The Soviet press is commending this system of pacts as “a wall opposed to the hostile British policy” of anti-Russian coalitions aiming at Russia’s isolation and encirclement, as well as an arm of defence against “the Imperialist League of Nations”.
Let us see the reality of this important problem.
The “Sanitary Cordon”
- Locarno Conference
- A conference was held and treaties signed guaranteeing peace in Europe. The pacts included a treaty of mutual guarantee of the Franco- German and Belgian-German borders. The treaties, which covered many potentially disputed areas, served to provide Europeans a sense of security.
As far as the League of Nations is concerned, we do not seriously believe in some “united imperialist front” having a common policy directed against Russia. Do not forget that ten years have already gone since Clemenceau’s “sanitary cordon”. Now the league, especially after Locarno, is rather trying to organize a true pacific collaboration of all nations. The Soviets, while being no member of the League, were nevertheless invited to the Economic and Disarmament conferences; Turkey too was invited.
We are less confident as to Great Britain’s real Russian policy. If it was a mere opposition of material interests between Russia and England in Asia, diplomatists would arrange such matters; but deeper and more permanent reasons seem to exist. Lord Curzon genuinely believed that the destinies of India had been entrusted by Providence to the British nation. Quite recently Sir A. Wilson wrote that the British Empire is the greatest instrument of good and that its mission in the East is not yet accomplished. On the other hand, the old Muscovite idea of the Third Home (Moscow), the well known Russian “Messianism”; the “world revolution”, — are but different phases of the same state of mind. Viewed from this stand point, the Anglo Russian rivalry appears to be a phenomenon depending not on the Bolshevist regime only. The Jut visit of Lord Birkenhead to Berlin, in April, gave again place to anxiety and comments in the Soviet press, but it has been explained as having had only a personal character. One is rather inclined to believe that Mr. Baldwin’s Government is in favour of resuming relations with the Soviet Union.
The Third International
Any how, we certainly most sincerely disagree with the Third International policy and deplore that Russia’s interests are now sacrificed to an inconsistent ideal of a world revolution. At the same time, we understand, that after ten years’ Bolshevist propaganda and many heavy errors of European foreign policy towards Russia, the Russian nation has got (rightly or wrongly) a strong anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist feeling permeating even the rural masses.
Thus we see, how psychologically complicated (sentiments are also facts to be observed) is Russia’s international position. It would be childish to start with such a simplified Motto of Russian foreign policy as the formula — “Against Europe, with Asia”.
Awakening of Asia
What about Asia then? Of course, Asia too, like Russia, has undergone great changes, generally attributed to the Bolshevist influence, but which have been also provoked by a moral failure of the West in Asia, during and after the War. Such a parallelism of moral transformation both in Asia and Russia, as well as the pacific revolutionary spirit of big reformers gave rise to H. M. Riza Shah Pahlavi, H.E. Mustapha Kemal and Padishah Amanulla Khan — all of them looking westward. All these causes are working for a better Russo-Asiatic understanding and a appreciation of forces newly revealed to themselves. But it does not mean that the above mentioned pacts, completed by an inter-Moslem treaties system, should be considered as an anti-European Asiatic League of Nations.
Putting aside their negative meaning, i.e. defence against an imaginary capitalist and imperialist foe, and taking their constructive program, i.e. peace between neighbours, we find that, they simply are treaties of “regional character” which do not differ from Goudenhove Kabrgi’s “Pan-Europeanism”.
The real “regional” interests of Russia in the Moslem East depend on military, economic and ethnic circumstances, varying according to each country.
The “Guarantee Pacts”
Thus in the first place the position of the problem of the Straits is an anti-Russian (but independent from Turkey) solution . It is not sufficient to state that the tonnage of foreign men of war which enter the Black Sea by the Straits must not exceed the tonnage of two Black Sea.’s strongest naval powers. The class of ships allowed to get in must be defined. Two dreadnoughts may destroy a whole squadron of lesser units. The retrocession to Turkey of Kars, Ardahan and Artvin should have been accompanied by a demilitarisation of these circles, otherwise the military changes are not in favour of Russia (and Persia, too). We remember the disastrous war in Azerbaidjan; the “Islam Army” of Nury Bek in Baku and beyond; the “Little Turan” of Enver Pasha in Russian Central Asia. Still we are reassured by the “National Covenant” of the boundaries of New Turkey. Russia has been first to recognize Angora and help it to realize these national boundaries .
The Russo-Persian relations are less complicated. The last war clearly showed that the old policy had been an unpardonable error. As a matter of fact Russia needs badly a strong Persia able to keep its neutrality (1877 example). Russia needs as well a prosperous Persia to sell and to buy more. Russia needs a progressive (but not deprived of traditions) Persia to collaborate on the immense field of Iranian studies, important for both nations.
There is, finally, no doubt that the coming to existence of a second independent Iranian state in Afghanistan is heartily welcomed by the whole Russian opinion which never understood why this fierce neighbouring country should be rendered inaccessible to any intercourse with Russia. Here again may me noticed that Moscow recognised Kabul’s independence as early as 1921 .
The existing system of friendly relations between Soviet Union (present and possibly transitional form of eternal Russia) and Moslem East, based on the Russo-Moslem and inter-Moslem guarantee pacts, is an ominous and logica1 step of post-war Russia and quite a successful achievement.
Let it be developed in order to create an atmosphere of collaboration and pacification and not to revive any hostile and destructive feeling.
Hate has never produced lasting and noble results.