James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

Top Ten Vietnam War Movies

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Vietnam War Films U.S. Marines watch the film "Full Metal Jacket" below the decks of the USS Iwo Jima. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters)

Sunday marks fifty years since the first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam. To mark the anniversary, I am doing a series of posts listing my picks for the best histories, memoirs, novels, movies, photos, and songs about the war. Today my focus is on movies. There certainly have been a lot of them. To simplify things, I only considered English-language films produced for theatrical release. Nothing against foreign-language films or made-for-TV movies. I just can’t say that I have seen enough of either to pick the best. With that caveat out of the way, here are my top ten picks: Read more »

The Ten Best Memoirs of the Vietnam War

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Vietnam War Soldiers Memoirs Two soldiers await a helicopter evacuation with their fallen comrade after a battle in the jungles of Vietnam. (National Archives and Records Administration)

Yesterday, I posted my picks for the best histories of the Vietnam War. While those books all provide excellent analyses of the war, another way to understand U.S. involvement in Vietnam is through the personal stories of those who lived it, whether on the battlefields or in the halls of power back in Washington. Here are my picks for the ten best memoirs of the Vietnam War: Read more »

The Best Histories of the Vietnam War

by James M. Lindsay Monday, March 2, 2015
Vietnam War Books President Lyndon B. Johnson and General William Westmoreland decorate a soldier in Vietnam. (National Archives and Records Administration)

Next Sunday marks the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the first American combat troops in Vietnam. It wasn’t a decision that President Lyndon Johnson had planned on making. True, the previous August had seen the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which prompted a near unanimous Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution supporting Johnson’s determination ”to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression. But three months later Johnson was still insisting: “We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” Read more »

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 »