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"

Top Ten Most Significant World Events in 2014

by James M. Lindsay
Russia Annex Crimea Passport Two Crimean men examine their new Russian passports on April 3, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Every year has its share of significant world events. Two thousand fourteen is no exception. Here is my list of the top ten most significant events of the year. You may want to read what follows closely. Several of these stories could continue to dominate the headlines in 2015. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Nikita Khrushchev’s Visit to the United States

by James M. Lindsay
Nikita Khrushchev and Eleanor Roosevelt Nina and Nikita Khrushchev with Eleanor Roosevelt (center) at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park on September 18, 1959. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration)

In a post I wrote earlier this month about the best Cold War memoirs, I noted that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was one of that era’s more blustery figures, telling the West that “we will bury you” and banging his shoe at the United Nations. What I didn’t mention was his mesmerizing, almost surreal twelve-day visit to the United States in September 1959. That visit is the topic of what looks to be a fascinating new documentary called Cold War Roadshow that premieres tonight on PBS. Read more »

The History of the Cold War in 40 Quotes

by James M. Lindsay
Churchill and Truman Winston Churchill and Harry Truman aboard a train to Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill would deliver his Iron Curtain speech. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration/Abbie Rowe)

On Monday, I posted my nominees for ten Cold War histories worth reading. But many people don’t have the time or patience to plow through comprehensive histories. So for TWE readers looking to save time, here is a short course on the history of the Cold War using forty of the most memorable quotations from that era. Read more »

Ten Cold War Memoirs Worth Reading

by James M. Lindsay
Cold War Memoirs President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson meet in the Oval Office in 1950. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration/Abbie Rowe)

Yesterday, I posted a list of great histories of the Cold War. Those books provide an excellent analysis of the U.S.-Soviet superpower rivalry. Their great strength is their detachment—they are academic efforts to make sense of the decisions governments made. But you can also gain deep insight into the Cold War by reading the memoirs of the people who made those decisions. Below are my ten favorite Cold War memoirs—firsthand accounts of the events that shaped the second half of the twentieth century. Read more »

Ten Histories of the Cold War Worth Reading

by James M. Lindsay
Berlin Wall West Berlin citizens stand atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 10, 1989. (Courtesy Reuters)

Sunday marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For those of us who grew up during the Cold War it was an unforgettable moment—one we hoped for but didn’t necessarily expect to see. The fact that the wall fell, and did so with a simple announcement rather than at the barrel of gun, remains one of the most consequential events of the twentieth century. Read more »

Isolationism, Internationalism, and the Double Wish

by James M. Lindsay
American Public Opinion American flags on display at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Are Americans becoming more isolationist in their foreign policy views? Or are they continuing to embrace internationalism? A new poll out by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggests that the answer is a little of both. (Full disclosure: I served on the advisory board for the poll.) Read more »

TWE Remembers: Britain Declares War, the United States Declares Neutrality

by James M. Lindsay
British Soldiers Trenches World War I British soldiers wait in the trenches on the western front during World War I. (Courtesy Reuters)

The banner headline in the New York Times summarizing the events of August 4, 1914 told readers everything they needed to know: “England Declares War on Germany; British Ship Sunk; French Ships Defeat German, Belgium Attacked; 17,000,000 Men Engaged in Great War of Eight Nations; Great English and German Navies About to Grapple; Rival Warships Off This Port as Lusitania Sails.” In short, Britain had come off the sidelines to fight with France and Russia against Germany and Austria. Now, for the first time since the Battle of Waterloo ninety-nine years earlier, all of Europe was at war. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Serbia Responds to Austria’s Ultimatum

by James M. Lindsay
Serbia Ultimatum Response Field Guns Field guns in Serbia during World War I (Courtesy Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection)

Diplomacy is often a contest to gain the upper hand in the court of world opinion. The country that can depict itself as victim of aggression even when the facts are more complex may rally greater support abroad than it would otherwise. A case in point is Serbia’s response on July 25, 1914 to Austria’s ultimatum over the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Serbian officials knew far more about the plot than they had let on, and some of them welcomed war with Austria as a way to achieve their ambitions for Serbia in the Balkans. But Belgrade’s skillfully worded response to the ultimatum helped cement the image of imperial Austria using a tragic killing as an excuse to crush its smaller and weaker neighbor. Read more »

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 »