Russia Is Cozying Up to Egypt

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

Due to the whirlwind of attention paid to the weather, North Korea, Iran and domestic American politics, an event erupted that received little attention. Last November, as a result of the Russian defense minister’s visit, the Egyptian government agreed to a five-year reciprocal arrangement to allow Russian military planes to use Egyptian facilities and airspace as long as either side provides a five-day notice. This was followed up by a warm meeting between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in December that resulted in a deal to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant. Of note to those with an appreciation for diplomatic history, Russian (or, then, Soviet) advisers were expelled from Egypt by President Anwar Sadat in 1972. Russia’s return to Egypt returns the old specters of the Cold War on to watchers’ radar screens.

Analysts point to a trajectory that began in 2015 when el-Sissi agreed to an expanded military relationship and the purchase of Russian war equipment. For the first time ever, Egyptian troops trained in Russia last September.

This is particularly concerning in light of Russia’s bid to prop up, so far successfully, the Assad regime in Syria and reports that Russia has deployed special operations forces near the Libyan/Egyptian border combined with their attempt to influence Libyan strongman, Gen. Khalifa Hifter. “Russia is attempting to increase their influence throughout the Middle East, as we have seen in Syria,” Gen. Joseph Votel, Centcom’s commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last March. “We have seen them do things certainly with our longstanding partner Egypt and others across the region. So it is my view that they are trying to increase their influence in this critical part of the globe.”

The military concern is that Russia could utilize these gains to project more power into the Mediterranean and create greater advantages in Syria. Naturally, both Egypt and Russia play up the counterterrorist aspect of their partnership. Economically Russia may be attempting to circumvent the negative effect of sanctions by ramping up arms sales to the region. Diplomatically this continues Russia’s bid to reassert its worldwide presence and prestige.

This strategic calculus was created by the Obama administration’s withdrawal (perceived and real) from the region. The Russians have utilized their success in Syria to regain certain foreign policy goals left over from Soviet strategic objectives. Some analysts have missed the point by stressing Russia’s more limited current strategic capabilities rather than looking at long-term (and historical) Russian goals and trends. Stop Being Complicit

The United Nations Security Council proved its worthlessness once again. It met in emergency session last week to discuss the protests against the Iranian regime. Instead of taking action against the illegitimate Iranian theocracy, the U.N. focused on the positive nature of the Iranian nuclear deal. The Security Council did nothing, yet again, against a tyranny.

This downward focusing has been the consistent problem in international affairs since the end of the Cold War: the inability of leaders, media outlets and academics to appreciate the strategic battlespace. The recent Iranian protests, the Iranian nuclear and missile program, Iranian-North Korean joint activity, Iranian state sponsorship of terrorism, and the existential threat Iran poses to Israel are all part of a triangle: the religious fervor of Iranian Shiism at one angle, the desire for an Iranian empire at another angle, and the regime itself, which makes up the apex. This is the identical problem as with North Korea: If the regime ceases to exist, all the inherent problems cease as well.

The attention paid to Iran until the recent protests and the deaths of at least 22 civilians has been over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is known. This deal has been soundly criticized by many over its verifiability and enforcement mechanisms. Lost in the tumult is Iran’s consistent activity to support Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and the Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah, the rebels in Yemen, and terrorism in Gaza. Focusing on the nuclear deal and even focusing on the protests does not answer the greater question of U.S. foreign policy towards Iran.

Iran is bent on domination of the region, state sponsorship of terrorism and the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Instead of focusing on the “comprehensive” plan for action, there needs to be support of the Trump administration’s goal of a comprehensive Iranian policy.

This is demonstrated by Ambassador Nikki Haley’s remarks at the U.N. that reinforced American foreign policy’s values: “The voices of the Iranian people should be heard. … Human rights are not the gift of governments. They are the inalienable right of the people themselves. Freedom and human dignity cannot be separated from peace and security.”

Those that tout the nuclear deal over the interests of the Iranian people and U.S. foreign policy need to be reminded that this is the one regime in the world that has a marginal chance of making the North Koreans look tolerable. (Although it should be noted, nothing can do that in reality.) The release of an Osama bin Laden intelligence trove has heightened confirmation of the al-Qaida /Iranian connection. Iran employs Hezbollah as a full-fledged terrorist surrogate army. It supports Hamas, the quasi-government and terrorist organization in Gaza, and makes common cause with both al-Qaida and the Taliban when it is convenient. Notably, the number one area of convenience is killing Americans and America’s allies.

