When the American Foundation's Committee on Russian-American Relations, several months ago, asked a number of citizens representing varying interests to state as informally as they wished how they regard the recognition by the United States of the Soviet Union, many of those addressed replied that the "view" they were presenting was less a view than an impression or a prejudice, since the writer did not feel that he had at hand in trustworthy form the facts he would need to take into account in arriving at a considered opinion.
In spite of the vast amount of published material on the Soviet Union and on Russian-American relations, in spite of illuminating records and reports of this or that aspect, it remains true, in our judgment, that the interested citizen is in need of a competent selection and presentation of the relevant facts-dissociated from special pleading and from enthusiasms and prejudices in either direction. The present report aims to supply that presentation in as brief form as is practicable.
What the average citizen does not know and wants to find out may be summed up about as follows: Does our official attitude toward the Soviet Union since 1917 accord with or contradict our traditional policy with reference to the recognition of new governments? What is our traditional policy? How have the other great powers dealt with the Soviet Union? What is the Soviet position with reference to our claims on account of the state debts of previous régimes, and the claims of our citizens for property confiscated by the Soviet government? What justification is there for the Russian counter claims for damages due to the Allied intervention? Can a nation that, like ours, desires to operate under a system of international law deal practically with a state that has proclaimed world revolution as its ideal? Would recognition mean opening up this country to communistic propaganda through embassies, consular offices, etc.? Are there any particular disadvantages in the state of non-recognition that now exists? Does non-recognition affect our trade with Russia? Are the currents of trade affected in any fundamental way by political relations of whatever nature? What is, concretely, the present situation with reference to trade and credits between Russia and the United States and Russia and the rest of the world?
On these and other questions this report aims to present material that will aid the interested non-expert citizen in making up his mind. Probably many citizens would also like to know how far the Russian experiment is succeeding and how far it is failing, what is the true achievement of the First Five Year Plan, and the practicable expectation for the Second. These also are interesting fields for speculation, but they form no part of this report. At this point in history it would be difficult if not impossible to adduce the facts that would make possible an accurate estimate of a situation still so sharply subject to conflicting currents, still in the making.