“Do you know the true reason your armies are here? Are you willing to die to compel the Russian people to accept your ideas of government? Are you willing to have your comrades tortured to keep the facts from you?”
And of course the doughboys who read this placard wanted to know if it told the truth. And quickly word spread that it did. Men who still had copies of the leaflet which Jimmie had distributed now found eager readers for it, and soon all the men knew its contents, and were debating the question of the use of American armies to put down social revolution in a foreign country. These same questions were being asked in the halls of Congress back home. Senators were questioning the right of sending troops into a country against which war had never been declared, and other Senators were demanding that they be immediately withdrawn. And this news also reached the men, and increased the danger. Archangel was not a pleasant place to stay, especially with winter coming on fast; men were disposed to grumble—and now they had a pretext!
The authorities who were handling this army laboured under one grievous handicap, probably never before faced by any army in history. The Commander-in-Chief of the army, who determined its policies and tried to set its moral tone, kept coming now and then before Congress and making speeches full of incendiary and reckless utterances, calculated to set dangerous thoughts to buzzing in the heads of soldiers, to break down discipline and undermine morale. The President wrote a letter to a political convention in which he declared that the workers of America were living in “economic serfdom”; he declared again and again that every people had a right to determine their own destinies and form of government without outside interference. This while the army was trying to put down those Russians who were in revolt against “economic serfdom” in their own country!
An army, you see, is a machine built to fight; a man who goes into it and takes part in its work, very quickly acquires its tone, which is one of abysmal contempt for all politicians, particularly of the talking and letter-writing variety, the “idealists” and “dreamers” and “theorists”, who do not understand that the business of men is to fight battles and win them. All the officers of the old army, the West-Pointers, had been bred in the tradition of class-rule, they had in their very bones the idea that they were a special breed, that obedience to them was a law of God; while of the new officers, the overwhelming majority came from the well-to-do, and were not favourable to speech-making and letter-writing about the rights of man. They were without enthusiasm for the idea of having a pacifist secretary of war set over them by the “idealist” commander-in-chief. They did not hesitate to vent their indignation; and when this pacifist secretary gave orders about conscientious objectors which were