FREE SPEECH FRIDAY: Honoring an American Hero


“There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.”

— General Smedley Darlington Butler

On this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to remember one of America’s most decorated veterans, Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler. He was one of 19 men to be awarded the Medal of Honor twice. He was also one of America’s bravest truth-tellers, author of the 1935 classic War is a Racket. This book is available in digital form on Amazon for 99 cents.

Butler participated in American military actions in several countries, including the first World War. He did not become outspoken until after his retirement. One of his most controversial actions was coming to Congress with information about the so-called Business Plot, a conspiracy to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt and replace him with a military dictator. All the alleged conspirators denied it, of course, but a Congressional committee verified at least some of his testimony.

I highly recommend reading Butler’s book. It’s quite short and can be read in a few hours. Though written shortly before WWII, it nevertheless seems to mirror current events, as Butler writes about all the extravagant profits earned by various “patriotic” industries, from steel to leather (for cavalry saddles.) He also condemns the use of the US military as an enforcer for corporate interests in other nations, such as United Fruit Company’s abusive, monopolistic practices in Central America.

Butler didn’t live to see the second World War that he was warning the nation about. He died of cancer in 1940 at the age of 58. Besides “War is a Racket”, he wrote books about military actions in Mexico and Paraguay. Some of his speeches and letters have also been compiled and published. One of his co-authors was Arthur J. Burks, a marine colonel and a fascinating character in his own right. Burks wrote numerous books and stories in the adventure, detective, and sci-fi genres.

If you’re an admirer of Smedley Butler, you’ll enjoy my political sci-fi novel Centrifugal Force, because he’s mentioned in it.

Armistice Day and the End of the “Great” War

This is the time of year we often hear people claim that the original meaning of the holidays Thanksgiving and Christmas have been lost to commercialism. The same holds true for Veteran’s Day, formerly know as Armistice Day.

Armistice Day celebrates the signing of the treaty that ended World War I, at that time known as the Great War. It was a celebration of peace, though there were also tributes to the men who died (and those who survived) that war. The name change was an attempt to add recognition for veterans of later wars, since 11/11 is a very specific anniversary. The peace theme has been forgotten; it has become yet another day on which Americans glorify war, under the guise of honoring veterans.

November 11th is, in any case, an excellent day to celebrate, because it marks the ending of what was probably the most pointless, idiotic conflict in human history. This mother of all atrocities cost the lives of 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians. There were no good guys, no Allies versus Nazis, just a collection of aging colonial empires (plus the upstarts Germany and America) jockeying for wealth and power.

The so-called Great War normalized the use of conscription (volunteer armies being dismissed as “unscientific”) and censorship of the press, even in the United States. As a direct result of the war’s toll upon Russia, the Czar’s government fell, giving rise to the 75-year nightmare known as the Soviet Union. The venality and greed of the victorious British and French led them to humiliate and punish the German people, and fragment the Austro-Hungarian Empire, creating the fertile soil that gave rise to Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Iron Curtain.

But wait, there’s more! The years 1914-1918 were a time when technology made the old modes of war obsolete, with weapons that enabled murder on an industrial scale. Yet the military leadership refused to recognize this change, treating their slave armies as disposable cannon fodder. British and French commanders ordered their men to charge into German machine gun fire to be mowed down like cattle. Those who refused these acts of suicide were charged with desertion and murdered by their so-called leaders.

Then there was the introduction of chemical weapons such as mustard gas, a horror that plagues us to this day.

It was called “the war to end all wars,” but it led to an even bigger war just 20 years after the Armistice. It was the “war to save democracy,” yet it, gave birth to totalitarianism and genocide in the world’s largest country, and severely impacted freedom in many others. Even the Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed around 50 million people worldwide, probably would not have been as severe if not for the widespread dislocation of peoples, and the diversion of public resources to warfare rather than health.

Had the United States not been foolish enough to join in the carnage, the war might have ended in a stalemate, saving millions from oppression and annihilation in the years to come. The planet-sized ego of US President Woodrow Wilson, combined with the corrupt greed of J.P. Morgan and other anglophile tycoons, guaranteed that the worst possible outcome would result.

Perhaps we humans will someday learn from our mistakes. We, the common people of the world, can reject the propaganda of the psychopathic elites and refuse to fight. In the midst of the bloodshed of the Great War was the inspiring example of the spontaneous, unofficial Christmas Truce of 1914, in which German and British soldiers crossed the trenches to exchange gifts, prisoners, and well wishes.


Another inspiring result of the Armistice was the Peace Dollar, designed by sculptor Anthony de Francisci, which is in my opinion the most beautiful coin ever minted by the USA. (Lady Liberty is modeled on de Francisci’s lovely Italian-born wife Teresa.) Note that contrary to most US coins, the bald eagle is perched, resting, and minding its own affairs. That’s a symbol for the non-interventionist ideals this nation must learn to live by.

For more information, see Wilson’s War by Jim Powell.


Photograph of Peace Dollar is from