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 "Diplomacy"

TWE Remembers: Austria-Hungary Issues an Ultimatum to Serbia

by James M. Lindsay
Austrian Ultimatum Serbia Weapons Austrian soldiers stand with captured Serbian weapons during World War I. (Courtesy Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection)

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. That adage applies to governments as well as to people. A case in point is the ultimatum that Austria gave Serbia on July 23, 1914. Austrian officials were counting on Serbia to reject their demands, which would give Vienna the opportunity it was seeking to wage a swift and victorious war against its upstart neighbor. The Austrians were right on the first count, but horrifically wrong on the second. The result would be the Great War that changed the course of the twentieth century. Read more »

Hello, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo: President of Indonesia

by James M. Lindsay
President Jokowi Indonesia Joko Widodo Joko "Jokowi" Widodo appears at a rally in Proklamasi Monument Park in Jakarta on July 9, 2014. (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy Reuters)

Sometimes sure things turn out not to be so sure. Just ask Joko Widodo, who is better known to his fellow Indonesians as “Jokowi.” At the start of 2014 he was expected to win Indonesia’s presidential election in a landslide. Polls showed him with a thirty point lead.  By the time the July 9 vote rolled around, however, the race was a toss-up. Fortunately for Jokowi, things broke his way in the end and he picked up 53 percent of the vote. His opponent did not take the narrow loss well, declaring just hours before the final vote totals were released that he rejected the results as fraudulent and was withdrawing from the election. So rather than starting his presidency with an overwhelming mandate, Jokowi begins it amidst controversy. That’s hardly ideal. But as any seasoned political operative will tell you, a win is a win. Read more »

Hello (Ahlan), Abdul Fattah al-Sisi: President of Egypt

by James M. Lindsay
Sisi President Egypt Abdul Fattah al-Sisi arrives for a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin near Moscow in February. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters)

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi took the oath of office as Egypt’s new president yesterday.  He succeeded the interim president, Adly Mansour. And who appointed Mansour? Why, Sisi himself after he and the Egyptian military overthrew the previous president, Mohamed Morsi, last July. How Sisi went from field marshal to president is not lost on any Egyptians. To some, he is a hero who saved the country from the looming tyranny of the Muslim Brotherhood and gave Egyptians the chance for a more prosperous future. To others, he is a villain who derailed Egypt’s emerging democracy and thwarted the public will. Managing that deep divide may be Sisi’s most immediate challenge. But it is far from his only one. Egypt’s economy has faltered in the wake of the political and social turmoil of the past three years. If Sisi can’t get the economy back on track, Egypt’s political and social turmoil will only intensify, with perhaps profound consequences for the region. Read more »

Hello, Narendra Modi: Prime Minister of India

by James M. Lindsay
Narendra Modi India Prime Minister BJP Narendra Modi attends a public meeting in Vadodra, Gujarat on May 16, 2014. (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters)

India did not produce Horatio Alger, but it certainly has produced a Horatio-Alger story: Narendra Modi. Yesterday the son of a poor tea seller took the oath of office as India’s fourteenth (or fifteenth) prime minister. He comes to office on the heels of an historic electoral victory. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 282 seats in India’s parliamentary election, marking the first time in  thirty years that a single party in India won enough seats to form a government without the help of a coalition partner. Modi used his victory speech to promise to deliver a “shining India,” and he used his inaugural address to urge Indians to “script a glorious future for India.” Expectations are high in India that Modi will deliver on that promise. However, the obstacles in the way of his making good on his word are equally high. So if Modi succeeds, he will write an ending to his own story that Horatio Alger would have envied. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The U.S. Invasion of Veracruz, Mexico

by James M. Lindsay
Veracruz US Occupation 1914 U.S. troops occupy Veracruz, Mexico in April 1914. (Flickr Commons Project, 2010/Courtesy Library of Congress)

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. That advice is easier given than followed. The temptation to “double down” on bad ideas can be overpowering, especially in foreign policy where the political and diplomatic costs of admitting error can be substantial. But sometimes presidents recognize they have dug a hole for themselves and stop digging.  The U.S. invasion of Veracruz on April 21, 1914 offers a dramatic example. Within a span of four days President Woodrow Wilson went from hawk to dove. Read more »

The World Next Week: NATO Foreign Ministers Meet in Brussels, EU Discusses Chronic Diseases, and Syria Ships Out More Chemical Weapons

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry attends a NATO foreign ministers meeting in December. (Francois Lenoir/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. secretary of state John Kerry attends a NATO foreign ministers meeting in December. (Francois Lenoir/Courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Stewart Patrick filled in for Bob McMahon this week. Stewart and I discussed NATO’s upcoming foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, the first European Union Chronic Diseases Summit, and progress in the dismantlement of Syria’s chemical weapons. Read more »

Hello (Ciao), Matteo Renzi: Prime Minister of Italy

by James M. Lindsay
Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi arrives to lead a news conference at Chigi palace in Rome. (Remo Casilli/Courtesy Reuters) Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi arrives to lead a news conference at Chigi palace in Rome. (Remo Casilli/Courtesy Reuters)

When President Barack Obama stops in Rome tomorrow he will be meeting with a politician who can match his own meteoric rise to power: Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. Last month the thirty-nine-year-old Renzi, the former mayor of Florence, engineered the ouster of Italy’s sitting prime minister, Enrico Letta, and took the job for himself. Renzi’s rise to power was all the more remarkable because he and Letta belonged to the same political party, Italy’s center-left Democratic Party (PD). Renzi was elected the PD’s party secretary only three months ago, and he immediately set his sights on the prime minister’s job. He was a pretty effective insurgent. Letta’s colleagues voted 136 to 16 to oust him, and on February 14, he resigned after less than a year in office. Renzi and his new government were sworn in on February 22. Read more »

Remembering Ten World Figures Who Died in 2013

by James M. Lindsay
The sun sets over Clifton Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) The sun sets over Clifton Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Last Thursday, I wrote about ten Americans who died in 2013 who helped shape U.S. foreign policy through their vision, service, intellect, or courage. Below are ten world figures who died in 2013. Each made a mark on history. Some were heroes; some were villains. Which were which may depend on whom you ask. 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 »