Amidst the backdrop of increased U.S.-Russian tensions and even talk of war, long forgotten is the time the U.S. actually invaded, explains Jeff Klein.
By Jeff Klein
Special to Consortium News
Amid the bi-partisan mania over the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki, fevered, anti-Russian rhetoric in the United States makes conceivable what until recently seemed inconcievable: that dangerous tensions between Russia and the U.S. could lead to military conflict. It has happened before.
In September 1959, during a brief thaw in the Cold War, Nikita Khrushchev made his famous visit to the United States. In Los Angeles, the Soviet leader was invited to a luncheon at Twentieth Century-Fox Studios in Hollywood and during a long and rambling exchange he had this to say:
“Your armed intervention in Russia was the most unpleasant thing that ever occurred in the relations between our two countries, for we had never waged war against America until then; our troops have never set foot on American soil, while your troops have set foot on Soviet soil.”
These remarks by Khrushchev were little noted in the U.S. press at the time – especially compared to his widely-reported complaint about not being allowed to visit Disneyland. But even if Americans read about Khrushchev’s comments it is likely that few of them would have had any idea what the Soviet Premier was talking about.
But Soviet – and now Russian — memory is much more persistent. The wounds of foreign invasions, from Napoleon to the Nazis, were still fresh in Russian public consciousness in 1959 — and even in Russia today — in a way most Americans could not imagine. Among other things, that is why the Russians reacted with so much outrage to the expansion of NATO to its borders in the 1990’s, despite U.S. promises not to do so during the negotiations for the unification of Germany.
The U.S. invasion Khrushchev referred to took place a century ago, after the October Revolution and during the civil war that followed between Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik forces, the Red Army against White Russians. While the Germans and Austrians were occupying parts of Western and Southern Russia, the Allies launched their own armed interventions in the Russian North and the Far East in 1918.
The Allied nations, including Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S., cited various justifications for sending their troops into Russia: to “rescue” the Czech Legion that had been recruited to fight against the Central Powers; to protect allied military stores and keep them out of the hands of the Germans; to preserve communications via the Trans-Siberian Railway; and possibly to re-open an Eastern Front in the war. But the real goal – rarely admitted publicly at first—was to reverse the events of October and install a more “acceptable” Russian government. As Winston Churchill later put it, the aim was to “strangle the Bolshevik infant in its cradle.”
In addition to Siberia, the U.S. joined British and French troops to invade at Archangel, in the north of Russia, on September 4, 1918.
In July 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had personally typed the “Aide Memoire” on American military action in Russia that was hand-delivered by the Secretary of War at the beginning of August to General William Graves, the designated commander of the U.S. troops en route to Siberia. Wilson’s document was curiously ambivalent and contradictory. It began by asserting that foreign interference in Russia’s internal affairs was “impermissible,” and eventually concluded that the dispatch of U.S. troops to Siberia was not to be considered a “military intervention.”
The Non-Intervention Intervention
But the American intervention began when U.S. soldiers disembarked at Vladivostok on August 16, 1918. These were the 27th and 31st infantry regiments, regular army units that had been involved in pacification of U.S.-occupied Philippines. Eventually there were to be about 8,000 U.S. troops in Siberia.
Judging from his memoires, General Graves was puzzled by how different things looked on the ground in Siberia than his vague instructions seemed to suggest. For one thing, the Czechs hardly needed rescuing. By the Summer of 1918 they had easily taken control of Vladivostok and a thousand miles of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
For the next year and a half, General Graves, by all appearances an honest and non-political professional soldier, struggled to understand and carry out his mandate in Siberia. He seems to have driven the U.S. State Department and his fellow allied commanders to distraction by clinging stubbornly to a literal interpretation of Wilson’s Aide Memoire as mandating strict non-intervention in Russian affairs. The general seemed incapable of noticing the broad “wink” with which everyone else understood these instructions.
Graves strove to maintain “neutrality” among the various Russian factions battling for control of Siberia and to focus on his mission to guard the railroad and protect Allied military supplies. But he was also indiscrete enough to report “White” atrocities as well as “Red” ones, to express his distaste for the various Japanese-supported warlords in Eastern Siberia and, later, to have a skeptical (and correct) assessment of the low popular support, incompetence and poor prospects of the anti-Bolshevik forces.
For his troubles, it was hinted, absurdly, that the General may have been a Bolshevik sympathizer, a charge that in part motivated the publication of his memoirs.
In the face of hectoring by State Department officials and other Allied commanders to be more active in support of the “right” people in Russia, Graves repeatedly inquired of his superiors in Washington whether his original instructions of political non-intervention were to be modified. No one, of course, was willing to put any different policy in writing and the general struggled to maintain his “neutrality.”
By the Spring and Summer of 1919, however, the U.S. had joined the other Allies in providing overt military support to “Supreme Leader,” Admiral Alexander Kolchak’s White regime, based in the Western Siberian city of Omsk. At first this was carried out discretely through the Red Cross, but later it took the form of direct shipments of military supplies, including boxcars of rifles whose safe delivery Graves was directed to oversee.
But the prospects for a victory by Kolchak soon faded and the Whites in Siberia revealed themselves to be a lost cause. The decision to remove the US troops was made late in 1919 and General Graves, with the last of his staff, departed from Vladivostok on 1 April 1920.
In all, 174 American soldiers were killed during the invasion of Russia. (The Soviet Union was formed on Dec. 28, 1922.)
Interestingly, pressure to withdraw the U.S. troops from Siberia came from fed-up soldiers and home-front opinion opposing the continued deployment of military units abroad long after the conclusion of the war in Europe. It is notable that during a Congressional debate on the Russian intervention one Senator read excerpts from the letters of American soldiers to support the case for bringing them home.
Then, as in later U.S. foreign interventions, the soldiers had a low opinion of the people they were supposed to be liberating. One of them wrote home on July 28, 1919 from his base in Verkhne-Udinsk, now Ulan Ude, on the southern shore of Lake Baikal:
“Life in Siberia may sound exciting but it isn’t. It’s all right for a few months but I’m ready to go home now. . . You want to know how I like the people? Well I’ll tell you, one couldn’t hardly call them people but they are some kind of animal. They are the most ignorant things I ever saw. Oh, I can get a word of their lingo if they aren’t sore when they talk. They sure do rattle off their lingo when they get sore. These people have only one ambition and that is to drink more vodka than the next person.”
Outside of the State Department and some elite opinion, U.S. intervention had never been very popular. By now it was widely understood, as one historian noted, that there may have been “many reasons why the doughboys came to Russia, but there was only one reason why they stayed: to intervene in a civil war to see who would govern the country.”
After 1920, the memory of “America’s Siberian Adventure,” as General Graves termed it, soon faded into obscurity. The American public is notorious for its historic amnesia, even as similar military adventures were repeated again and again over the years since then.
It seems that we may need to be reminded every generation or so of the perils of foreign military intervention and the simple truth asserted by General Graves:
“. . .there isn’t a nation on earth that would not resent foreigners sending troops into their country, for the purpose of putting this or that faction in charge. The result is not only an injury to the prestige of the foreigner intervening, but is a great handicap to the faction the foreigner is trying to assist.”
