Cont’d from Infowars
American involvement in the Russian Revolution was the key event that pitted the United States and the Soviet Union against each other for the next seventy years. It was the foundation for a face-off between the two nations that would emerge as the world’s superpowers.
So starts the somewhat perfunctory entry in Wikipedia, “United States and the Russian Revolution.” The Wiki’s opening statement and a section on “Allied Intervention” are spot-on. Let’s supplement it, however, with the pertinent details!
First off, we should remember that the United States was but a secondary power at the outset of World War I, and that only by the end of World War II it had surpassed the UK as the mover & shaker. Its determination to contain the aftereffects of the Bolshevik revolution would have amounted to naught without a corresponding determination by the then-dominant Western powers—England in particular!
Nothing better exemplifies the British mindset than Winston Churchill who, many times over, expressed the idea that “infant Bolshevism must be strangled in its cradle.” And this sentiment was shared by most capitalist-based European nations.  
What complicates matters is Russia’s rather reluctant participation in the Great War—itself a catalyst of the Bolshevik Revolution. 
Once the Romanov dynasty and Kerensky’s Provisional Government were overthrown, one of the first acts of the Bolshevik government was to seek immediate peace. The famous Decree on Peace issued the day after the fall of the Winter Palace called for all belligerent nations to cease hostilities. This was, however, something which neither the Allied nations nor the Central Powers was willing to consider, and no reply was given [the source].
Understandably, the Allies regarded the Peace Decree and Russia’s withdrawal from the theater of war as a detrimental shift in the balance of power. They even accused Lenin and the Bolsheviks of being “in [the] employ of Germany,” a baseless accusation, but effective just the same.  Active military intervention, to quash the Bolshevik regime and restore Russia’s participation in the Great War, was the result.
The Allies’ fears didn’t materialize. The German Spring Offensive of 1918, which coincided with the arrival of 350,000 American troops on the front line, more than made up for the Allies’ numerical disadvantage. By July 1918, the German army was a spent force; and by November, the Central Powers followed Russia’s suit and called for an armistice with the remaining Allies. 
What remained was the unfinished task of supporting the counter-revolutionary “white” forces, which the Allies continued well after the Great War, but once it became apparent that the counter-revolutionary forces could not retake heartland Russia from the Bolsheviks, the Allies had reduced their objective from that of overthrowing the Bolsheviks to that of containment.  
From its inception, communism had been seen as an ideological threat to the capitalist powers of the West; and so, it always formed the basis of Western policy and action vis-à-vis the emergent power in the East. For a time being, these concerns were ignored and put on the back burner because of other priorities—Russia’s participation in the Great War, for one—but, once it became apparent that the Bolshevik regime would have none of it, the Allies’ hopes of bringing Russia into the fold hit a brick wall. And since all subsequent attempts to defeat the Bolsheviks met with abject failure, the die was cast. Once the dust settled and the Great War became history, ideology remained the only viable bone of contention.
Western reaction to the rising adversary power in the East wasn’t unjustified since adversary ideology represented a genuine threat. From the get-go, Lenin’s view was that the establishment of communism in Russia alone would have been neither ideologically nor pragmatically sufficient and that the major goal of the Bolshevik government in the years after World War I remain the propagation of a world proletarian revolution under the auspice of ideologically pure Bolsheviks from Moscow.
The Russian counter-invasion into Poland in 1920, in which the workers of Warsaw failed to rise in revolution upon the arrival of the Red Army, as predicted by Lenin, ended any notion of the world revolution being spread at the end of a rifle. It was to be accomplished instead through the socialist parties already established in the industrial European nations—a policy echoing the 19th century Communist Manifesto and its anthem, The Internationale, both applicable to the situation at hand. 
The ground was fertile, for the peoples of Europe, given to general unrest and the depredation that followed the Great War took to the streets. Socialist movements had mushroomed throughout Europe—most notably in Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Norway, Scotland, and Germany. And to capitalize on these movements, the Third Communist International, otherwise known as Comintern—a short for Communist International—was formed in March 1919. Its successes, however, were limited in that most socialist parties had opted for their own autonomous development rather than for following the dictates from Moscow. Of the major socialist/communist parties, only the Italian, Norwegian, and Bulgarian parties affiliated with Moscow. 
Germany was the greatest disappointment for its adherence to democratic processes and reforms as the preferred instrument of change—which flew in the face of the Comintern’s credo. And so were France and Britain, the latter being renowned for the Fabian brand of socialism, which, just like Germany, adhered to the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist efforts in democracies, rather than by revolutionary overthrow. Both experienced no notable revolutionary activity. 
In retrospect, although Comintern’s overarching aim may have justified western response, it turned out to be a paper tiger.  The worldwide revolution, as envisaged by the architects in Moscow, never materialized, and the East-West relations entered another phase.
In the next installment, we’ll trace these relations through a period between World Wars I and II and beyond—the Cold War and its aftermath, until the present.
The Russian-Ukraine conflict, as we shall see, is but another episode in the adversarial relations between Moscow and Washington.
