In a possible prelude to World War III, America invades Russia following World War I.
London, July 26 - The former Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, speaking at Edgware today, said: "I regard with bewilderment and apprehension the part this country is playing in Russia. The country wants a clearer definition than has yet been given of what are our commitments, definite and prospective. I sincerely hope that the attempt to commit us further in Russia will be successfully resisted. The future government of Russia is a matter for the Russian people and for no one else."
PRECISELY, and the same is true of Hungary, as to which unfortunate country we learn this week that it is to be starved by Christian America and the Allies until it abandons the Government of Bela Kun. This with the consent and approval of Woodrow Wilson, who said to the Central Powers on December 4, 1917: "We owe it, however, to ourselves to say that we do not wish in any way to impair or to rearrange the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is no affair of ours what they do with their own life, either industrially or politically. We do not propose or desire to dictate to them in any way." Starving a people until they choose a different form of government is, of course, no affair of ours, and if Mr. Wilson were not morally bankrupt, if he were not unfaithful to his own idealism and to that of America, he would never consent to it.
As to Russia, what do we see? Silence and suppression of the truth as to what is going on behind the scenes; a twisting and ever-changing policy--for war one day, for peace the next. One month, an official announcement of an encircling policy as outlined by M. Pichon; the next, a peace offer to Lenin in the handwriting of Lloyd George's private secretary; the third, a decision to invade at once. A fourth sees the encouragement of the Finns to attack Petrograd, and the coldblooded sinking of Russian warships by British battleships, coincident with the withdrawal of the American troops from Archangel and the announcement by Lloyd George that no more English troops will be sent in. And then, last week, Mr. Wilson's explanation that we are in Siberia merely to aid the somnolent Mr. Stevens in rebuilding the Siberian railway and in protecting it so that Russia may have food--carefully suppressing the fact that this road is the great reliance of Kolchak. And on top of all, we recognize, or partially recognize, the impossible Kolchak!
Never, we believe, has there been, in any international entanglement in recent years, such contemptible fumbling, such tortuous diplomacy, such breathing war and peace at the same time. Why is it that there is such widespread disrespect for the four old men of Versailles? Well, the Russian policy alone would warrant it. Can anyone find fault with Chicherin and Lenin for speaking of the hypocrisy of the Allied and American policy toward Russia? Let him merely run over the files of the newspapers for the last six months and see how the Prinkipo proposal has alternated with acts of war--absolutely unconstitutional acts of war so far as America is concerned--the Bullitt proposal for peace, and Lloyd George's announcement that while no more British soldiers are to go to Russia, British tanks, uniforms, guns, cannon, and ammunition are going both to Denikin and Kolchak. Fifty times we have had the announcement that this policy was entirely successful and that the Bolsheviki were defeated; fifty times we have heard of Bolshevist victories. Today Kolchak, Denikin, and the Finns are all in hasty retreat, despite their Allied aid, while correspondents of the Philadelphia Public Ledger and the London Times declare that "the Bolshevists have got Russia"; that "the situation in Russia is exceedingly grave, almost hopeless, for the plans of the international financial interests seeking the downfall of the Bolshevists."
No wonder Mr. Asquith speaks out; no wonder British Labor plans to compel the Government to leave Russia. What will British Labor's feeling be on this subject now that it has learned that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Austen Chamberlain, has increased his holdings in a Russian mining company by one thousand shares since intervention began; that Walter Long, Secretary of the Colonies, increased his five hundred shares in the Anglo-Russian Trust by three thousand, purchased seven weeks after the armistice? "Russia," Mr. Wilson declared; "will be the acid test of our democracy." It has been the acid test of his democracy. It has bitten into the metal of his declarations as to self-determination, and has proved it to be not pure metal but the basest alloy. Months pass without a clarion note from the President as to the pitiable, starving Russian people, starving by order of the Allies and America. Oh, yes, we are aware that it is not the fault of these outsiders, but that of the Bolsheviki. It is nothing of the kind; it is the fatuous policy of the Big Three which entrenches the Bolsheviki in power. They were not responsible for the breaking down of the railroads before the revolution, nor for Russia's economic collapse, but it is the fault of those who attempt foreign interference that it drives to Lenin's side Mensheviki and Social Revolutionists and many others.
To deprive Lenin and Trotzky of their right to call upon loyal Russians to defend the country from outside attack would be to deprive them of their strongest card. But, we hear it said, does not Prof. Henry C. Emery declare, in his most judicial and able article in The Yale Review, that it is the business of the world what happens in Russia, because it is class war that is on and that Lenin must fight a world-wide warfare, if communism is to succeed anywhere? Granted, if you please, but when was any social upheaval ever checked by bayonets, and foreign bayonets at that? What is the best way to defeat the class war? Well, not by making British Labor and Continental Labor and the masses everywhere believe that Russia is being attacked in order to preserve capitalistic investments, but by building up happy and sound and properous commonwealths between Russia and the Atlantic Ocean, by ending starvation, by removing the causes of popular unrest, by disbanding armies, by reestablishing the orderly processes of life throughout Europe, by removing as rapidly as possible all causes of social discontent. Violent Bolshevism of the Russian type can flourish, as Bavaria and Hungary have shown, only where there is hunger, exhaustion, despair, economic collapse. The millions upon millions of dollars that are going into Russia in the vain hope of defeating Russia in the field would be infinitely more effective if applied to the rehabilitation of the new and the old States that should be the western bulwarks against the advance of Bolshevism. Now let us have the truth, and above all else let us have a settled policy in America, let us have an end to the private war of Woodrow Wilson upon Russia, direct and indirect; let us have an end to the crime against Russia, let us follow the sound advice of Mr. Asquith and thereby once more be true to our American forefathers, and our highest ideals.