General Graves was writing about Siberia in 1918, but it could just as well have been Vietnam in the 1960s or Afghanistan and Syria now. Or a warning today about 30,000 NATO troops on Russia’s borders.
Jeff Klein is a retired local trade union president who writes frequently about international affairs and especially the Middle East. The postcard and soldier’s letter are in his personal collection.
If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.
Excellent article. Mais permettez-moi de préciser une chose que je rapporte dans mon livre qui vient d’être publié sous le titre “Trump face à l’Europe”. Mon oncle, autodidacte qui parlait couramment plusieurs langues, travailla au secrétariat particulier de deux présidents français, Deschanel et surtout Millerand. Il fut ainsi informé des opinions des milieux politiques, patronaux et financiers de l’époque. Je pense qu’il est important de rappeler que dès 1917, les USA et leurs “nations alliées” s’efforcèrent d’abattre le gouvernement révolutionnaire russe non seulement pour des raisons politiques mais également économiques. Je donne quelques éléments sur cette période: “La Première Guerre mondiale n’était pas achevée qu’entre 1918 et 1922, sans aucune déclaration de guerre, les forces armées de quatorze pays envahissaient la Russie pour tentre de renverser le nouveau gouvernement révolutionnaire russe par le blocus et la guerre.” (Trump face à l’Europe, p.29 et suivantes). Ce sont à peu de chose près les mêmes sociétés transnationales de la finance et de la banque que l’on retrouvera plus tard, dans les années 1930, pour soutenir l’arrivée au pouvoir du parti nazi ( “Plutôt Hitler que le Front populaire” disait le grand patronat français), commercer avec lui par nombre de filiales et armer l’Allemagne nazie en espérant qu’elle remplirait la mission dans laquelle les corps expéditionnaires de 1918 avaient échoué. Je donne les noms de ces sociétés transnationales qu’il me semble bien de rappeler pour rafraîchir la mémoire de ceux qui recourent – à nouveau – à la guerre financière, économique, militaire et médiatique contre la Fédération de Russie.
Help from historians please. It is my understanding that the force that went into Murmansk (British led) and the force that went into Archangel (American led) were INVITED by Lenin. The British force were there to protect the western border against the Germans/Finns, the Americans to protect some major arms depots in Archangel.
The invitation would have been in 1917, and the organisation of the expeditions meant arrival in 1918 at the earliest. As soon as they arrived the expeditionary forces found themselves in the middle of a civil war with no real instructions from their governments how to handle the situation, and really fell in with the Whites faute de mieux. I am quite happy to corrected by anyone who thinks I have got this wrong.
No, dear Lily, Lenin never invited these foreigners to Russia. Lenin viewed Antanta (the Russian word for the Broitish-French Entente Cordiale) as an enemy, because Antanta actively supported the white armies. London and washington did not view Soviet Russia as an ally in their fight with Germany. That is why Russia did not get any spoils after germany was defeated by Allied armies in 1918.
Dmitry – I am sure that you are right, as far as 1918 is concerned.
But the point that I was making that the two expeditions were decided on in 1917, before the civil war had broken out, and the Murmansk one at any rate was supposed to protect Russia’s western border against German/Finnish invasion.
I’m going back to the reference books!
@ Jeff Harrison
…or the Austro-Hungarian empire (parts of Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, the bits that Tito pulled together and called Yugoslavia, further on down Central Europe which belonged to the Ottoman empire…
Dear mr Harrison,
I enjoyed reading your comprehensive account, but I feel obliged to correct you regarding this statement. It was not Tito who ‘pulled together the bits and called them Yugoslavia’. The kingdom of Yugoslavia was established on December 1st, 1918 under the name ‘Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes’ but changed it’s name to ‘Kingdom of Yugoslavia’ on October 3rd, 1929. Communist Yugoslavia , formed after they became victorious with the assistance of the Red Army, was enlarged, mostly by adding Istrian peninsula from Italy, in 1945., but Yugoslavia as a state was formed before Tito.
Good article about a slice of history unknown to me.
If this period interests you, I recommend the recent historical novel, MAID OF BAIKAL, by Preston Fleming, which takes place in Siberia during the American intervention. Available as ebook or trade paperback on Amazon.com. Here are some recent editorial reviews:
“Fleming achieves the near impossible in this long book, keeping dozens of plots spinning…and the reader is placed in the unusual and invigorating position of watching history come alive with no idea of how it’s going to end. A Russian war story that lives and breathes from a writer at the peak of his powers.” Kirkus Reviews
“Creating a Tolstoy-like epic, Fleming shares a realistic, vivid world within the Russian Civil War with rich, multi-dimensional characters that reveal various aspects of humanity as seen in wartime, all made more fascinating by the question “What if?” If you love historical fiction and you’re open to speculative circumstances different to that of historical facts, then you will enjoy Maid of Baikal.” The Copperfield Review
“MAID OF BAIKAL is an intriguing tale of war, miracles and the power of faith that is sure to engross history lovers.”
Feathered Quill Book Reviews
“Rich in detail and the complexities of historical nuances, MAID OF BAIKAL offers a comprehensive and immersive look at the Russian Civil War. Fleming’s novel holds within its heart the finest quality of the historical fiction genre.” Pacific Book Review
This is an excellent article Jeff, thank you for publishing it. This helps to put things into perspective. One of Trumps greatest sins is making peace with enemies (N Korea & Russia) that the MIC has cultivate for so may yeas to keep the American people confused and deluded so that they (MIC) can profit from the war machine. Look up Ken Cousens for a very thorough perspective on “how it all fits together”.
How is Russia our enemy?
The Provisional Government wasn’t elected. It was a product of political machinations within the Duma. The third one that was toppled by Kerensky was so ineffectual that the first plot to topple it came from the Entente powers with ”White” allies, although it failed. It is a testament to Kerensky’s unpopularity that he was overthrown so swiftly, effortlessly and with a wimper. And Red Terror went hand in hand with White Terror.
As for your ”Miracle on the Vistula”, that was in a war that Poland initiated against the Soviet Republic. But I guess your extreme Russophobia and fascist convictions got the better of you, since you have come to a point of using terms like ”Red Hordes”.
Had you not been a hardened Russia-hater, you would see that the article had to do with Russia and the US intervening on the other country’s soil militarily. Soviet misdeeds (which clearly bother you far more than Washington’s endless list of similar or worse actions) is irrelevant.
“Bolshevik invasions of Finland”
Sorry to correct you, but Finland was never invaded. The so called Winter War Between Soviet Union and Finland was fought Dec. 1939 – March 1940, leaving Finland independent, but surrendering some areas in Eastern Finland and near Leningrad to the Soviet Union, which had been the major goal of the Soviets from the beginning.
I don’t know what you mean with “1920 attempted invasion of Europe”? Russia was so weak at the time that they cannot have planned to annex all of Europe.
As for the Polish – Soviet war, there are other interpretations. A Wikipedia article claims that the war was initiated by Poland. Of course, during that confusing period, when various countries tried to establish their borders, there will be conflicting opinions of the facts.
Civil wars usually attract other nations to interfere, in order to get the government that suits them. So in the Russian Civil War (Whites / Reds), so in Syria at the moment.
There is an interesting historical discussion on this thread further down, which I now saw, scrolling through all the comments.
Michael, your comments prove that history can be distorted to suit one’s own purpose.
