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Left wing political activism played a role in the revolutionary year of 1917, of course, but it was only one of many factors.Finally, we can dismiss the idea that Russia lost the war due to military failures, for the Russian army fought badly really only at a few moments.
Some ventured the proposition that the revolution that toppled the throne and eventually resulted in a communist dictatorship was due to Russian backwardness.More to the point, even the large battlefield setbacks did not spell defeat.As the German Chief of the General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn (1861-1922), complained, the “East gives nothing back.” German military victories did not translate into political gains.None of those plots had anything to do with the roiling rebellion that actually occurred.Secondly, as we shall see below, by the time that the communists did successfully launch a revolution, in October of the same year, the war effort was already in free fall.In truth, Russian foreign policy makers had been wrong-footed quite often by events in the Balkans in recent years.
In 1912, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria had created a “Balkan Alliance” to pursue their mutual interests on the peninsula.
Russia’s industrial infrastructure did shudder at the start of the war, leading to debilitating weapons shortages in 1915, but by the end of 1916 it had recovered so quickly that Russia was out-producing German munitions makers. Given the long history of the Russian revolutionary movement and the eventual success of the Bolsheviks, it made sense to connect the dots and to see revolutionaries as authors of the Revolution.
Nevertheless, few scholars give much credence to a straightforward thesis of subversion.
With a depleted and weary army, Pašić wanted no part of a fight, and the Russians also recognized that the time was not right for aggression.
They had just funded a “Great Program” of military expansion that would not bear fruit for several years, and they had no desire to start a war on their own initiative.
Russia, in his view, was not only undefeated, but was perhaps undefeatable in operational terms. That is the question that the following brief narrative of military campaigns, and political and social change seeks to answer.