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: Obama and Romney Debate, Netanyahu Visits the United States, the UN Talks Freedom of Speech, and Georgia Votes Amid Scandal

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, September 27, 2012
Jim Lehrer, seen here moderating the first 2008 presidential debate, will moderate next week's presidential debate at the University of Denver. (Chip Somodevilla/ courtesy Reuters) Jim Lehrer, seen here moderating the first 2008 presidential debate, will moderate next week's presidential debate at the University of Denver. (Chip Somodevilla/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the first presidential debate; Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s visit to the United States; freedom of speech; and Georgia’s parliamentary elections. Read more »

History Lessons: The Munich Agreement

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A new installment of “History Lessons” is now out. This time I examine the signing of the Munich Agreement in the early morning hours of September 30, 1938. (The agreement itself is dated September 29, 1938.) In the video, I discuss the origins of the crisis over the Sudetenland, what British prime minister Neville Chamberlain thought he was accomplishing in his negotiations with Adolf Hitler, and why the Munich Agreement did not bring “peace for our time.”

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Obama Speaks to the UN General Assembly

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, September 25, 2012
President Barack Obama addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly. (Shannon Stapleton/ courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly. (Shannon Stapleton/ courtesy Reuters)

CFR.org just posted a First Take that I did on President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly this morning.  The speech was fairly predictable, and it was undoubtedly aimed as much at American voters as it was to the delegates in the auditorium. Obama denounced the recent wave of attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities, defended freedom of speech, called for the condemnation of hatred and intolerance directed at any religion, and warned yet again of the dangers that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose. Read more »

Who Were the Most and Least Successful Foreign Policy Presidents?

by James M. Lindsay Friday, September 21, 2012
A video tribute at the Republican National Convention in Tampa honors former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. (Mike Segar/ courtesy Reuters) A video tribute at the Republican National Convention in Tampa honors former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. (Mike Segar/ courtesy Reuters)

As a teaser for next month’s presidential debates, CNN.com’s Global Public Square asked a group of “historians and commentators” to offer their judgments on which presidents enjoyed the most success on foreign policy and which enjoyed the least.  I was lucky enough to be invited to weigh in. GPS posted the picks for most successful foreign policy president yesterday, and it posted the picks for least successful foreign policy presidents today. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Andrei Gromyko Tells a Lie at the United Nations

by James M. Lindsay Friday, September 21, 2012
President John F. Kennedy and Soviet minister of foreign affairs Andrei Gromyko meet in the Oval Office in March 1961. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.) President John F. Kennedy and Soviet minister of foreign affairs Andrei Gromyko meet in the Oval Office in March 1961. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

The UN General Assembly convened this week for its 67th session. Heads of state and foreign ministers will be giving speeches galore. Some will be good. Some will be awful. Most will be forgettable. With any luck, none will be as deceitful as the speech that Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko gave fifty years ago today when he told the General Assembly that the Soviet Union’s military assistance to Cuba posed no threat to the United States. Read more »

The World Next Week: UN General Assembly Meets, Aung San Suu Kyi Visits the United States, and Islands Divide China and Japan

by James M. Lindsay Friday, September 21, 2012
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon shakes hands with President Barack Obama at the United Nations in New York. (UN Photo/Mark Garten/ courtesy Reuters) UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon shakes hands with President Barack Obama at the United Nations in New York. (UN Photo/Mark Garten/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly; Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to the United States; and China and Japan’s bickering over some tiny islands. Read more »

The United States Air Force Celebrates Its 65th Birthday Today

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, September 18, 2012
F-16 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation over the Hudson River in New York. (Eduardo Munoz/ courtesy Reuters) F-16 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation over the Hudson River in New York. (Eduardo Munoz/ courtesy Reuters)

The United States Air Force (USAF) turns 65 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 »

Public Opinion and the Political Fallout of the Embassy Attacks

by James M. Lindsay Monday, September 17, 2012
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton deliver remarks during a transfer ceremony of the remains of U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi. (Jason Reed/ courtesy Reuters) President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton deliver remarks during a transfer ceremony of the remains of U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi. (Jason Reed/ courtesy Reuters)

The Pew Research Center is out with a new poll on American reactions to last week’s attacks on the U.S. embassies in Cairo and Libya. Contrary to speculation that the attacks would hurt President Obama politically—speculation that likened Obama to Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage crisis–Pew’s results suggest that at least among people following the story—the attacks  have done more to hurt Governor Romney. Read more »

History Lessons: The Oslo Accords

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A new installment of “History Lessons” is now out. This time I examine the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993. In the video, I discuss the secret negotiations that produced the agreement, what its terms stipulated, and how it failed to produce the lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians that many hoped for when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the South Lawn of the White House nearly two decades ago.

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