The reason the Soviets invaded Poland in 1920 is that Poland and its leader Gen. Pilsudski first invaded Ukraine in an attempt to seize Russian land in the chaos of the Russian Civil War, and allied with the genocidal Simon Petlyura and his Ukrainian Peoples Republic. Their combined forces seized historic Russian territory, eventually occupying Kiev, the birthplace of the Russian nation. The Soviet’s, after defeating the Whites and western imperial armies intervening in the Civil War, finally turned the tables on Pilsukski and Petlyura and retook the Ukraine, and only then entered Poland.
Those immune to Anglo-American distortions of history, like your own, know who Simon Petlyura was – a genocidal Ukrainian nationalist whose forces massacred tens of thousands, mostly Jews and ethnic Russians, in a vain attempt to create his pure Ukrainian state. We also know that there’s a reason that the US allied with his political heirs – including nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukheyvch post WW2, through to 2014 coup leaders and neo-nazi’s Andrij Parubiy (manager of the Maidan violence and snipers) and Dimitro Yarosh.
So do you support genocidalist like Petlyura? Do you support WW2 nazi collaborators like Bandera? And his modern heirs like Parubiy and Yarosh? The answer is apparent.
Some of us know that these pawns – murderers all – are all parts of the “Great Game,” still being played out as written about by such western geopolitical writers as Mackinder (and his “heartland theory”) and Zbignew Brzezinski (godfather of al Qaeda in Afghanistan), where the AngloAmerican empire seeks to weaken Russia, regardless of whether it is was a Tsarist empire, Communist state or modern democratic republic, by seizing Ukraine and turning it against its slavic Russian brothers, thereby permitting western nations and capital to control the eastern European heartland, and the assets of central Asia.
Perhaps you like distorting history, and supporting murderers. For me, I’ll take Mr. Klein’s history over yours any day.
When-where-why-by whom we were for the first time robbed of our most precious inheritance: the right to know or knowledge, given us freely and for gratis by god or nature?
I don’t know!
But we can see it this phenomenon happening in US right . The robbers are easily seen; so, no need for me to enlighten most Americans about the fact that some people still keep hiding the knowledge from us.
Thank you for the lesson in history that informed us, that the US foreign policy has not changed for a century. The only thing changed since 1959 is the extent of military conflicts and more openly forcing US ideology to the rest of world. I contribute the growth to the MIC technological advances and controlling the elected/appointed government officials in cooperation with the oligarch.
I have red through Khrushchev’s speeches in your “long and rambling exchange” link; there wasn’t many things that I have not agreed with. You vague reference to Disney is actually pretty funny and worth quoting:
“I was on my way here, an itinerary was drawn up for me and a program of what I could see here and what places I could visit. It was planned, among other things, that I would visit Disneyland.
But I have just been told that I cannot go to Disneyland (Laughter.) Why not? I asked, is it by any chance because you now have rocket-launching pads there? (Laughter.)
“No,” they tell me, “you can’t go there because” just listen to this! “The American authorities cannot guarantee your safety if you go there,”
What is it? Has cholera or plague broken out there that I might catch? (Laughter.)
Or has Disneyland been seized by bandits who might destroy me? But your policemen are such strong men, they could lift a bull by the horns. Surely they could deal effectively with bandits! Then I said I should like to go to Disneyland just the same and see how Americans spend their leisure. (Applause.)”
Hilarious–Disneyland, the “happiest place in the world.”
Khrushchev was a pretty funny guy.
I’ll forget my reaction when I first learned of this invasion many years ago. I was very angry that in all my years of schooling, the topic had never been taught.
Another history lesson that never got taught is that it was American and European Investment Bankers that financed the Bolshevik Revolution which brought on 75 years of devastation to the people of Russia. I’d like to see a reporter from Consortium News do an investigative piece titled “Who Bankrolled the Bolshevik Revolution?” A good little book to start from is Gary Allen’s book, “None Dare Call It Conspiracy.”
Very worthwhile history lesson. It helps explain the current knee-jerk pants-wetting, hysterical yelping and war-mongering by the looney Dementedcrats and their media amen corner. When it comes to manufacturing a villain to enflame the gen pop, “The Red Scare” has been the American default position for 100 years! It never fails.
Great historical review of a recent past event on behalf of “freedom”. However, even nowadays geopolitical interests take precedence over historical insight and common sense.
Apparently, the Bolshevik revolution was “sponsored” by the western financial-banking complex.
The dilemma is why the American army was sent to liberate a country whose “red revolution” was western-financed?
Here is a link to a story which describes to how corrupt a big and expensive military can be.
Whenever a country builds a ‘for profit military’, then it needs to go find enough of trouble spots as to justify it’s big expensive military’s existence. This is where America has been, and to where it is continuing to go. Until America trims it’s military’s massive global presences then not much should be expected to change of any great value. It is long overdue that the U.S. change it’s ‘for profit military’ all the time war stance, and America joins the rest of the constructive world towards building a new world we can all live in.
Thanks Joe for the link & also for your excellent comments. Unfortunately, I can only see two scenarios for this bloated & obnoxious American MIC? Either it bankrupt’s the Country financially or else another counterbalancing power destroys it! The only way I can see to stop this is for other Nations to abandon the US dollar as the Worlds reserve currency thus preventing America from endlessly printing fake counterfeit money to fund its Military? Hopefully this happens before the latter, end of world scenario, which is frightening!
The future I see will be when the U.S. out of financial desperation nationalizes all it’s defense contractors… or something like that. I can never figure out how this country of ours will pay down the National Debt while at the same time keep spending what we do on defense. Further that, that on a every other day schedule I read of another couple of countries coming to agree upon another currency to trade with away from the U.S. Dollar, and try to squeeze that developing process into my head for what that means at its continued rate. The U.S. went from a country of producing food and product to becoming a country run on speculation…. the day of reckoning is coming, so I suspect nationalizing every damn thing could be a possibility in order to operate.
Take care KiwiAntz. Joe
The debate of which currency to use as the world’s reserve currency is kinda fascinating.
The other three most traded currencies which enjoy at least 10% of daily share are, in order of greatest to least, the euro, the Japanese yen, and the British pound. Given the poor state of affairs in the eurozone and Britain, as well as Japan’s national debt, I’m not sure if either one of those three currencies can work to replace the dollar, let alone whether these factors should determine their worthiness. For now, I’d be grateful for any other contenders for a non-USD currency for international trade.
Side note: Not sure if anyone’s going to give a hoot about this, but two little annoyances I once had (not so much anymore) with the US dollar that were absent in many other countries’ currencies were the lack of numerals on the coins and lack of color-distinction on the banknotes/bills.
Can the US – and French/British – ‘intervention’ in Russia on behalf of the White Russians – the Tsarists – truly be called an invasion? In my opinion, it cannot. Much like Russia was invited into Syria to counter anti-Assad coalitions, the Tsarists requested help from western powers to counter the Red Revolution.
I am NO FAN of US imperial power that continues to this day, however, history should be recorded the way history actually happened. The intervention was done at the behest of the ‘legal’ governing power of the moment. To call this an invasion is misleading.
The tsarist goverment had disappeared two year before. So no, the US and other western powers did not come at the invitation of any government. We took sides in a civil war. We did indeed invade sovereign Russia.
