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Post US Meddling in Foreign Elections; Smedley Butler
Created by John Eipper on 03/03/17 10:11 AM

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US Meddling in Foreign Elections; Smedley Butler (John Heelan, UK, 03/03/17 10:11 am)

JE asked on 3 March: "How about US political interventions in Latin America from, say, 1898? Arbenz? Allende?"

Let us not forget Project Condor, the School of the Americas. One also remembers the "complaint by Marine General Smedley Butler (1881-1940) rightly a hero of the USMC, who said: I served in all commissioned ranks from a second lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism."

Today one might add US geopolitics to that list, as in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq--with Iran and ex-USSR client states currently on the back burner.

JE comments:  Smedley Butler comes up on WAIS every year or so, as do other notorious quotesters, such as Max Weinreich of "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy" fame.  Here's another Butler quote:  "I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street."  Or how about "[War] is the only [racket] where the profits are measured in dollars and the losses in lives."

At the time of his death in 1940, Gen. Butler was the most decorated Marine in history.  There is a Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D Butler on Okinawa.  Have any of our WAISer Marines spent time there?

Don't miss this detailed 2005 discussion of Gen. Butler, with comments from WAISers Michael Sullivan, Cameron Sawyer and Robert Whealey.  (Yikes--this post needs a good reformatting.)


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  • Smedley Butler's Great-Nephew (David Duggan, USA 03/04/17 4:23 AM)
    General Butler's great-nephew, the Rev. Wes Smedley, is the rector of St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church in Chicago's "Gold Coast" neighborhood.

    JE comments: The Marines and the Church sound like strange bedfellows for one family, but traditionally this was not the case.  In the days of primogeniture, second and third sons of respectable families had only two career choices:  the sword or the cross.

    How did the Rev. Smedley end up with his great uncle's first name as his last?  Doesn't it usually work the other way around?

    Have any of you read Butler's 1935 book, War is a Racket?  The complete text is available on-line.


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    • Rev. Wes Smedley and Gen. Smedley Butler (David Duggan, USA 03/06/17 4:38 AM)

      In my brief conversation with the Reverend Wes Smedley (see my post of March 4th), who like his relative was from the Philadelphia area, he acknowledged the relationship but did not know much about his great uncle. To answer John E's question about the "Smedley" name, I suspect it was his uncle who was given a family name as his first name.

      JE comments:  The "D" of Smedley D Butler stands for Darlington.  The General was named after his grandfather, Smedley Darlington (1827-1899), a member of the US House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.  Mystery solved, sort of:  we still don't know how the "Christian" name of the Congressman became the Reverend's surname.

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