Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Failed 1917 Root Mission to Russia

Elihu Root

In April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed a mission to go to Russia, chiefly for the purpose of ascertaining whether Russia's active participation in World War I could be continued after the March revolution that had ousted Tsar Nicholas II. The mission, headed by 72-year old former Secretary of War and State Elihu Root, arrived in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) in June. Greatly under estimating the strength of Nikolai Lenin and the Bolshevik party, the Root mission concentrated on developing contacts with moderates such as Aleksandr Kerensky. 

In their final 29-page report, issued soon after the mission returned to the United States in July 1917, the mission thus reached the erroneous conclusion that an American-funded propaganda campaign could keep Russia in the war. The Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917 exposed the flawed strategy behind the Root mission and caught the Wilson administration almost completely unprepared. In March 1918, the Bolsheviks signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which established a separate peace between Russia and Germany, precisely what the Root mission had been intended to prevent in the first place.

Source: Dictionary of American History 

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