Historian’s Research Dallas News, Russia –Study in Ambivalence The latest number of the Southwestern Social Science Quarterly contains an incisive and carefully researched study by Paul F. Boller Jr., professor of history at Southern Methodist University, entitled “The Dallas Morning News and Communist Russia.” Particularly for the edification of our readers in Dallas, we excerpt Professor Boller’s article in two installments. PART ONE AUSTIN Frequently, in recent years, the Dallas Morning News has asserted that the source of most of the troubles, domestic and foreign, plaguing the United States can be traced back to that dark day in November, 1933, when the United States extended diplomatic recognition to Communist Russia. To American recognition of Russia, said the News on February 20, 1957, can be nal threat to our security that viet’s imposing position” in the world today. Recognition, explained the News on March 30, 1960, “gave Russia a face which conceals the impossible character of her government as among the powers of the world.” It was, continued the issue of June 3, 1960, ” a profound mistake.” And who was responsible for what the News called on February 20, 1957, “one of the most disastrous” actions “in our diplomatic history”? Russia was recognized, it declared on November 17, 1953, “solely because Franklin R. Roosevelt insisted upon it.” It was “New Dealer Roosevelt who recognized Russia,” the paper repeated on January 6, 1958. “It was the New Deal that got in bed with Earl Browder and encouraged Alger Hiss.” It was Roosevelt, the News reminded its readers on September 15, 1960, “who recognized Russia in 1933 and gave the conspiracy its beachhead in America.” Roosevelt, according to the issue of May 21, 1958, “had the bemused obsession that acceptance of an outlaw somehow makes outlawry more tolerable. Being so obsessed he recognized Red Russia.” But if one takes the trouble to riffle through the editorial pages of the past issues of the Dallas News, he quickly discovers that the News itself had something of an “obsession” with Russian recognition during 1933. Beginning in February of that year and continuing through November, the News ran no less than twenty editorials favoring recognition of the Soviet Union. ITS REASONS were the same as I those that led two-thirds of American newspapers, a large segment of the business ‘community, and many leading politicians of both parties to favor recognition. They are also the reasons that led President Roosevelt, who followed public opinion on this, as on so many other issues, to conclude an agreement for the normalization of relations with Russia on November 16, 1933. The News summarized these reasons on February 26 and repeated them with variations in subsequent editorials through the remainder of the year: “There is a rather general feeling in the United States that after fifteen years of non-recognition a change of policy is desirable. The Soviet Government is apparently well established and is now more eager for national economic development than for international THE TEXAS Page 6 propaganda. Russia is probably the wealthiest country in t he world in natural resources, largely undeveloped. If it were opened up to American capital and commercial enterprise its Government would gradually lose its rabid communist form and become in a generation or two more like the democracy of the United States. “The two States also have common interests in the Far East in the preservation of the Chinese Republic against Japanese aggression. Nothing would cause greater consternation in Tokio than the announcement that the United States had recognized Russia, after patching up differences.” On April 20, fearing that the arrest of five British engineers in Moscow by the OGPU \(the Rusespionage might inflame American opinion and diminish the possibility of Soviet recognition, the News hastened to point out that: “American indignation . . . big and little that operate at home. The third degree, as America knows it, is not of Russian origin. Dallas is not particularly ruthless, compared to the rest of the country, but in Dallas a negro crap game has mighty little chance with the law, while a white man’s club can play games of chance without much danger of arrest. The Englishmen in Russia, that is to say, got about the grade of justice that a friendless negro gets in Texas. That being the case, we become wrought up about Russia. It is farther away.” “VOU CANNOT isolate one-sixth I of the globe and the people it contains,” declared the News on May 23. To the objection that the Soviets had repudiated the debts owed by the Czarist government, it pointed out on June 17 that many other nations had also repudiated their debts to the United States since World War I and that this should no longer be a bar to recognition. As for propaganda, the News insisted on July 5: “The Soviet is not so fond of propagandizing as it used to be, having become absorbed in its domestic problems. Nor is the United States fearful, as some of its timorous citizens are, who shudder lest the bulwarks of the Republic be shaken by communistic agitation. The most firmly established of all the great States in the world is the one that yesterday celebrated its 157th birthday.” During the summer and early fall of 1933, the News watched hopefully for indications that the Roosevelt administration was moving in the direction of recognition and from time to time it reminded its readers of the two main benefits that were expected to result from recognition: development of profitable trade relations with Russia and the strengthening of Russia as a deterrent to Japanese aggression in the Far East. When, finally, in October, President Roosevelt commenced negotiations with the Soviet government looking toward recognition, the News expressed satisfaction with his action and on October 23 printed an editorial cartoon by John Knott depicting Russia as “Just Another Customer.” In the cartoon a peasant woman waits at the counter in an American grocery store with a basket labelled “Communist Russia” in her hand. Uncle Sam, the clerk, is trying to reassure an anxious gentleman \(the American THE ARRIVAL of Maxim Lit vinov, People’s ‘Commissar for Foreign Affairs, in Washington, early in November, and the initiation of talks between Litvinov and Roosevelt regarding SovietAmerican relations brought a favorable response from the News. “President Roosevelt,” it said on November 12, “returns to the older theory of recognition that a Government is entitled to recognition if it is in full possession of the Government, if it is able to maintain order and protect life and property, and if its rule is acquiesced in by the people. Russia fulfills these conditions. . . . Some object to recognition on the ground that Russia’s system of government is communistic and in general anti-religious. Internationally, however, each State in theory has the right to determine its own form of ‘government and sphere of activity. Wide variations from the normal are not considered as bases for the refusal to recognize. . . . The general opinion in this country is that Russia and the United