Yeah. I gotta suck back and reload on this one. You are correct and I am not. Did a little more research on this, and hey … what can I say. I was wrong.
Thanks for your post.
Congratulations on being the first reader I have ever seen who was not afraid to admit a mistake. You’re my hero of the day!
rgi — You are among the very few people who has ever a posted a comment-response, stating “I was wrong”. You are a gentleman and a scholar. I salute your wisdom and humility.
This is a very reasonable and well thought comment. However, the reality on the ground in revolutionary Russia is that the Whites, whether SRs, Kadets, monarchists etc., were lacking the popular base, unity and will of their opponents in order to mount an insurrection against the Soviet government.
It is absolutely not coincidental that the effective beginning of the Civil War can be pointed when the Czech Legion turned against the Bolsheviks. Furhter, without the support from Entente, military, political and financial, the conflict wouldn’t last long, In short, the Civil War was based on the foreign interventionists and it can be described as such.
The similarity with Syria exists, but again it can be traced on the side of the jihadist insurgents and terrorists, who would be incapable of mounting any serious threat and maintain a prolonged effort without staggering levels of support from the west and the Gulf states.
The Russian royal family was dead when Puddenhead Churchill organised the War of Intervention, during which time (two years-plus), millions of patriotic Russian died defending their revolution.
As a Latin American I can understand easily the author main points of contention. Frankly speaking, I don’t know what’s worse: US waging endless wars and lying about them or American public being notorious for their historical amnesia. Again, the US National media are encouraging yet another war with Russia. This reminds me of William Shakespeare’s play titled Henry V in which in act 3, scene1, he utters “ Once more onto the bridge,dear friends” Human stupidity never ceases to amaze me.
I am agree with you.
G’day Jose …
Auto-correct will screw with you every time. I believe the quote begins “Once more into the breech … “
Dear RGL: I apologize for misspelling the quote from Shakespeare’s Henry the V play. After doing some research, it turns out that the correct quote is “Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Words from the play King Henry the Fifth, by William Shakespeare. King Henry is rallying his troops to attack a breach, or gap, in the wall of an enemy city.
No apologies necessary. You weren’t wrong, per se. And I wasn’t simply poking fun. Auto-correct *can* be hilarious at times, but I believe we rely on — I’ll just say ‘tech’ — way too much.
Lolol … I am wrong allllll the time. I never apologize. I am wrong because I got my facts wrongs. I do not try to deflect, or be disingenuous, or deceitful. Sometimes I am simply stupid. But I will not apologize for that.
See! See! The correct wording is ‘breach’ not ‘breech’ (as I posited). I am having a serious attack of the ‘stupids’ today. Lolol … but STILL ain’t apologizing for it.
Hope you have a good, fruitful day.
Don’t worry about it. My point by quoting Shakespeare’s Henry the V play was to show the futility of those who advance or profit from war. The western powers launched the 1918 Russian invasion without popular support. It was doomed to fail miserably.
Didn’t know of the US invasion of Siberia in the later teens of the 20th century.
Had read of the one the UK and US launched from Poland at the end of World War One, and then allowed to be run as a “private” war in the early 1920s.
Some four thousand Canadian soldiers took part in the Western imperialist intervention into Russia following the revolution of 1917. The Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force joined with the U.S. intervention into western Russia (Siberia) beginning in the summer of 1918, departing from Victoria BC. Most active duty took place in and around the port city of Vladisvostok. The force returned in defeat between April and June 1919. The story of the Canadian intervention, including mutinies in Victoria by departing conscripts, is told in the 2010 book by Ben Issit, ‘From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada’s Siberian Expedition, 1917-19’.
“It began by asserting that foreign interference in Russia’s internal affairs was “impermissible,” and eventually concluded that the dispatch of U.S. troops to Siberia was not to be considered a “military intervention.”’
That is a real gem. Intervention is not intervention, war is peace, and on and on. Oh well. it is what it is. The ability of the American people to become hysterical, as with the recent meeting between Putin and Trump makes the Goebbels, Bernays and Eisentstein to nod approvingly from their graves, creating a lynch mob is a piece of cake.
I loved that line. I find myself wondering over Orwell’s prescience re: doublespeak and coercive propaganda. I now wonder if he had actually seen this order dispatch.
Sergei Eisenstein? More than a bit unfair to lump him in with Bernays & Goebbels. His ‘Battleship Potemkin’ tops many ‘Best Films of All Time’ lists, I don’t anything B & G crapped out has ever been accused of having artistic merit. You don’t have to be a hard core commie to feel chills when that hand-colored Red Flag is raised in the midst of an otherwise completely black & white film. A true artist & a supporter of the revolution the US intervention sought to drown in blood, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you want to lump a Stalinist in there for ‘balance’ try Andrei Zdanov.
My grandfather was drafted into the US Army and shipped to Siberia in 1918 to fight the Bolsheviks. He’d be 125 years old if he were still alive. He brought back tales of his experiences there plus some old Russian Kopecks with the double-headed imperial eagle on them which I have sitting as curiosity pieces on my computer CPU tower. One large piece dates back to 1877. There are also some ancient Korean coins in the mix as many of the locals were ethnic Koreans or Chinese. Also, numerous photographic post cards with captions in English like the one shown in the article. I surmise those were printed mainly for the troops, because what other “tourists” frequented Vladivostok, or Siberia in general? No American would have liked the duty, especially considering the climate, the landscape (solid ice block for half the year, impassible muddy quagmire for the other half) and the relative inaccessibility of the natives (what Americans spoke Russian, Korean, Chinese or one of the tribal languages?).
My grandfather’s 27th infantry regiment company commander, Sylvian G. Kindall, wrote a book describing this so-called American military “expedition” twenty-five years after the fact which was published in 1945. Good luck finding a copy if you did not serve with the unit. I don’t think it was a best seller. The narrative is full of described actions and atrocities, as one might expect from such a book, by the diverse combatants including Russians, “Cossacks,” Czechs and even the Japanese.
The most poignant entry, however, is presented in the last few paragraphs covering the American withdrawal from one in a long line of wasteful bloody military gambits by our country’s leadership. Just as in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and perhaps even the Afghanistan war in the case of Beau Bergdahl, there was resentment, resistance and desertions by the draftees and their families back home. Military occupation on other continents by American forces was still a relatively new concept, dating only to the Spanish-American War and our annexation of the Philippines less than two decades earlier. As the last transport ship was taking on the American evacuees, approximately 10 or 12 men were found to be missing, their fates to be tragically determined a few weeks later when a group of eleven American deserters plus a lieutenant who had resigned his commission in the field were captured by local forces. Some of these men had married local women or found harbor with local families. Didn’t matter. They were taken to be summarily executed by firing squad, which was the fate for all but two who managed to escape when the group made a run for it while being marched to their death. The former lieutenant and one other man were the only ones who managed to eventually escape to China and safety. Poor saps never imaged the future Uncle Sam had arranged for them when their number came up in the draft.
