Butler’s outing of an attempted coup by big business to oust Roosevelt was a publicity stunt designed to make Roosevelt look like the savior of the common man instead of a Wall Street yes-man. Don’t believe me? Here are links to the two-part series I wrote exposing Smedley Butler and the Business Plot against Roosevelt, which was totally bogus:
Read them and decide for yourself. Some excerpts:
I reckon that if you’re reading this you’ve heard of the so-called “Business Plot,” which is sometimes described as “Wall Street’s Failed 1934 Coup” or “The Banksters’ Fascist Coup.” It refers to the planning of a coup against Franklin Delano Roosevelt by, among others, Morgan and DuPont, which was foiled by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.
The argument I put forward here is very simple: The plausibility of the Business Plot rests on the assumption that Roosevelt’s policies went against the interests of bankers, industrialists and Wall Street financiers—or at least a very powerful subset of them (including the Morgans and DuPonts who were implicated in the plot). Implied is that his policies were so beyond the pale that he was nearly deposed or turned into a puppet of a fascist government controlled by the likes of J.P. Morgan, Jr. On top of that, we also need to believe that Smedley Butler was the kind of guy who would stand up to the powerful bankers and rat them out due to his “patriotism, integrity, and dedication to democracy.” But at the same time, we need to believe he’s the kind of guy the bankers would approach to lead the coup, even though by then he was already going around giving speeches condemning war profiteers, among them Morgan and DuPont, and exclaiming that “War is a Racket!”
You can see the story is already starting to fall apart under its own internal contradictions before I’ve even started to show that none of these assumptions are true: Roosevelt’s policies were practically dictated by wealthy bankers, Wall Street financiers, and big business; and Smedley Butler was a big fat phony.
The “business plot” was manufactured to make it appear to the public as if Roosevelt’s policies were really for the common good and not a big giveaway to bankers and industrialists. If they hated it enough to depose FDR, then it had to be good, right? By making people believe that a fascist coup was narrowly avoided, it gave the false impression that the country was not already a plutocracy fully controlled by Wall Street.
Now, I realize that all we’ve ever heard about Butler is what an honorable man he was and how much he cared for grunts and regular folk. In the book, The Plot to Seize the White House (you see how that implies the White House was not already seized), Jules Archer describes Butler as “a man of incorruptible character, integrity, and patriotism.” So where do I get off calling him a fraud and a liar?
To answer that, we need to start by questioning the basic logic and sense of this whole story: After retiring from the military, Butler started going around the country giving speeches denouncing the war profiteers and admitting that his career in the Marines was spent as a racketeer for capitalism. But if he was a man of such integrity and incorruptible character, then why was he willing to do the dirty work for them for all those years?
In one of those speeches, transcribed here, he brags that he was a racketeer for capitalism for 33 years:
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. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras “right” for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents.
And yet, during all that time, he never had any qualms about it or considered resigning? Given his alleged moral character, this is the least we would expect of him once he realized the orders he was following were wrong. Did he suddenly have a change of heart? A transformative epiphany that what he was doing was wrong? No, not according to him. So what made him suddenly start denouncing his former deeds? Here is his explanation, from a speech given in 1933 (and also in the speech transcribed above):
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical of everyone in the military service.
So apparently he would have been against it all along but didn’t realize what was really going on. And we’re just supposed to believe that? He had no idea what he was doing? As a Major General he suspended his mental faculties and just obeyed orders? Imagine he had instead said, “Every day for 33 years I gagged on Morgan’s member and took Rock’s feller from behind. I suspected I was just their whore at that time, but my mental faculties remained in suspended animation. Now I am sure of it.” Would you buy it? I wouldn’t.
Now, as much as I like to think that high ranking military officers really are brain dead, what he says here simply isn’t true. Read here to find out why.