Pravda No. 53, May 23 (10), 1917.
Published according to the text in Pravda.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 378-379.
Translated: Isaacs Bernard
Transcription\Markup: B. Baggins and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 1999 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
What a pity that the masses cannot read books on the history of diplomacy, or the editorials in the capitalist newspapers. And an even greater pity—though in this case pity is too feeble a word—that the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik ministers and their ministeriable colleagues should maintain such a discreet silence on certain facts of diplomatic history and on the utterances of the “great diplomatic minds”, though these are only too well known to them.
Rech quotes what it claims to be a reliable report in Birzhevka to the effect that Britain is quite prepared to renounce the “dismemberment of Turkey and partitioning of Austria-Hungary”. In other words, Britain readily consents to Russia not getting the annexations promised her under earlier treaties (Constantinople, Armenia, Galicia). In this sense—and in this sense alone—Britain is prepared to revise the treaties.
And Rech waxes indignant:
“So this is the first result of the triumph of the new slogan [the slogan of peace without annexations and indemnities]. The agreement will very likely be revised: our Allies—not we—are already taking ’preparatory steps’ towards that end. The result of this revision, however, will be not a uniform [mark this!] renunciation of the major objectives of all the Allies, but a one-sided [isn’t that a gem?] renunciation of the objectives in South-Eastern Europe [read: in Austria and Turkey, i.e., the plundering of Armenia, Constantinople, Galicia] in favour of objectives in other areas and in the colonies, formulated not by us hut by our Allies.
“In particular, there have been press reports suggesting that our Allies might abandon their objectives in Asia Minor. True, there is so far no official confirmation of the statements to that effect said to have been made by Albert Thomas in the Soviet of Workers’ and soldiers’ Deputies and reported in the Moscow press. It would be difficult, however, to expect any such action as far as Britain is concerned. For Britain takes the correct view that possession is nine-tenths of the law [mark this!] and her troops are already occupying parts of Mesopotamia and Palestine which are of vital interest to her tread: to her capitalists). In these circumstances, Britain’s refusal to fight for the vital interests of the other [Rech’s italics] Allies would, of course, likewise be a one-sided act advantageous to her alone.”
Truly, Milyukov, or whoever it was wrote these lines, deserves to have a monument set up to him in his lifetime... for frankness. Bravo, candid Rech diplomats! (And why are they candid? Because they were angered at Milyukov being deprived of his portfolio.)
Everything that has been said in the lines quoted above is the truth, a truth confirmed by the recent history of diplomacy and the history of foreign investments. Britain at any rate will not renounce the seizure (annexation) of Palestine and Mesopotamia, though she is prepared to punish the Russians (for the “virtual armistice” on the Russian-German front) by denying them Galicia, Constantinople, Armenia, etc. That, in plain, non-diplomatic language, is the meaning of these statements in Rech.
And the Russian capitalists for whom Rech speaks can barely hold back their anger. Foaming at the mouth, they are blurting out the secrets of foreign policy and taking digs at the British capitalists: what you are doing is “one-sided”, it is to your “advantage”, and to the disadvantage of others.
Comrades, workers and soldiers! Consider these strikingly frank and strikingly truthful statements of Rech, coming from well-informed diplomats and former ministers, consider this excellent exposure of the real aims which not only the Russian, but the British capitalists, too, are pursuing in the war.
Russian soldiers! Do you want to fight to help the British capitalists seize Mesopotamia and Palestine? Do you want to support the Russian Government of Lvov, Chernov, Tereshchenko, Tsereteli, a government bound by the interests of the capitalists and afraid openly to state the true facts which have been blurted out by Rech?