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Veterans Day Message – “War is a Racket”

The Power of individual conscience, acting with courage and moral integrity 

Thanks to a NJ whistleblower, the US Justice Department was able to prosecute and settle an Iraq War contractor fraud case for $69.3 million — the largest recovery in a case involving war-zone contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq. The criminal war profiteer, The Louis Berger Group, was a NJ based engineering consulting company.

Curious, given Louis Berger’s NJ location and the bilking of billions of taxpayer dollars by corporate military contractors, I must have missed Governor Christie’s press conference denouncing corporate greed and war profiteering. Guess he was too busy attacking “greedy” teachers and “greedy” unions and “greedy” school district superintendents.

That case, in addition to the recent whistleblowing disclosures by Wikileaks on the Iraq video and Afghanistan warlogs (echoing Daniel Ellsberg’s heroic disclosure of the Vietnam “Pentagon Papers“), reminds us of the power of the conscience of the individual, acting with courage and moral integrity on his/her convictions.

So, this Veterans Day, we bring you excerpts of the words of other historic military figures who spoke out in conscience about the lies and fraud of war.

We go first to WWI USMC General Smedley Butler, and then to former USMC Captain Mathew Hoh, who resigned in protest over Afghanistan war :

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. […]

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. […]

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.

[Full text is here]

For anyone who might think Mr. Smedley Butler was some hippie pacifist, here’s his Wiki bio:

Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed “The Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye”, was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps, and 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 during the Banana Wars, the Caribbean and during World War I, he served in France. By the end of his career he had received 16 medals, five of which were for heroism. He is one of 19 people to twice receive the Medal of Honor, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only person to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

Next, we go to the words of USMC Captain Hoh. Hoh didn’t leak documents or blow the whistle, he honorably resigned in disgust. Here is his resignation letter:

… Our support for this kind of [Afghanistan] government, coupled with a misunderstanding of the insurgency’s true nature, reminds me horribly of our involvement with South Vietnam; an unpopular and corrupt government we backed at the expense of our Nation’s own internal peace, against an insurgency whose nationalism we arrogantly and ignorantly mistook as a rival to our own Cold War ideology.[…]

I realize the emotion and tone of my letter and ask that you excuse any ill temper.  I trust you understand the nature of this war and the sacrifices made by so many thousands of families … Thousands of our men and women have returned home with physical and mental wounds, some that will never heal or will worsen with time. The dead return only in bodily form to be received by families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a future worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept. I have lost confidence that such assurances can anymore be made. As such, I submit my resignation.

[please read complete letter here]

[Update: and to see how tame I am, read this]

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