NAVIGATING A CENTURY OF UPHEAVAL
By Gaurav Khanna and Parag Khanna
Natural Disaster, by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1517, Windsor Library
On Apr. 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson delivered his “War Message” to Congress outlining the rationale for the US to enter World War I. Just four days later, Congress overwhelmingly declared war upon the Imperial German government. The entry of US forces in the late stages of World War I would prove decisive in the Allied victory more than a year later. Three days after Congress’ declaration, an equally powerful force was boarding a sealed train in Zurich, Switzerland. Vladimir Lenin, who had been in exile in that country for a decade, had struck a deal with the German authorities to gain secret passage for himself and 32 of his comrades to Russia. The Germans had calculated that allowing Lenin to return to Russia would destabilize the current Provisional Government and knock Russia out of the war. They were right. A mere seven months after that train arrived at Finland Station in Petrograd on Apr. 16 Lenin sat at the helm of a new Russia.
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