Iran is jointly involved with North Korea in nuclear weapons and missile technology development; it continues to prop up the second worst regime in the Middle East, that of Assad in Syria, and continues to destabilize Yemen. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard-Qods Force (the Revolutionary Guard force abroad)-Hezbollah axis is active worldwide, maintaining cells in the United States and Western Europe, bombing synagogues in South America and undermining the governments of Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.

These actions are all part of a strategic goal. The Iranian government is pursuing a “Pax Iranica” in the Persian Gulf, especially in the geographical location knows as the Shiite Crescent stretching from Lebanon in the west, through Iraq, the Gulf States, and eastern Saudi Arabia in the center and Iran to the east. The potential for dominance and disruption (most notable in Iraq) is extreme.

All of this might be bad enough were it not for the type of regime that exercises de facto control over Iran. This “Mullacracy,” which possesses the faint window dressing of democracy, is in reality an abhorrent dictatorship where ultimate power rests with the 12-member Iranian “politburo,” the Islamic Guardian Council, under the thumb of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Sayyid Khamenei. Khamenei controls the armed forces, intelligence services, security services, judiciary, media networks and appoints half of the Islamic Guardian Council. Iran has no substructure of democratic institutions and no civil society.

In philosophical terms, the democratic institutions of the United States and our civil society are founded on immutable natural law concerning human dignity, rights, property and liberty under law, all of which are non-existent in Iran. The problem for the United States is fundamentally the maniacal policies of a repressive rogue regime that abuses its people in a quest for greater control and power.

Simply put, Iran is not only a terror state terrorizing its own populace, but also the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Any deal kept or made with such a regime makes those nations complicit in Iranian actions. Any nation placing this deal over the lives of the protesters is worse than the regime itself. The Militarization of Qatar

On December 18, the Qatari military stunned strategic analysts by displaying their purchase of Chinese short-range ballistic missiles at a military parade. The SY-400 missile has a 150-200 kilometer range which puts neighbors like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in range.

According to Theodore Karasik, who is also an adviser at Gulf State Analytic, Qatar approached China in 2014 once relations with their neighbors began to sour due to Qatar’s support for Islamic extremist groups and Iran.

Qatar is the second-largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to China, and China is one of Qatar’s top five (some say number one) trading partner.

Although receiving less attention, Qatar also showed off other acquisitions such as German-made Leopard tanks, German self-propelled guns and Turkish armored vehicles. This illustrates the results of Qatar’s new hard power spending spree. Even less attention has been paid to China’s news service reporting that it was People’s Liberation Army trainers that enabled the Qatari military to produce the fancy formations presented in the parade.

The real issue is not the missiles themselves, as China is a major exporter of missile technology around the world. The real question is why. Is China simply amassing as much currency as it can through trade? Is it attempting to bolster Chinese arms prestige? Most importantly, is China attempting to gain a strategic advantage or strategic foothold?

Further, what message is Qatar sending? Most analysts believe it is an aggressive posture to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE who all pulled back their ambassadors and engaged in an economic and transportation boycott. One of the results of the souring relationship with these moderate Arab states is China’s upgrade in relations with Qatar from (primarily) an economic partner to a “strategic partner,” signaling closer military ties.

Although China often attempts to balance its relationships, the continuing relationship with Syria and Iran may signal a shift and Qatar could be one of those further signals. Qatar is a major proponent and part of China’s One Belt One Road strategy, which is the umbrella for every major Chinese strategic goal worldwide under the guise of an economic development plan that can coerce or cajole many of their third-world clients. A twist in the story may be Turkey’s increasing military presence in Qatar, which may also not be good for American interests depending on Erdogan’s actions. Turkey plans on a deployment of 3,000 troops possibly accompanied by aircraft and warships. Similar to Erdogan’s Turkey, Qatar embraces radical Sunni Islam when it suits their interests.

The two great questions for American national security are: Will Qatar become a lynchpin in China’s imperialist agenda in the Middle East? And will Qatar be the canary in the mineshaft illustrating the divide between a vision of the Middle East that is opposed to American interests led by Turkey and Iran against the other axis of Saudi Arabia and Egypt?

