Various Subjects

Interview Given to the American Correspondent Comrade Reed

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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(1) In connection with your question about the peace proposals of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, I can say this:

Our aim in the conflict with Poland was peace. On the eve of the war with Poland we were wholly absorbed in tasks of peaceful labour. I was in the Urals, in the capacity of chairman of the Council of the First Labour Army. Never in the whole period of my Soviet work have I felt such satisfaction as during that month and a half of economic work in the Urals. The war with Poland forced us out of a situation in which we were devoting all our attention and all our strength to economic tasks.

It was our endeavour to secure peace at any cost. How? We offered very big concessions to the Polish government. They rejected them. We took the offensive, so as to force them to give us peace. This offensive did not produce all the desired results, and the All-Russia Central Executive Committee is once more offering very extensive – I dare not say excessive – concessions, with a view to attaining peace and ensuring the transition to economic labour. The peace terms, as they are set out in the resolution of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, are not only broad but also extremely demonstrative. While genuinely providing a real basis for peace, at the same time they possess great educational power. They ought to show and they do in fact show to the whole world, the Polish people included, that peace is genuinely our aim, an aim for which we are prepared to pay a high price. At the same time, these conditions are an expression of the consciousness of the worker and peasant masses of Russia, who want peace, are ready to make concessions, and are offering these concessions, and who, if this peace is denied them, will, aware of their unshakable rightness, know how to attain peace through victory.

(2) As regards the policy of America towards us, I can give you a brief statement of my ideas, which, of course, Comrade Chicherin would develop more fully and with more information. You know that in our world policy we are not guided by national passions and chauvinistic sympathies or antipathies. We have no prejudices against a yellow skin, nor have we any blind sympathy with the white race. In consequence, we watch attentively the development of world antagonisms, including that very big antagonism which is developing around the Pacific Ocean. We have declared more than once, and shown in practice, that we can not only coexist with bourgeois states but can also work together with them, and can do this within very wide limits. It is quite clear that our attitude to the Pacific Ocean antagonisms will be determined entirely by the attitude taken up towards the Soviet Republic by Japan and by the United States respectively. From this serious standpoint, I venture to think that Mr. Wilson’s policy is not the wisest policy that the great trans-Atlantic republic has ever pursued.

(3) As regards the Red Army, its strength and the potentialities contained within it, I will permit myself to say that it is destined, in the future as in the past, to give not a few surprises to those who look at it from outside. Superficial observers were amazed by our successes and could not account for them. Our retreat from Warsaw drove them to the opposite extreme. I tell you frankly that one of the sources of our strength in the international struggle is the fact that capitalist diplomats and capitalist military men do not understand either the sources of our strength or the causes of our weakness.

We built and are building the Red Army at the fronts, in a process of uninterrupted battle. We studied the enemy and adapted ourselves to him in a period of uninterrupted war, improvising new formations and tempering them in action. The conditions of our struggle in the North, the East, the South and the West were profoundly different. On each of our fronts we retreated a long way at least once, after initial successes. One may see in this lack of sufficient power of endurance. Actually, however, this fact resulted from the circumstance that we were creating the army in the process of struggle, while the millions of working people were becoming convinced that there was no other way. We hurled our divisions forward, and they got as far as Warsaw. Behind them we were and are carrying on uninterrupted work to create forces that will far exceed in strength our first contingents, which retreated from Warsaw. We have been obliged to mobilise all our industry again. The country once more knows no tasks other than the tasks of war.

From Kolchak we retreated west of the Volga. From Denikin we retreated to Orel. From Yudenich we fell back almost to the walls of Petrograd. All these enemies of ours were wiped out and destroyed by our second wave.

If White Poland refuses to give us peace, we have no doubt that our second campaign along the road to Warsaw, which we have come to know well, will be more successful and decisive than the first.

September 24, 1920

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006