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The chapters of this book were written as a series of articles for the “Century Magazine.” At the time of the Russian Revolution and the intervention of the United States, the chapters on Poland and Constantinople had already been published and the others were in print.
The Russian Revolution has not changed the general aspect of the problems of reconstruction in the Near East. The principle of independent Poland still needs to be insisted upon, and the plea for the Balkan nationalities and the races of the Near East still needs to be advanced. The contest in Petrograd over changing Russia's objects in the war nearly led to the disruption of the Provisional Government. The resistance of the Cadets and Octobrists to the new policy of “no annexations, no indemnities,” culminating in M. Miliukoff's effort to rob the Revolution of its significance in so far as Russian foreign policy was concerned, shows that Russian imperialism was not destroyed in March. The reactionaries will not fail to try to overthrow the new régime. They will look to imperialistic aspirations again, as in the past, to win outside support: and they know from the past that not a single European power has ever hesitated to sell out liberalism and democracy in Russia to secure the diplomatic support of the occult powers. Only when secret diplomacy is abandoned in Europe will democracy be safe in Russia, and only then will the Poles and the Near Eastern races be free to work out their own destinies.
Poland and the Near East are of more vital interest to Americans than when I wrote these articles. The intervention of the United States on the side of the Entente realizes a hope and longing I have had from the beginning of the world conflict. But whether the great war goes down to history as the struggle of idealism and democracy against materialism and autocracy or as an economic and political conflict of rival states fighting for European and extra-European territorial expansion, depends very largely upon how we play our rôle. We must not be drawn by the heat of the struggle into the espousal of terms of peace contrary to the principles and ideals of American foreign and internal policy.
We have gone into the war with all our might and all our will, and we shall spare no sacrifice of blood and treasure to defeat Germany's schemes of territorial aggrandizement and subjugation of other nations. But we must be on our guard, with our Allies, to avoid the pitfall of being conquered by those whom we conquer. We go forth to destroy militarism. Let us not set up another militarism. We go forth to punish imperialism. Let us not become imperialistic. We go forth to free nations from their slavery to our enemies. Let us not make them our slaves.