WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most
vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the
profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it
seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it
is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very
many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War a mere handful garnered the profits of the
conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States
during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax
returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them
dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out?
How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and
machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of
them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are
victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the
few the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public
shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones.
Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression
and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a
racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the
international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.
Again they are choosing sides. France and Russia met and agreed to
stand side by side. Italy and Austria hurried to make a similar agreement. Poland and
Germany cast sheep's eyes at each other, forgetting for the nonce [one unique occasion],
their dispute over the Polish Corridor.
The assassination of King Alexander of Jugoslavia [Yugoslavia]
complicated matters. Jugoslavia and Hungary, long bitter enemies, were almost at each
other's throats. Italy was ready to jump in. But France was waiting. So was
Czechoslovakia. All of them are looking ahead to war. Not the people not those who
fight and pay and die only those who foment wars and remain safely at home to
There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our
statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.
Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?
Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being
trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in
"International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, said:
"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the
future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the
moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War
alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility
upon the people who have the courage to meet it."
Undoubtedly Mussolini means exactly what he says. His well-trained
army, his great fleet of planes, and even his navy are ready for war anxious for
it, apparently. His recent stand at the side of Hungary in the latter's dispute with
Jugoslavia showed that. And the hurried mobilization of his troops on the Austrian border
after the assassination of Dollfuss showed it too. There are others in Europe too whose
sabre rattling presages war, sooner or later.
Herr Hitler, with his rearming Germany and his constant demands for
more and more arms, is an equal if not greater menace to peace. France only recently
increased the term of military service for its youth from a year to eighteen months.
Yes, all over, nations are camping in their arms. The mad dogs of
Europe are on the loose. In the Orient the maneuvering is more adroit. Back in 1904, when
Russia and Japan fought, we kicked out our old friends the Russians and backed Japan. Then
our very generous international bankers were financing Japan. Now the trend is to poison
us against the Japanese. What does the "open door" policy to China mean to us?
Our trade with China is about $90,000,000 a year. Or the Philippine Islands? We have spent
about $600,000,000 in the Philippines in thirty-five years and we (our bankers and
industrialists and speculators) have private investments there of less than $200,000,000.
Then, to save that China trade of about $90,000,000, or to protect
these private investments of less than $200,000,000 in the Philippines, we would be all
stirred up to hate Japan and go to war a war that might well cost us tens of
billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives of Americans, and many more hundreds
of thousands of physically maimed and mentally unbalanced men.
Of course, for this loss, there would be a compensating profit
fortunes would be made. Millions and billions of dollars would be piled up. By a few.
Munitions makers. Bankers. Ship builders. Manufacturers. Meat packers. Speculators. They
would fare well.
Yes, they are getting ready for another war. Why shouldn't they? It
pays high dividends.
But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit
their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their
What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge
Yes, and what does it profit the nation?
Take our own case. Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside
the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than
$1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted
aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning
about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. At
the end of the World War period, as a direct result of our fiddling in international
affairs, our national debt had jumped to over $25,000,000,000. Our total favorable trade
balance during the twenty-five-year period was about $24,000,000,000. Therefore, on a
purely bookkeeping basis, we ran a little behind year for year, and that foreign trade
might well have been ours without the wars.
It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average
American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this
racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost
of operations is always transferred to the people who do not profit.