James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

The United States Air Force Celebrates Its 69th Birthday Today

by James M. Lindsay Sunday, September 18, 2016
The F-16 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters) The F-16 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

The United States Air Force (USAF) turns 69 years-old today. On September 18, 1947, Chief Justice Fred Vinson swore in Stuart Symington as the first secretary of the air force, officially founding a new branch of the U.S. military. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz became the USAF’s first chief of staff eight days later on September 26, 1947. Read more »

Remembering Ho Chi Minh’s 1945 Declaration of Vietnam’s Independence

by James M. Lindsay Friday, September 2, 2016
Ho Chi Minh

What if? Those two words are easy to ask, whether about our own lives or world history. But the answers can be haunting—a different choice might have created a better opportunity or prevented a tragedy. Just consider the U.S. response to Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of Vietnam’s independence on September 2, 1945. Read more »

Remembering the Vietnam “Coup Cable”

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, August 24, 2016
A copy of Cable 243. (National Security Archive) A copy of Cable 243. (National Security Archive)

Things usually slow down in Washington in August. Congress goes into recess, and Washingtonians who can leave town do. But this predictable lull in government activity doesn’t mean that policymaking stops. Indeed, it can be precisely because much of official Washington is elsewhere that critical decisions get made. The cable that the U.S. State Department issued on August 24, 1963, is a classic example. Read more »

July 4th Trivia Quiz

by James M. Lindsay Saturday, July 2, 2016
The skyline of Manhattan is seen as spectators watch Macy's Fourth of July fireworks explode over the East River. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) The skyline of Manhattan is seen as spectators watch Macy's Fourth of July fireworks explode over the East River. (Reuters/Eric Thayer)

Monday is July 4—the best of all American holidays. To mark the occasion, here is the annual TWE July 4 trivia quiz to test your knowledge of all things related to this glorious day in American history. You can see the previous quizzes hereherehere, here, and here. Below are thirteen new questions in honor of the original thirteen colonies that threw off the yoke of British tyranny. You’ll find a link to the answers at the bottom of the post. Have a fun and safe Fourth of July! Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: Happy Fourth of July

by James M. Lindsay Friday, July 1, 2016
Lower Manhattan is seen as the Macy's 4th of July fireworks explode over the East River. (Eric  Thayer/Reuters) Lower Manhattan is seen as the Macy's 4th of July fireworks explode over the East River. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Monday is the Fourth of July. It’s the nation’s 240th birthday. Campaign 2016 has clearly enflamed divisions here at home. So here’s to hoping that the next few days provide an occasion to remember what unites us. And whether you are headed to the beach or a pool, marching in a parade or just watching one, grilling outdoors or ordering in, watching fireworks or avoiding them, have a happy, fun, and safe holiday. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: Trump Gives Brexit a Thumbs Up

by James M. Lindsay Friday, June 24, 2016
Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters) Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Global markets aren’t happy with the British vote to exit the European Union. But Donald Trump sure is. At a press conference for the opening of his new luxury golf resort, Trump Turnberry in western Scotland, the country where his mother was born, he called the vote “historic,” saying of British voters: Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: The Orlando Mass Shooting Heightens Terrorism Concerns

by James M. Lindsay Friday, June 17, 2016
A rainbow flag is held up during a vigil in front of the White House. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters) A rainbow flag is held up during a vigil in front of the White House. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Polls done in the wake of Sunday’s horrifying mass shooting in Orlando confirm two truths about public opinion: what Americans worry about shifts with events, and Democrats and Republicans view the world differently.

An online NBC News/Survey Monkey poll done on Monday found that 24 percent of American think that terrorism is the issue that matters the most. That’s double the 12 percent who ranked terrorism as the most important issue a week earlier. Read more »

What’s Worth Reading This Summer?

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, June 16, 2016
A visitor stands in front of a giant bookshelf at the book fair in Frankfurt, Germany, October 6, 2010.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach A visitor stands in front of a giant bookshelf at the book fair in Frankfurt, Germany, October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

CFR.org editor Bob McMahon and I recorded our annual summer reading episode of CFR’s  “The World Next Week” podcast. Elizabeth Saunders, who is a Stanton nuclear security fellow this year at CFR and also an assistant (soon-to-be-associate) professor of political science at George Washington University here in Washington, DC, joined us for the conversation. As you would expect in a summer reading podcast, we discussed books: ones we have read, ones we plan to read, and ones we will read at the beach. Read more »

Belated Birthday Wishes to the United States Army!

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, June 15, 2016
United States Army soldiers stand before the start of the Army's 237th anniversary celebrations at Times Square in New York on June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton United States Army soldiers stand before the start of the Army's 237th anniversary celebrations at Times Square in New York on June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Yesterday the United States Army celebrated its 241st birthday. Alas, while I wrote out my birthday wishes I failed to post them. (Yes, I have been known to write cards and forget to send them.) But being a big believer in “better late than never,” here are my belated birthday to wishes to every active duty, former, or retired member of the United States Army. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: The American Public’s Mixed Mood

by James M. Lindsay Friday, June 10, 2016
Flags fly at the Washington Monument as the sun sets on the Capitol. (Jason Reed/Reuters) Flags fly at the Washington Monument as the sun sets on the Capitol. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

And then there were two. Nearly fifteen months after the first candidate officially declared for the presidency, we finally have our two presumptive nominees. As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make their pitches to voters over the next five months, they face a country that is either unsettlingly gloomy or surprisingly upbeat. Take your pick. Read more »