Smedley Butler, combat veteran, two time Medal of Honor winner and at 38 the youngest Marine ever to achieve the rank of general, retired from the corps aged 50, after 33 years of service. Four years later Gen. Butler published "War is a Racket," partly an accusation against his government and its military of war crimes, and partly a confession.
I spent 33 years and four months … 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.
Does this sort of mea culpa represent a change of heart, or did the general gradually recognize the nature of his work during his years of service? Either way, I've noticed that there are times when a few of our greatest, most esteemed, and highly-trained warriors suddenly crack, as it were, and begin telling the unvarnished truth, as they understand it, almost as an act of penance.
I recently became acquainted with such a man. He's a small, fit, guy about my age, a committed peace activist, very active in ongoing protests at the Trident nuclear submarine base in Bangor, Washington, on Puget Sound. He retired from the Navy a few years ago. He was the commander of a Trident Sub