The various hard power sales and deployments by China and Turkey are only important if one assesses the strategic intent and trajectory of the nations involved. Speak Out for the Rohingya

As the Western world turns to thoughts of Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and the fantasy in lights, a sinister drama continues in Burma. The United States, doubly distracted by “news” that used to parade as tabloid gossip, has attempted to shine a small light on the tragedy. The tragedy of the Rohingya people dwarfs any domestic story in the Western world, and save for the menace of North Korea, China, terrorism and Russia, internationally as well. Ultimately, the disaster is submerged in a sea of chatter.

The news has often focused on the faltering reputation of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is in a political battle with General Min Aung Hlaing; it has been speculated that her indifference or silence is the price she must pay to stay in her precarious position of power. The atrocities committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya have been chronicled many times over and include mass killing, concentration camps, rape, arson, and property theft. During any reasonable period, we would simply use the term genocide. This has resulted in the flight of 625,000 Rohingya (about 2/3 of their population), primarily to the squalor of refugee camps in impoverished Bangladesh.

The Burmese Buddhist majority accounts for 69 percent of the population and notably sided with the Japanese during World War II. The Rohingya stayed loyal to the allied side. In 1947, the British helped to orchestrate the 1947 Panglong Agreement which stated: “Citizens of the Frontier Areas shall enjoy rights and privileges which are regarded as fundamental in democratic countries.” Rohingya received official national identity cards, many received citizenship, and some served in parliament.

But in 1962 a socialist military coup took over the Burmese government. The quasi Marxist experiment was a catastrophe, and, needing a scapegoat for their dictatorship, the Rohingya were persecuted, and a militant brand of Buddhism climbed into ascendency. The Rohingya were stripped of citizenship in 1974 and declared foreigners in 1982. This effectively made them stateless. The Burmese government consistently refers to the Rohingya as Bengalis in an effort to ostracize them.

The recent cascade of violence began in 2012. It should be remembered that the Burmese government has a penchant for murder, rape, arson and property theft against most ethnic minorities in Burma such as the predominantly Christian Kachin, the Karen and Shan.

Pope Francis avoided using the Rohingya term in November while in Burma (though he used it three months ago) for fear of antagonizing the military and harming the country’s Catholic minority. Perhaps, smarting from comparisons with Pope Pius the XII and accusations that he failed to fully condemn the human rights abuses, Francis spoke to a large crowd in Dhaka last Friday and uttered the word that was not supposed to be spoken when he stated, “We won’t close our hearts or look away. The presence of God today is also called Rohingya.”

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on Left-Wing Lies

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

It was the Russian fairy tale that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The other myths were hard to take, like a 21st-century castor oil, but the Russian one, that tasted more like hemlock. Never in the modern age has the left attempted to create such massive myths in order to gain some tactical advantage.

The left loves to talk about cultural appropriation, yet it engaged in it with a gusto never before seen. At least the old lefties of the Cold War were proud of their communist sympathies, be they pink or red. The old left embraced pacifism, socialism, relativism and assorted sedition proudly. Some were brazen Bolsheviks, while others were quiet social democrats. However, few hid their views if they were in the public eye.

Now, the left has engaged in one of the last desperate moves of a dying philosophy. As indicated in a prior article on these Red Puritans, the aggressiveness and even violence will reach epic levels as the end draws nearer. The inflection point will be when they will appear most robust and assertive.

Today, the left is engaged in five fairy tales which the mainstream media have decided to ignore and treat as new gospel:

We are pro-military, pro-intelligence and we care more than the conservatives do about veterans and their families. As much as no one wants to politicize defense issues, they have always been so. It was the left that in its most extreme incarnation argued for pacifism and disarmament, and in its more “reasonable” forms, wanted to cut defense, collapse the intelligence community, cancel next-generation weapons, eliminate missile defense and hollow out personnel to the breaking point. It was the left that developed and advocated for sequestration, and it was the left that endorsed “mutual assured destruction.” It was they who sponsored a political ideology after the Vietnam War to treat returning American soldiers as criminals. It is one thing to argue a 5-percent cut in defense spending; it is another to sit in an anti-aircraft gun of the enemy.

