November 5, 2017

How U.S. politicians helped create the Soviet Union

Did U.S. policies play a role in creating the communist threat? Retweet

By Perry Willis

I’ve been writing a series of articles reviewing U.S. wars and interventions….

I am hoping to persuade you of 3 points…

  1. Our “patriotic holidays” need to honor soldiers without mischaracterizing U.S. wars.
  2. The claim that U.S. soldiers “defended our freedom” is sweet-sounding but false. Freedom may be what they wanted to defend, but that’s not how our politicians actually used them.
  3. We must curtail the ability of politicians to wage war.

As you read what follows, please remember this crucial point — I am not blaming America for anything, but I am blaming U.S. politicians for lots of things. With that in mind, let’s consider the following question…

Did U.S. intervention in WW1 help create the Soviet Union?

I think the answer is yes. To understand why you must appreciate something that most people don’t realize…

There were actually TWO Russian revolutions, NOT just one!

Both revolutions happened because of WW1.

  • The Kerensky revolution deposed the Czar because the war was going badly.
  • The Bolshevik revolution succeeded because the Kerensky government continued the war past the point where the people supported it. Only the Bolsheviks were proposing peace, so they triumphed.

This view of what happened is uncontroversial. Kerensky himself thought that continuing the war was the crucial mistake. He said as much during an interview with British newspaper publisher Lord Beaverbrook…

Beaverbrook: What would have happened if you had made peace with Germany?
Kerensky: Of course we’d be in Moscow now (not in exile).

In other words, there would’ve been no Soviet Union if Kerensky had made peace with Germany (see page 316 of Comrades by Brian Moynahan). Historians like Edward Crankshaw agree. He wrote in the “The Atlantic” (October, 1954)…

“The Provisional (Kerensky) Government, if it had immediately sued for peace with Germany… could have remained in power, leading Russia into some kind of democratic system. But because it held to the war …because it knew it would depend in future on the favors of the Entente [Britain, France, and the U.S.]… it could not begin to alleviate the misery of the people, greatly aggravated by the war. It was this misery which Lenin deliberately set himself out to exploit.”

So what role did U.S. politicians play in these matters?

U.S. intervention extended WW1, providing time for the Bolshevik revolution to happen. Remember the points made in the previous article

  • Nearly 1,000 days passed between the start of WW1 and U.S.entry on April 6, 1917.
  • Neither side had gained any advantage. “Breakthroughs” were measured in yards or miles, and quickly reversed.
  • Between April 16 and June 1917 nearly half the French army mutinied.
  • Similar things were happening on the Russian front in 1917.

The war was clearly winding down. It appeared likely to end in a draw. So why didn’t it end? What gave The Great War nearly two more years of life, providing time for Lenin to create the Soviet Union? The answer is chilling…

U.S. intervention made new dreams of victory possible for Britain, France, and Russia, fueled by U.S. dollars and lives.

But Germany had a reaction too. Germany sent Lenin to Russia in a sealed train a mere ten days after the U.S. declaration of war. Consider the logic of that. The Germans had just gained the United States as a new enemy, so perhaps they could compensate by losing an old enemy — Russia. Lenin pledged to take Russia out of the war, so the Germans gave him money and sent him back for that purpose. The Germans probably would have done this anyway. It made strategic sense given the Russian revolution that had begun in February. But it became even more urgent after the U.S. entered the war. There are obvious connections between…

  • The U.S. entry into the war
  • The Germans use of Lenin as a tool
  • Kerensky’s continuation of the war
  • The ultimate triumph of the Bolshevik revolution

Please recall what Edward Crankshaw said in the quote above…

  • The Kerensky government continued the war because it expected future support from its allies, including its wealthy new friend, the United States of America.
  • Lenin exploited the war to gain power.

But U.S. politicians aided the formation of the Soviet Union in one other way. Recall that

Britain and France were dependent on U.S. supplies and money to continue fighting. U.S. politicians could have stopped the war simply by prohibiting trade and loans for Britain and France. Which is worse? Ending trade that was enabling the commission of a crime, or sending innocent young Americans to die by participating directly in that crime?

