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"

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 »

Syria Revives the War Powers Debate

by James M. Lindsay
The United States Constitution (Courtesy of the National Archives) The United States Constitution (Courtesy of the National Archives)

President Obama’s determination that the United States should take military action to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons has revived the perennial debate over how the Constitution allocates the war power between Congress and the White House.  President Obama says he has “the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization,” but nonetheless is asking Congress to vote anyway. Some commentators have hailed this decision; others have criticized it for undermining presidential authority. Read more »

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 »