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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Showing posts for "Congress"

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 »

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 »

Ten Americans Who Died in 2013 Who Shaped U.S. Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay
American flags fly at half mast. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) American flags fly at half mast. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

Year’s end is a time for taking stock, counting successes, and assessing failures. It is also a time for remembering those who are no longer with us. Here are ten Americans who died in 2013 who through their vision, service, intellect, or courage helped shape U.S. foreign policy. They will be missed. Read more »

Will Congress Overrule Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama speaks on November 23, 2013 about the nuclear deal with Iran. (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama speaks on November 23, 2013 about the nuclear deal with Iran. (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s “historic” deal with Iran is getting panned on Capitol Hill. And not just by Republicans. Senator Chuck Schumer, the number three Senate Democrat, and Senator Bob Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are promising to work with their Republican colleagues on new sanctions legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last week he would schedule a sanctions vote when the Senate returns in two weeks from its Thanksgiving break. Read more »

Does Congress Shape the Conduct of American Diplomacy?

by James M. Lindsay
The U.S. Capitol building (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters). The U.S. Capitol building (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday marked the 94th anniversary of one of the most significant turning points in American foreign policy history: the Senate’s vote to reject the Treaty of Versailles. By coincidence, yesterday also saw World Politics Review publish a piece I wrote entitled “Backseat Driving: The Role of Congress in American Diplomacy.” Here is an excerpt to give you a flavor of the argument: Read more »

Is America’s Global Influence in Decline?

by James M. Lindsay

Earlier this week, I did an interview for the show Digital Age with host Jim Zirin. The topic was “Is America’s global influence in decline?” I don’t know that I actually answered Jim’s question, but over the course of our conversation we discussed the partial government slowdown, the Snowden affair, the possible balkanization of the Internet, President Obama’s sagging approval ratings, Congress’s reluctance to endorse military action against Syria, the limits of military force, Iran’s nuclear intentions, and Egypt’s future, among other topics. Read more »

Can President Obama Persuade Americans to Support His Syria Policy?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama hopes to use his nationwide address tonight to persuade Americans of the necessity to punish Syria for using chemical weapons. But two polls out this morning suggest that it is a daunting task, and not one he is likely to accomplish. Read more »

Americans Still Doubt the Need for Military Strikes Against Syria

by James M. Lindsay
A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters). A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters).

Gallup is out with a new poll on what Americans think about military strikes against Syria.  Unlike the Pew Research Center and Washington Post/ABC News polls released on Tuesday, Gallup started questioning Americans after President Obama announced on Saturday that he was asking Congress to approve military action. But like the Pew and Post/ABC polls, Gallup found that far more Americans (51 percent) oppose military strikes than support them (36 percent). Read more »

Americans Doubt the Need for Military Strikes Against Syria

by James M. Lindsay
Opponents of U.S.-led intervention in Syria rally outside the White House (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). Opponents of U.S.-led intervention in Syria rally outside the White House (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Sometimes polls tell you what you already know. That’s the case with the polls that the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post and ABC News just released on Syria. Pew found that Americans oppose conducting military strikes against Syria by a margin of 48 percent to 29 percent. By a virtually identical margin (48 percent to 32 percent) they believe that President Obama has not explained clearly why the United States should attack Syria. Meanwhile, the Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Americans opposed military strikes by a margin of 59 percent to 36 percent. Read more »

Has Congress Ever Denied a President’s Request to Authorize Military Force?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama discusses a military response to Syria with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama discusses a military response to Syria with bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

Many people inside the Beltway doubt that President Obama will succeed in convincing Congress to authorize a military strike against Syria. Which raises a question. If the skeptics turn out to be right, would Obama be the first president to have Congress turn down his request to authorize military action? No, but he would be the first one in a very long time. Read more »