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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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 »

The United States Air Force Celebrates Its 67th Birthday Today

by James M. Lindsay
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
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
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
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
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
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)