oward the end of his twelve-day trip to Asia, President Trump tweeted, “When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There [sic] always playing politics — bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!” Trump has a point. Russia can, in theory, “greatly help.” But it probably won’t, at least not “greatly.” It won’t help because Vladimir Putin and his regime don’t think helping America is in their national interest.
.. During WWI, Vladimir Lenin advocated “revolutionary defeatism.” The idea was that winning the war was pointless since it was a battle between competing capitalist ruling classes. It would be better if everyone — including Russia — lost. The masses, he hoped, would then wage a civil war to overthrow their masters.
The idea was derived in part from 19th-century revolutionary socialist Nikolay Chernyshevsky, who coined the phrase “the worse the better” — which Lenin often quoted.
The Soviet Union, despite its military might, was always a weak country. Any nation that has to rule by fear is by definition weak. If the Soviets could have invaded and defeated Western Europe and America, just as they had Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, they would have. It’s what Marxist-Leninism demanded, after all.
.. In the 1960s, the Soviets tried to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. because his message of tolerance and nonviolence was inconvenient to their cause. The KGB wanted the violent radical Stokely Carmichael to become the leader of black America.
Despite the U.S. position, many Americans personally sympathized with Britain, France, and their allies. American institutions lent large sums to the Allied governments, giving the U.S. a financial stake in the outcome of the war. Nearly 10% of Americans identified as ethnic Germans, most of whom hoped the United States would remain neutral in the war.
In November of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson won a close re-election under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” Yet in early 1917 when Russia’s internal political revolutions effectively took them out of the war against Germany, the prospects for the Allies darkened. Already receiving massive shipments of supplies and a near limitless line of credit from the U.S., the Allies needed reinforcements.
When easing Eastern military pressures made more forces available for their Western Front, Germany sensed the tide was turning. To capitalize on the shift, German leaders agreed in January of 1917 to resume unrestricted submarine warfare to break the devastating army stalemate in Europe and the British navy’s successful blockade of critical German supply ports. This pushed American public opinion toward intervention... Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare strategy sent more merchant and passenger ships to the ocean’s floor and the loss of American lives mounted. The U.S. protested and in February severed diplomatic relations with Germany, while Congress appropriated funds for increased military affairs.About the same time, British cryptographers intercepted and began deciphering Germany’s “Zimmermann Telegram” offering U.S. territory to Mexico in return for joining the German cause. Though Mexico declaring war was not perceived as an imminent threat by the American public, sensational headlines trumpeted each new development as one of history’s most influential acts of codebreaking played out. Across the nation, support grew for intervention.
On March 20, almost a month after the Zimmerman Telegram hit the American press, President Wilson convened the Cabinet to discuss moving from a policy of armed neutrality to war. It was unanimous: all members advised war. With a proclamation already being drafted by President Wilson, the American steamship Aztec was torpedoed and sunk by Germany on April 1.On April 2, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany specifically citing Germany’s renewed submarine policy as “a war against mankind. It is a war against all nations.” He also spoke about German spying inside the U.S. and the treachery of the Zimmermann Telegram. Wilson urged that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”
The prelude to all of that was the 1930s, when the nation’s intellectuals first grappled with the meaning and significance of Russia’s revolution. And it was in this decade that Ayn Rand came to political consciousness, reworking her opposition to Soviet Communism into a powerful defense of the individual
.. The Great Depression had cast its dark shadow over the American dream.
.. In this moment, Soviet Russia stood out to the nation’s thinking class as a sign of hope. Communism, it was believed, had helped Russia avoid the worst ravages of the crash.
.. Rand had taken for granted there would be “pinks” in America, but she hadn’t known they would matter, certainly not in New York City, one of the literary capitals of the world.
.. a drama that would shape American thought and politics for the rest of the century: a bitter love triangle between Communists, ex-Communists and anti-Communists.
.. another Soviet inheritance: agitprop novels, dedicated to showcasing heroic individualists and entrepreneurs.