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"War Is A Racket" by Marine Major General Smedley Butler

By       Message Mary Wentworth     Permalink
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On Friday, May 5th, the Associated Press headlined a report that military commanders have been warned to get troops in line.

The military brass are whingeing about the lack of discipline that has resulted in the burning of Korans, in photos of GIs urinating on dead Afghans, and the latest ones that show smirking GIs holding a suicide bomber's body parts.

Marine Commandant James Amos informed his subordinates: "The undisciplined conduct represented in these incidents threatens to overshadow all our good work and sacrifice."

Ditto for Army General Ray Odierno, Marine General John Allen, and "General" Leon Panetta.

The report goes on, "The incidents have reinforced the perception of Americans as unfriendly, or as occupying forces who do not understand the culture or religion of the people they are supposed to protect."

The oft-voiced complaint, however, by military personnel serving in Afghanistan is that they do not know why they are fighting there, whom to befriend and whom to kill. "What is the mission?" they ask.

If General Smedley Butler's "War Is A Racket" were required reading for all inductees, the mission would be clear. Butler spelled it out in his booklet:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business , for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and 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. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of IMG1 Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916 . I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might 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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Speaking of oil, publications such as "Mother Jones" and "Counterpunch" have reported on the connections between the Taliban, Bush Jr, Dick Cheney, and UNOCAL, an oil and gas consortium based in California.

A summary of their findings: In 1995 after the Taliban gained control of most of the country including Kabul, UNOCAL executives began to look for an agreement to build an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea region across Afghanistan to Pakistan for easy access to the Far East petroleum market. The Clinton administration helped out by lobbying the Taliban on UNOCAL's behalf.

In 1997, Taliban leaders were flown in to Sugarland, Texas several times during that year to discuss a contract with UNOCAL. They also visited Washington, seeking recognition. UNOCAL's chief competitor was Argentinia's BRIDAS, a privately-owned oil and gas company.

What the Taliban wanted from a deal were agreements to allow tapping into the line for local consumption and investment in infrastructure like roads, water supplies, telephone and electric power lines. BRIDAS said, "Yes," but UNOCAL said, "Uh-uh." Unfortunately for the Taliban, BRIDAS could not come up with financing for the project.

In 1998, UNOCAL's Vice President, John J. Maresca, a former U.S. ambassador and all-round factotum, testified before a congressional subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific that his consortium needed to see a stable, internationally-recognized government established in Afghanistan before signing any agreement. In addition, the corporation needed assurances that its workers would be protected while constructing the section of the pipeline that crossed Afghanistan.

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In 2000, Enron, yes -- that Enron -- the energy, commodities and services company, began expressing an interest in building a pipeline in the region. In 2000, it was the biggest contributor to George W. Bush's bid for the presidency. Enron executives visited the White House as well as meeting with VP Cheney more than once in Bush's first months in office.

Nine months after his inauguration in January 2011, Bush let 9/11 happen on his watch and ordered the invasion of Afghanistan on October 7th. During the same month, Enron became mired in a financial scandal and by the end of the year had filed for bankruptcy.

With no evidence that the Afghan government was behind the 9/11 attack, Bush made the Taliban the enemy in his announcement of hostilities: "More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: Close terrorist training camps; hand over leaders of the Al Quaeda network; and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens, unjustly detained in your country. None of these demands were met. And now the Taliban will pay a price."

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Now retired and a writer, I am a feminist and political activist, a radical Democrat (have come to dislike the term "progressive"), and a blogger. Have done political tours of Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, West and East (way back when)Germany, China, (more...)

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