James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

Happy 239th Birthday to the U.S. Navy!

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay Monday, October 13, 2014
Navy Birthday Graduates toss their hats in the air at the 2013 U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

TWE has noted the birthdays of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Marine Corps. But it hasn’t noted the birthday of the U.S. Navy. My research associate, Rachael Kauss, and my intern, Corey Cooper, volunteered to remedy that oversight. Here’s what they learned. Read more »

Better Together It Is: The Scots Choose Union Over Independence

by James M. Lindsay Friday, September 19, 2014
Scotland Votes No A "No" campaign placard and Union flag are displayed on the Isle of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. (Cathal McNaughton/Courtesy Reuters)

The United Kingdom has survived its near-death experience. Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent yesterday in a record turnout to remain within the union. The sighs of relief this morning in London are audible. Yet even though the Scots stepped back from the brink—and the pandemonium that would have ensued—some tough decisions and rough politics are yet to come. Read more »

The United States Air Force Celebrates Its 67th Birthday Today

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, September 18, 2014
Air Force Birthday Fly Over The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 fighters perform a fly-over. (Joe Skipper/Courtesy Reuters)

The United States Air Force (USAF) turns 67 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 »

Isolationism, Internationalism, and the Double Wish

by James M. Lindsay Monday, September 15, 2014
American Public Opinion American flags on display at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Are Americans becoming more isolationist in their foreign policy views? Or are they continuing to embrace internationalism? A new poll out by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggests that the answer is a little of both. (Full disclosure: I served on the advisory board for the poll.) Read more »

Will President Obama’s New ISIS Strategy Reassure a Concerned Public?

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, September 11, 2014
Obama Air Strikes ISIS President Obama delivers an address to the nation on his plans for military action against ISIS. (Saul Loeb/Courtesy Reuters)

Anyone who tuned into President Obama’s address to the nation last night expecting to hear a detailed plan to defeat ISIS came away disappointed. The president spoke mostly in generalities and skirted tough questions. But laying out a detailed plan that would pass muster with experts wasn’t his primary purpose. Reassuring a public worried about the ISIS threat, and his response to it, was. Read more »

Americans Support Air Strikes But Remain Leery About an Activist Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Iraq Airstrikes Public Opinion A U.S. F/A-18F Super Hornet refuels mid-air after launching from the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Arabian Gulf on August 10. (U.S. Navy Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

The Wall Street Journal and NBC News are out with a new poll this morning on American public attitudes on using military force against ISIS. Like the Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday, it finds strong public support for air strikes and skepticism of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy. Beyond that, however, Americans remain cool toward a deeper military commitment in the Middle East and toward an activist U.S. foreign policy more broadly. Read more »

American Public Support for Air Strikes Against ISIS Grows

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Obama Air Strikes Iraq President Obama speaks on the air strikes in Iraq from the South Lawn of the White House on August 9. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

With President Obama set to address to the nation tomorrow night on his strategy for dealing with the Islamic State, the Washington Post and ABC News released a poll this morning showing substantial (and growing) public support for his policy of air strikes against the Islamic State. Ironically, however, that support isn’t translating into approval for how Obama has handled the ISIS threat. Read more »

Are Americans Embracing Isolationism? Not When It Comes to Air Strikes on ISIS

by James M. Lindsay Monday, August 18, 2014
Iraq Air Strike Public Opinion An F/A-18C Hornet approaches the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Arabian Gulf on August 12. (Hamad I Mohammed/Courtesy Reuters)

TWE Remembers: Congress Passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, August 7, 2014
President Johnson signs "Gulf of Tonkin" Resolution President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Gulf of Tonkin resolution on August 10, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton)

“Act in haste, repent at leisure.” “Look before you leap.” “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Warnings against acting rashly are frequently offered. They are just as frequently ignored. The results can be tragic. A case in point is the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which Congress passed on August 7, 1964. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

by James M. Lindsay Monday, August 4, 2014
President Lyndon B. Johnson gives his "Midnight Address" after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam on August 4, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton) President Lyndon B. Johnson gives his "Midnight Address" after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam on August 4, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton)

The USS Maddox was on alert on the evening of August 4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin. Two nights earlier North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked it without warning. The Maddox had driven them off without suffering any damage itself. Now amidst driving rain and rough seas, it came under fire once again—or more accurately, its crew thought the ship had come under attack again. The reported attack would lead Congress three days later to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing direct U.S. intervention in Vietnam. The incident would also eventually raise troubling questions about whether President Lyndon Johnson had deliberately misled the American public into the Vietnam War. Read more »