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Germany (2 vols.; Chicago and London, 1970“80).
156
R. C. Raack, Stalin™s Drive to the West 1938“1945 (Stanford, 1995); Jiri Hochman, The
Soviet Union and the Failure of Collective Security, 1934“1938 (Ithaca and London,
1984).
157
An idea pre-eminently espoused by Gabriel Gorodetsky; see his ˜The Impact of the
Ribbentrop“Molotov Pact on the Course of Soviet Foreign Policy™, CMRS, 31, 1
(1990), 27“42; ˜The Formulation of Soviet Foreign Policy: Ideology and Realpolitik™, in
Gorodetsky, Soviet Foreign Policy, 30“44; ˜Geopolitical Factors in Stalin™s Strategy and
Politics in the Wake of the Outbreak of World War II™, in Pons and Romano, Russia in the
Age of Wars, 235“50; and Grand Delusion. Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia (New
Haven and London, 1999), 316“23. The following quotation is from the latter, 316.
158
Carley, 1939, and Shaw, British Political Elite and the Soviet Union, are among the most
recent.
38 Britain, Soviet Russia and the Versailles Order

would be to ignore the historical reality that most of those who made
British strategic foreign policy and directed the course of Anglo-Soviet
relations believed that the tenets of communism affected Soviet policy.159
Other interpretations, less extreme in their assumptions, do exist.
In them, Soviet policy is seen to stem from an ideological view of the
world, but an ideology with sufficient flexibility in its practical imple-
mentation to enable Moscow to pursue many possible lines of action.160
This approach sees first Lenin and then Stalin as weighing their op-
portunities and being quite agreeable to taking one step backwards in
order to take two steps forward (for example, being willing to ally with
either the liberal democracies or the Nazis or imperial Japan in order to
ensure Soviet security). These scholars regard Soviet foreign policy as
inseparable from Soviet domestic policy, itself based on ideological
convictions.161
This Primat der Innenpolitik approach, which is largely the one adopted
in this book, accounts nicely for the swings in Soviet policy. An outline of
some its interpretations and salient points is useful here, in order to
provide some context for what follows. When Lenin and his immediate
successors judged that economic rapprochement with the West was neces-
sary in order to make the New Economic Policy (NEP) work, this did
not mean that they had abandoned a Marxist analysis of events. Evi-
dence of this can be found in the fact that, paralleling the NEP™s
friendlier attitude towards Western capitalists was a mobilization of
Soviet Russia™s military capabilities designed to make the cradle of
socialism invulnerable to the inevitable depredations of the encircling
capitalist world.162
This determination to make Soviet Russia proof against external threat
was also integral to the policies of industrialization and collectivization

159
I return to this matter in the conclusion.
160
Central to this is the trilogy by Jonathan Haslam, Soviet Foreign Policy, 1930“1933. The
Impact of the Depression (New York, 1983); The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective
Security in Europe 1933“1939 (London, 1984); and The Soviet Union and the Threat from
the East 1933“1941 (London, 1992). Haslam has extended his analysis to 1941: ˜Soviet
Foreign Policy 1939“1941: Isolation and Expansion™, SU/US, 18, 1“3 (1991), 103“21,
and ˜Litvinov, Stalin and the Road Not Taken™, in Gorodetsky, Soviet Foreign Policy,
55“62. The other key figure is Geoffrey Roberts; see his The Unholy Alliance. Stalin™s
Pact with Hitler (London, 1989), and The Soviet Union and the Origins of the Second
World War (Basingstoke and London, 1995). For differences between the two, see
Haslam, ˜Soviet“German Relations and the Origins of the Second World War: The Jury
Is Still Out™, JMH, 69, 4 (1997), 785“97. Another important work in this category is
Silvio Pons, Stalin and the Inevitable War 1936“1941 (London and Portland, OR, 2002).
161
For discussion, see Gorodetsky, ˜The Formulation of Soviet Foreign Policy™.
162
David R. Stone, Hammer and Rifle. The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926“1933
(Lawrence, KS, 2000), 1“7.
Introduction 39

