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When the US invaded Russia

Amidst the backdrop of increased US-Russian tensions and even talk of war, long forgotten is the time the US actually invaded.

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American troops in Vladivostok, Russia - 1918

Amid the bi-partisan mania over the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki, fevered, anti-Russian rhetoric in the United States makes conceivable what until recently seemed inconceivable: that dangerous tensions between Russia and the U.S. could lead to military conflict. It has happened before.

In September 1959, during a brief thaw in the Cold War, Nikita Khrushchev made his famous visit to the United States.

In Los Angeles, the Soviet leader was invited to a luncheon at Twentieth Century-Fox Studios in Hollywood and during a long and rambling exchange he had this to say:

“Your armed intervention in Russia was the most unpleasant thing that ever occurred in the relations between our two countries, for we had never waged war against America until then; our troops have never set foot on American soil, while your troops have set foot on Soviet soil.”

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These remarks by Khrushchev were little noted in the U.S. press at the time – especially compared to his widely-reported complaint about not being allowed to visit Disneyland.  But even if Americans read about Khrushchev’s comments it is likely that few of them would have had any idea what the Soviet Premier was talking about.

But Soviet – and now Russian — memory is much more persistent.  The wounds of foreign invasions, from Napoleon to the Nazis, were still fresh in Russian public consciousness in 1959 — and even in Russia today — in a way most Americans could not imagine.

Among other things, that is why the Russians reacted with so much outrage to the expansion of NATO to its borders in the 1990’s, despite U.S. promises not to do so during the negotiations for the unification of Germany.

The U.S. invasion Khrushchev referred to took place a century ago, after the October Revolution and during the civil war that followed between Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik forces, the Red Army against White Russians.

While the Germans and Austrians were occupying parts of Western and Southern Russia, the Allies launched their own armed interventions in the Russian North and the Far East in 1918. 

The Allied nations, including Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S., cited various justifications for sending their troops into Russia: to “rescue” the Czech Legion that had been recruited to fight against the Central Powers; to protect allied military stores and keep them out of the hands of the Germans; to preserve communications via the Trans-Siberian Railway; and possibly to re-open an Eastern Front in the war.

But the real goal – rarely admitted publicly at first—was to reverse the events of October and install a more “acceptable” Russian government. As Winston Churchill later put it, the aim was to “strangle the Bolshevik infant in its cradle.”

In addition to Siberia, the U.S. joined British and French troops to invade at Archangel, in the north of Russia, on September 4, 1918.

Christmas card from the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia, Russia.

In July 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had personally typed the “Aide Memoire” on American military action in Russia that was hand-delivered by the Secretary of War at the beginning of August to General William Graves, the designated commander of the U.S. troops en route to Siberia. Wilson’s document was curiously ambivalent and contradictory. 

It began by asserting that foreign interference in Russia’s internal affairs was “impermissible,” and eventually concluded that the dispatch of U.S. troops to Siberia was not to be considered a “military intervention.”

The Non-Intervention Intervention

But the American intervention began when U.S. soldiers disembarked at Vladivostok on August 16, 1918.  These were the 27th and 31st infantry regiments, regular army units that had been involved in pacification of U.S.-occupied Philippines.  Eventually there were to be about 8,000 U.S. troops in Siberia.

Judging from his memoires, General Graves was puzzled by how different things looked on the ground in Siberia than his vague instructions seemed to suggest.  For one thing, the Czechs hardly needed rescuing.  By the Summer of 1918 they had easily taken control of Vladivostok and a thousand miles of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

For the next year and a half, General Graves, by all appearances an honest and non-political professional soldier, struggled to understand and carry out his mandate in Siberia.  He seems to have driven the U.S. State Department and his fellow allied commanders to distraction by clinging stubbornly to a literal interpretation of Wilson’s Aide Memoire as mandating strict non-intervention in Russian affairs. The general seemed incapable of noticing the broad “wink” with which everyone else understood these instructions.

Graves strove to maintain “neutrality” among the various Russian factions battling for control of Siberia and to focus on his mission to guard the railroad and protect Allied military supplies.  But he was also indiscrete enough to report “White” atrocities as well as “Red” ones, to express his distaste for the various Japanese-supported warlords in Eastern Siberia and, later, to have a skeptical (and correct) assessment of the low popular support, incompetence and poor prospects of the anti-Bolshevik forces.

