The United States in the Supreme War Council: American War Aims and Inter-Allied Strategy, 1917-1918

By David F. Trask | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 6
Intervention in Russia

THE success of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia early in November 1917 posed the likelihood of a complete German victory on the Eastern Front just when the Allies faced their most desperate crisis in the west. The end of the war in Russia permitted Germany to transfer many battle hardened veterans to France, a movement which stimulated profound alarm in Allied chanceries. In order to prevent Germany from capitalizing on the collapse of Russia, the Allies developed numerous plans for armed intervention. They believed a reconstitution of the Eastern Front by means of intervention would force Germany to retain her troops in the east, a circumstance which would lessen the force of their long-anticipated spring offensive in France.

Intervention in Russia became a divisive inter-Allied issue because it would have required the United States to alter its fundamental political and military plans. The American government had been willing to enter into military cooperation with the Western Powers because all of them accepted the primacy of the concept of victory in the west. American leaders consistently opposed plans involving a diversion of military effort from France. The desire to intervene in Russia thus posed another seriously divisive issue which threatened the unity of the Western coalition. The issue therefore came before the Supreme War Council on regular occasions during 1918.

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