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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CFR Report on Protecting an Open and Global Internet Released Today

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
(Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters) (Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters)

On the eve of President Obama’s “shirt-sleeves summit” with Chinese president Xi Jinping in California, the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age today released its report, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet. The Task Force is co-chaired by former deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence John D. Negroponte and former chairman of the board and CEO of IBM Samuel J. Palmisano, and is directed by Adam Segal, CFR’s Maurice R. Greenberg senior fellow for China studies. I asked my colleague Anya Schmemann, who directs CFR’s Task Force Program, to highlight some takeaways from the report. Read more »

What Boston Bombers’ Chechen Ties May Mean for U.S.-Russia Relations

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
Russian soldiers stand with a raised flag after an operation in the Chechen capital Grozny on February 27, 2000 (Courtesy Reuters). Russian soldiers stand with a raised flag after an operation in the Chechen capital Grozny on February 27, 2000 (Courtesy Reuters).

The two Boston Marathon bombing suspects have reportedly been identified as Chechen brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. While their link to Chechnya remains unclear—the brothers lived in Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan and have been residents in the United States for some time—it has thrown a spotlight on Russia’s restive North Caucasus region. Although much remains uncertain in this fast-moving story—including what the brothers’ motives were—I asked my colleague Anya Schmemann, who follows Russia, to share some insights about Chechnya and what this development might mean for U.S.-Russian relations. Read more »

A Bipartisan Strategy for U.S. Global Leadership

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama shakes hands with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) before Obama's 2012 State of the Union address (Larry Downing/ Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama shakes hands with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) before Obama's 2012 State of the Union address (Larry Downing/ Courtesy Reuters).

A bipartisan task force calling itself the Project for a United and Strong America (PUSA) released a report today, entitled “Setting Priorities for American Leadership,” outlining its ideas for a national security strategy to guide the Obama administration’s second term. PUSA is co-chaired by Kurt Volker, who served as ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush and is now executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, and James Goldgeier, a member of the National Security Council staff under Bill Clinton and now dean of the School of International Service at American University. [Full disclosure: Jim and I have co-authored one or two things over the years.] My colleague, Mark Lagon, helped write the report. I asked him to explain the strategy that the report is advocating.  Read more »

An Embrace and a Slap: Congress Votes to Normalize Trade With Russia—and Slap It on the Wrist

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
Russian president Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. president Barack Obama during the G20 summit in June 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). Russian president Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. president Barack Obama during the G20 summit in June 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

The U.S. Senate today approved a bill to normalize trade relations with Russia. The House voted overwhelmingly for it last month, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law. The move will allow U.S. companies to benefit from Russia’s recent entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, the bill also includes a provision that penalizes Russian human rights violators—a move that infuriates Moscow, which has promised to strike back. I asked my colleague Anya Schmemann, who follows Russian issues, to explain the double-edged bill. Here’s what she had to say: Read more »

Georgia’s Election Brings New Hope for Democracy

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
Supporters of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition celebrate exit poll results in Tbilisi. (David Mdzinarishvili/ courtesy Reuters) Supporters of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition celebrate exit poll results in Tbilisi. (David Mdzinarishvili/ courtesy Reuters)

More than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Georgia passed an important democratic milestone this week when the opposition party won the  parliamentary elections and the incumbent president, Mikheil Saakashvili, conceded defeat.  The door is now open for the first peaceful transition of power in modern Georgia’s history. The development is also a landmark for the Eurasian region of former Soviet Republics, where most elections have been rigged and often violent. I asked my colleague Anya Schmemann, who was in Georgia during the 2008 war with Russia, to put the news in historical and regional context.  Here’s what she has to say: Read more »

A New Global Fund—For Access to Justice, Opportunity, and Prosperity

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon addresses diplomats during the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law. (Eduardo Munoz/ courtesy Reuters) UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon addresses diplomats during the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law. (Eduardo Munoz/ courtesy Reuters)

One of the big themes at this year’s meeting of the UN General Assembly is the rule of law. The General Assembly devoted a whole day to the topic last week. Many fine speeches were given as the soaring aspirations of the UN Charter were invoked time and again. But for all the stirring words, many if not most of the world’s people live in countries where rule at law is at best words on paper rather than a living reality. My colleague Mark Lagon is out with a new report that argues that the way to turn rule-of-law aspirations into realities is by creating a Global Trust for Rule of Law. I asked Mark to explain the basic idea behind the Trust. Here is what he had to say: Read more »

Pussy Riot, the WTO, and a Clash of Civilizations

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
Pussy Riot supporters demonstrate in front of the Russian consulate in New York. (Lucas Jackson/courtesy Reuters) Pussy Riot supporters demonstrate in front of the Russian consulate in New York. (Lucas Jackson/courtesy Reuters)

The tension between an inward- and outward-looking Russia has been on sharp display this week. On the same day that Moscow slammed Western governments for criticizing the prison sentences given to the members of the oppositionist punk band, Pussy Riot, Russia formally became the 156th member of the World Trade Organization. My colleague Anya Schmemann says the Obama administration is right to criticize the prison sentence and to press Congress to approve permanent normal trade relations with Russia. Read more »

Guest Post: Steven Cook and Anya Schmemann on the U.S.-Turkey Relations Task Force Report

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
Turkey-task-Force-20120508 Cover of the new CFR Independent Task Force Report "U.S.-Turkey Relations: A New Partnership," released May 8, 2012.

On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited a Syrian refugee camp in southeastern Turkey and declared that the Assad regime’s days are numbered. Over the last few months, Turkey has taken a leadership role confronting the crisis in next door Syria.

As a new CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report on Turkey released today notes, Turkey’s position on Syria is Read more »

Guest Post: Anya Schmemann on Putting the Squeeze on Belarus

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
Lukashenko-20120423 Belarus's President Lukashenko takes part in the Eurasian Union Summit in Moscow in March 2012. (Reuters Staff/courtesy Reuters)

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko earlier this month released a prominent political opponent and his aide from prison. The move looks to have been in response to tough travel bans and asset freezes that the European Union (EU) has imposed on Belarus. My colleague, Anya Schmemann, keeps a close eye on events in the former Soviet Union, so I asked for her assessment. She had this to say: Read more »