And for what? Did we really think we could control Russia all the way from Minsk, Kiev and Archangel in the West, across thousands of miles of wild continent to the East Coast on the Pacific Ocean, most of which is STILL wilderness? The futile struggle by Kerensky, Kolchak, Gaida and some other “White Russian” leaders to deny the Bolsheviks absolute power over this vast and harsh landscape is recounted in the book, a reality which should have made it clear to the ever acquisitive Yanks that they were certainly out of their element in this place. Foreshadowing of Saigon perhaps? This wasn’t Texas we were trying to steal from our next door neighbor.
Great story Realist. Thanks for sharing it.
Realist thanks for sharing that bit of family history. Your grandfather I’m sure would be proud, and he would respect the perspective you use to describe what it was he did during those years of fighting the White War in Russia.
You are right to point out America’s ill thought out processes it uses when strategizing our country’s war plans. Like Vietnam from the early beginning to when the French pulled out, to the many incursions that the VC made, to the surprise TET Offensive, we never had them by the balls as some would say. We fought to capture hills only to abandon these same hills many an American died to dominate, as this strategy was a repeat and rinse with every hill we Americans won. There was no plan to win, only a plan to occupy and drain our nation’s treasure of money and blood down to dirt. One last time, America doesn’t fight to win, it only fights to profit. Joe
Thanks for sharing this interesting story with us, Realist. I work at a university library and we actually have a copy of that Sylvian G. Kindall book in our collection, as well as an ebook version. I’m going to dig it out next week when I’m poking through the stacks.
Speaking of which, I’ve also seen a book about US POWs in Russia as a result of that little adventure- I can’t recall the title but I will find it.
I was drafted into the US Army in 66′, trained as Rifle Infantry and sent to Vietnam. At the Replacement Battalion at Long Binh, north of Saigon, I was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi where I was further assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment whose nickname was “Wolfhounds”. I was into survival and not history at the time and had no idea where the name “Wolhounds” came from. I lasted 5 months before being wounded on 12 March 67′ and spent 2+ months in a Japan based Army hospital. I was 19 years old. I’m 71 now and thru the years have learned many things concerning war and who profits. The name “Wolfhounds” for the 27th Inf Regiment came about when the local population reportedly remarked that the 27th moved with the speed of wolfhounds in the harsh conditions.
I agree with the “And for what?” question when I reflect on my/our Nam experience. It’s all the same; just newer technology than 100 years ago. I/we at the time had problems with “why” but no info to offset our indoctrination. “Adversity does not BUILD character; it REVEALS it”. Mine turned out to be fine.
Thanks for the great article and equally great comments.
A good article – as far as it goes. For the full story (as usual censored by the PC Wikipedia editors) see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_intervention_in_the_Russian_Civil_War
No one will learn a lesson from this or from any our failed “interventions.”
General Graves was a military officer. His task was to seize territory and defend it. So he was given the task of seizing eastern Siberia. It was easy to occupy Vladivostok, for there were no opposition forces of any significance. But be Vladivostok was one tiny settlement compared to the rest of Siberia, maybe a few hundred square miles compared to the millions of square miles that define eastern Siberia.
Graves had a few tens of thousands troops. He must have realized that it would take millions of troops to effectively occupy Siberia. Not only that but those troops would have to be able to dig in and build bunkers in land that is part of the Arctic permafrost, i.e. survive in bunkers, without heat, during a winter where the temperatures of -50 degree would be common. And he would be facing troops who knew how to live under those conditions.
In the winter of 1941 the German Army attacking Moscow hit temperatures of only -30 degrees and lost many thousands of troops to frost bite not to mention that their tanks and artillary froze solid. That winter did not destroy the Nazi forces but their attacking forces lost at least 140,000 soldiers. Those were losses that they could not recover. In any case, I think General Graves was quite rational in deciding that the US could not win a war that is fought in Siberia if not in Russia proper.
Upton Sinclair writes about this in his book, “Oil” (1927).
Now, isn’t that an interesting title for a book! Even 90 years ago…
Yes. It’s a good read – about oil, politics, corruption, “foreign” relations, U.S. meddling in Russia, et al. It makes one realize that nothing has changed in those 90 years.
The real problem is that the United States hasn’t had a taste of war in 150 years. By taste of war I mean wanton destruction of infrastructure, homes, businesses and the senseless slaughter of civilians – like what we’ve been doing in the Middle East and N. Africa for a couple of decades now. Last time that happened, it was the civil war and most of the destruction was happening in the South. Be careful, America, you may well get the war you seek but I warn you that you don’t like being treated like we treat the rest of the world but that’s nothin’ to what war would bring here.
Much of that can be blamed on the fact that America is surrounded by two oceans, and neither one of the two countries bordering it, Canada and Mexico, pose a threat.
“The United States was blessed among nations. On the north, she had a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east, fish; and on the west, fish”.
– Jules Jusserand, French Ambassador to the US, 1910
The American Mainland has never been attacked! That’s excluding the American Wars of Independence from England & the island attack on Pearl Harbor! The only thing you can say that came close was the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers but even then there’s speculation that this was a false flag attack to provide an excuse to invade Iraq? Surrounded by sea on both sides & geographic isolation has insulated America from foreign invasion hence the arrogance that the carnage they visit on other Nations doesn’t come back to bite them in the butt! However 9/11 shattered America’s complacency & shown that this invincibility from attack by a determined foe was possible to breach the defences!
The total number of dead on 9/11 – some of whom weren’t US citizens – is less than one thousandth (that is, 0.1%) of the number of people the USA killed by its invasions of Iraq ALONE.
The wars to exterminate the Native Americans, the Mexican American War and the War to perpetuate slavery to name a few…Now we have class wars, since competition is the catalyst for our “economy”.
The attack on Pearl Harbour is quite a piece of history, if one is to believe documentaries, shown on History Channel. Cowardly surprise attack on the US military ships? There is plenty of evidence that the coming attack was well known in Washington DC in advance, even possibly that the Japanese attack was provoked by FDR’s actions. He had promised the American people that US would not get involved in the WW II, unless attacked. Did he need to get involved? In the best interests of the country?
The war that would come to the USA wouldn’t be troops landing on our coast, it’d be mushroom clouds, and over before anyone could learn any lessons. The lazy latte-sippers and Rachel watchers don’t have enough imagination to be scared.
Jeff, this is the sad state of affairs that exists in the “super sized,” dubbed down and seemingly uncaring citizenry that comprises most of the US population. Sad; but, when I try to bring any of this up in conversation, I get the usual remark: Skip, why are you so negative; we live in such a beautiful place; there is nothing we can do, so just be happy and live your life. So very sad.
You’re lucky, Skip. What usually happens to me is I get asked why I’m defending Russia. I generally say that all I want to see is everybody being treated the same and that if the US doesn’t play by the rules, they shouldn’t be surprised when other countries don’t play by the rules. That’s when they look at me like I’m some kind of alien from outer space.
This is an important reminder of the cost of intervention and how the people of invaded countries don’t easily forget. In many ways this applies to the US intervention on various levels into the affairs of South and Cental America during the cold war. The US is still resented by our neighbors to the south even today nearly thirty years after the end of the cold war. So why is it so hard to understand about eastern Europe and Russian domination during the cold war? Why is it so hard to understand the desire to join NATO (and the EU) by countries formerly subjugated without democracy by Russia under the communist banner? Does anyone really believe that these countries formerly of the Soviet Union would not resent (and fear) Russia? Fifteen countries were freed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ukraine also attained independence.