We all love Ronald Reagan. This is the most personally inflammatory. Now that Reagan has become one of the top 10 most popular presidents in history, the same people that belittled him are suddenly on the Reagan bandwagon. He is even invoked by the very same members of Congress who insulted him in their effort to create a wedge within the Republican Party. Remember the horrific insults hurled at Reagan, the attempt to portray him as a bumbling idiot, mimicking Soviet propaganda of the day portraying him as a war-mongering cowboy, shooting MX missiles out of his six-gun holsters? He was belittled and maligned and the left made it into a two-decade long cottage industry attempting to solidify the view through their teaching, forums and textbooks. There is nothing that Reagan stood for that the left can embrace, and their attempt to hijack his struggle and legacy for their own ends is, at best, disgusting.

We are just realists. The left’s newfound love affair with international relations realism is rich. This was a move started during the presidency of George W. Bush. As Bush endorsed democratic realism in a titanic attempt to merge American liberal values with American realist power, the left felt it had to pivot. No longer could it endorse using American power for human rights, since that mantle had been taken by a conservative president. Worse, Bush was not only successful, but he was also right.

Although some doubled down on a neo-isolationists pacifism, the pragmatic left knew the American people would never endorse it. Instead, it began talking about realism, leading from behind, non-intervention, burden-sharing and questioning crusades for, as Bush called it, “the non-negotiable demands of human dignity and liberty.” This was particularly revolting when it came to the genocide in Darfur or President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Suddenly, the left found that Machiavellian realism made sense, and we had to work with nations like Iran and Syria because the alternatives were worse.

Once again, it was the same people who had attacked Reagan when he explained that sometimes, when the choice is between the cancer of communism and the headache of authoritarianism, you sometimes had to choose a headache. The wails of moral indignation swallowed Washington for years.

We are anti-terrorist. The left never outright endorsed terrorism, though many were openly sympathetic to the Marxist varieties of the Cold War like the Red Brigades, Baader Meinhoff Gang and Red Army Faction. However, it spent decades preaching about the horrors of the CIA, especially covert action. The left insisted that terrorism was, at worse, a law enforcement problem of sick individuals. It denied and continued to deny the cohesiveness of terrorism or terror networks. Just as it branded as “lunatic” anyone who discussed the Soviet terror network that assisted groups as varied as the Irish Republican Army to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, so now it brands anyone who links the terror network of Iran and also the power of Islamic extremism. It was the left, in its effort to use legal leftism, who was unwilling to get rid of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants in the 1990s, who then bemoaned the Bush administration for not getting him quick enough. Now, members of the left spend their time on trying to convince the world that any act of terror is a random act of a disgruntled loner or two rather than an orchestrated effort in service to an evil ideology. What is old is new again. The Coming Russian Aggression

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

Late last month Russia and Belarus engaged in one of the largest military exercises along NATO’s border, the Zapad (West) 2017. This was cause for concern in western capitals, since the last time Russia engaged in a Zapad exercise in 2013 they followed up with the invasion of Crimea and amplified their aggression in Ukraine. Under the 2011 Vienna Document of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, any exercise exceeding 13,000 troops must trigger foreign observers. They outright lied about the number in 2013, when they claimed 10,000 troops participated rather than the actual number believed to be in the area of 70,000. It is believed they lied again, though official estimates are unclear. What is clear is that troops from every far-flung region of the Russian Federation were involved as well as every branch and specialization ranging from Special Forces to ICBMs.

The games began when the “nation” of Veshnoriya attacked Russia. Three days of defense, especially against air attacks and three days of counterattack. Veshnoriya was originally billed as an attack by western militias but quickly transformed into a NATO-like force using the full complement of modern warfare. Russia practiced conventional, unconventional and cyberwarfare, ultimately crushing the Veshnoriyans.

The best analysis of their effectiveness was when one DIA official concisely argued that Russia is more mobile, balanced and capable.

The impact of the Zapad exercises is unfolding. Russia surprised American military strategists with longer ranges than expected. It demonstrated their ability to operate more effectively in Kaliningrad and against the Baltic. The reactivation of the 1st Guard Tank Army is both symbolic and practical, as Russia wishes to contest not only NATO air and sea superiority but armor as well. Tactically it gave Russia the chance to show off military hardware like the Iskander-M missile, the RS-24 YARS ICBM and T-14 Amrata tank. It appears that the effective ranges of Russia’s missiles came as a surprise to American military analysts, one of whom stated they displayed the “ability to hold targets at risk at ranges that we’re not used to.” The missile range issue should be of particular concern moving forward.

