Between Ideology and Realpolitik: Woodrow Wilson and the Russian Revolution, 1917-1921

Between Ideology and Realpolitik: Woodrow Wilson and the Russian Revolution, 1917-1921

Between Ideology and Realpolitik: Woodrow Wilson and the Russian Revolution, 1917-1921

Between Ideology and Realpolitik: Woodrow Wilson and the Russian Revolution, 1917-1921

Synopsis

In this concise interpretation of Wilson's Russian policy, Schild challenges the belief that Wilson's response to the 1917 October Revolution was exclusively ideological. Contrary to the belief that when Wilson sent American troops to intervene in 1918, his goal was to establish a democratic order in Russia, this book shows that his actions were more pragmatic. Wilson's belief in the superiority of liberalism over totalitarianism was so strong that he expected democratic forces in Russia to take power without outside aid. At the Paris Peace Conference, he rejected suggestions for an anti-Soviet crusade. His July 1918 decision to intervene was not a part of Wilson's ideology. It was based on an effort to maintain unity with Britain and France during the final phase of World War I.

Excerpt

In one of his last public statements before his death, Woodrow Wilson returned to a problem that had concerned him throughout his second term as president of the United States: the Russian Revolution of 1917. In an article for the August 1923 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, he attempted to explain the origins of that revolution six years earlier. Wilson interpreted it as a result of certain "defects" in the Russian political and social system during the time of tsarism:

What gave rise to the Russian Revolution? The answer can only be that it was the product of a whole social system. . . . It was due to the systematic denial to the great body of Russians of the rights and privileges which all normal men desire. . . . The lives of the great mass of the Russian people contained no opportunities, but were hemmed in by barriers against which they were constantly flinging their spirits. . . . It has to be noted as a leading fact in our time that it was against "capitalism" that the Russian leaders directed their attacks.

Wilson went on to justify a revolt against certain forms of unlimited capitalism: 'Is it not . . . true that the capitalists have often seemed to regard the men whom they used as mere instruments of profit, whose physical and mental powers it was legitimate to exploit with as slight cost to themselves as possible, either of . . .

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