undertaken by Stalin in 1928“9. However, by 1933, the twin threats
posed by Japan and Germany made Stalin realize that Soviet interests
might be protected, not just by the strength of Soviet arms, but also by
co-opting the strength of others.163 Soviet Russia thus embarked on
several parallel policies. On the one hand, there was a policy of accom-
modation with Japan and Germany. In the Far East, while simultan-
eously strengthening Soviet arms in the region and engaging in armed
border clashes with Tokyo, Moscow was willing to negotiate border
settlements and fishing treaties with Japan and even to bargain away
the Chinese Eastern Railway in an attempt to avoid full-scale hostilities.
At the same time, Soviet Russia continued to support anti-Japanese
elements in China in the hope that Japan would expend its energies
struggling in the Chinese quagmire. Here, the security of Soviet Russia
against hostile threats “ the latter perceived in ideological terms “ took
precedence over promoting the fraternal solidarity of the Chinese Com-
munist Party, which felt the sting of the Nationalist army armed with
Soviet weaponry.164
A similar mixture of practical policy within the context of ideological
presuppositions was followed in Europe. While engaging in vituperative
slanging matches with the Nazis, the Soviets were careful to keep open
lines of communication with Berlin in the hope that they could effect a
return to the policy of collaboration between Soviet Russia and Germany
that had existed between 1922 and 1933.165 On the other hand, the
Soviets also tried to mend fences with other countries in the West. Russia
established diplomatic ties with Washington in 1933, joined the League
of Nations in 1934 and made it clear through the Comintern and its
policy of the united front against fascism that Moscow would be willing
to help check the revisionist Powers.166


163
Geoffrey Roberts, ˜The Fascist War Threat and Soviet Politics in the 1930s™, in Pons
and Romano, Russia in the Age of Wars, 147“58, argues that ideologically based fear of
foreign aggression provoked the Great Terror.
164
Jonathan Haslam, ˜Soviet Aid to China and Japan™s Place in Moscow™s Foreign Policy,
1937“1939™, in I. Nish, ed., Some Aspects of Soviet“Japanese Relations in the 1930s
(London, 1982), 35“58; see also John W. Garver, ˜The Origins of the Second United
Front: The Comintern and the Chinese Communist Party™, China Quarterly, 113
(1988), 29“59.
165
Geoffrey Roberts, ˜A Soviet Bid for Coexistence with Nazi Germany, 1935“1937: The
Kandelaki Affair™, IHR, 16, 3 (1994), 466“90. The ˜Cold War™ view sees a continuity
between this and the Nazi“Soviet Pact; see Hochman, Soviet Union and the Failure of
Collective Security, 123“4.
166
For the Comintern™s autonomy, see Jonathan Haslam, ˜The Comintern and Origins of
the Popular Front 1934“1935™, HJ, 22, 3 (1979), 673“91; and Geoff Roberts, ˜Col-
lective Security and the Origins of The People™s Front™, in Fyrth, Britain, Fascism and
40 Britain, Soviet Russia and the Versailles Order

Stalin pursued both these policies until 1939. However, the continued
successes of the revisionist Powers and the unwillingness of the liberal
democracies to oppose the former on Soviet terms led to an abandon-
ment of the dual policy. Stalin famously remarked in March 1939 that
Soviet Russia would not pull the West™s chestnuts out of the fire; what he
failed to mention was that he had discovered that neither would the West
save Moscow™s chestnuts. The first intimation of this change in policy
had occurred earlier, with the purge of Soviet Russia™s diplomatic repre-
sentatives in 1937.167 The acceptable face of Soviet diplomacy, in the
person of Litvinov and his sophisticated and urbane colleagues (most of
whom had pre-revolutionary roots), was replaced by the hard-faced
insular men thrown up by the revolution. The final phase was marked
by the signing of the Nazi“Soviet Pact, itself a topic of great contention
between the various schools of thought concerning Soviet foreign
policy.168
How did all this affect British policy? Did ideology determine policy?
The demonstration of simple antipathy towards Moscow and commun-
´
ism is not enough to provide explanation. None of the British elite liked
169
Soviet Russia. However, this did not mean that none of them
were willing to co-operate with it. Here was the real divide. And it is


