James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

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

by James M. Lindsay
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
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
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 »

Ten Cold War Films Worth Watching

by James M. Lindsay
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy British actor Gary Oldman, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, and British writer John Le Carre at the premiere of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in London. (Suzanne Plunkett/Courtesy Reuters)

The Cold War has provided the grist for rich histories, enlightening memoirs, and terrific novels. It has also provided source material for some great movies. Here in alphabetical order are my ten favorite English-language films about the Cold War: Read more »

What the New Republican Congress Means for Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay
McConnell Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) addresses supporters at his victory rally in Louisville, Kentucky. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

Electoral math is unforgiving. The Democrats had twenty-one seats up for election yesterday. Seven of them were in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012. Midterm elections typically attract fewer voters, and those who go to the polls are older, whiter, and less congenial to Democrats. The president’s approval ratings are hovering around 40 percent. Add all that up, and you get a convincing GOP win in the 2014 elections. Here are three quick thoughts on what it all means. Read more »

Ten Cold War Novels Worth Reading

by James M. Lindsay
Orwelly 1984 Toby Melville/Courtesy Reuters

If you want to know the facts about the Cold War, you should read histories and memoirs. If you want to know how the Cold War felt, you should read novels. Why? Because “fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.” So in that spirit, here are my ten favorite English-language Cold War novels—plus my favorite Cold War play as a bonus pick: Read more »

Ten Cold War Memoirs Worth Reading

by James M. Lindsay
Cold War Memoirs President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson meet in the Oval Office in 1950. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration/Abbie Rowe)

Yesterday, I posted a list of great histories of the Cold War. Those books provide an excellent analysis of the U.S.-Soviet superpower rivalry. Their great strength is their detachment—they are academic efforts to make sense of the decisions governments made. But you can also gain deep insight into the Cold War by reading the memoirs of the people who made those decisions. Below are my ten favorite Cold War memoirs—firsthand accounts of the events that shaped the second half of the twentieth century. Read more »

Ten Histories of the Cold War Worth Reading

by James M. Lindsay
Berlin Wall West Berlin citizens stand atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 10, 1989. (Courtesy Reuters)

Sunday marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For those of us who grew up during the Cold War it was an unforgettable moment—one we hoped for but didn’t necessarily expect to see. The fact that the wall fell, and did so with a simple announcement rather than at the barrel of gun, remains one of the most consequential events of the twentieth century. Read more »

Better Together It Is: The Scots Choose Union Over Independence

by James M. Lindsay
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 »