By October 1918 the allied national interests had polarized into two rough groupings, with mutually exclusive aims. The activity in the east saw Americans and Japanese indulging in a battle of wits for control of the railway and the attendant economic benefits to be derived therefrom. The American motives remained essentially honourable; the same could not be said of the Japanese. The situation was summarized in a brief written by General Knox to the Canadian General Elmsley:
In relation to the policy of Great Britain, France and Italy, America may be said to be neutral while Japan is actively hostile. The Japanese do all in their power to weaken Russia by subsidising every freebooter in the Far East and so enable them to defy the central government which the other Allies wish to strengthen. They irritate the local population beyond endurance and among the Allies they make nothing but enemies. Their opposition to the American Railway Scheme has indefinitely postponed the provision of economic assistance and so immeasurably increased the difficulties of the much tried Russian Government; Russia and the Allied cause would benefit if every Japanese were withdrawn and the Americans only were left in garrison along the railway from Vladivostok to Baikal.