the Popular Front, 74“88. Also important are Haslam, ˜The British Communist Party,
the Comintern, and the Outbreak of War, 1939: “a nasty taste in the mouth”™, D&S, 3,
1 (1992), 147“54; Anna Di Biagio, ˜Moscow, the Comintern and the War Scare, 1926“
1928™, in Pons and Romano, Russia in the Age of Wars, 83“102; and Kevin McDermott,
˜Stalinist Terror in the Comintern: New Perspectives™, JCH, 39, 1 (1995), 111“30.
167
Teddy J. Uldricks, ˜The Impact of the Great Purges on the People™s Commissariat of
Foreign Affairs™, SR, 36, 2 (1977), 187“204, and Sabine Dullin, ˜Litvinov and the
People™s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs: The Fate of an Administration Under Stalin,
1930“1939™, in Pons and Romano, Russia in the Age of Wars, 121“46. The latest
interpretation of Litvinov™s dismissal is Albert Resis, ˜The Fall of Litvinov: Harbinger
of the German“Soviet Non-Aggression Pact™, E“AS, 52, 1 (2000), 33“56.
168
See, in addition to Haslam, ˜Soviet“German Relations™, Rolf Ahmann, ˜Soviet Foreign
Policy and the Molotov“Ribbentrop Pact of 1939: An Enigma Reassessed™, Storia delle
Relazioni Internazionali, 2 (1989), 349“69; Teddy J. Uldricks, ˜Evolving Soviet Views of
the Nazi“Soviet Pact™, in Richard Frucht, ed., Labyrinth of Nationalism. Complexities of
Diplomacy: Essays in Honor of Charles and Barbara Jelavich (Columbus, OH, 1992),
¨
331“60; Geoffrey Roberts, ˜Infamous Encounter? The Merekalov“Weizsacker Meeting
of April 1939™, HJ, 35, 4 (1992), 921“26; and Ingeborg Fleischauer, ˜Soviet Foreign
Policy and the Origins of the Hitler“Stalin Pact™, in Bern Wegner, From Peace to War.
Germany, Soviet Russia and the World, 1939“1941 (Providence, RI and Oxford, 1997),
27“45.
169
Louise Grace Shaw, ˜Attitudes of the British Political Elite Towards the Soviet Union™,
D&S, 13, 1 (2002), 55“74. I exclude the ˜Cambridge Comintern™; for them, see Robert
Cecil, ˜The Cambridge Comintern™, in Christopher Andrew and David Dilks, eds., The
Missing Dimension. Governments and Intelligence Communities in the Twentieth Century
(London and Basingstoke, 1984), 169“98.
Introduction 41