U.S. politicians chose the worst option.

It’s a simple fact — U.S. politicians could have forced a peace settlement long before the Germans sent Lenin back to Russia. Think of the consequences! Think how much better the world would have been had the Soviet Union never been born. That likely would have meant…

Hundreds of millions of lives might have been saved, and untold poverty and misery might have been avoided if only the U.S. had not intervened in WW1. Alas, the harm caused by that intervention does not end there. In the next article, we’ll examine how U.S. politicians helped give birth to Nazi Germany. If you find these articles valuable, please share them with others. Start a conversation about the correct way to honor veterans and the war dead. We believe it should be possible to honor their courage and mourn their loss, without telling lies about how the political class misused them. And if you’re new to our work, and you like what you see, please subscribe using the form near the bottom of our homepage! It’s free!

Thank you for being an ACTIVE DC Downsizer. If you like our work please consider making a contribution or starting a monthly pledge here.

Perry Willis
Co-founder, Downsize DC
Co-creator, Zero Aggression Project

PS: Please remember the three points I am trying to demonstrate with these articles…

  1. Our “patriotic holidays” need to honor soldiers without mischaracterizing U.S. wars.
  2. The claim that U.S. soldiers “defended our freedom” is sweet-sounding but false. Freedom may be what our soldiers wanted to defend, but that’s not how our politicians actually used them.
  3. We must curtail the future ability of politicians to aggress against foreign countries.

Please also remember this crucial point — I’m not blaming America for anything, but I am blaming U.S. politicians for lots of things.

P.P.S: Here’s a list of books I’ve consulted in this series.

If you buy these books using the links below, Downsize DC will get credit we can use to expand our research library. Thank you for your interest and support.

The Russian Revolution

Comrades by Brian Moynahan
Russia Leaves the War by George F. Kennan

World War 1

The Illusion of Victory by Thomas Fleming
World War I by Richard Maybury
The Pity of War by Niall Ferguson
The Forgotten Depression by James Grant

The Spanish-American War, the conquest of the Philippines, and Teddy Roosevelt’s betrayal of Korea…

Bully Boy by Jim Powell
The Politics of War by Walter Karp
The War Lovers by Evan Thomas
Honor in the Dust by Gregg Jones
The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley

The Mexican War

A Wicked War by Amy S. Greenberg

If your comment is off-topic for this post, please email us at feedback@downsizedc.org

comments

9 Comments

  1. Christopher Schmidt
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    The Edward Crankshaw article is misquoted (incorrectly glossed) above. The Entente powers were Great Britain, France, and (later) Russia.

    • Perry Willis
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      I’m confused by your correction. The quote is talking about the relationship of Russia to the other members of the alliance, Great Britain, France, and the U.S., in the period after the U.S. entered the alliance. There’s no need to list Russia in that context.

  2. Christopher Schmidt
    Posted November 14, 2017 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    Really, there are two errors in the passage.

    (1) Because the gloss of “the Entente” is yours, not Crankshaw’s, it should have been in square brackets, not parentheses. I appreciate your including the link to the source on http://www.theatlantic.com where the term is NOT glossed.

    (2) Crankshaw wrote “the Entente” in the passage quoted, referring to the Entente Cordiale, the Anglo-Russian Entente, and/or the Triple Entente. The U.S. was neither signatory to nor supporter of any of the ententes.

    Note also that Crankshaw, in the same sentence, wrote that Russia “held to the war, as an obligation”. There was no obligation to the U.S. to continue Russia’s war with Germany, so Crankshaw could not have used any term that included the U.S. there.

    This doesn’t contradict your overall thesis, however. The Entente powers wanted to prolong the war further (by the entry of the U.S.) because doing so would solidify their ability to grab and divide the territories speculatively divvied up by the abovementioned ententes (and other secret agreements). The U.S. played into the Entente’s hands, prolonged the war, and thereby set the stage for the Bolsheviks.