More importantly, Russia achieved three strategic objectives at a minimum: First, it illustrated a greater ability to operate in the modern battle space. Russia is attempting to modernize its military at every level and wishes to eventually break out from the constraints imposed when the USSR fell. This has been too long dismissed by western “experts” who have consistently been wrong about Russian objectives. Russian objectives are realistic and aggressive, dictated by their geopolitical position and national interests. Second, it reminded Belarus who was the boss in the region. Some would argue that the exercise was a giant sword of Damocles over the head of Belarussian President Lukashenko and his perceived attempt to distance himself from Russian foreign and defense policy goals. Third, it illustrated it could quickly drive a military wedge between NATO forces between Kaliningrad and the Baltic at a time when the Baltic States, Poland and Scandinavia are increasingly worried about Russian aggression, military capability, the use of energy as a weapon and U.S. commitment. Finally, it bolstered President Putin’s ultra-nationalist tough-guy image at home. It illustrated that his bellicose stance against our Eastern European partners, his invasion of Ukraine and adventurism in Syria is now amplified by a better armed and led conventional force that was for so long dismissed by many western planners.

The great powers never cease to teach us lessons about their ultimate goals; the question remains, are we listening? The Truth About THAAD

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

National security news is dominated by the actions of North Korea. In that context, a great amount of attention has been paid to the THAAD – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. THAAD is a necessary and critical step in America’s march towards missile defense and securing not only our interests but our allies’ well-being. The issue of THAAD cannot be seen to only exist in a vacuum nor as simply a shield against North Korean militarism. It must be viewed as an integral piece to the American projection of power in East Asia, the stability of the region, as a bulwark against Russian and Chinese imperial adventurism and as a material sign of support to our South Korean ally.

According to the Department of Defense, THAAD was deployed to “ensure the security of South Korea” and to “protect alliance forces from North Korea.” It is a measure to “improve the missile defense posture of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.” Commander of the Eighth U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal says that THAAD is being installed to “improve our missile defense posture, which is a critical aspect of our defense strategy.” The long and short of it is THAAD will aid South Korea in shooting down missiles launched by the North, saving civilian lives and military personnel.

However, it is important to understand that THAAD is an anti-theater ballistic missile system not designed to counter intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is aimed at missiles under a range of 5,500 km and beyond 150 km. It boasts an area protection of 200 km and is capable of multiple launches. Short-range missiles like the SCUDS, a favorite of Saddam Hussein, can be dealt with by the Patriot system. American innovation may again change the situation since THAAD developer Lockheed Martin is working on Extended Range THAAD (THAAD-ER) which could target misses at an altitude of 150 km and travel at hypersonic speeds of Mach 8. This is especially important given the recent announcement that all six launchers will be deployed, rather than two, which was the original position of President Moon in June.

Of note, South Korea has signaled a shift in their defense posture, stressing a more pre-emptive stance rather than a retaliatory one. Naturally, South Korean domestic politics plays a key role, and the election of President Moon may lead to a reassessment of the tough stance taken by President Park. It is important to consider the change in South Korea’s policy in recent years as well. There is concern that the current deployment puts Seoul out of THAAD projection, but the answer here lies in the greater number of missile batteries and a multi-layered defense that ultimately embraces strategic missile defense.

THAAD fits into overall American national security policy by enhancing a layered missile defense which already serves to protect alliance troops in South Korea from North Korean ballistic missiles. It serves as a further check on North Korean power, and it has been stressed repeatedly that it will not be aimed at any third-party countries. This is a U.S. effort by the U.S. military, not an effort by the South Koreans to buy and operate this system themselves. This reinforces the U.S. commitment to defend its own troops, despite attitudes by South Korean politicians. It also provides a useful bargaining chip in the face of North Korea’s provocations, including their continuous missile tests.

The first reaction of North Korea to THAAD has been to accuse the U.S. and South Korea of planning a nuclear attack. They threatened to retaliate with enough force to turn South Korea “into a sea of fire and a pile of ashes.” China has been resolute in their opposition to the deployment of this system. Their main concern is that they believe it would give “Washington better early warning and tracking of Chinese missiles.” And with good reason, as THAAD can cover roughly 2,000 km, which would reach deep into mainland China. According to China’s foreign ministry, “The missile system is unhelpful in realizing the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is no good for the stabilization of the peninsula, runs counter to the effort of various parties’ negotiations, and will severely damage the safety of China and nearby countries and the regional strategic balance.” The recent deployment of THAAD to locations in South Korea led Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to use the term “regrettable.”

