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 Visits Mexico and Costa Rica, Shinzo Abe Visits Russia, Tensions Rise in the East China Sea

by James M. Lindsay Friday, April 26, 2013
Barack Obama meets with Mexican president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto in the Oval Office in November (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). Barack Obama meets with Mexican president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto in the Oval Office in November (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Russia, and rising tensions in the East China Sea. Read more »

Obama’s Chemical Weapons Dilemma in Syria

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, April 25, 2013
U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks with reporters in Abu Dhabi after reading a statement on chemical weapon use in Syria (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks with reporters in Abu Dhabi after reading a statement on chemical weapon use in Syria (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters).

Do not threaten what you are not prepared to do. That is a cardinal rule of foreign policy. And it is a rule that is causing the White House diplomatic and political trouble now that it has agreed that Syria has likely used chemical weapons “on a small scale” against rebel forces. Read more »

What Should Washington Do About Rising Tensions in the East China Sea?

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Chinese marine surveillance ships patrol the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea (Kyodo/Courtesy Reuters). Chinese marine surveillance ships patrol the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea (Kyodo/Courtesy Reuters).

The great English novelist  Charlotte Brontë once complained, “I can be on guard against my enemies, but God deliver me from my friends!” Obama administration officials today have some sympathy for Ms. Brontë’s lament. This morning their good friend, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, greatly complicated their diplomacy in northeast Asia with a vow to use force if China attempts to land forces on the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. The vow is sure to increase tensions that had seemed to be easing over the isolated and barren rocks in the East China Sea that may (or may not) sit atop significant oil and gas reserves. Read more »

Happy Earth Day! CFR Releases Global Governance Report Card on Climate Change

by James M. Lindsay Monday, April 22, 2013
Children in Karachi, Pakistan, clean up a beach for Earth Day 2013 (Akhtar Soomro/Courtesy Reuters). Children in Karachi, Pakistan, clean up a beach for Earth Day 2013 (Akhtar Soomro/Courtesy Reuters).

Happy Earth Day! Today marks its forty-third anniversary. The idea for the first Earth Day came from Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI). Appalled by the tragic 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara, California, he wanted a way to bring attention to the problem of environmental degradation. His initial 1970 effort turned out 20 million people across the United States. Four-plus decades later, some one billion people around the world are participating in activities ranging from cleaning up parks and beaches to an environmental flash-mob in Seoul, which turned Psy’s “Gangnam Style” into “Eco-Style.”  Read more »

What Boston Bombers’ Chechen Ties May Mean for U.S.-Russia Relations

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay Friday, April 19, 2013
Russian soldiers stand with a raised flag after an operation in the Chechen capital Grozny on February 27, 2000 (Courtesy Reuters). Russian soldiers stand with a raised flag after an operation in the Chechen capital Grozny on February 27, 2000 (Courtesy Reuters).

The two Boston Marathon bombing suspects have reportedly been identified as Chechen brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. While their link to Chechnya remains unclear—the brothers lived in Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan and have been residents in the United States for some time—it has thrown a spotlight on Russia’s restive North Caucasus region. Although much remains uncertain in this fast-moving story—including what the brothers’ motives were—I asked my colleague Anya Schmemann, who follows Russia, to share some insights about Chechnya and what this development might mean for U.S.-Russian relations. Read more »

The World Next Week: Boston Bombing Investigation Continues, King Abdullah Visits Washington, and ASEAN Meets in Brunei

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, April 18, 2013
A jogging shoe hangs at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings on Boylston Street (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters). A jogging shoe hangs at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings on Boylston Street (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, King Abdullah II of Jordan’s visit to the United States, and the ASEAN summit in Brunei. Read more »

The World Next Week: Britons Mourn Thatcher, Venezuela Votes, and the IMF and World Bank Meet

by James M. Lindsay Friday, April 12, 2013
British prime minister Margaret Thatcher receives a standing ovation at the Conservative Party Conference in 1989 (Stringer/UK/Courtesy Reuters). British prime minister Margaret Thatcher receives a standing ovation at the Conservative Party Conference in 1989 (Stringer/UK/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, the Venezuelan elections, and the World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Tampico Incident

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, April 9, 2013
President Woodrow Wilson addresses Congress on the Tampico Incident, April 20, 1914 (Courtesy Library of Congress). President Woodrow Wilson addresses Congress on the Tampico Incident, April 20, 1914 (Courtesy Library of Congress).

Karl Marx famously wrote that history repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” But some historical events combine elements of both. Just consider the Tampico Incident, which occurred on April 9, 1914. Read more »

The World Next Week: Kerry Visits Asia, Obama Proposes a Budget, and Egypt Retries Mubarak

by James M. Lindsay Friday, April 5, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry walks across the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport on a March visit to Iraq (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). Secretary of State John Kerry walks across the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport on a March visit to Iraq (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon gave up his seat this week so that Isobel Coleman and I could discuss Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to East Asia, President Obama’s forthcoming budget proposal, and former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s re-trial in Cairo. Isobel directs CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, and she is the author of the beautifully written book, Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East. If you haven’t read it, you should. Read more »