John Reed Internet Archive
First Published: December 11, 1918, in The Revolutionary Age
Transcribed: Sally Ryan January, 2001
AT the present time the Allied armies in Russia—American troops among them—are supporting three “Governments” at Archangel, Vladivostok and Omsk. These “Governments.” which an said to be “supported by the majority of the Russian people” (whoever they may be), have one characteristic in common: they stand for the return of Czardom. So that the Allies, who started out with the scarcely-disguised intention of “restoring the Constituent Assembly,” and thus setting up a bourgeois Republic, now find themselves in the position of gendarmes of the Counter Revolution.
According to official statements of the American and Japanese Governments, the objects of intervention in Russia were, protection of military supplies in Archangel and Vladivostok against German and Austrian war-prisoners, and assistance to the Czech~Slovaks, who were presumably trying to leave Russia. The most “solemn and public” promises were given by both Governments that they had no intention of “interfering in the internal affairs of Russia.” But the British Government, which was associated with the Americans and Japanese, stated throuch Lloyd George that the purpose of the intervention was to create “a center for the elements opposed to Bolshevism.” And the French Government, whose aims in Russia can least bear the light of liberal scrutiny, did not deign to publish them.
As soon as foreign troops landed on Russian soil the Commissaire for Foreign Affairs, Tchiteherin, addressed a note to the Allied and American Governments, asking why no notice of intervention had ever been given to the Government, and demanding a bill of complaint.
“If the Allied and American Governments have any cause for complaint against the conduct of the Government of the Russian Republic,” he said in effect, “we respectfully ask why it has not been called to our attention, that we may satisfy it....”
When the armistice with Germany was signed by the Allied and American Governments, Tchiteherin asked for an armistice with the Soviet Government also.
Both these communications were ignored. It may be urged that neither the Allies nor the United States recognized or now recognize the Russian Government. But for months all these Governments carried on semi-official relations with Russia, have made demands on it again and again; and in March, President Wilson publicly addressed the Fourth Congress of Soviets as representatives of the Russian people.... Is the only conclusion possible from all this that the aims of intervention are so frankly imperialistic that any statement of them would be extremely compromising...?
Even those persons who were persuaded by the Sisson documents and other forgeries, and the subsidized propaganda of Miliukov’s Ambassador in Washington, Mr. Bakhmetiev, that Lenin and Trotsky were German agents. must now be considerably puzzled. If it were true that the Bolsheviki in Russia were a tyrannical minority supported by German gold and German bayonets, the collapse of Imperial Germany would necessarily entail the collapse of the Bolsheviki—just as it entailed the collapse of the Ukrainean dictatorship, and the “National Council” of the Baltic provinces. But the defeat of Germany has merely strengthened the Russian Soviet Government. Only the most credulous will be able to swallow the accusation of the capitalist press that the Kaiser defeated in Germany, is still ruler of Russia!
One of the armstice terms imposed upon Germany requires that the indemnity paid by Russia to Germany must he surrendered to the Allies—to hold in trust for some future Russian Government. This Government, of course, must be acceptable to the Allies. There remains in Russia no force with any power except the force of the Black Hundreds—the Dark Forces against which the Russian people revolted in March, 1917, to the applause of the liberal world; any other Government set up in Russia must immediately fall, for the Russian “moderates” and “liberals” have no following whatever.
This is clearly shown by the history of the various go-called “Governments” which have been set up and supported by Allied troops. These Governments—the Government of the North, at Archangel, the All-Russian Provisional Governments at Ufa and at Omsk, and the Siberian Government at Irkutsk, centered about certain reactionary delegates to the Constituent Assembly—Tschaikovsky, Avksentiev, Zenzinov and others; men who were too conservative even for the “moderate” Socialist parties to which they belonged under Kerensky’e regime.
It is a proof of the power of the Bolsheviki over the masses of the people, and a justification of the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly, that these “liberals” and “Socialists” were forced to depend for their fighting forces upon renegade Cossacks and Chinese mercenaries under outcasts like General Semionov, Horvath and Gurko, and Admiral Kolchak; upon the Czecho-Slovaks, the Japanese, and the Allies.... And as was natural in such a situation, even the Allied and American troops could not save these “governments” from being overthrown by the Russian riff-raff they had evoked to fight their battles.
The pressure upon the Russian Soviets has been terrible. The Allied diplomatic representatives in Moscow, it seems, made use of their diplomatic privileges to plot counter-revolution and even the blowing up of bridges and munitions work, after the pattern of the Kaiser’s hirelings in this country. Armed attacks having failed, deliberate and concerted efforts are being made to starve the Russian people into submission. In answer to this the Russian Soviet Government, while Allied troops were actually shooting down Russian peasants by the thousand in the North and on the East, treated subjects and citizens of the Allied nations and the United States with the greatest consideration. And in all this time they have left no stone unturned to make peace—even, according to dispatches offering reparation for property confiscated or destroyed in Russia, and for repudiated debts.
Shall the United States be a party to what, after all, has inevitably taken on the significance of an attempt to restore the Russian Czar?