China retaliated against South Korea for their agreement to accept the system by banning imports of 19 Korean cosmetics products, roughly 11 tons of cosmetics. This caused a 1.68 percent dip in AmorePacific stock, the largest cosmetic company in South Korea. They have also put pressure on the affiliates of Lotte, the South Korea company which sold its land to the government for THAAD to sit on. According to reports, China “banned South Korean stars from appearing on its TV shows and rejected a request by airline companies to operate chartered planes bound for South Korea.”

It is not surprising that Russia also stressed the negative to THAAD’s deployment by claiming that it would trigger an arms race in East Asia. Nor is it surprising that Japan expressed the opposite attitude of the Russians to a system that may assist in thwarting North Korean aggression.

The deployment of THAAD was never a magic bullet, but a necessary component of missile defense, that in concert with more tactical, strategic and ultimately space-based systems can deter, dissuade and destroy an aggressor’s ability to threaten American interests, personnel and allies. It enhances American diplomacy by clearly placing American defense assets in harm’s way in support of our alliances. It is unfortunate that the Obama administration considered using THAAD as a bargaining chip with China as it is a system that needs to be deployed, enlarged and enhanced. A Recurring Disaster

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

The news from the war zone was always the same: A diverse group of rebels and factions were attempting to subvert the dictatorial regime that had no legitimacy holding power. The United States, in a half-hearted attempt at regime change, lightly intervened with a modicum amount of force and assistance. The various groups seesawed back and forth in success and failure and continued to attack each other as much as the regime. Further, there were even elements in the American government that did not want to see the regime ended. It all finally collapsed when the president pulled the plug, and the resistance crumbled.

Many readers may rightly assume that this is a description of the American involvement with the Syrian resistance to the Assad regime. However, it is also a description of the American intervention against the Bolshevik regime in what would become the Soviet Union.

In July of 1918, President Woodrow Wilson authorized sending 5,000 American troops to Russia. This was ostensibly done to protect allied war supplies and help save the “lost Czech legion.” Once the Russian front collapsed, and the Czechs were saved, the intervention continued and morphed into a half-hearted attempt to support White (Tsarist) factions against the Bolsheviks. This American North Russian Expeditionary Force, sometimes dubbed the Polar Bear expedition, was full of soldiers from northern states such as Wisconsin.

The mission suffered from a lack of purpose and the inability of the Wilson administration to create a grand strategy that included Russia and the rise of the Bolsheviks. There were some allied leaders, such as Winston Churchill, who wanted to “strangle the Bolshevik baby in in its cradle,” while others merely wanted to protect supply routes. There were debates on whether to support the Tsarist-White forces and if so, which general should receive such backing.

Added to this was the inability for the allies to articulate a purpose to their own electorates and that same electorate’s weariness with war. Despite being anti-Bolshevik, Wilson refused to use his own international liberal (Wilsonian) ideology to call for the crusade that he believed in. America was afraid of involving the very values that enabled Wilson to go to war in the first place.

If this all seems eerily familiar to the situation in Syria, it should, as many of the same components are present there: President Barack Obama’s less than half-hearted attempt to support the Syrian National Front and Free Syrian Army, the on-again-off again support for the Kurds and the ambivalence towards the illegitimate Assad regime. It is almost comical that the entire situation was changed for the worse by the intervention by, of all nations, Russia.

In an act that we continue to live with today, the Obama administration’s failed support of the Free Syrian Army overtly allowed them to be overshadowed by Islamic extremist groups. The United States did not support the anti-Assad rebels until two years after the initial uprisings. Finally, in 2013, there was a pledge of $1 billion to support the anti-Assad efforts. This lackluster program never resulted in great victories and was canceled outright last month. Surrounding the entire issue comes the only aspect of this conflict that everyone agrees to, the destruction of the Islamic State group.

However, the Islamic State group rises out of the power vacuum that America created, and was allowed to flourish due to the inability of the Obama administration to have a coherent Syrian strategy. As the anti-Islamic State coalition gains greater victories, the omnipresent question looms: What happens when the group is no longer a territorial threat? We coordinated with the anti-Assad rebels when they crossed paths with fighting the Islamic State group, but once that is off the table, the Assad regime remains.

