FOREIGN INTERVENTION AND CIVIL
WHEN Lenin and the Bolshevik Party became the government of Russia in November 1917 they took over the authority of a state in which the civil administration had already been seriously disorganized by revolution, the economy was strained by the maintenance of a huge army in the field against a most formidable external enemy, and the army itself was already disintegrating owing to the breakdown of discipline and the antagonism between officers and men. The coup d'état of 7th November did not so much establish a new central government in Russia as accelerate the forces of disruption which were rendering any orderly administration impossible.
The first problem was what to do about the war. In his first speech to the Congress of Soviets as head of the new government Lenin declared—
We shall offer peace to the peoples of all the belligerent countries upon the basis of the Soviet terms—no annexations, no indemnities, and the right of self-determination of peoples. At the same time, in accordance with out promises, we shall publish and repudiate all secret treaties.... This proposal of peace will meet with resistance on the part of the imperialist governments; we don't fool ourselves on that score. But we hope that revolution will break out in all the belligerent countries ... If the German proletariat realizes that we are ready to consider all offers of peace, revolution will break out in Germany.
There can be little doubt that Lenin believed what he said;