James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

The World Next Week: Famine in Somalia, Fighting in Libya

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, August 18, 2011
Internally displaced women wait to receive food aid from Saudi Arabia in Badbaado settlement camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, August 17, 2011. Somalia called for the creation of a new force to protect food aid convoys and camps in the famine-hit country, and declared a state of emergency in parts of Mogadishu. REUTERS/Omar Faruk

Internally displaced women wait to receive food aid in a settlement camp in Mogadishu on August 17, 2011. (Omar Faruk/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Stewart Patrick filled in for Bob McMahon. Stewart and I talked about the famine in the horn of Africa; a possible endgame in Libya; the UN Security Council’s discussion of its peacekeeping operations; and developments in the Republican nominating race.

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The highlights:

  • International efforts to combat famine in Somalia have stumbled over several obstacles: failures to coordinate the efforts of governments, international organizations, and private charities; the opposition of some al-Shabaab leaders to aid efforts; and the theft of some of food shipments.
  • The six-month-old Libyan civil war looks to be entering into its final phase. Rebels claim to have captured Zawiya, a city of 200,000 people located thirty miles west of Tripoli. If true, the rebels can cut off food and fuel supplies to the Libyan capital. If Qaddafi’s forces stand their ground and fight, the result could be exactly what the West sought to avoid with its military intervention—a humanitarian disaster. The difference is that the victims will be the residents of Tripoli rather than Benghazi.
  • The United Nations has 120,000 people in fifteen countries participating in peacekeeping operations. Those commitments have stretched the UN’s peacekeeping capacity, intensifying the pressure to find ways to operate more efficiently. The pressures on UN peacekeeping are likely to grow if House Republicans get their way. They propose making deep cuts in U.S. financial contributions to UN peacekeeping.
  • Tim Pawlenty left the GOP presidential race just as Rick Perry joined it. Perry’s entry doesn’t immediately change the foreign policy dynamic in the race. Pawlenty had positioned himself as the “hawk internationalist,” and Perry looks to be staking out the same terrain. American voters, including many Republicans, however, look to be losing faith in hawkish internationalism, at least when it comes to Afghanistan.
  • Stewart’s Figure of the Week is Larysa Kondracki. My Figure of the Week is 58,000. Listen to the podcast to find out why.

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Guest Post: Bollyky on Tobacco and Trade

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, August 18, 2011
Jagdish, a 32-year-old daily wage labourer, smokes a cigarette while working at a a timber market in Mumbai June 7, 2011. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Jagdish, a thirty-two-year-old daily wage laborer, smokes a cigarette while working at a timber market in Mumbai on June 7, 2011. (Danish Siddiqui/courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s decision to pursue the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks has created a political problem for the White House. The tobacco industry wants the administration to push Asian countries to open up their markets to its products. Public health advocates note that the White House has endorsed next month’s United Nations summit on non-communicable diseases and are calling on the administration to discourage tobacco use abroad as well as at home. Thomas J. Bollyky, CFR’s new senior fellow for global health, economics, and development, just completed a CFR Policy Innovation Memorandum entitled Forging a New Trade Policy on Tobacco. I asked Tom to explain what’s at stake in the debate and how the White House might reconcile trade imperatives with global public health goals. Here is what he had to say.

Tobacco is reemerging as a polarizing issue in U.S. trade policy. Last month, Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) circulated a letter demanding that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) exclude tobacco entirely from its eight-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks. Philip Morris asked USTR to use these TPP talks to eliminate tobacco tariffs and block the use of large health warning labels on cigarette packs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined in, supporting the tobacco industry’s efforts on labeling.

It is unclear how U.S. officials will proceed, but the stakes are high. The position that the White House adopts on tobacco will set the precedent for future U.S. trade agreements.

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Campaign 2012: Hello Rick Perry, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Saturday, August 13, 2011
Texas Governor Rick Perry delivers remarks at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 11, 2011. (Jonathan Ernst/courtesy Reuters)

Texas Governor Rick Perry delivers remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on February 11, 2011. (Jonathan Ernst/courtesy Reuters)

For seventeen of the past forty-eight years, a Texan has lived in the White House. Current Texas governor Rick Perry hopes to make that twenty-five of the past fifty-six years. The favorite son of Paint Creek, Texas announced today in South Carolina that he is all in for the 2012 GOP presidential race. He promises Americans: “I will work every day to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your lives as I can.”

The Basics

  • Full Name: James Richard “Rick” Perry
  • Date of Birth: March 4, 1950
  • Place of Birth: Paint Creek, Texas
  • Religion: United Methodist
  • Marital Status: Married (Anita Perry)
  • Children: Griffin, Sydney
  • Alma Mater: BS Texas A&M
  • Political Offices Held: Longest serving governor of Texas, 2000–Present; Chairman, Republican Governors Association, 2010–Present; Lieutenant Governor of Texas, 1999–2000; Commissioner of Texas Department of Agriculture, 1991–1999; Texas State House of Representatives, 1985–1991.

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The World Next Week: Biden Abroad, Mubarak on Trial, Ames Straw Poll

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, August 11, 2011
Vice President Joe Biden waves before boarding a plane at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv March 11, 2010. (Ronen Zvulun/courtesy Reuters)

Vice President Joe Biden waves before boarding a plane at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 11, 2010. (Ronen Zvulun/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Vice President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Asia; the resumption of the trial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak; this weekend’s Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa; and Germany’s observance of the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall.

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The highlights: Read more »