States should resume normal and diplomatic relations, since they have many common interests, especially in the Far East, and can readily develop trade relations, mutually profitable.” Late in the night of November 16, President Roosevelt and Commissar Litvinov completed their negotiations and exchanged five sets of diplomatic notes. The following day Roosevelt announced at a press conference that the United States had finally resumed diplomatic relations with Russia after a lapse of sixteen years. “Without question,” said the News on November 20, “the Nation as a whole will give sanction to this decision.” Then it added: “It is fitting that the United States . . . should be on friendly terms with a Government that, however different it may be in its social organization, is yet an FORT DAVIS STATE PARK The Observatory, a silver helmet on the mountain, gleams where the sun strikes its crown. Inside a young Mexican scientist explains. The slothful telescope weighs fourteen tons. It rotates on these ridges around the inside \(his voice echoes in the delicately, from horizon to horizon as the night proceeds to i the morning. Fourth largest in the world. Cleaning it takes three days, but soon we will have an automatic mechanism; then it will take only eight seconds. A few astronomers live up here in the houses spotted around on the mountain top, working with the telescope at night, sleeping days. They stay a while and then go back to their universities. Mount Locke was chosen because the elevation of 6,828 feet gives a transparent atmosphere above the telescope; the absence of other large mountains in the vicinity makes for uniform conditions in the air; more nights are clear here than other places. Fort Davis Park and Indian Lodge were built near here by the C/C during the New Deal. Mr. and Mrs. Lou Walker, who run the lodge, have had to do the best they can with what funds the advocate of peace, a friend of the worker and the farmer and a firm believer in education. . . . After all, Sovietism is an experiment in a sort of democracy. . . there will be the exchange of ideas and of political and cultural experiences, as the result of which each, it is to be hoped, may gain knowledge and wisdom from the other. The two peoples should be fast friends in the future as they were in the past. President Roosevelt acted wisely in recognizing Russia. . . .” An accompanying cartoon entitled “Tea for Two” pictured Uncle Sam drinking tea with Stalin out of a teapot labelled “Friendship and Trade.” Another editorial the same day remarked that William Bullitt, the newly appointed ambassador to the Soviet Union, would have “a ringside seat on one of the world’s most important social experiments.” On November 28, the News lauded once more “Roosevelt’s farseeing policy.” HOPES OF the Dallas News for the development of a thriving trade with the Soviet Union, however, were shattered the following month when the Johnson Act, prohibiting loans to any foreign government in default on its debts to the United States, became law. . . . If the News editors were disappointed that the economic results of recognition were not more substantial, they regarded its effects on the world balance of power as entirely beneficial. Commenting on the new Russian ambassador Alexander Troyanovsky’s first meeting with President Roosevelt, the News observed on January 10, 1934, that: “Each made a speech, customary on such occasions, expressing pleasure at the resumption of friendly relations, Russia stressing the thought that the cause of world peace is thereby ‘greatly aided. This undoubtedly is true, for Japan seems to be more willing to_ forego its supposed designs on East Siberia and perhaps may be willing to resume negotiations that may end the many disputes than now exist between these two powers in the Far East.” John Knott’s cartoon on this occasion was called “The. Big Story” and showed a woman \(Hisstate gives them, but they have done very well. The rooms in the lodge have heavy-frame furniture made of red cedar from Bastrop. They have landscaped and planted magueys. They figure a swimming pool would pay itself out in three years, but what chance have they of talking the Texas legislature out of $48,000? They greeted me on a hot, lonely day. No one was there but us. .Mrs. Walker guided me through her shining but improvised kitchen; the three of us had coffee on a red checked tablecloth. Their boy, who is 13, piloted his jalopy down the road \(he bought it for $15, and they have since put $115 Walker told of some trouble he has had defending the park. Originally there were 2,200 acres, but there is no money for a survey, and ranchers keep cutting off corners for grazing; there are only 1,700 acres left. One day Walker found his bird dog poisoned. Then he detected a sharp wire stretched across a creek he is accustomed to riding over, just about neck level. He took his .270 Winchester and told a man he thought might usefully receive the message he would take no more of it. Necessarily, the Walkers charge ing statement at her desk: “1934 Cause of World Peace Advanced by Recognition of Russia by the United States.” In the opinion of the News, recognition not only helped redress the balance of power in the Far East; it also strengthened Russia in Europe. To American recognition, the News on June 5, 1934, attributed, in part, Russia’s success in negotiating treaties with France, Poland, and the Baltic states, in securing recognition from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Rumania, and in thus making her western frontiers safe from attacks. “The Soviet-American agreement has had one very important indirect effect,” the editors stated on November 22, 1935. “It has greatly increased Soviet standing among nations. It caused a shift in the attitudes of Great Britain and Germany. Thus something has been contributed to international stability.” IN HUNDREDS of editorials in I the late Thirties, the News discussed Russia as a counterpoise to Japan in Asia and to Nazi Germany in Europe. In proportion as Japan and Germany increased as menaces to world peace, the News, along with most Americans, looked to Russia with mounting friendliness and admiration as a determined opponent of aggression. The editors were confident that Russia was moving slowly but surely away from communism toward democracy and capitalism, that she was a stout upholder of world peace, and that she was a natural ally of the Western democracies against fascism. On the decline of communism in Russia, the following editorial statements are typical: “There is no question .. . that the complekion of the Soviet has changed. It is veering from Marxist principles to State capitalism without admitting the fact” \(June “Russia is losing its extreme Communist aspect and slowly developing into a form of workers’ “Russia really seems to be cutting away rather decidedly from its older communistic policies and is translating them into a sort of democracy” \(January To Be Continued $1.50 for camping down in the valley from the lodge, beside the dry creekbed. I had a late lunch
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