threat is powerful enough that they'll rather risk much of the economic backlash in the short-term to stave off the long-term dollar crash of an OPEC transaction standard change from dollars to euros. All of this fits into the broader Great Game that encompasses Russia, India, China.

The effect of an OPEC switch to the euro would be that oil-consuming nations would have to flush dollars out of their reserve funds and replace these with euros. The dollar would crash anywhere from 20-40% in value and the consequences would be those one could expect from any currency collapse and massive inflation (think Argentina currency crisis, for example). You'd have foreign funds stream out of the U.S. stock markets and dollar denominated assets, there'd surely be a run on the banks much like the 1930s, the current account deficit would become unserviceable, the budget deficit would go into default, and so on. Your basic 3rd world economic crisis scenario.

The United States economy is intimately tied to the dollar's role as reserve currency. This doesn't mean that the U.S. couldn't function otherwise, but that the transition would have to be gradual to avoid such dislocations (and the ultimate result of this would probably be the U.S. and the E.U. switching roles in the global economy).

The following two recent articles discuss Iran’s vacillating position about switching to the euro as their standard currency for oil exports, and this may help explain Bush’s sudden urgency to topple Saddam. In the aftermath of toppling Saddam it is clear the U.S. will keep a large and permanent U.S. military force in the Persian Gulf. Indeed, the Bush administration has no “exit strategy” in a post-Saddam Iraq, as a permanent U.S. military force will be needed to "maintain order" (ie. to protect the newly installed puppet regime).

Paradoxically, if the war in Iraq goes poorly or becomes prolonged, it is possible that Iran and other OPEC members may do exactly what Saddam did, thus creating the very situation this administration is trying to prevent, an OPEC switch to the euros as their oil transaction currency standard.

'Economics Drive Iran Euro Oil Plan, Politics Also Key' (August 2002)

'Iran may switch to the euro for crude sale payments' (Sept 2002)


USA intelligence agencies revealed in plot to oust Venezuela's President’ (Dec 2002)

Venezuela is the fourth largest producer of oil, and the corporate elites appear interested in privatizing Venezuela’s oil industry as that outcome would become lucrative to the U.S. based oil conglomerates.

Additionally, the Bush junta may be concerned that Chavez’s “barter deals” with 12 Latin American countries as well as Cuba are effectively cutting the U.S. dollar out of the vital oil transaction currency cycle. Commodities are being traded among these countries in exchange for Venezuela’s oil, and thus dollars are not being used in these barter agreements. If these unique oil transactions proliferate, they will create more devaluation pressure on the dollar. Continuing attempts to remove Chavez appear likely.

Why is the dollar still strong? Well, the elites understand that the strength of the dollar does not rest on our economic output per se, as our historically high trade account deficit (almost 5% of GDP) and $6.3 trillion dollar deficit (55% of GDP) are factors that would devalue the currency of any nation under the “old rules.”

The truth is that the strength of the dollar rests on being the reserve fiat currency for global oil/energy transactions (ie. “petro-dollar”). The U.S. prints fiat reserve dollars, hundreds of billions of these petro-dollars are used by all nation states to purchase oil/energy from OPEC producers (except Iraq and Venezuela, and perhaps Iran in the near future). These billions of petro-dollars are consumed by oil-consuming nations, and re-cycled from OPEC back into the U.S. via Treasury Bills or other dollar-denominated assets such as U.S. stocks, real estate, etc. (this is item #3 on the above list on how to end U.S. hegemony)

The “old rules” for valuation of our currency were based on our flexible market, per worker productivity, trade exports and manufacturing output, free flow of trade goods, established and transparent accounting methodologies, proper government oversight (ie. SEC), and of course profitability, total cash flow, etc. While many of these factors remain present, over the last twenty years our economic structure has broken some of these principles. Despite the numerous technical weakness in the U.S. economy from an export/trade account deficit perspective, and related issues of debt, the dollar as the fiat oil currency has remained strong, creating “new rules”.

The following article discusses the virtues of our fiat oil currency (or vices from the perspective of developing nations, whose debt is denominated in dollars, and must acquire dollars for oil, and dollars to prop-up their domestic currencies).

'US Dollar hegemony has got to go" (Asia Times, June 2002)

Ever since 1971, when US president Richard Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard (at $35 per ounce) that had been agreed to at the Bretton Woods Conference at the end of World War II, the dollar has been a global monetary instrument that the United States, and only the United States, can produce by fiat. The dollar, now a fiat currency, is at a 16-year trade-weighted high despite record US current-account deficits and the status of the US as the leading debtor nation. The US national debt as of April 4 was $6.021 trillion against a gross domestic product (GDP) of $9 trillion.

World trade is now a game in which the US produces dollars and the rest of the world produces things that dollars can buy. The world's interlinked economies no longer trade to capture a comparative advantage; they compete in exports to capture needed dollars to service dollar-denominated foreign debts and to accumulate dollar reserves to sustain the exchange value of their domestic currencies.

To prevent speculative and manipulative attacks on their currencies, the world's central banks must acquire and hold dollar reserves in corresponding amounts to their currencies in circulation. The higher the market pressure to devalue a particular currency, the more dollar reserves its central bank must hold. This creates a built-in support for a strong dollar that in turn forces the world's central banks to acquire and hold more dollar reserves, making it stronger.

This phenomenon is known as dollar hegemony, which is created by the geopolitically constructed peculiarity that critical commodities, most notably oil, are denominated in dollars. Everyone accepts dollars because dollars can buy oil. The recycling of petro-dollars is the price the US has extracted from oil-producing countries for US tolerance of the oil-exporting cartel since 1973."

By definition, dollar reserves must be invested in US assets, creating a capital-accounts surplus for the US economy. Even after a year of sharp correction, US stock valuation is still at a 25-year high and trading at a 56 percent premium compared with emerging markets.

The US capital-account surplus in turn finances the US trade deficit. Moreover, any asset, regardless of location, that is denominated in dollars is a US asset in essence. When oil is denominated in dollars through US state action and the dollar is a fiat currency, the US essentially owns the world's oil for free. And the more the US prints greenbacks, the higher the price of US assets will rise. Thus a strong-dollar policy gives the US a double win.

This unique geo-political agreement with Saudi Arabia dating from 1971 has worked to our favor for the past 30 years, as this arrangement has raised the entire asset value of all dollar denominated assets/properties. 
 

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