James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

TWE Remembers: The Truman Doctrine

by James M. Lindsay Monday, March 12, 2012
President Harry S. Truman delivering an address to a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947, during which he outlined the "Truman Doctrine." (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum) President Harry S. Truman delivering an address to a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947, during which he outlined the "Truman Doctrine." (Courtesy Harry S. Truman Library and Museum)

If you ever take a course on the history of American foreign policy, you are bound to get tested on doctrines. The first president to lend his name to a foreign policy doctrine was James Monroe, though to be accurate, the term “Monroe Doctrine” wasn’t coined until two decades after his death. Theodore Roosevelt is the only president to give us a “corollary” to a presidential doctrine, namely, the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. In recent decades seemingly every president has offered up a doctrine. There is the Eisenhower Doctrine, the Nixon Doctrine, the Carter Doctrine, the Reagan Doctrine, the Clinton Doctrine, the Bush Doctrine, and the Obama Doctrine. Read more »

Friday File: The Politics of Iran War Fever

by James M. Lindsay Friday, March 9, 2012
President Barack Obama speaks to reporters on March 6, 2012. During the press conference he criticized his Republican rivals for their rhetoric on Iran. (Larry Downing/courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama speaks to reporters on March 6, 2012. During the press conference he criticized his Republican rivals for their rhetoric on Iran. (Larry Downing/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. President Obama used his speech to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last Sunday and his White House press conference to take his critics to task for “beating the drums of war.” The president is certainly right that there has been far too much “loose talk of war.” Problems always look much easier from the vantage point of the campaign trail where “folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities.” Read more »

The World Next Week: The One-Year Anniversary of the Tsunami Disaster in Japan

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, March 8, 2012
A girl walks through rows of candles at a September 2011 event in Kesennuma, Japan, to commemorate those who died in the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. (Kim Kyung Hoon/courtesy Reuters) A girl walks through rows of candles at a September 2011 event in Kesennuma, Japan, to commemorate those who died in the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. (Kim Kyung Hoon/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the one-year anniversaries of the tsunami in Japan and the start of the Syrian uprising; British Prime Minister David Cameron’s two-day visit to Washington; and Pi Day. Read more »

Lessons Learned: The Firebombing of Tokyo

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss the firebombing of Tokyo, also known as “Operation Meetinghouse,” which began on March 9, 1945. In the video I discuss the destructive power of conventional weapons and explore what lessons their use in 1945 has for understanding international relations today. Here’s a question to consider in light of the power of conventional weapons: what more should the international community be doing to prevent conventional warfare? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Read more »

Hello (Welcome Back): Vladimir Putin, Russian President

by James M. Lindsay Monday, March 5, 2012
Russia's current Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin has tears in his eyes as he addresses supporters. (Mikhail Voskresenskiy/courtesy Reuters) Russia's current Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin has tears in his eyes as he addresses supporters. (Mikhail Voskresenskiy/courtesy Reuters)

He’s baaaaaccck! Vladimir Putin, who stepped down in 2008 as Russia’s president after serving two terms, won yesterday’s Russian presidential election going away. He captured a reported 64 percent of the vote, well above the 50 percent he needed to avoid a run-off election but seven percentage points below what he captured in his last presidential run in 2004.  Putin was defiant in victory, telling his supporters who had gathered outside the Kremlin, “We have shown that nobody can impose anything on us.” (He did tear up at one point during his victory speech, but he attributed that to cold weather and a high wind rather than the emotion of the moment.) A record number of election observers turned out to supervise the voting, but that hasn’t stopped allegations that Putin’s supporters perpetrated election fraud. Whether these charges stick, and more importantly, fuel the protests first triggered by the fraud committed in Russia’s December parliamentary elections, remains to be seen. What is certain is that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is once again running Russia. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech

by James M. Lindsay Monday, March 5, 2012
Winston Churchill in Downing Street. (U.K. Ministry of Information / Imperial War Museum, London) Winston Churchill in Downing Street. (U.K. Ministry of Information / Imperial War Museum, London)

Politicians give speeches all the time. Most of what they say is quickly forgotten, or perhaps better never said in the first place. But occasionally a politician gives a speech that defines an age. That is precisely what happened on March 5, 1946 when Winston Churchill spoke at tiny Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He gave the world what became the central metaphor of the cold war: the iron curtain. Read more »

Friday File: Americans Out of Egypt

by James M. Lindsay Friday, March 2, 2012
An Egyptian human rights worker sits outside a non-governmental organization in Cairo. (Courtesy Reuters) An Egyptian human rights worker sits outside a non-governmental organization in Cairo. (Courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. The six Americans charged with violating Egypt’s civil-society laws finally got to come home last night. The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute posted more than $4 million in bail to get the travel ban that the Egyptian government had on their employees lifted. (Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation posted another half a million dollars in bail to get its two employees out of Egypt.) The accused all pledged that they will return to Egypt in April when their trial on charges of failing to register their NGO with the Egyptian government and taking money from a foreign entity is scheduled to resume. Fat chance that happens. Read more »

The World Next Week: Russians, Iranians, and Republicans All Vote

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, March 1, 2012
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks to supporters and political scientists in Moscow. (courtesy Reuters) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks to supporters and political scientists in Moscow. (courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the presidential election in Russia; the parliamentary elections in Iran; the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference; and Super Tuesday. Read more »

Guest Post: Anya Schmemann on Putin and Russia’s Election

by Anya Schmemann Thursday, March 1, 2012
Protesters at a rally in Moscow in December 2011. (Sergei Karpukhin/courtesy Reuters) Protesters at a rally in Moscow in December 2011. (Sergei Karpukhin/courtesy Reuters)

Russian voters go to the polls this Sunday to pick their next president. The outcome looks to be a foregone conclusion: Vladimir Putin will likely win more than 50 percent of the vote, avoid a runoff, and return to the presidency. I asked my colleague, Anya Schmemann, who keeps a close eye on Russian politics, to share her assessment of where things stand in Russia. Read more »