important to note that this divide was not congruent with the split be-
tween ˜guilty men™ and ˜anti-appeasers™, with the former adamantly
opposed to collaboration with the godless Bolsheviks and the latter willing
to join hands with Moscow™s sincere advocates of collective security. The
reality was more complex. For example, Sargent and Strang are lauded as
staunch anti-appeasers, yet Sargent was opposed to any dealings with
Moscow, and Strang™s attitude was ambivalent. The same could be said of
both Eden and Vansittart, whose positions changed to catch the prevail-
ing political winds. It was not for nothing that Strang was unwilling to
support Eden™s retrospective claims that he had always been unvarying in
his opposition to such things as appeasement.170
The real key to understanding how Soviet Russia affected the British
´
elite is to realize that there was a continuum of beliefs about Moscow.
Which part of the continuum was dominant depended on circum-
stances, with regard both to the international situation and to the relative
´
positions within the hierarchy held by various members of the elite. As
there was no monolith of opinion about Soviet Russia, each episode in
Anglo-Soviet relations “ and how Soviet Russia affected British strategic
foreign policy “ must be considered in its own context. The attempt to
do so is the essence of this volume.
There is yet one final matter “ the selection of beginning and end dates
for this study “ that needs explanation. The choice was complicated by
the book™s dual purpose. It is an examination of both British strategic
foreign policy and Britain™s policy towards Soviet Russia. My decision
was to begin in late 1919, after the Paris Peace Conference and to end
with the signing of the Nazi“Soviet Pact. My resolution derives from
both Soviet and British considerations, and the reasons for it will
become clear in the course of this study. How the book is structured
also requires discussion.171 The approach taken here is asymmetrical.
The first chapter deals with the era from 1919 to 1933, while the
remaining chapters examine the period from 1933 to 1939. This has
been done for several reasons. The first is that the years from 1919 to
1933 were relatively benign. During this period, the revisionist Powers
had not yet challenged the existing international order by force of
arms. As a result, it was not until 1933 that the British began to consider
the need to rearm in order to check this unpleasant tendency. In this
fourteen-year period of ˜persuasion™, international relations operated on

170
Peter Beck, ˜Politicians Versus Historians: Lord Avon™s “Appeasement Battle” Against
“Lamentably, Appeasement-Minded” Historians™, TCBH, 9, 3 (1998), 396“419, esp.
410“11, 416.
171
I would like to thank John Ferris for valuable discussions of what follows.
42 Britain, Soviet Russia and the Versailles Order

the basis of the new world order created after the war. As such, the era
needs to be treated as a distinct unit, and not solely as a precursor to
what followed. And, during it, Anglo-Soviet relations were marginal and
the effect of Soviet Russia on British strategic foreign policy slight.
This was not the case in the six-year period of ˜deterrence™ after
1933.172 This was a malignant interval, operating on the basis of thinly
veiled (and, after 1939, naked) force. But how the status quo Powers
could utilize force (and how much force they had available to them) was
conditioned by the attitudes and circumstances of the period of ˜persua-
sion™. The result of the sea change in international affairs in 1933 was
that both British and Soviet Russian policy changed direction. Soviet
Russia emerged out of isolation and intimated that it would be willing to
play a role in curbing the revisionist trend. Britain began reluctantly to
rearm. With Soviet and British policies becoming at least potentially
complementary, if not congruent, Moscow became a greater factor in
British strategic foreign policy and the course of Anglo-Soviet relations
deepened. For these reasons, and because the pace and intensity of
international affairs increased so markedly after 1933, Britain, Soviet
Russia and the Collapse of the Versailles Order concentrates on this time
period.



172
For the manifold meanings of the term, see Patrick M. Morgan, Deterrence. A Conceptual
Analysis (2nd edn, Beverly Hills, London, New Delhi, 1983), 49“78.
1 The period of persuasion: British strategic
foreign policy and Soviet Russia, 1919“1933




In August 1920, the Red Army was turned back from the gates of
Warsaw. Seven months later, on 18 March 1921, the Treaty of Riga was
signed. The Soviet attempt to spread Bolshevism throughout Europe by
force of arms had ended.1 Instead, Lenin and his Bolshevik government
decided on a new course.2 Domestically, the initial effort to establish a
communist economy “ war communism “ was abandoned in favour of
the New Economic Policy (NEP). Abroad, Soviet Russia strove to estab-
lish diplomatic relations and trade ties with the capitalist Powers. As part
of this undertaking, an Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement was signed on 16
March 1921. Britain™s relations with Soviet Russia had begun, although
Moscow was not formally recognized by London until 1 February 1924.
From 1919 to 1933, Soviet Russia played a limited, although signifi-
cant role in British strategic foreign policy. During this relatively peace-
ful period in international affairs, Britain™s focus was on dealing with the

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