James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

TWE Celebrates Presidents’ Day

by James M. Lindsay Monday, February 16, 2015
President George W. Bush meets with former Presidents and President-elect Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/courtesy Reuters) President George W. Bush meets with former presidents and President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Today is Presidents’ Day. It is a TWE tradition to recognize the forty-three men—and they have all been men—who have been president on Presidents’ Day with the following essay. If you are lucky enough to have today off, enjoy:

American kids often say they want to be president when they grow up.  You have to wonder why. A few presidents have loved the job. Teddy Roosevelt said “No president has ever enjoyed himself as much as I have enjoyed myself.” Most presidents, though, have found the job demanding, perhaps too demanding. James K. Polk pretty much worked himself to exhaustion. Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Mexican-American War, found being president harder than leading men into battle. Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack from the stress of leading the Free World. Many presidents express relief once they can be called “former president.” This trend started early. John Adams told his wife Abigail that George Washington looked too happy watching him take the oath of office. “Me–thought I heard him say, ‘Ay, I am fairly out and you fairly in! See which of us will be happiest!” Read more »

A Presidents’ Day Quiz

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 13, 2015
Presidents Day Trivia President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk out to the presidential helicopter with former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura after President Obama's inauguration in 2009. (Tannen Maury/Courtesy Reuters)

Monday is Presidents’ Day. To get you in the proper celebratory mood, TWE presents its fourth annual Presidents’ Day quiz. This year, the quiz includes questions about some of America’s remarkable first ladies.

You can find a link to the answers at the bottom of the post. If you have your own presidential trivia questions, please post them in the comments so everyone can take a crack at answering them. And if you are feeling up to it, you can try the quizzes from 2012, 2013, and 2014 as well. Read more »

Ten Americans Who Died in 2014 Who Shaped U.S. Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay Monday, December 22, 2014
Americans who died in 2014 The American flag flies at half mast outside the U.S. Capitol. (Courtesy Reuters)

Year’s end is a time for taking stock, counting successes, and assessing failures. It is also a time for remembering those who are no longer with us. Here are ten Americans who died in 2014 who through their vision, service, intellect, or courage helped shape U.S. foreign policy. They will be missed. Read more »

Top Ten Most Significant World Events in 2014

by James M. Lindsay Monday, December 15, 2014
Russia Annex Crimea Passport Two Crimean men examine their new Russian passports on April 3, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Every year has its share of significant world events. Two thousand fourteen is no exception. Here is my list of the top ten most significant events of the year. You may want to read what follows closely. Several of these stories could continue to dominate the headlines in 2015. Read more »

Ten Elections to Watch in 2015

by James M. Lindsay Monday, December 8, 2014
Goodluck Jonathan Election Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan casts his ballot in his home village of Otuoke, Bayelsa state during the 2011 presidential election. (Joseph Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Millions of people around the world went to the polls this year. Indians and Indonesians elected new leaders, while Brazilians and South Africans voted to keep the ones they had. Turks elevated their prime minister to the presidency. Afghans cast votes in a disputed presidential election that took months to settle. Here in the United States, voters gave Republicans control of the Senate, and with it, control of Congress as a whole. The U.S. news media has already turned its sights to the 2016 presidential election, speculating on who is running and who might win. But before Americans decide who will square off in November 2016, the world will have plenty of important elections in 2015. Here are ten to watch. Read more »

Ten Historical Anniversaries of Note in 2015

by James M. Lindsay Monday, December 1, 2014
Nelson Mandela Anniversary A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the gates of Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison), near Paarl in Western Cape province, South Africa. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

Anniversaries are how we mark the passage time of time, celebrate our triumphs, and honor our losses. Two thousand and fourteen witnessed several significant historical anniversaries: the centennial of the start of World War I, the bicentennial of the British sack of Washington, DC, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, to name a few. Two thousand and fifteen will also see anniversaries of many significant events in world history. Here are ten of note: Read more »

TWE Remembers: Nikita Khrushchev’s Visit to the United States

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Nikita Khrushchev and Eleanor Roosevelt Nina and Nikita Khrushchev with Eleanor Roosevelt (center) at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park on September 18, 1959. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration)

In a post I wrote earlier this month about the best Cold War memoirs, I noted that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was one of that era’s more blustery figures, telling the West that “we will bury you” and banging his shoe at the United Nations. What I didn’t mention was his mesmerizing, almost surreal twelve-day visit to the United States in September 1959. That visit is the topic of what looks to be a fascinating new documentary called Cold War Roadshow that premieres tonight on PBS. Read more »

Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps!

by James M. Lindsay Monday, November 10, 2014
Marine Corps Birthday Marine Lieutenant General Ronald S. Coleman cuts a cake to celebrate the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2006. (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters)

The Marine Corps turns 239 years-old today. On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution to create a Marine force composed of two battalions. Since then, the Marines have been “from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” and many other places as well. Read more »

The History of the Cold War in 40 Quotes

by James M. Lindsay Friday, November 7, 2014
Churchill and Truman Winston Churchill and Harry Truman aboard a train to Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill would deliver his Iron Curtain speech. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration/Abbie Rowe)

On Monday, I posted my nominees for ten Cold War histories worth reading. But many people don’t have the time or patience to plow through comprehensive histories. So for TWE readers looking to save time, here is a short course on the history of the Cold War using forty of the most memorable quotations from that era. Read more »