Just as the Wilson administration never formulated a clear Russian policy, which resulted in creating the ideal conditions for a Soviet victory, culminating in the worst genocide in human history under the communists, so has the inability to create a Syria policy caused great pain to the United States, her allies and the Syrian people. The roots of the problem are not in the tactic of terrorism or the economic viability of the region. The root of the problem in Russia was the Bolshevik regime and communist ideology and the root of the problem in Syria is the Assad regime and Baathist ideology.

The United States can ill afford a reputation of creating half measures that lead to failure, or for failing to think long term instead of being blinded by the immediate crisis. If the United States does not overtly change the situation in Syria, the only beneficiaries will be the Assad tyranny, the fanatics in Iran and the hyper-realists in the Kremlin. American interests and American values will both be denied.

Too much can always be made of historical parallels, but as much as there is a danger in seeing every foreign policy misadventure as a repeat of the prior, there is an even greater danger in blinding oneself to a pattern of mistakes driven by those who lack political courage to act decisively and in the long term. North Korea’s Regime Must End

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

The shocking news of an intercontinental ballistic missile launch by the North Koreans has again focused attention on the communist regime of the Kim family. In a tedious pattern, the media wring their hands about the potential catastrophe posed by North Korean missiles, despair about the lack of options and criticize the lack of American strength that the same media has historically disparaged, before moving on to whatever nonsense passes for news.

It is hard for those of us who have lived and studied the Korean problem to attempt to put the focus on the root of the disease, rather than the symptom: The root cause is communist ideology interpreted by a corrupt dynasty, not the missiles it produces. Remove the cause and the symptom will expire.

Conservatives and liberals, realists and Wilsonian’s, all have an enemy in the ideology and practice of the North Korean regime. There is no American that can honestly espouse any American-based creed and be comfortable with this red dynasty’s existence. It is an illogical and immoral construct, even in its attempt. If one wants to understand why an American citizen was just murdered by this regime, one need only understand its policies against its people.

It is important to re-examine the atrocities that the North Korean regime engages in:

There is no greater symbol of the regime we are trying to deal with than the communist concentration camps it operates. The number of people currently in these camps could be as high as 120,000 in five infamous camps. Reports of torture, rape, forced abortions and murder are commonplace.

The very idea that America would ever consider any relationship with this regime should end here. The reader should ask themselves if they would have been comfortable having a relationship with Nazi Germany, knowing what we know of the concentration camps they operated. Estimates of those murdered in this democide range from 700,000 to 3.5 million over the majority of the regime’s existence. Some defectors report the use of poison gas chambers and harmful medical experiments. It is believed that communist guards are under orders to slaughter prisoners at these camps should the North be invaded.

Then there is the Songbun caste system, which creates an unbreakable system of slavery for all except those approved by the communist party. It has three large categories (loyal, wavering and hostile) and 51 sub-categories.

The regime uses food as a weapon, depriving those considered disloyal and rewarding those on top. Any policy restricting food shipments to North Korea will result in those that oppose the regime being starved first.

The regime uses public executions to keep the people in line. This policy is particularly used against religious believers, especially Christians.

Needless to say, there is no freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of labor, freedom of assembly or freedom of movement.

North Korea’s rogue regime status is constantly confirmed by its nuclear testing, missile program, state-sponsored terrorism and assassination, use of chemical weapons, and narcotics and counterfeiting programs.

Unfortunately, American administrations from the 1950s onward have kicked the can down the road. There were windows of opportunities that would have had less cost and less tragedy. These opportunities could have been taken if past presidents had acted on the root problem and not the countless symptoms.

There will be no peace, no agreement, no understanding as long as the communist regime in Pyongyang exists. The regime is an affront to any American, whether they look at the world through pragmatic or idealistic eyes. The regime must end. Protect Americans Everywhere

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

“Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!” was a famous quotation by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. At the time, the world watched as Roosevelt dispatched seven American warships to threaten devastation if an American citizen was not returned to safety. American foreign policy was leveled at the Moroccan state that was unable to protect that citizen, and the terrorist, Mulai Ahmed er Rasuli, who took him.

