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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The Conservative Party’s Surprising Victory Doesn’t Herald a Bolder Britain

by James M. Lindsay
Conservatives Win in Britain British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks outside Number 10 Downing Street to announce he will form a new majority government. (Stefan Wermuth/Courtesy Reuters)

The Conservative Party’s surprising victory yesterday has rendered obsolete the orgy of pre-election handwringing about the ineffectiveness of Britain’s impending minority government. But it hasn’t rendered obsolete growing concerns about Britain’s retreat from the world stage. Indeed, it may just intensify them. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Sinking of the Lusitania

by James M. Lindsay
sinking of the Lusitania The RMS Lusitania comes into port. (Library of Congress)

Asking “what if” is a popular parlor game. Seldom, however, do we ever get an answer, and certainly not almost immediately. King George V of Britain is a rare exception. On the morning of May 7, 1915 in the midst of discussing Germany with a visiting American envoy, Colonel Edward M. House, he asked, “Suppose they should sink the Lusitania, with American passengers on board?” Within hours he had his answer. Read more »

Three Foreign Policy Takeaways From the Latest WSJ/NBC Poll

by James M. Lindsay
(Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

The Wall Street Journal and NBC News are out with a new poll today on Campaign 2016. Much of the coverage is about which candidates are up and which are down. Believe those numbers at your peril. The public’s assessments of individual candidates can and do shift quickly in the early stages of a campaign. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Mike Huckabee, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Mike Huckabee Campaign Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee formally launches his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during an event in Hope, Arkansas. (Mike Stone/Courtesy Reuters)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is taking that age old advice to heart. Back in 2008 he did surprisingly well in the GOP nominating race, despite having neither the initial name recognition nor the fundraising success of some of his rivals. He won the Iowa caucuses and seven other states, giving him the second most number of convention delegates. Huckabee passed on the 2012 campaign, but today he announced he’s running in 2016. If he wins his bid for the White House, he won’t be the first president from his hometown of Hope, Arkansas. William Jefferson Clinton holds that distinction. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Ben Carson, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Ben Carson Campaign Ben Carson officially launches his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Detroit, Michigan. (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters)

Americans have had presidents who were lawyers (more than two dozen of them), soldiers, land surveyors, farmers, and school teachers. Even a newspaper publisher, a mining engineer, and an actor have made it to the White House. But never in its history has the United States had a president who was trained as a medical doctor. That will change if Ben Carson gets his wish. The path breaking, and now retired, pediatric neurosurgeon formally announced today that he has joined the increasingly crowded race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. The campaign marks Carson’s first bid for elective office. In case you are wondering, the last person to win the White House in his first bid for office was Dwight D. Eisenhower. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Carly Fiorina campaign Carly Fiorina speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa on April 25, 2015. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters)

Ten. That’s the number of successive presidents who have come to the White House having previously held elective office. Carly Fiorina hopes to break that string. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard announced today that she is running for president. If she wins, she would join an elite club. Just six U.S. presidents have won the presidency without first having held some other elective office: George Washington, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Of course, if Fiorina wins in November 2016, she would hold another, more obvious distinction. She would be the first woman elected president of the United States. She would also be the first breast cancer survivor to occupy the presidency. Read more »

The Vietnam War in Forty Quotes

by James M. Lindsay
Johnson Reelection President Johnson announces that he will not seek reelection in 1968. (White House Photograph Office/National Archives and Records Administration)

Last month, I did a series of posts commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of U.S. combat troops in Vietnam on March 8, 1965. Today marks another significant date in the Vietnam War: the fortieth anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. To mark that anniversary, here are forty quotes that tell the story of the Vietnam War. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Senator Marco Rubio, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Marco Rubio Announcement U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election during a speech in Miami, Florida. (Joe Skipper/Courtesy Reuters)

Long shots sometimes pay off. Just ask Senator Marco Rubio. He won his first race for political office at age 26 by beating an incumbent county commissioner. A year later he won a seat in Florida’s state house by upsetting a local media celebrity. And in 2010 he won his Senate seat by beating a popular governor who was expected to coast to victory. So it’s no surprise that yesterday Rubio declared his presidential candidacy even though he trails badly in the early polls. If he wins the presidency, he would be the second youngest person ever elected president and the third youngest ever inaugurated. If he loses, he will likely forfeit his Senate seat. As they say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Read more »

Campaign 2016: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Hillary Clinton Campaign Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the United Nations in New York. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

Pakistan has had one. So have Great Britain, Indonesia, Poland, Ukraine, and four dozen other countries. Argentina, Brazil, and Germany have one right now. But the United States has never had a woman head of government. That will change at noon on January 20, 2017 if Hillary Clinton gets her way. The former first lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state made it official yesterday: she is a candidate for president. This is, of course, her second shot at the White House. She was the prohibitive favorite back in 2008 to win the Democratic nomination, but she lost to long-shot candidate Barack Obama. Clinton is once again the prohibitive favorite. Time will tell whether she can capitalize on the opportunity. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Senator Rand Paul, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Rand Paul Announcement U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) formally announces his candidacy for president during an event in Louisville, Kentucky. (John Sommers II/Courtesy Reuters)

Is America ready for a “Libertarian-ish” president? We are about to find out. Today Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) formally announced his presidential campaign, making him the second Republican candidate, after Ted Cruz, to officially throw his hat into the ring. On many issues, Paul sounds a lot like his Republican rivals. He is running as an outsider on the slogan of: “Defeat the Washington Machine, Unleash the American Dream.” He wants lower taxes, less regulation, and more school choice. But on foreign policy Paul offers GOP primary voters a choice rather than an echo. He is decidedly less hawkish than his rivals for the nomination. For that he will get a lot of criticism from his fellow Republicans. But in his short political career Paul has shown that he gives as good as he gets. So expect a Republican primary with some fireworks–and a test of the claim that Americans are souring on internationalism. Read more »