The Eagle in the Arctic: The Prologue to a Century of American Intervention

Koenig, Alexander, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Kunakhovich, Kyrill, History, University of Virginia

The American Intervention in the Russian Civil War serves as a prologue to interventions over the next century, all the way to the War in Afghanistan (2001-2021). To forward the historical understanding, it is important to investigate the related literature for how this conflict has been forgotten, how the related works came to conclusions that were rooted in the contexts in which they were written, and how interest in the subject increased or decreased in trends mirroring the temperament of the relations between the United States and Russia, which this paper hopes to address. American foreign policy is best understood through a holistic understanding of the situation at hand which involves the military concerns of involved parties, the political motives of the actors involved, as well as the impacts of history's lasting legacy on the present. It was an undeclared war, one of many the United States would take part in throughout the Twentieth Century. In this Intervention, the Americans were a junior partner, not leading the Intervention like the British were. Nevertheless, this would prove to play a large role in how American actions in the future would be structured, especially as the balance of power in the world shifted towards the United States. Despite this importance, this episode would end up being quickly forgotten by the United States and the Allied Powers as a whole. The Russians, however, would remember, and this would prove to be a sticking point in the decades to come as the Bolshevik victors of the Russian Civil War formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and rose to become one of the two world superpowers with the United States. Over the years, some in the United States would uncover and attempt to explain the events that transpired in Russia during the Intervention, describing the causes and events, and coming to increasingly similar conclusions as to what occurred and why, and these conclusions were often rooted in the context in which these works were written. Though interest waxed and waned, in trends mirroring the temperament of the relations between the United States and Russia, a more complete picture was formed, though was still largely unknown to the American public and even the American government. Nevertheless, over a century later, there are those who still try to preserve the memory of the Intervention and its significance, though even the literature supports the idea of it being forgotten, and even the literature itself is forgotten. The collective Western amnesia on the topic of the American Intervention in the Russian Civil War underscores how differences in historical contexts and political narratives can influence scholarship on the topic.

MA (Master of Arts)
Russian Civil War, Intervention, American Intervention, Cold War
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