Historians have dissected the events surrounding the kidnapping of Ion Perdicaris. In typical American fashion, doves and hawks highlight details of the event to bolster their modern cause. Doves emphasize that Perdicaris was not a legal American citizen, that Rasuli ultimately released him after France arranged a ransom to be paid and that Roosevelt would have been unlikely to follow up his bluster with landing a Marine expeditionary force. Hawks counter this by arguing that the world perceived Perdicaris as an American, that the threat of force bought time and American honor was preserved through diplomatic action.

The tragic murder of another American citizen, Otto Warmbier, by North Korea should cause us to reflect on the actions of 1904. For far too long those in diplomatic circles and the media focus attention on the details of a particular case rather than the overall issue. The focus is on the actions of the American abroad: Did Otto Warmbier tear down a propaganda poster in North Korea? Did Michael Fay vandalize cars in Singapore? Did Fattal, Bauer and Shourd intentionally cross into Iran while backpacking? Worse, did an American naval vessel intentionally cross into Iranian waters?

All of these questions are valid and important for American authorities in dealing with American citizens on American soil. However, they are invalid questions from a diplomatic perspective. The only issue that is of concern is whether or not the person brutalized, captured, incarcerated or obstructed is perceived as an American citizen, legal resident or ally.

There are two methods of analyzing this issue. The first and weaker case is the legal one. Foreign legal systems, especially those of rogue and failed states, are often incompetent or terroristic. Many of the worst regimes, such as North Korea and Iran, use state terror to control their own populace; their legal systems are a sick farce reminiscent of Stalin’s show trials.

Second, the so-called crimes themselves are non-existent in the West, or the proportionality of punishment is exponentially absurd. How is an American expected to receive any fairness in a system that is inherently evil and corrupt even to its own citizens?

The diplomatic argument is stronger. The United States is the world order-maker, protector of everything from the world’s sea lanes to cislunar space. Our citizens are the prime targets for criminals, pirates, terrorists and terror states. The United States should adopt an unambiguous position that no American can be maltreated on pain of retribution. The retribution should be aggressive, quick and robust. Those harming Americans should lose tangible assets, whether those are Iranian oil platforms as in the case of President Ronald Reagan, or military targets in Libya.

The actual crime committed by any particular American is entirely irrelevant. If a crime is determined to be so heinous as to warrant punishment, an American court can hear the case. Such a legal concept had been codified in international law as extraterritoriality and still exists today in select cases, such as with diplomatic personnel. It was primarily abolished because, as nation states interacted with each other, there was a belief that those national courts could handle individual cases in some impartial manner. In an effort to curry favor with foreign governments, many diplomatic services supported the abolishment of extraterritoriality due to its unpopularity among any given native population. The assumption was that any person brought back to their homeland would receive a more lenient punishment, if at all, by their home court system.

However, this legal issue is not as important as the diplomatic message that must now be sent. States and groups will hesitate long and hard to harm or abduct an American if they know that American retaliation will be swift, deadly and overt. Furthermore, American protection should extend to those who have helped the United States, such as Dr. Shakil Afridi of Pakistan, whose help was instrumental in finding Osama Bin Laden and who currently rots in a Pakistani jail.

The predictable canard is that many of the cases are those of American legal residents, citizens or allies who “should have known better.” What were those backpackers thinking getting so close to Iran? Did Fay not realize that vandalizing cars is illegal anywhere? Don’t Christian missionaries know that evangelizing in North Korea is suicide? None of this is relevant. The world’s superpower cannot create its own tattered fig leaf because the Department of State issued some internet travel warning. As much as it is not the responsibility of the United States to protect our citizens from themselves, it is also unacceptable for America and her allies to be targeted, neglected and battered.

In the end, this is an issue of America foreign policy, not of individual cases. American leadership and American honor are grander than any individual mistake or misadventure. There should be zero tolerance for those that engage in terror against Americans or those states that allow such terror to occur.

In June of 1963, President John F. Kennedy famously stated “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Regardless of the incorrect German grammar, this has been quoted over and over again, but few people realize what was said before that phrase: “Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was ‘civis Romanus sum.’ Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.'” Kennedy was hearkening back to Cicero’s In Verrem speech in 70 BC. The Roman view was that a Roman should be protected by his Roman citizenship wherever they were in the Roman world. America should adopt the same doctrine and avoid the chronicle of tragedies that have inflicted so much pain on American families.