Sharp to Lansing on assesment of Trotsky and necessity for Japanese intevention

File No. 763.72/9967

Paris, May 12, 1918, 3 p.m
[Received May 13, 3 a.m.]


    ... To-day General Niessel, head of the French military mission to Russia, called to see me and for nearly an hour gave a most interesting account of the conditions existing in Russia, which country he left the middle of March, after having spent about seven months there. He had an opportunity to know and to study Trotsky and he describes him as a man of ability and cunning, but so lacking in political sense and able judgement as to render impossible anything like constructive work, such as all Russia now needs most. While what may be termed as the more conservative element of the Russian people is opposed to his domination, yet it lacks power to bring about his fall. Chaos reigns everywhere with nothing like a national unity of spirit around which to rally a great movement for constructive reform in government. In many places the workingmen are regularly paid though they refuse to preform any work. The small farmers will not sell their produce and thee lands of former large proprietors are not being cultivated because their is no money to meet the expenses. Such conditions but increase the prospect of famine. The general said that the greatest menace both to Russia and to the Allies at the present time was the possibility of the people in desperation finally turning to Germany to bring order out of chaos, and with it safety from anarchy. He said that already many who opposed the authority of the Bolsheviks would welcome German intervention as preferable to existence under the despotic power of the former. This led to his stating that Japanese intervention was necessary if [Russia] was finally to be saved from German control. Many in the Chamber of Deputies who had heretofore opposed such intervention would no look with favor upon it.

    I find indeed many here prominent in French politics who believe that the only course open, in order to prevent German extension of authority in the East, is immediate Japanese intervention on as effective a scale as possible. Men of such opinion are not only high in the French Government but in military and civil circles. While General Niessel did not think that Germany would be able to enroll much of a military support in Russia with which to fight the Allies, yet I am sure this is contrary to general belief.


Documents on US Foreign Policy in Russia

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