Mr. Alston to Mr. Balfour―(Received January 4.)
(Telegraphic.) Vladivostock, January 3, 1919.
ALTHOUGH I am sure it has not escaped your notice, I venture to draw your attention to a feature in situation, when considering future policy in Russia.
There will be serious shortage of foodstuffs in Europe so long as the fields of Russia are unproductive, or their produce is unable to be exported, as Russia is the principal granary of Europe and supplies all the contiguous States with the bulk of their imported cereals.
During present winter it is practically certain that, owing to disorganization brought about by efforts of Lenin and Trotsky, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Russians will perish from starvation. The 1919 harvests will amount only to a fraction of pre-war productions if there is no marked improvement of internal situation before early spring. The Allies and other nations, will find themselves morally bound to export foodstuffs to Russia to avert a catastrophe during present winter, instead of importing foodstuffs from Russia during winter of 1919-1920. Certain parties in Allied countries represent military intervention as forcible repression of working classes at instigation of capitalists, and not merely as an effort to restore order and render Russia once more self-supporting. Of course this is what Bolsheviks maintain, and they justify their excesses and atrocities on the pretext that they are engaged in a struggle against capitalism abroad and at home. Their deluded followers support them, not because they believe this, but because Bolsheviks control food supplies, and alternative to joining them is starvation. The fact that alternative is starvation will soon be plain to neutral countries. For a few months population may subsist on plunder and devastation, but the result is inevitable when all creative and productive enterprise is at a standstill. Currency has been wrecked, all industries have been destroyed, and labour has been encouraged to believe that instead of working to obtain livelihood, there are easier methods of obtaining it. The whole country will be suffering from disorganisation of currency and transport, unless more energetic measures are adopted for restoration of order, and it will be impossible to produce harvests adequate for population.
Intervention on a larger scale than hitherto attempted would therefore seem necessary if the situation is to be saved before the next harvests are sown.
It is absurd to pretend that effective military intervention would be an espousal of cause of capitalism against labour and an act of oppression. Destruction and production are the forces opposed, not capitalism and labour. It seems to be the duty of the Allies, not only to themselves, but to humanity, to restore order in Russia.