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Are We Living Under a Military Coup?

An Ironically Patriotic Essay

As the depression set in, the nation watched the rise of fascism in Europe. FDR was opposed on the right by people like the popular hero Charles Lindbergh who cozied up with the Nazis. Much of this ugly, polarized political struggle has slipped from our popular history, in large part due to the unifying power of World War Two that helped end the depression and ended up consuming both sides of the right/left battle. The internal political struggles of the thirties shifted into a focus on military dominance. The US ended up top of the heap at the end of World War Two. It also ended up at odds with the other victor in the war, the Soviet Union. It was at this juncture that US leaders formulated The National Security Act of 1947, thus creating the National Security State we live under today.

MacArthur busting Bonus Marchers, Butler speaking to them and the Mussolini incidentMacArthur busting Bonus Marchers, Butler speaking to them and the Mussolini incident

Smedley Butler was raised a Hicksite Quaker in West Chester, Pennsylvania. One side of a major 19th century split, the Hicksites saw “the inner light” contained within each of us as the primary source of truth, while Orthodox Quakers were more like fundamentalists who saw The Bible as the primary source of truth. The young, idealistic Butler read that the US Marine Corps was expanding and recruiting new officers. He lobbied his parents (his father was a US congressman) to let him join, and in 1898 at age sixteen, a fresh Second Lieutenant Butler was dropped off at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was first exposed to hostile fire under the tutelage of grizzled Civil War veterans. He went on to the Philippines. He fought in counter-insurgency wars in places like Nicaragua and Haiti. He undertook spy missions in Mexico. His career was unique. At one point, he was given leave from the Marines and became police commissioner of Philadelphia, only to quit when he began to grasp the level of corruption in the city. He was awarded two Congressional Medals of Honor. And at the end of his career he was court martialed by Secretary of War Henry Stimson for calling Benito Mussolini a bum in a speech. He began speaking out in public and effectively undermining the charges, which were dropped. Today, among leftist, antiwar activists he’s considered a hero thanks to a small book he wrote in 1935 called War Is a Racket. On the other hand, I mentioned him once to General Stanley McChrystal at a book signing and the respected Iraq “surge” leader cited him back at me as, in his mind, one of his iconic US military heroes. Both views paradoxically prevail. In 1939, he expressed opposition to war in Europe. But, then, he conveniently died in 1940. How he would have responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor remains an intriguing question.



story | by Dr. Radut