polar bear memorial snip cracked 

The Polar Bears: The Americans Who Fought (Their Allies) Russia In WW1 

By Steven Assarian
via the cracked.com web site

Even if we're more familiar with the bigger, more successful sequel, we all have a basic idea of what America did during World War I, right? America got pissed with Germany, sent some men and dough over there, and thrashed the Kaiser so hard his mustache ran away. However, there’s one part of the war few of us remember: when Woodrow Wilson sent a bunch of dudes from Michigan to fight the Russians. The Russians, who were on the same side as the US and other Allied Powers.

Confused? Good, you should be! Here's what happened.

5. It Began In A Winter Wonderland (Of Machine Guns)

Officially, the United States entered the First World War "to make the world safe for democracy." But there was one glaring problem with this idea: one of the Allied powers, Russia, had a terrible, incompetent, decidedly un-democratic leader in Tsar Nicholas II. He spent the majority of his time being a doting father, being pals with Rasputin, and, uh, ruthlessly crushing his people in an authoritarian grip. 

But democracy or no, the Allies needed Russia. With Russia there, Germany was stuck in a two-front war, which was vital in keeping the German war machine from absolutely wrecking France and Britain. The Russians fielded an army of 15 million men throughout the course of the war. And though the quantity didn’t have the quality necessary to beat Germany, the armies of the Russian Empire were still valuable.

That’s why, after years of being a German punching bag, when the Russians did a revolution in 1917 (well, they actually did two, but who’s counting), the Allied powers fell into a frenzy of terrified harrumphing and monocle-clutching. By this point in the war, the Allies were providing a ton of supplies—shells, guns, and we presume liberty cabbage—to prop up a Russian empire that was nowhere near as industrial as the rest of the Allies. And now, not only were those guns and shells decidedly not being used to blow Germans to smithereens, they were set to support the revolutionaries who'd overthrown the Romanovs.

The Allies thought sending in a bunch of troops would help (it worked at Verdun, right?), and the United States wanted in. But Americans weren’t yet the world police they became after the Second World War. At home, there was a strong undercurrent of thought that Americans "shouldn’t go abroad in search of monsters to destroy" and should avoid entanglements in foreign conflicts. 

Read the entire article on the Cracked web site.

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