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 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)

TWE Remembers: Congress Passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

by James M. Lindsay
President Johnson signs "Gulf of Tonkin" Resolution President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Gulf of Tonkin resolution on August 10, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton)

“Act in haste, repent at leisure.” “Look before you leap.” “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Warnings against acting rashly are frequently offered. They are just as frequently ignored. The results can be tragic. A case in point is the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which Congress passed on August 7, 1964. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

by James M. Lindsay
President Lyndon B. Johnson gives his "Midnight Address" after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam on August 4, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton) President Lyndon B. Johnson gives his "Midnight Address" after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam on August 4, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton)

The USS Maddox was on alert on the evening of August 4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin. Two nights earlier North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked it without warning. The Maddox had driven them off without suffering any damage itself. Now amidst driving rain and rough seas, it came under fire once again—or more accurately, its crew thought the ship had come under attack again. The reported attack would lead Congress three days later to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing direct U.S. intervention in Vietnam. The incident would also eventually raise troubling questions about whether President Lyndon Johnson had deliberately misled the American public into the Vietnam War. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Britain Declares War, the United States Declares Neutrality

by James M. Lindsay
British Soldiers Trenches World War I British soldiers wait in the trenches on the western front during World War I. (Courtesy Reuters)

The banner headline in the New York Times summarizing the events of August 4, 1914 told readers everything they needed to know: “England Declares War on Germany; British Ship Sunk; French Ships Defeat German, Belgium Attacked; 17,000,000 Men Engaged in Great War of Eight Nations; Great English and German Navies About to Grapple; Rival Warships Off This Port as Lusitania Sails.” In short, Britain had come off the sidelines to fight with France and Russia against Germany and Austria. Now, for the first time since the Battle of Waterloo ninety-nine years earlier, all of Europe was at war. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Top Ten World War I Films

by James M. Lindsay
World War I The African Queen Likenesses of Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, in character in their roles in the movie "The African Queen," at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Los Angeles. (Courtesy The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

World War I has provided source material for gripping novels and powerful poetry. It also has provided source material for some great movies. Here are my ten favorites in alphabetical order. Read more »