But this goes much farther than that. It was Stalin that signed the non aggression pact with Hitler essentially splitting Poland and allowing Russia to claim Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (although Stalin essentially failed in Finland). Until WWII, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were independent having attained independence after WWI. Of course, Russia was forced into the war when Germany attacked Russia leading to great sacrifices by Russians to push the Germans all the way back to Berlin.
So the Russians are hardly the victims to NATO. They are the victims of their own foreign intervention and domination of the affairs of other countries to expand the Russian empire. The domination of neighbors in the near abroad of the US and Russia has caused a great deal of animosity and resentment. Russia is in no position to cry “victim”.
Interesting hypothesis, ending in the claim that Russia is in no position to cry victim. This ignores the point of the statement you quoted at the start of your post. When one considers the history of foreign powers invading Russia one can see that a form of self preservation comes in seeking to have buffer states between you and your potential aggressors.
While in the period following the 2nd World War Soviet Russia did indeed seek to subjugate nations on its boarders it was to accomplish this point. It needs to be understood that the formation of NATO (vehemently anti communist) was prior to the Warsaw Pact (side note, remember General Patton floated the idea that the Allies and defeated Germany should ally and attack the Soviet Union forces in Europe toward the close of WW2), and now there is no Warsaw Pact while NATO persists and has troops and equipment stationed on Russia’s boarders. The idea that the expansion of the “Russian Empire” is a dominating feature of Russia’s foreign policy needs to be seriously inspected before one can use this blanket assumption as fact. One can also look another nation and to its behavior over history and one would find that it could be accused of this (expanding the empire), and could be indicted of this as it has violently pursued this goal. This nation is the United States.
The main point presently is that Russia isn’t following the dictates of the West, kowtowing to the gods of free market capitalism as we in the West do. As a result this provides a profit model for the free market capitalist West.
Interestingly, the desire of former eastern bloc soviet nations to join NATO is a conundrum on its face. Why? I don’t think for the reasons you imply wholly and the resentment of soviet domination certainly is valid. At this time I think that US/Western capitalism/war machine/profits is more the motivator. A select few people and organizations in the nations joining NATO will find themselves enriched beyond previous dreams. These select few are political operatives and politicians, but more so those who deal in weapons system sales and procurement. The prestige of being a NATO member is more for those who profit from it than for a nation’s security or defense needs, as NATO now is mostly a vehicle for US/Western capital to hold or take possession of resources it wants/needs to profit from and more so a means for the US government to demand purchases of US weapons manufacturer’s devices of doom.
Sadly, profit in the name of war is good, seeking profit from peace not so good, as it is so much harder in a West dominated by unfettered capitalism and zero sum thinking to give up that profit model (war and the fear of it) which has been paying off in spades.
Very well said Tristan – the West has many historical followers that are totally propagandized by the fake histories whether for the sake of keeping their jobs or from ignorance. Study the Yalta Agreement – I lived there for a year – nice Free place. The USSR had no big Marshall money to rebuild East Europe – they did their best to build those Soviet era housing etc. Also, notice that some of those parts served the Naziis and also notice that they still got to speak their own languages and keep their cultures, which are still up for grabs today – being part of the EU Forced Immigration Scam – Spacibo
There is one issue that has the very likely conclusion that nuclear war has; the annihilation of all life on Earth. As you would correctly state, it is human caused climate change. Which would be worse? Death by the infamous poisonous muchroom; or, death by totally destroying Earth’s ecosystems? Where is our money and intellect better spent? On blowing each other to bits; or, is it better spent trying to unite as individuals, as countries, as intellects and as governments in trying to solve the climate issues which effect us all? This is the time to unite behind leadership that will march us forward to friendship and peace and a realization that all people must work together to solve THE BIG ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE. If governments are unwilling or unable to do this then it is our duty, it is our responsibility to throw out all such governments and install new leadership that is up to the job. That goes for all governments the world over. Either we all work together and possibly die trying, or we give up and die alone, most of us impoverished, some wealthy beyond imagination from the havoc they knowingly wrecked on all of us.
The 1941 German invasion of Russia was a response to Stalin’s positioning of a massive Soviet army of conquest on Europe’s borders, a pre-emptive strike like those the United States today insists it has the absolute, unfettered right to carry out wherever and whenever it chooses – except the threat to Germany’s survival was real.
Stalin implemented the two-year total mobilization plan prepared by Chief of the General Staff Boris Shaposhnikov at the August 19, 1939 Politburo meeting – just four days before signing the Soviet-German non-aggression pact. In the following 22 months, Stalin raised a total of 295 divisions organized in 16 armies, while supplying Germany with supplies and weapons in the hope it would exhaust its defensive capability fighting the vastly superior British and French imperial forces and become easy prey.
Necessity ordered the advance into Russia of a Wehrmacht barely a third the size of the invasion force assembled by Stalin. But caught in indefensible attack formations, millions of Red Army men were captured or killed in just a few months, emboldening Germany’s leaders to believe it might be possible to wipe the treacherous Stalin’s terrorist regime off the map once and for all.
Wow! How do you explain Operation Barbarossa and the planning prior to that offensive? How do you explain the Nazi Government’s plans to occupy the oil fields in southern Russia, along with the breadbasket of Russia, the Ukraine, in the context of the greater war to defeat the Allies? How is Hitler’s stated goal of defeating, enslaving, and terminating the lives of the “sub human Slavs” explained?
This version of history presented in your comment is odd.
Some context is offered here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German%E2%80%93Soviet_Commercial_Agreement_(1940)
and here: https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/1982-624-15-Mahoney.pdf
Your ignoring the conclusion of anti-communist pact in 1936 by Germany and Japan is abhorrent.
Indeed, this is the “(Viktor) Suvorov Hypothesis”, suppressed in the anglophonic West, but covered recently by Ron Unz:
“Since 1990, Suvorov’s works have been translated into at least 18 languages and an international storm of scholarly controversy has swirled around the Suvorov Hypothesis in Russia, Germany, Israel, and elsewhere. Numerous other authors have published books in support or more often strong opposition, and even international academic conferences have been held to debate the theory. But our own English-language media has almost entirely blacklisted and ignored this ongoing international debate, to such an extent that the name of the most widely-read military historian who ever lived had remained totally unknown to me.”