For his troubles, it was hinted, absurdly, that the General may have been a Bolshevik sympathizer, a charge that in part motivated the publication of his memoirs.

In the face of hectoring by State Department officials and other Allied commanders to be more active in support of the “right” people in Russia, Graves repeatedly inquired of his superiors in Washington whether his original instructions of political non-intervention were to be modified. No one, of course, was willing to put any different policy in writing and the general struggled to maintain his “neutrality.”

Allied troops, including Japanese soldiers, parading through the streets of Vladivostok, Russia – 1918

By the Spring and Summer of 1919, however, the U.S. had joined the other Allies in providing military support to “Supreme Leader,” Admiral Alexander Kolchak’s White army, based in the Western Siberian city of Omsk.

At first this was carried out discretely through the Red Cross, but later it took the form of direct shipments of military supplies, including boxcars of rifles whose safe delivery Graves was directed to oversee.

Domestic Intervention 

But the prospects for a victory by Admiral Kolchak soon faded and the Whites in Siberia revealed themselves to be a lost cause.  The decision to remove the US troops was made late in 1919 and General Graves, with the last of his staff, departed from Vladivostok on 1 April 1920.

In all, 174 American soldiers were killed during the invasion of Russia. (The Soviet Union was formed on Dec. 28, 1922.)

Interestingly, pressure to withdraw the U.S. troops from Siberia came from fed-up soldiers and home-front opinion opposing the continued deployment of military units abroad long after the conclusion of the war in Europe. It is notable that during a Congressional debate on the Russian intervention one Senator read excerpts from the letters of American soldiers to support the case for bringing them home.

Then, as in later U.S. foreign interventions, the soldiers had a low opinion of the people they were supposed to be liberating.  One of them wrote home on July 28, 1919 from his base in Verkhne-Udinsk, now Ulan Ude, on the southern shore of Lake Baikal:

Letter home for U.S. soldier during invasion of Russia

“Life in Siberia may sound exciting but it isn’t.  It’s all right for a few months but I’m ready to go home now. . .  You want to know how I like the people?  Well I’ll tell you, one couldn’t hardly call them people but they are some kind of animal.  They are the most ignorant things I ever saw.  Oh, I can get a word of their lingo if they aren’t sore when they talk.  They sure do rattle off their lingo when they get  sore. These people have only one ambition and that is to drink more vodka than the next person.

Outside of the State Department and some elite opinion, U.S. intervention had never been very popular.  By now it was widely understood, as one historian noted, that there may have been “many reasons why the doughboys came to Russia, but there was only one reason why they stayed: to intervene in a civil war to see who would govern the country.”

After 1920, the memory of “America’s Siberian Adventure,” as General Graves termed it, soon faded into obscurity.  The American public is notorious for its historic amnesia, even as similar military adventures were repeated again and again over the years since then.

It seems that we may need to be reminded every generation or so of the perils of foreign military intervention and the simple truth asserted by General Graves: 

“. . .there isn’t a nation on earth that would not resent foreigners sending troops into their country, for the purpose of putting this or that faction in charge.  The result is not only an injury to the prestige of the foreigner intervening, but is a great handicap to the faction the foreigner is trying to assist.”

General Graves was writing about Siberia in 1918, but it could just as well have been Vietnam in the 1960s or Afghanistan and Syria now.

Or a warning today about 30,000 NATO troops on Russia’s borders.

Via Consortium News

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Constantine
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Constantine

Without the western interventionists, there wouldn’t be a Civil War in Russia back then. Of course, there was a number of people with legitimate grievances against the Bolsheviks, but the failure to promote meaningful solutions to the disastrous situation then left the Reds in a predominant position. This is very similar with Syria, where, despite the numerous political disagreements or even disapproval towards Assad, there would not be a conflict without foreign interference. And it is definitely not a coincidence that the western powers who tried to ”snuff”, as Churchill said, the Russian government of Lenin a century ago are… Read more »

obidiah_slope
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obidiah_slope

Shame they didn’t sort the ‘Bolsheviks’ out……Oh, hang on…..

AM Hants
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AM Hants

Brilliant. Read the article, which so needs sharing, just yesterday.

andyoldlabour
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andyoldlabour

Churchill used chemical weapons against the Bolsheviks in 1919, with nerve agents developed at Porton Down. Unused weapons were dumped in the White Sea.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/sep/01/winston-churchill-shocking-use-chemical-weapons

As someone who is of Irish descent, I regard Churchill as a murdering criminal.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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