Tuesday, June 18, 2013

THE BUTLER DID IT

It's an interesting philosophical question for the indolent. Is there such a thing as a 'Just War' and should we fight or even be a party to any war that fails to meet the definition of 'Just War.' The idea picked up steam during the Reagan years when so many protestors were out there demanding total surrender to the Communists in the Soviet Union where justness gets its name and reputation. I think that's most of the reason the invasion of Panama was called Operation Just Cause. That, or they had some trickster who thought, Just Because, would be to obvious.

The famous warrior of the tween Big Gigantic World Wars was Smedley Butler. He wrote a book about his experiences fighting in the New World, Old World and Orient for United Fruit et al. His book is, 'War is a Racket.' Here is a quote from that book's frontpiece:

"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 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."

Well, if you know anything, you know that all that chastising and civilizing was unnecessary. All of those places are fine countries and firm friends of the United States and able representatives of Civilization and the Race.*

We are looking at being drawn into a pointless and futile war in Syria now. I've written about this before but it's worth observing that no interests of the United States are served by joining the fighting in muslim countries. There is a special kind of contemptible idiot that wanders the land bleating about how evil the U.S. military is and then demanding that it throw itself into the war elsewhere and FIGHT FOR PEACE! You know. Kill people! Break Stuff!

It really is a very short book. You could read the whole thing in less than 30 minutes. Here is an excerpt that rings true today:
 
"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 so suddenly?
Money.
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.
So . . . "**
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 all wars.
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?"

I know any number of fools that worry about what kind of government other people have. Remember the words, "Too Big To Fail?" Who in 1950 Detroit ever would have thought that 60 years later the City of Detroit would default on all of its outstanding loans and payments? I suppose one might have thought that something like that would happen if there was a great war; an Atomic War.

There was a war but you never remember it. It was Lyndon Johnson's War.

The War on Poverty.

The government pissed money away on useless projects in a mighty torrent and in the process they created a bureaucracy that defies belief. Here's the Wall Street Journal on Education Spending.

"According to the data, New York spent the most per pupil at $19,076, followed by Washington, D.C. at $18,475; Alaska, $16,674; New Jersey, $15,968; and Vermont, $15,925. Utah spent the least, $6,212 per student, followed by Idaho, $6,824; Oklahoma, $7,587; Arizona at $7,666; and Mississippi, $7,928."

I can't figure it out. Are students in Utah 3 times smarter than New York students or 3 times stupider?

*The Race of Reason

5 comments:

  1. Detroit was the part of this post that resonated with me; I lived there for ten years and left in 1995. I'm STILL pissed about what ineptitude and corruption has done to what used to be one of America's finest cities. It's a damned shame.

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  2. Yep. Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, and in 1960 Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation. It is an utterly damning picture of what happens to a society, civilization, city; when the government is totally corrupt, and the government is populated by the most venal and grasping citizens and controlled by the servants it lingers on in twilight to pay for.
    The Housing Loan implosion means that the people who fled Detroit for the nearby suburbs are now dealing with people that brought about the ruin who themselves are fleeing what Detroit has become.

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  3. I keep hearing Phil Ochs singing . . . "I ain't marching anymore." His politics (and unfortunately his mental stability) were way out there, but it was a different time. Read the lyrics now -

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  4. Curtis, in that same year (1960) East St. Louis, Ill was 90% white and voted an "All American City" for good government and efficient provision of services. Today it is 90% black and, well, just drive thru it sometime. Maybeeeee Camden, N.J. and Detroit look marginally worse--at best.

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  5. East St. Louis and St. Louis are the dismalest. I used to have routine business at TPFDD conferences at TRANSCOM and had to drive through the city to get to Scott AFB. It looked like a war had been fought there. All the brick houses burned 30 years ago and still standing in blighted destroyed neighborhoods adjacent to the highway.
    I didn't know these cities when they were great. I'll find the site for a slide presentation I was sent a couple of years ago that show the transition between Detroit during and after the war and Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It speaks volumes.

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