Source: American Pravda: When Stalin Almost Conquered Europe (sorry, trying to bypass spam filter by excluding web link)
Your knowledge of history is weak. The Russian empire existed until the collapse of the Romanov dynasty at the end of WWI and was largely what we think of as the USSR in terms of its territories. One can go back and back in time to see each thing that leads to another but to understand Russian thinking mid-20th century, one needs to understand that 100 years earlier Napoleon attacked and inflicted great suffering on the Russians. By the numbers: French casualties (dead and wounded) were ~400-450,000; Russian casualties (dead and wounded) were ~ 360,000. Total military and civilian dead were approximately 1 million. And this was in 1812, fer chrissakes! All those people were killed with swords, single shot flintlock muskets and rifles, and cannon (the kind where you have to light the fuse). Think about that. The Russians, who had a smaller army faced the US of his day, Napoleon. In order to defeat the French, Russia pursued a scorched earth policy that was conducted by the Cossacks (read: Slavs from The Ukraine) and destroyed everything in the advancing army’s path. Everything. The Russians didn’t burn Moscow but the French did. The Russians paid a heavy, heavy price and so did the French who saw their hegemonic control of Europe evaporate. Before you try to do something stupid and try to tell me that that was 100 years before the 1919 revolution, let me tell you this. My first active duty assignment in the AF was in Biloxi Mississippi in 1971. I was only going to be there for a short time and had little interest in any of the locals and whatnot but me and a number of permanent party guys would hang out and on a Saturday night we’d watch Mississippi Gulf Coast Wrasslin’. It was great fun. One Saturday one of the wrasslers had the handle “The Yankee” (all professional wrestlers have a handle like Hulk Hogan and Gorgeous George). Jesus Christ, the crowd went wild. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. The wrestlers are acting, yes. The crowd isn’t and this crowd was thinkin’ blood. Even though it was over a hundred years earlier, that crowd wanted the Yankee to personally pay for the War of Northern Aggression as it’s known in the South. I come from Connecticut and I concluded that this Yankee wouldn’t be mentioning his origins anytime soon there.
It may be of interest to you to know what caused Napoleon to attack Russia. Napoleon was in pursuit of hegemonic delusions much like the US is now and was trying to choke England (or the UK if you wish) off from it’s commerce and they had sanctioned anyone doing business with England. Tsar Alexander I continued to trade with England through third parties. Napoleon, much like the regime in Washington, wasn’t happy about it. So he raised Le Grande Armee. Almost 700,000 troops – think about that. This was1812.
Now. As to the rest of your cluelessness. I won’t go into the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Ottoman empire, and the Russian empire. Suffice it to say that in the post WWI time frame, there was suddenly a boatload of countries that had not theretofore existed (at least recently). Russia wanted a buffer to protect it from “The West” (certainly France). The Von Ribbentrop/Molotov treaty (which is the proper name of your non-aggression pact) was part of the attempt to build that buffer. I mention it only to point out that it and anything else the Soviet State attempted along these lines became overtaken by events – known as WWII.
After WWII, the USSR formed the Warsaw pact which was the analog to NATO. A military organization to protect the members of what was known as “the Eastern Bloc” or more properly, the Warsaw pact. My wife always complains that “the Eastern Bloc” is, in fact, just central Europe since, geographically speaking, Europe runs to the Ural mountains. Being a husband, I refuse to recognize or accept geographic realities and I point to Wikipedia and say, see? Eastern Bloc. This way, we both win. However, none of those countries or, shall I say, political entities that had been in either Germany (the Hanseatic League nations) or the Austro-Hungarian empire (parts of Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, the bits that Tito pulled together and called Yugoslavia, further on down Central Europe which belonged to the Ottoman empire, and, of course, Austria, were ever a part of the USSR. Now, you don’t hear about the Warsaw pact anymore, do you? There’s a reason for that. It was dissolved. Why wasn’t NATO, it’s counterpart dissolved? Answer: The US, hellbent on Global Hegemony, saw NATO as a very useful military arm that could take a load off the American military. So NATO, instead of being there to protect the NATO nations from aggression (read Russia), has been used in the role of America’s Cossacks (and we’re becoming just about as right wing as the Ukrainian Cossacks). So, yes, Russia is a victim of NATO, an aggressive military organization that has no equal counterpart anywhere in the world today. It is true that Russia pissed a bunch of countries off with their enforced communism etc. I was a major non-fan of Russia (and all the communist countries) that spent their time and money trying to foist communism on much of the rest of the world. You rightly note that the US is roundly hated by most of Central and South America (but not by those that matter, the elite in those countries) but the difference is that Argentina can’t join a military alliance that could then move troops, tanks, missiles, etc to the Texas – California border with Mexico and menace the US. Things are not anywhere near as balanced as you seem to think.
Russia is not expanding. NATO is expanding.
“Russia is in no position to cry ‘victim’.”
Aside from WWII, were they not also victimized badly by Americans in the 1990s? Was the plundering that occurred then significant? Was Bill Browder an anomaly? And if Ukraine becomes a NATO member, according to plan, won’t the Americans (NATO) claim the rights to Sevastopol, one of Russia’s most strategic ports?
As goes the narrative .Despite what was written about out intervention in Russia .Americans have no idea of past events and how they have caused others to see America in a very different light. Correctly. It will only be when America experiences interventions on its own soil that it will see the true face of “intervention”. And the folly of doing so.. Sadly we project our OWN image on others. This is but one instance. For better than 200 years you have been fed lies about the creation of the united states. How the natives protecting their family and culture were the cause of all the death. One never hears or even wants to hear the truth from natives. We are beyond reproach .Truth is we are not and never have been the savior of mankind. But the opposite.
The former Soviet satellite I come from probably liked the idea of joining NATO initially, but now the people are equally divided pro and against. They do not want to be another battleground between the West and Russia. And don’t make any mistake, most of them do not appreciate the free market capitalism.
What Stalin did and did not do is interesting, but it is history. One thing he did not do – demolish countries like the US did with Iraq and others.
People are interested in future, and see how the West operates, and it is not a pretty picture. The NATO expansion and spending goes crazy. NATO countries are much stronger militarily and economically than Russia, but that does not seem to matter. The march and movement of troops goes on.
I believe that Russia has a lot to fear from NATO as things stand now in Washington. Trump is a wild card, he wants to be friendly with Russia, but at the same time he wants to double the spending on NATO. Something will have to give.
Excellent comments. I agree. The Nations must forget the past and work for the future and for peace. Just like Warsaw pact, military blocs like NATO must be disbanded. The Nations must get together through U.N. planet earth.to solve the acute problems facing the
Some how my comments got messed up in posting. Comments read as:
Excellent comments. I agree. The Nations must forget the past and work for the future and for peace. Just like disbanding of Warsaw pact, military blocs like NATO must be disbanded. The Nations must get together through U.N. to solve the acute problems facing the humanity on the planet.
The refugee problems created by the destruction of the countries in the Middle East will pale compared to what is coming in three or four decades as a result of Neoliberal Economics policies, population explosion, shortage of water, destruction of the environment . . . The dislocation of the populations is going to be on a gigantic scale.
USSR was the last nation in Europe signing non-aggression treaty with Hitler’s Germany in August of 1939. Poland has allied with Nazi Germany in 1938 and participated in the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938 (Hungary also was Germany’s ally) – Three of them together have occupied Czechoslovakia. Western Europe and USA simply ignored and accepted it as a fact. USSR asked Polish government a few months before that, right after the Munich plot, a permission for a free path to Czechoslovakia of a few divisions to defend the borders (the government of Czechoslovakia invited Russians!) – Poland declined! On September 1st of 1939 Germany invaded Poland; on September 13 all members of Polish government ran away from Poland (initially to Hungary). Soviet Union didn’t has a choice as to step in – the alternative would be such that Wehrmacht troops would be from 200 to 500 kilometers closer to major Soviet cities in June of 1941. On September 17 Red Army stepped into the territory of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia which historically is the Russian land. Besides that, the soviets didn’t occupy anything that didn’t belong to Russian Empire before the revolution. In 1940 Red Army stepped into Baltic states (Two of them never had a statehood, and Lithuania always was a part either Poland an Russia). The reason: the nazi-fascist government in all three states (of cause you never new about it!) were Germany’s allies and gave a permission to station the Nazi troops and to build navy bases in Riga and Klaipeda.
