Courtesy Reuters

The Russian Revolution - Fifty Years After


THE cataclysmic defeat of the Soviet-backed Arab coalition-primarily the United Arab Republic, Jordan and Syria-in the third Arab-Israeli war has highlighted the basic dilemmas that confront Soviet policy-makers in their unremitting efforts to win friends and enlist allies within the "Third World" of the underdeveloped nations. It has raised to the nth degree the question of Soviet goals and Soviet means. Behind Mr. Gromyko's quick political footwork, which has been designed to rescue Russia's Arab allies from the consequences of their rash challenge and at the same time to overcome the serious blow suffered by Soviet prestige, the Kremlin and its advisers are undoubtedly engaged in an "agonizing reappraisal" of aims, strategy and tactics. The outcome of that review will have momentous consequences for the Third World, for the Soviet role in world politics and for Western and particularly American policy.

One major dilemma has dogged Soviet political strategists ever since the founding of the régime fifty years ago. That is the question whether Soviet energies and resources should be devoted to promoting the establishment of communist and supposedly obedient régimes abroad-in other words, to the advancement of world revolution-or whether Soviet purposes can be served as well or better through backing nationalist, anti-imperialist but non- communist parties and governments. Historically speaking, Lenin chose as early as 1920 to embrace the nationalist horn of the dilemma. Against the urgings of M. N. Roy, a brilliant Indian Communist, Lenin, at the Second Congress of the Comintern, urged that the nascent communist parties and the Soviet Union should lend their support to "bourgeois nationalists," for example, to the Congress Party in India and the Kemalists in Turkey, in order to win allies for Russia and break the "imperialist encirclement" of the new Soviet state. They should do so, he said, even if it meant jettisoning communist parties and accepting the risk that the new nationalist régimes, once in the saddle, might turn anti-communist at home

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