James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

Do Democrats and Republicans View the World Differently?

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Sunset off the coast of California (Mike Blake/courtesy Reuters). Sunset off the coast of California (Mike Blake/courtesy Reuters).

Politics does not stop at the water’s edge in the United States. Don’t believe me? Check out the latest Gallup poll. It asked Americans whether they are satisfied with the country’s role in the world. Democrats and Republicans offer decidedly different answers to that question.  Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Sinking of the USS Maine

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The wreckage of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor (courtesy National Archives). The wreckage of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor (courtesy National Archives).

Don’t Tread on Me.” “Remember the Alamo!” “Fifty-four Forty or Fight!” “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” “Nuts!” The history of American foreign policy is full of pithy declarations that capture the country’s determination at pivotal moments in its history. Today marks the anniversary of one such declaration: “Remember the Maine!” Read more »

Is Chinese Investment Good for the United States?

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, February 14, 2012
U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner meets with Chinese Vice President Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Andy Wong/courtesy Reuters) U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner meets with Chinese Vice President Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Andy Wong/courtesy Reuters)

Xi Jinping visits the White House today. One of the topics on the agenda is the future of Chinese investment in the United States. It may sound like a pedestrian topic, but it has the potential to be politically explosive. Read more »

Is the United States Making Progress in STEM Education?

by James M. Lindsay Monday, February 13, 2012
President Barack Obama pumps air into the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon designed by Joey Hudy in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama pumps air into the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon designed by Joey Hudy in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/courtesy Reuters)

Last week President Obama held a science fair at the White House. More than 100 students showed up. So too did Bill Nye the science guy. The student-crafted projects ranged from a new cancer therapy to a marshmallow cannon. Read more »

Friday File: Xi Jinping Visits President Obama at the White House

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 10, 2012
Xi-Jinping-20120210 China's Vice President Xi Jinping during a discussion with U.S. and Chinese leaders. (Pool New/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. The hot topic in Washington this weekend—assuming that the rumor of Kim Jong Un’s assassination is just that—is the upcoming Valentine’s Day meeting between President Obama and Xi Jinping, China’s vice president. Why all the buzz about a vice president? Because this one is expected to succeed Hu Jintao later this year as China’s leader. Read more »

The World Next Week: Federal Budgets, Foreign Threats, Xi Jinping, and Egyptian Prosecutions

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, February 9, 2012
Federal-Budget-2013 A U.S. Senate staffer carries a copy of Obama's proposed 2012 federal budget on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Johnathan Ernst/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the Obama administration’s FY 2013 budget; the Senate Armed Services Committee’s upcoming hearing on worldwide threats; Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping’s visit to the United States; and the one-year anniversary of Hosni Mubarak’s ouster from power. Read more »

Should the United States Still Give Egypt Foreign Aid?

by James M. Lindsay Monday, February 6, 2012
A demonstrator carries an Egyptian flag near Tahrir square where demonstrators gathered to mark the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising on January 25, 2012. (Asmaa Waguih/courtesy Reuters) A demonstrator carries an Egyptian flag near Tahrir square where demonstrators gathered to mark the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising on January 25, 2012. (Asmaa Waguih/courtesy Reuters)

What if you want to give foreign aid but the intended beneficiaries say they don’t want it?

That’s the dilemma the Obama administration faces right now in the Middle East. Two weeks ago, the State Department announced it planned to provide “more immediate benefits” to the Egyptian people. Washington would redirect non-urgent aid originally earmarked for other countries to Egypt to fund quick-impact projects. The idea is to help the most populous and influential country in the Arab world make the difficult transition from autocratic rule to a successful and prospering democracy. Read more »

Friday File: Is a U.S. Military Strike on Iran Nearing?

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 3, 2012
U.S. warships carrying 17,000 personnel enter the Gulf in a show of force off Iran's coast. (U.S. Fifth Fleet handout/courtesy Reuters) U.S. warships carrying 17,000 personnel enter the Gulf in a show of force off Iran's coast. (U.S. Fifth Fleet handout/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. The rhetoric on Iran certainly heated up this week. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta noted ominously on Sunday “if we have to do it, we will do it” when asked what the United States would do if the Iranians crossed America’s red line with their nuclear program. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Iranian leaders  “have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.” And Israeli Defense Minister told participants in the annual Herzliya Conference yesterday that the time for stopping Iran’s nuclear program was fast running out, adding “whoever says ‘later’ may found that later is too late.” So is the clock about to run out on sanctions?  Probably not. Keep in mind the old saying that if you want peace, prepare for war. Both the United States and Israel have ample reason to talk tough right now–it increases the pressure on Iran’s critics to make the sanctions stick, thereby increasing the pressure on Tehran to negotiate. Meanwhile, Iran has paired its tough talk over the Strait of Hormuz with a willingness to allow IAEA inspectors to return later in the month for a second round of talks. This could signal that a negotiated deal might be possible, though, the wiser bet would be that Tehran is playing for time by dangling the prospect of a deal before the world’s eyes. Odds are that this dance of threats and diplomacy will continue for a few months longer at least. Washington and Jerusalem know that the costs of waiting too long could be high, but so too could be the costs of acting too soon. Read more »