    Terminology:

    I try to avoid the terms ‘Allies’ and ‘Alliance’ when talking about WW1, because they confuse people who are more familiar with WW2. In the runup to WW1, “Triple Alliance” referred to Germany/Austria-Hungary/Italy (contrasting with the “Triple Entente” meaning U.K./France/Russia); neither group including the U.S..

    Similarly, the U.S. Office of the Historian wrote:

    “The United Kingdom, France, and Italy fought together as the Allied Powers during the First World War. The United States, entered the war in April 1917 as an Associated Power. While it fought alongside the Allies, the United States was not bound to honor pre-existing agreements among the Allied Powers. These agreements focused on postwar redistribution of territories. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson strongly opposed many of these arrangements, including Italian demands on the Adriatic. This often led to significant disagreements among the “Big Four.” ”

    https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/paris-peace

    • Perry Willis
      Posted November 14, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the clarification. I will change the gloss to brackets.

    • Perry Willis
      Posted November 14, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      I forgot to respond to your second point about the U.S. not signing or supporting any of the ententes. Giving victory to Britain and France qualifies as support in my view.

      • Bob Schubring
        Posted May 23, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        Of current importance is the concurrent evolution of the US Drug War at that time. Britain had largely monopolized the trade in India-grown opium, which was preserved in alcohol and sold in stores as the pain reliever Laudanum. US-based traders, in the aftermath of the Civil War, had discovered the coca plant in Peru and Bolivia, and actively promoted cocaine as a “safe” alternative to British-produced Laudanum. Cocaine, of course, interferes with the normal human sleep-wake cycle, leading to psychosis after prolonged use, and it wasn’t until 1987 that it was discovered that morphine, a natural substance that’s in Laudanum, is actually made in the human body. By the time of World War I, it had been decided by various US states that it was desirable to prohibit, limit, and tax pain-relieving medications. Ailing Civil War veterans were slandered as ‘addicts’, as an excuse not to pay benefits to them for their wounds. Drug misinformation soon became politicized, as it was deemed desirable to divert money away from caring for Civil War vets and apply it to other statist purposes. Worse yet, the Wilson Administration officially segregated the armed forces, and various federal facilities in the South. Up until Wilson took office, white supremacists had to line up and wait their turn with African-Americans when doing business at a post office or any other federal facility in the South…it was Wilson who legitimized segregation, by bringing it into federal buildings.

        The justification for the War on Drugs that emerged during Wilson’s presidency, was that African-Americans and immigrants from Southern Europe supposedly have some genetic flaw that makes them unable to stop taking drugs, once they start. This led to the push for alcohol prohibition and cannabis prohibition.

        The concepts driving these belief systems, arose among the Eugenics movement based at Harvard. Ultimately, the junk science of Eugenics became the argument why the Constitution should be disobeyed and the State allowed to grow, cancer-like, until it controlled everything. The Harvard elitists simply argued that most people were insufficiently-evolved to participate in democratic processes, and that an elite had to take control, to make certain that only smart decisions got made.

        We’ve seen how that turned out.

        Now how do we get rid of the problem?

        • Perry Willis
          Posted May 23, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          That’s very interesting and valuable history Bob.

        • Peter Altomare
          Posted May 23, 2018 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Good points Bob Schubring.
          WW1 was an unmitigated disaster.
          WW1 was a needless, pointless European/Western Civil War on a grand scale.
          All humanity is still in thrall to its repercussions and consequences.
          Few US citizens have ANY historical knowledge, much less enough knowledge to think contextually.
          I am deeply and profoundly grateful to Perry for publishing this whole set of articles, they can be used to make an argument for reason based sanity .
          WW1 was the first complete manifestation of the all-powerful State,which since then has never withdrawn from our public and private lives.

          • Perry Willis
            Posted May 24, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            Thanks for the kind words Peter.

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