- Throughout this presentation, I’ll be guided by J. Barbour’s December 29, 2012, all-informative article, “The Bolshevik Revolution and the Western Powers 1917-1923,” in A History Blog. In the interest of brevity, all citations from this article will be referenced by “the source.”
- Churchill’s speech in the House of Commons on January 26, 1949, contained one of the earliest expressions of the idea, and I cite: “I think the day will come when it will be recognized without doubt, not only on one side of the House but throughout the civilized world, that the strangling of Bolshevism at its birth would have been an untold blessing to the human race.” Five years later, in his June 28, 1954 remarks to the National Press Club in Washington, Churchill stated: “If I had been properly supported in 1919, I think we might have strangled Bolshevism in its cradle, but everybody turned up their hands and said, ‘How shocking!’” (See Mungo Melvin’s March 11, 2016 “Bolshevism: ‘Foul baboonery…Strangle at Birth’” in The Churchill Project at Hillsdale College.)
- Reluctant, because Tsar Nicholas II and the German Kaiser Wilhelm II were cousins, “addressing each other in communications as ‘Nicky’ and ‘Willy,’ while Wilhelm and Nicholas’ wife Alexandra were both grandchildren of Queen Victoria of England. [The Tsar] thought it highly unlikely that the Kaiser would declare war on the kingdom of a relative. What the Tsar did not count on was Wilhelm’s own duplicity, nor did he understand the forces of war that had been building in Europe for more than ten years.” See “Russia in World War I” in Alpha History. Also, see Patrick J. Kiger’s April 28, 2021 article, “How World War I Fueled the Russian Revolution,” in history.com.
- Kerensky’s Provisional Government, set up in March 1917, supported Russian involvement in the war effort–a position which would soon become unpopular because Russian war casualties kept on mounting. The Decree on Peace represented thus an immediate reversal of Kerensky’s policy and Russian participation in the Great War was over. For more on Kerensky, see this entry in Alpha History.
- While it’s true that Germany had a vested interest to “smuggle” Lenin back to Russia since he was opposed to Russia’s participation in the Great War–a standing policy of Kerensky’s Provisional Government—it doesn’t follow that Lenin was a “German agent.” See this April 13, 2022 entry by the editors of History.
- “By the 21st of November, 1917 … only two weeks after the revolution had occurred, the British parliament was considering supporting Cossack generals who stood in opposition to the Bolshevik regime, and by the 14th of December … had made formal agreements with France to provide financial assistance to the “white” forces in Russia. British and supporting American troops had occupied the northern ports of Archangel and Murmansk by July 1918, ostensibly [for the purpose] of defending Allied war supplies from falling into German hands. With German forces advancing into Russia from Finland this certainly must have been a significant worry for the Allies, but it can easily be assumed that the troops deployed in Russia were there in the expectation of providing military support for white forces[the source].”
- The armistice took effect on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in 1918, and the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919, followed. Also, see Patrick J. Kiger’s November 8, 2018 article, “Why World War I Ended With an Armistice Instead of a Surrender,” in history.com.
- “The Fourteen Points proposed by Woodrow Wilson may have been formulated with the idea of containment in mind. The idea was to create a number of new states to serve as a barrier between communist Russia and the West. This desire for a strong exclusion zone around Russia can be seen in France’s support of newly independent Poland in its efforts to expand its borders into Russia. Up to 80 million francs worth of weapons and munitions were delivered to Poland in 1920, which only prolonged the 1919 Polish-Soviet War [the source].”
- As an aside, one of the aims of Poland’s main offensive, Operation Kiev, aka the Kiev Offensive, was to create an independent Ukraine, and in this endeavor, Poland was assisted by the allied forces of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. That support, however, was minimal at best: the population was exhausted by several years of war, and the Ukrainian Army attained the strength of only two divisions.
- For French and English versions of The Internationale, an inspiring musical composition, see videos 1 and 2, both courtesy of YouTube.
- For an in-depth analysis of Comintern’s history, its successes and failures, see this entry in New World Encyclopedia.
- “Germany especially was affected by Communist-inspired revolution, just as Marx and Lenin had predicted. The initial rising of October 1918 at the naval port of Kiel began its inexorable spread into other cities—Kaiser Wilhelm II being quickly ousted from his throne by a High Command fearful of the growing public unrest. The workers, soldiers and sailors who founded their soviets did not, however, owe any formal allegiance to any Communist party, and the risings were very much spontaneous with little encouragement required from the Bolsheviks in Russia. In fact, the leaders of the major revolutionary Communist faction in Germany, the Sparticist League, were very much reluctant to engage in what they saw as a premature revolution. It was thus, despite the representative, Karl Radek, sent by the Bolsheviks to aid in any revolutionary action, that the leadership of the German Communists was obliged to follow in the wake of their members’ failed uprising in Berlin, in January 1919, rather than abide by Moscow’s dictates [the source].”
- “The takeover of Hungary in 1919 by Bela Kun may have been Comintern’s greatest success in propagating world revolution as a communist government with the support of the Red Army was established there, bringing the possibility of propagating a revolutionary war in Eastern Europe. It was short-lived, however, since Kun’s government destroyed the economy with extensive land collectivization and bank nationalization, as a result of which, the government fell to right-wing reactionaries a year later [the source].”