Smedley Butler was one of the most decorated generals in American history, having served during the Mexican Revolution and World War I. He won 15 medals, including five for heroism, and the Medal of Honor twice. Butler's moral courage was a match for his physical courage. When he retired from the military, he took the unusual step of pointing out that war is a racketeering scheme in his 1935 book, War is a Racket. What did he mean by this?
I have been planning to write this post for for several years, but it seems especially timely now with the war in Ukraine happening. In what follows, I will break down Butler's message and explain why it is the key to understanding the deeper reasons (with rare exceptions) that nations go to war, along with the true costs of war to regular people.