James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

The Topics for Next Week’s Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy Are Debatable

by James M. Lindsay Monday, October 15, 2012
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama debate in Denver on October 3, 2012. (Kevin Lamarque/ courtesy Reuters) Mitt Romney and Barack Obama debate in Denver on October 3, 2012. (Kevin Lamarque/ courtesy Reuters)

Bob Schieffer, the moderator of the third and final presidential debate of 2012, informed the Obama and Romney campaigns last week that he had selected debate topics. The debate, which is scheduled for next Monday, October 22, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, will focus on foreign policy. The ninety-minute debate will be divided into six, fifteen minute segments. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The United States Discovers Soviet Missiles in Cuba

by James M. Lindsay Monday, October 15, 2012
A Soviet medium-range ballistic missile on parade in Moscow's Red Square. (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC) A Soviet medium-range ballistic missile on parade in Moscow's Red Square. (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC)

The phone call came at an inconvenient time for McGeorge Bundy. The forty-three year-old national security adviser was hosting a sendoff dinner for the new U.S. ambassador to France, Charles “Chip” Bohlen. Bundy excused himself and left his guests to take the call. On the other end of the line was Ray Cline, the CIA’s deputy director of intelligence. He was delivering bad news: “Those things we’ve been worrying about,” he told Bundy, “it looks as though we’ve really got something.” It was just after 9:00 p.m. on Monday, October 15, 1962. The Cuban missile crisis had begun. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Maj. Richard Heyser Flies a U-2 Over Cuba

by James M. Lindsay Sunday, October 14, 2012
A CIA chart of "reconnaissance objectives in Cuba," dated October 5, 1962. (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC) A CIA chart of "reconnaissance objectives in Cuba," dated October 5, 1962. (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC)

The U-2 is a remarkable plane. It can fly at altitudes above 70,000 feet for hours at a time, and it gave the United States an intelligence advantage from the moment it became operational in 1956. (The U-2 is so good that upgraded versions continue flying missions even today.) Most Americans first learned of the spy plane’s existence in May 1960 when the Soviet military shot down Francis Gary Powers, embarrassing the Eisenhower administration and touching off a crisis in U.S.-Soviet relations. But an even bigger crisis between the two superpowers was triggered by a successful U-2 mission: Maj. Richard Heyser’s flight over Cuba on the morning of October 14, 1962. Read more »

The World Next Week: Obama and Romney Debate Again, Libya One Year After Qaddafi, and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, October 11, 2012
Romney and Obama debate in Denver on October 3, 2012. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters) Romney and Obama debate in Denver on October 3, 2012. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the second presidential debate; where Libya stands one year after the death of Muammar Qaddafi; and the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. Read more »

U.S. Universities Dominate World Rankings, For Now

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony. (Jonathan Alcorn/ courtesy Reuters) A UCLA student attends a graduation ceremony. (Jonathan Alcorn/ courtesy Reuters)

The new college rankings are out. No, not the rankings for football prowess (though they are out too). The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. They debuted last week, and American higher education has reason to chant, “We’re Number One!” The question, though, is for how long? Read more »

Seeking Applicants: 2013–2014 International Affairs Fellowship in South Korea, sponsored by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies

by James M. Lindsay Monday, October 8, 2012
CFR's New York Office CFR's New York Office

Are you a mid-career scholar or professional interested in spending time and working on research in Seoul, South Korea? Do you have an interest in U.S.-South Korea relations? Do you know someone who does? If so, you should consider CFR’s 2013–2014 International Affairs Fellowship in South Korea (IAF-SK), sponsored by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Read more »

How Different Would a Romney Foreign Policy Be?

by James M. Lindsay Friday, October 5, 2012
Mitt Romney speaks during the first presidential debate in Denver on October 3. (Michael Reynolds/courtesy Reuters) Mitt Romney speaks during the first presidential debate in Denver on October 3. (Michael Reynolds/courtesy Reuters)

Mitt Romney’s “win” over President Obama in Wednesday’s presidential debate has lifted GOP hopes of victory on Election Day. A critical part of Governor Romney’s strategy to make that happen looks to be hammering Obama on foreign policy—he had a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week lambasting Obama’s Middle East policy, and he plans to give a major foreign policy address on Monday. So now is a good time to ask a question: How different would Romney’s foreign policy likely be from Obama’s? Read more »

The World Next Week: Biden and Ryan Debate, Venezuela Votes, and the Nobel Peace Prize Is Awarded

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, October 4, 2012
Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, which hosted a vice presidential debate on October 4, 2000, will host another vice presidential debate on October 11, 2012. (Jeff Christensen/ courtesy Reuters) Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, which hosted a vice presidential debate on October 4, 2000, will host another vice presidential debate on October 11, 2012. (Jeff Christensen/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the vice presidential debate; presidential elections in Venezuela; and nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Georgia’s Election Brings New Hope for Democracy

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Supporters of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition celebrate exit poll results in Tbilisi. (David Mdzinarishvili/ courtesy Reuters) Supporters of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition celebrate exit poll results in Tbilisi. (David Mdzinarishvili/ courtesy Reuters)

More than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Georgia passed an important democratic milestone this week when the opposition party won the  parliamentary elections and the incumbent president, Mikheil Saakashvili, conceded defeat.  The door is now open for the first peaceful transition of power in modern Georgia’s history. The development is also a landmark for the Eurasian region of former Soviet Republics, where most elections have been rigged and often violent. I asked my colleague Anya Schmemann, who was in Georgia during the 2008 war with Russia, to put the news in historical and regional context.  Here’s what she has to say: Read more »

A New Global Fund—For Access to Justice, Opportunity, and Prosperity

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay Tuesday, October 2, 2012
UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon addresses diplomats during the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law. (Eduardo Munoz/ courtesy Reuters) UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon addresses diplomats during the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law. (Eduardo Munoz/ courtesy Reuters)

One of the big themes at this year’s meeting of the UN General Assembly is the rule of law. The General Assembly devoted a whole day to the topic last week. Many fine speeches were given as the soaring aspirations of the UN Charter were invoked time and again. But for all the stirring words, many if not most of the world’s people live in countries where rule at law is at best words on paper rather than a living reality. My colleague Mark Lagon is out with a new report that argues that the way to turn rule-of-law aspirations into realities is by creating a Global Trust for Rule of Law. I asked Mark to explain the basic idea behind the Trust. Here is what he had to say: Read more »