Tag Archives: military policy

James McMurtry: I heard Woodrow Wilson’s guns


For his latest installment of his Blurt blog “Wasteland Bait & Tackle” the Texas songwriter takes a look at US military policy and wonders if it has really changed any over the years.



I heard Maria crying

Late last night I heard the news

That Veracruz was dying 

——Warren Zevon

I was having trouble remembering the lyrics to Warren Zevon’s fine song, ”Veracruz”, so I went to the information superhighway for help. I found the lyrics and a bit of history on the subject of the song, the U.S. invasion and brief occupation of the Mexican port of Veracruz in 1914. It seems President Wilson didn’t like Presidente Huerta, and found an excuse to invade. Some US sailors had been arrested for wandering into the wrong part of Tampico. The sailors were released with an official apology, but the US Commanding Officer’s demand of a twenty one gun salute was ignored, so in went the Marines on Wilson’s orders. No doubt, there was more to it, something about a shady arms deal involving US, Russian, and German investors. This from Wikipedia:


After the fighting ended, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered that fifty-six Medals of Honor be awarded to participants in this action, the most for any single action before or since. This amount was half as many as had been awarded for the Spanish–American War, and close to half the number that would be awarded during World War I and the Korean War. A critic claimed that the excess medals were awarded by lot.[15][16] Major Smedley Butler, a recipient of one of the nine Medals of Honor awarded to Marines, later tried to return it, being incensed at this “unutterable foul perversion of Our Country’s greatest gift”[citation needed] and claiming he had done nothing heroic. The Department of the Navy told him to not only keep it, but wear it.

 The Major retired as a Major General and wrote this about his service in his book, “War is a Racket”:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time 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. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.


Given that Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root were the major beneficiaries of the Iraq invasion, an invasion now threatening the presidential prospects of Jeb Bush due to the widening acceptance of the evidence that it was conducted on the basis of falsified intelligence, can we say that anything has changed in US military policy since 1914? By the way Mr. President, why are we still at war?