War is Still a Racket

Now that the drumbeats for War with Iran have entered into the public consciousness of Fox News, et al, it’s time to trot this out.

For those of you uncultured philistines who don’t recognize the “War is a Racket” phrasing, it’s the title and topic of a book written by Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, who at the time (and past his death) was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. The book is long on facts and short on pages, a great, quick read expanded upon from an earlier speech he’d made. He was at the end of his career, and remains, an anti-war icon. You will not regret reading the book. Instead of linking it to Amazon, just look for it in the military section of your local bookseller.

Butler’s speech, and later, the book, highlight many examples of how war is the only activity where “the profits were reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” Although he mainly sticks to World War 1, he names other examples.

If the featured image didn’t show up, here it is again.


If only our modern generals and admirals had this moral courage.

The thing is, war as a racket has the highest return-on-investment possible. After all, as Butler notes, the investment is our youth (and our national culture) and the risks are all socialized. But the profits returned to the industries involved, whether they be Sugar, Oil & Gas, or Defense (in general) are astronomical. Want to see something gross?


You’re lucky it only showed Stuart Varney from the chest up, because those war stocks spiking gave him a hard-on he had to call his doctor about.

See, although Butler did his best to work against the Economic Masters who were bound and determined to profit from wars even since William Randolph Hearst muttered the words “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” All of the corporate-owned newsmedia has been complicit ever since.

Fast forward from Butler’s time just a little bit and we get through World War II, arguably the last existential war the United States has participated in. Then, it was all Cold War shenanigans as the Economic Masters took to the worldly stage to have Capitalism showdown against Communism. First, the Korean War, then the Vietnam conflict.

The former may have had pragmatic utility for us in the defense of non-communist South Korea. We certainly gained an ally from it that has never wavered Trump pisses on all the time. The latter conflict wasn’t one that people wanted much to do with, so it was the early test cases for the old “Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” argument. Young men, as dumb as they are impressionable and having seen the world heap praise and respect on older generations of veterans signed up when they were outright drafted.

But… the Political Masters still had to lie to get us involved in Vietnam to start with. Because, ya know, Communism being engaged in by people in the Southeast Asian jungles was just too much for freedom-loving America to stand! HARRUMPH!

So, we got the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which was a lie to sell us into active conflict. See, America likes to do this shit where we go just up to someone’s doorstep and say “I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU, I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU,” and expect the rest of the world to be the adults. When someone responds as terribly as we do, that’s the necessary point of escalation for us to go to war, War, WAR!

Vietnam’s was the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which was outed as a lie by 2005. The lie? That North Vietnamese ships kept confronting U.S. ships in the gulf of the same name. Well, it apparently did happen once, but the whole “kept happening” thing was bullshit manufactured to give the appearance of Communist Aggression!


Pictured: Communist Aggression. OOGA BOOGA!

That lie ended up costing as many as 1.3 million total deaths including 57,000 Americans, and cost $168 billion, or $1 trillion in 2020 money. That’s not counting what Iraq 1, Iraq 2 and Afghanistan have cost us as part of our current $23 trillion in debt. Protip: it’s most of it, with analysts noting that around $6 trillion of that debt was principal in 2019, with $4-6 more being interest “earned.” Much of the rest was a combination of certain (but not all) bailouts, and tax cuts for the rich.

Over our history as a country, the total is 1.1 million deaths of our service members alone, which pales in comparison to the number of civilians claimed by those conflicts the U.S. was directly involved: nearly 100 million. I don’t know if there’s a way to calculate the economic cost after that, but if we need to know the economic cost after seeing that massive death toll, then it’s long past time for the sweet meteor of death to come calling.


So… we know what happens to returning service members. They either go into the graveyard or those lucky enough to transition back as civilians figure out how to live a normal life. But we never ask “Where is that money spent?” because we’re Americans and we really don’t want to know the fuckin’ answer.


Some of those names you’ll remember from the screenshot at the top. Hat tip to Jacobin magazine for pulling that out of the archives. And that’s just who profited from our side.

This type of thing happens quite often, because, as Butler said, it’s the biggest racket there ever was. The Greatest Show on Earth, and one of the bigliest scams of all time – on pace with organized religion.

So big and with so much potential for profit, in fact, that they’ll literally kill folks or otherwise put them in harm’s way to make it happen. Just ask Dick Cheney, who took part in outing an American spy whose only fault was being married to someone who dared criticize the bullshit lie the Bush Administration was selling about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Now, they’re trumping up bullshit reasons to give John Bolton a doctor-inducing erection with a war in Iran. Now, just like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, the people of Iran aren’t necessarily inviting us over. Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran has a well-furbished standing military and national unity. What the U.S. doesn’t have for this war is a coalition or even the semblance of a fuckin plan.

But defense contractors gotta eat, ya know?

That’s not to mention that going toe-to-toe with Iran will not look good. America can beat them over time, but we’ve been bogged down elsewhere for nearly 20 years. And, something called the Millennium Challenge of 2002 already proved that someone with Iran’s capabilities can outmaneuver the U.S. inside a day, at an estimated 20,000 casualties on U.S.-Iran War Day 1. Go read up on that quick Wiki link. It’ll blow your fuckin’ mind.

Meanwhile, the talking heads and pundits have received their marching orders, and it’s looking like war, War, WAR! Funny part is that it’s splitting them off, with Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer pretending to not like Trump now, and even Sentient Bowtie Tucker Carlson has said that the war zealouts are maybe getting a bit outta hand.

Just because Donnie Two Scoops opted to was trotted out in front of cameras and sniffed out the word “Peace” doesn’t mean he instinctively wanted to. It means he watched Carlson’s program (because of course he does), and being the kind of guy who repeats the last thing he saw on TV or that was said to him, he went with peace. Don’t let him announcing “Peace” fool you. The Infinite Swine of America’s Defense Industry tasted increased profit (see: defense stocks) and it’s not enough that they got their beaks wet. They will keep agitating for more, and sooner or later, they’ll get it.

After all, since Fox News is fair AND balanced, they reported this as well. Pres. Trump just likely didn’t happen to see it. Or, more likely, he doesn’t read and this wasn’t broadcast so it wasn’t in his information stream.


I wonder who else did that… Name is right there at the tip of my tongue… Rhymes with numerica…

Who’s going to pay for it? We are, with blood and the national debt.

Who’s going to get paid for it? You already know the answer for that. And we will have done it all – just like Vietnam, Iraq 1, Iraq 2 and Afghanistan (plus the 50+ other nations we’re dropping bombs on under GWOT), all without really making the world safer, or individuals more free.

Oh and by the way, that national debt that now stands at $23 trillion (or $70,000 per citizen and $187,000 per tax payer)? Most of that was paid as no-bid contracts to the defense contractors we’ve been talking about this entire time. So it abso-FUCKIN-lootely amounts to a redistribution of wealth directly from public hands to private ones.


Or else Dick Cheney’s gonna get ya.

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