The North War (The Finnish War as known in Russia): since getting an independence (first time in Finland’s history! Thanks to Lenin) after the revolution new Finland state occupied thousands of square kilometers of land that never was a part of Finland. Soviet-Finland border was just 20 km north of Leningrad(Saint-Petersburg). Stalin offered to Finland an exchange for pulling out north of Leningrad for another 80 km the three times larger territory in Karellia with significant Finnish population. The government of Finland refused – Soviets had no other choice but take it with the force, and they did, and at the end Stalin gave to Finland the territory he promised.
> It was Stalin that signed the non aggression pact with Hitler
And what else was the Soviet government supposed to do at that point, having tried without success to come to some kind of agreement with the Polish or Western governments to counter the Nazi threat? (Of course, it didn’t help that he had just purged a large part of the General Staff, and earned the fear and hatred of much of the Ukrainian population,)
So they played for time to manufacture more arms (just as Britain did at Munich, with less excuse).
Of course, neither the Germans nor the Russians saw this as anything more than a temporary measure to keep the enemy at bay for a short time.
> Until WWII, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were independent having attained independence after WW I.
And in all those countries, just like in Poland (and, for that matter, Hungary and Romania), it was their own home-grown enemies of freedom that toppled their more-or-less functioning parliamentary democracies and replaced them with more-or-less authoritarian proto-fascist or fascist regimes.
It wasn’t the Russians who took that from them!
Canadia forces were also there. John
including one Bartholomew Bandy, as I recall…
Thanks Jeff Klein, I really enjoyed the history lesson, as I need to catch up on this particular subject you wrote about here.
I have come to the conclusion that this young America needs to have a war, or it isn’t happy. Like it were part of a matrix where America has a check list, and if there is peace then we Americans feel like we aren’t doing anything constructive to advance ourselves. This constant state of war, is by all standards of improving infrastructure and attending to the citizens needs, is pulling our country down due to the money needed to fight these wars of choice. The worst part is we through our media make up our own reality of these constant wars, and with that we citizens are blinded by a Pax Americana patriotism, which ignores what should be noticed.
America needs an enemy, and Russia is the perfect choice… in fact I don’t think the first Cold War ever really ended, in as much as it was modified into a hijacking of Russian banks, and later transposed into a all out hate Putin campaign. The one constant is, is that Russia is bad, and America is good…. and damn you if you don’t agree. To be a good America means ignoring everything that’s true, and believing we are exceptional on every level. I mean, why are these other humans even here, is more like the way we Americans act towards our fellow mankind who inhabit space on this ever dying planet.
When I was a teen, the Soviet Union, & sometimes China, were the cosmic enemy. Then the USSR disappeared & China went capitalist, & Americans were lost. For a while, Islam was a new cosmic enemy. Now it’s Russia, often confused with tje USSR. Probably it’ll be China, the Yellow Peril, before long. The Chinese government is no more submissive than the Russian, & it bothers many Americans that yellow people are a little bit prosperous.
Thanks for the reply Zhu Ba Jie. Yes, this mindset where war is the answer to everything will pass, but getting through it is brutal for the world. Joe
Excellent points missed by so many in the “cult” of America. In the early 60’s I was in the military. It soon became apparent that the “honor” of killing others under the false premise of saving another nation was exclusive. As was the “honor” of dying to expand global control. It was exclusive to the poor and middle class. The people that profited from the conflict did not and do not participate in the carnage. They just orchestrate it.. And I agree with your statements. We are terrorized by our own corporate owned government.
I served in the U.S. Navy between 1968 – 1972,and it’s good to hear from another veteran from our day when we both served. Back then you may recall the draft was in force, and I think this drove many citizens to rethink our governments decisions to go to war. This dynamic does not excess anymore, as we now have an all volunteer army. Problem with this arrangement is by the time Americans wake up, it may already be too late to do anything. Blessed are the peacemakers, is all I can say. Joe
The White Russians were allied with the former exploiters and ruling class.
Some of the more honest U.S. soldiers at the time admitted that they couldn’t blame the common Russian folks for rebelling given the squalor they were living versus the tiny rich Russian elite who were living in obscene opulence.
The world is paying dearly to this day for the demise of the Soviet Union. The USSR, despite some of its faults, held out hope to the struggling working classes across the globe. If the Soviet Union was still around there never would have been an Iraq War, nor would there have been an obliteration of Libya or the current destruction of Syria. The Washington militarist imperialists would have been stopped dead in their tracks.
Elites everywhere hate the common people anywhere, and are horrified if they seek to rule themselves.
Yes, you are correct we are paying dearly for the demise of the USSR. The Eastern Europeans should have been smarter than joining the EU – they should have formed their own Eastern European Union but the US and its EU vassals were successful in stroking their fear of Russia. When the Berlin Wall fell I saw the opening for a new cooperative world but later in the 1990’s when seeing the US using jihadis, fascists, and nazis in the Balkans and finally attacking Yugoslavia I knew that opening was closed for longer than my lifetime.
The West is stuck in a deadly US embrace going backwards while the East is going forward. The Russia/China alliance is my only hope for the future as the US cannot defeat or subdue it, an impossibility that US supremacist morons have not yet realized. The West will continue its plowing and plundering and bring suffering and death to more millions but the East will not be defeated or submit. The world will again be split but not on ideology or economics but it will be a humanistic win/win mentality vs an anti-humanistic zero-sum game winner take all mentality.
The promise of the end of the Cold War is lost but the irony is that the roles have reversed with the US emerging (probably always was) a supremacist moronic monster that someday will be defeated, neutralized, or exhausted.
Your post rings intellectually utterly insane. That you exult and prefer a revanchist Russia and a rising China-both monstrous authoritarian regimes, to imperfect American freedoms and liberties is an appallingly perverse choice. Millions of immigrants flee to the United States annually because they yearn for genuine freedom. They certainly do not flee to take refuge in either Russian or China. Observe the obvious, instead of being oblivious to an evident and irrefutable truth.
> Millions of immigrants flee to the United States annually because they yearn for genuine freedom.
Certainly nowadays, the great majority do not, but immigrate in hopes of greater prosperity.
> They certainly do not flee to take refuge in either Russian or China.
Wrong: well over a million actual refugees have fled to Russia in the last few years, namely from Ukraine. (Most of those from the Central Asian ‘Stans come to Russia for economic reasons, but there are presumably quite a number fleeing political repression, as well.)
I don’t know whether there is any influx of refugees to China from anywhere, but I presume you don’t know, either.
Oh, I don’t know. The USSR didn’t keep us from killing millions in SE Asia.
Very true, Drew. I sympathise with the Russian people, I am a Slav. My ancestors did not have it too bad under the Austro-Hungarian empire. But the situation in Russia must have been terrible. Interestingly, the czars are glorified, and made saints.
The Soviet regime was cruel, but compliant people – majority – were treated as people, not animals. That is why even today they like Stalin.
What I despise most, is how critical western people are of Russians. They are just ordinary people like us and want to improve their living standard. They need help, not sanctions.
Well said. And correct. If only more americans could see how they are mislead.