James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

Lessons Learned: The Articles of Confederation

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss the Articles of Confederation, America’s first constitution. It entered into effect on March 1, 1781, after Maryland became the thirteenth and final colony to ratify it. In the video I examine the Articles’ weaknesses and explore what lessons they have for understanding international relations today. Here’s a question to consider in light of the fact that the founders gave up on the Articles after only six years: What makes for a durable and effective constitution? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

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Friday File: Quran Burning and the End of the Afghan War

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 24, 2012
Demonstrators protest a Koran-burning incident in Afghanistan outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur on February 24, 2012. (Bazuki Muhammad/courtesy Reuters) Demonstrators protest a Quran-burning incident in Afghanistan outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur on February 24, 2012. (Bazuki Muhammad/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. The protests that have erupted across Afghanistan this week in the wake of the news that coalition forces burned several Qurans have laid bare the gulf that continues to exist, and may even be widening, between many Afghans and the U.S. troops there to protect them. Allegations that Iranian and Pakistani agents have helped fan the flames of Afghan anger probably have merit, though the Taliban’s initial response to the Quran burnings was surprisingly muted. But when Afghan parliamentarians urge their countrymen “to wage jihad against Americans” and NATO-trained Afghan police tell reporters “we should burn those foreigners,” Washington is almost certainly confronting a genuine rather than an artificial sentiment. And that sentiment looks pretty straight forward: Afghans want Americans to go home. Read more »

The World Next Week: Foreign Aid in Congress, Romney in Michigan

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, February 23, 2012
Boxes containing copies of the 2013 Federal Budget at the Government Printing Office in Washington. (Joshua Roberts/courtesy Reuters) Boxes containing copies of the 2013 Federal Budget at the Government Printing Office in Washington. (Joshua Roberts/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed upcoming congressional hearings on the international affairs budget; next week’s Republican presidential primaries in Arizona and Michigan; the UN Human Rights Council’s meeting in Geneva; and the Oscars. Read more »

TWE Remembers: George Kennan and the Long Telegram

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, February 22, 2012
George-Kennan-2012-02-21 Portrait of George F. Kennan. (Harris & Ewing/courtesy Library of Congress)

Foreign service officers posted in embassies and consulates around the world send cables to Washington every day. Much of what they write is forgotten even before it is read at the State Department. A few cables gain notoriety when they are leaked to the public. Almost none help change the course of history. But the cable that George F. Kennan sent to his  State Department superiors from Moscow on February 22, 1946 did just that. Read more »

Lessons Learned: Japanese-American Internment During WWII

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 19, 1942—which set in motion the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II—and examine what lessons it has for understanding international relations today.

I hope you enjoy it.

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TWE Celebrates Presidents’ Day

by James M. Lindsay Monday, February 20, 2012
President George W. Bush meets with former Presidents and President-elect Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/courtesy Reuters) President George W. Bush meets with former presidents and President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

It is a TWE tradition to recognize the forty-three men—and they have all been men—who have been president on Presidents’ day with the following essay:

A few presidents have loved the job. Teddy Rooseveltsaid “No president has ever enjoyed himself as much as I have enjoyed myself.”Most other presidents, though, have found the job demanding, perhaps too demanding. James K. Polk pretty much worked himself to exhaustion. Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Mexican-American War, found being president harder than leading men into battle. Read more »

A Presidents’ Day Quiz

by James M. Lindsay Saturday, February 18, 2012
Oval-Office-Quiz-2012-02-16 The Oval Office in the White House in Washington (Jonathan Ernst/courtesy Reuters).

Monday is Presidents’ Day. To get you in the proper celebratory mood, TWE presents its first Presidents’ Day quiz. You can find links to the quiz answer at the bottom of the post. Yes, you could Google the questions to find the answers. But that’s not much fun. By all means, if you have your own presidential trivia questions, please post them in the comments section so everyone can take a crack at answering them. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday weekend and good luck with the quiz! Read more »

Friday File: Anthony Shadid

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 17, 2012
Anthony Shadid (right) with other New York Times journalists and Turkey's Ambassador to Libya on March 21, 2011. (Handout/courtesy Reuters) Anthony Shadid (right) with other journalists and Turkey's Ambassador to Libya on March 21, 2011. (Handout/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. Anthony Shadid, a New York Times foreign correspondent, died yesterday while covering the ongoing political upheaval in Syria. He wasn’t cut down by the violence of what is becoming a civil war. He was instead the victim of an asthma attack. I never met him, so I don’t know whether he went by “Anthony,” or “Tony,” or something else. But I read his reporting religiously. He was exceptionally good at what he did—and his peers recognized him for it. He won not one, but two, Pulitzers for his coverage of Iraq while he worked at the Washington Post. And to judge by the testimonials that have been written and posted over the past twenty-four hours, he had no shortage of people who loved his work . Read more »

Who Wins the Foreign Policy Popularity Contest?

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 17, 2012
People walk over a world map in Lisbon. (Jose Manuel Ribeiro/courtesy Reuters) People walk over a world map in Lisbon. (Jose Manuel Ribeiro/courtesy Reuters)

We read a lot about what people in other countries think of the United States. What do Americans think about other countries? Thanks to the latest Gallup poll, we have an idea. The news is good for our friends north of the border.  Canada gets a thumbs up from 96 percent of Americans.  At least nine-in-ten Americans like their “mates” in Australia and their “blokes” in Great Britain. Read more »

The World Next Week: Iran’s Nuclear Program and Syria’s Civil War

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, February 16, 2012
Iran-Nuclear-Program-2012-02-16 Iran's President Ahmadinejad speaks during a ceremony at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility. (Caren Farouz/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the UN inspectors visiting Iran for a second time; the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Tunis; and the convening of G20 foreign ministers in Mexico. Read more »