Apart from being an outspoken critic of venture militarism, Major General Smedley D. Butler was, at the time of his death in 1940, the most decorated marine in U.S. history.
The following, Common Sense Neutrality, is an excerpt from a speech Butler gave in 1939, four years after he wrote his legendary essay, War Is A Racket. which every president should be required to read before inauguration:
"The Government declares war.* To say helplessly: As individuals we have nothing to do with it, can't prevent it. But WHO ARE WE? Well, 'WE' right now are the mothers and fathers of every able-bodied boy of militry age in the United States. 'W' are also you young men of voting age and over, that they'll use for cannon fodder. And 'WE' can prevent it.
Now -- you MOTHERS, particularly:
The only way you can resist all this war hysteria and beating tomtoms is by hanging onto the love you bear your boys.
When you listen to some well-worded, well-delivered war speech, just remember that it's nothing but Sound. It's your
boy that matters. And no amount of sound can make up for the loss of your boy. After you've heard one of these speeches and your blood is all hot and you want to go and hit someone like Hitler--go upstairs where your boy is asleep. Go into his bedroom. You'll find him lying there, pillows all messed up, covers all tangled, sleeping away so hard. Look at him. Put your hand on that spot on the back of his neck, the place youused to love to kiss when he was a baby. Just stroke it a little. You won't wake him up, he knows it's you.
Just look at the strong, fine, young body--because only the BEST boys are chosen for war. Look at this splendid young creature who's part of yourself. You brought him into the world. You cared for him. That boy relies on you. You taught him to do that, didn't you? Now I ask you: Are you going to run out on him? Are you going to let someone beat a drum or blow a bugle and make him chase after it and be killed or crippled in a foreign land? Are the Mothers of America ashamed to make this fight to stay out of this European War on the ground of their love for their sons--for what better ground could there be?"
* - Were he to write this today, General Butler might amend the opening sentence to read: "Sometimes the Government declares war" in light of the fact that, for the past 40 years, presidents have by-passed Congress, and formal declarations of war.