Reckonings and Adjustments: Foreign Relations (1921-1928
ON JANUARY 16, 1920, the Allied blockade of Russia was officially terminated by the Supreme War Council, but normal diplomatic relations did not return so easily. The other nations were cautious about approaching the revolutionary inferno, and the fear of the 'enigma' was still too great for any advance toward rapprochement. What aided the Soviet govern. ment was the total absence of agreement among the European nations as to what policy to adopt next toward Russia. The result was that each nation eventually chose what it considered most expedient for its own narrow national interests. The United States detached herself from 'European entanglements' and chose to remain diplomatically aloof from Soviet Russia; Washington feared that even the Atlantic was not wide enough to check the scourge of Bolshevism. Britain was too deeply preoccupied with postwar national and imperial problems; France was busily trying to heal the wounds inflicted by the recent war; the smaller nations watched the others with trepidation and tried to solve the Eastern riddle to the best of their ability. There were still many statesmen, to say nothing of ordinary laymen, totally bewildered by the postwar spectacle, who considered the Soviet government a temporary phenomenon which time itself would remove from the scene. NEP was regarded as the first sign of Communist bankruptcy in the economic realm, and a similar acknowledgment in politics was expected. In some capitalistic circles the NEP amenability was received as an encouraging omen that promised joint economic exploitation of Russian resources; these now hopefully waited for Moscow to be ready to talk more 'realistically'.
There were serious difficulties in the path of a rapprochement between the Western Powers and Russia. Foreign Commissar Chicherin made every effort to assure the outside world that in order to achieve an understanding it was not necessary to have Russia base her economy on capitalism; differences of political and social structure should not preclude friendly relations. But the West remained unconvinced and fearful of a country that harbored the Third International. No less difficult an impediment was the Soviet foreign-trade monopoly, a novelty to which