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"

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 »

The World Next Week: Washington and Moscow Spar on Syria, Oslo Accords Twenty Years On, Lehman Brothers Collapse Five Years Later

by James M. Lindsay
Russian president Vladimir Putin walks past U.S. president Barack Obama during a group photo at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). Russian president Vladimir Putin walks past U.S. president Barack Obama during a group photo at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the continuing crisis in Syria, the twentieth anniversary of the Oslo Accords, and the state of the economy five years after the Lehman Brothers collapse. 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: Obama Visits Mexico and Costa Rica, Shinzo Abe Visits Russia, Tensions Rise in the East China Sea

by James M. Lindsay
Barack Obama meets with Mexican president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto in the Oval Office in November (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). Barack Obama meets with Mexican president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto in the Oval Office in November (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Russia, and rising tensions in the East China Sea. Read more »

Obama’s Chemical Weapons Dilemma in Syria

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks with reporters in Abu Dhabi after reading a statement on chemical weapon use in Syria (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel speaks with reporters in Abu Dhabi after reading a statement on chemical weapon use in Syria (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters).

Do not threaten what you are not prepared to do. That is a cardinal rule of foreign policy. And it is a rule that is causing the White House diplomatic and political trouble now that it has agreed that Syria has likely used chemical weapons “on a small scale” against rebel forces. Read more »