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"

Obama Asks Congress to Vote on Syria

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama makes remarks on the situation in Syria at the Rose Garden of the White House (Mike Theiler/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama makes remarks on the situation in Syria at the Rose Garden of the White House (Mike Theiler/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama’s announcement that he is asking Congress to authorize the use of military force against Syria comes as welcome news to proponents of the view that presidents cannot unilaterally initiate the use of military force. Although Obama endorsed that view back in 2007 before he became president, he pointedly declined to ask Congress to authorize U.S. military action against Libya in 2011. Read more »

Hello, Susan Rice: National Security Adviser

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice speaks in the Rose Garden after Obama's announcement that Rice will be his next national security adviser (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters). Susan Rice speaks in the Rose Garden after Obama's announcement that she will be his next national security adviser (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters).

When one door closes another one opens. Susan Rice can certainly vouch for that pithy piece of advice. Early last fall the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations looked to be a shoe-in to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Then came Benghazi.  By December it was clear that Senate Republicans would block her nomination. So in keeping with Washington tradition, she withdrew her name from consideration. But today a door opened. President Obama named Rice to succeed Tom Donilon as national security adviser—a position that is potentially more influential than secretary of state even if it is less prestigious. Rice takes up her new post in early July. Many of her critics are panning Obama’s decision to move her from Turtle Bay to the White House, but there is not much they can do about it. While presidents need Senate consent to appoint cabinet secretaries, they can appoint anyone they wish to staff jobs. Read more »

The World Next Week: The Sequester Looms, Pope Benedict XVI Steps Down, and the Academy Awards Does Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay
Barack Obama discusses the budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). Barack Obama discusses the budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the sequester, Pope Benedict XVI’s farewell, and the foreign policy-themed films nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture. Read more »

What Did Obama’s Inaugural Address Say About Foreign Policy?

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address in Washington on January 21, 2013 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address in Washington on January 21, 2013 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters).

Conventional wisdom has it that second-term presidents inevitably concentrate on foreign policy because they can’t get much done on domestic policy. To judge by President Obama’s inaugural address yesterday, he’s not convinced that the pundits have it right. Read more »

The World Next Year: 2013 Edition

by James M. Lindsay
(Jorge Adorno/Courtesy Reuters). The Copa Libertadores trophy is seen during the draw for the 2013 edition of the competition at the South American Football Confederation headquarters (Jorge Adorno/Courtesy Reuters).

Bob McMahon and I typically use our weekly podcast to discuss major foreign policy issues likely to be in the news in the coming week. In honor of the approaching New Year, we decided to change things up and examine the issues likely to dominate world politics in 2013. We discussed a sluggish global economy; the fiscal crisis in the United States; power struggles in the Middle East; the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan; sovereignty disputes in east Asia; and the battle over Internet freedom. Paul Stares, director of CFR’s Center for Preventive Action (CPA), joined our conversation to talk about CPA’s newly released Preventive Priorities Survey, which assesses the likelihood and consequences of potential conflicts in 2013. Read more »

The World Next Week: North Korean Rocket Launch, the IAEA Iran Talk, and Another EU Summit

by James M. Lindsay
Anti-North Korean activists from conservative and right wing civic groups attend a rally in Seoul denouncing the North's plan for a rocket launch (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy Reuters). Anti-North Korean activists from conservative and right wing civic groups attend a rally in Seoul denouncing the North's plan for a rocket launch (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed North Korea’s impending rocket launch; the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) discussion on Iran’s nuclear program; and the year-end EU summit. 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 »

The World Next Week: Congress Goes Lame Duck, Greece’s Parliament Votes on a Budget, and California Auctions Carbon Pollution Allowances

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama waves to the crowd of supporters in Chicago after winning the 2012 U.S. presidential election (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama waves to the crowd of supporters in Chicago after winning the 2012 U.S. presidential election (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed what the lame duck Congress will do now that President Barack Obama has won a second term; Greece’s vote on a yet another austerity package; and California’s upcoming auction of carbon pollution allowances. Read more »

TWE Remembers: John F. Kennedy Tells the World that Soviet Missiles Are in Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day Seven)

by James M. Lindsay

John F. Kennedy was a superb public speaker. His inaugural address is one of the best known and most frequently quoted speeches in American history. His press conference performance immediately after the Bay of Pigs, when he famously said that “victory has one-hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan,” helped blunt the political fallout from one of the biggest foreign policy fiascoes in U.S. history. But nothing matched the importance of the address Kennedy gave to the nation on the evening of October 22, 1962, when he told Americans (and the world) that the United States had discovered that the Soviet Union was secretly installing nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba.

Read more »