Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography

By David Robin Watson | Go to book overview

16

RUSSIAN INTERVENTION
AND VICTORY

I INTERVENTION IN RUSSIA, 1918

Clemenceau's role in Allied deliberations about the Russian question from November 1917 to the armistice must now be dealt with. 112

Ten days before Clemenceau formed his ministry the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd, ousting the provisional government headed by the democratic Socialist Kerensky, who had sought to keep Russia in the war. This meant a grave crisis for the Allies. The Bolshevik slogan, 'Peace, Land, Bread', indicated that they would extricate Russia from the war, if at all possible, and there was plenty of evidence that the Bolsheviks had been financed and aided by the German government precisely with that end in view. Quite apart from the immediate military effects, the possibility that Germany would be able to build a vast empire in the east was a major danger. The strategic reasons for intervention have been obscured by the idea that it represented an attempt by capitalist governments to overthrow a Socialist régime. Modern studies have made the motives of the Allied governments abundantly clear. Clemenceau's views were no different from those of the British and French. Although he had an extreme dislike of Bolshevik economic and political ideas, and of their methods, it was because the Bolshevik revolution led to the withdrawal of Russia from the war that it incurred his detestation. He always talked of it in emotional language, calling it

____________________
112
On Russian intervention, see R. H. Ullman, Anglo-Soviet Relations 1917-1921, Vol. I, Intervention and the War (1961); J. Bradley, Allied intervention in Russia (1968); G. A. Brinkley, The Volunteer Army and Allied Interventions in South Russia; D. F. Trask, op. cit., pp. 100-29; C. J. Lowe and M. C. Dockrill, op. cit., II, pp. 304-34; F. S. Northedge, The Troubled Giant, Britain among the great powers 1916-1939 (1968), pp. 46-90; G. F. Kennan, Soviet-American Relations 1917‐ 1920, Vol. 2, The Decision to Intervene (1958), and Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin (1961).

-315-

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