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"

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 »

The World Next Week: Italy Votes, NATO Defense Ministers Meet, and the UN Security Council Discusses North Korea

by James M. Lindsay
A woman walks past election posters in Rome (Tony Gentile/Courtesy Reuters). A woman walks past election posters in Rome (Tony Gentile/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Italy’s upcoming elections, the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, and the UN Security Council discussion on North Korea. Read more »

The World Next Week: Obama Gives the State of the Union Address, Mario Draghi Visits Spain, and Bahrain’s Monarchy Talks to the Opposition

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama delivers the 2012 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama delivers the 2012 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed President Obama’s State of the Union address, European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi’s speech to the Spanish parliament, and reconciliation talks in Bahrain. Read more »

The World Next Week: The EU Meets on Mali, Egypt Hosts the OIC Summit, and Cubans Vote on a National Assembly

by James M. Lindsay
French soldiers carry their equipment after arriving in Bamako, Mali on a U.S. transport plane (Eric Gaillard/Courtesy Reuters). French soldiers carry their equipment after arriving in Bamako, Mali on a U.S. transport plane (Eric Gaillard/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the upcoming EU meeting to discuss the situation in Mali, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo, and elections for Cuba’s National Assembly. Read more »

The World Next Week: Confirmation Hearings Begin for Obama’s Cabinet Nominees, Biden Visits Europe, and the WTO Searches for Its Next Director-General

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) testifies at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be secretary of state (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) testifies at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be secretary of state (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the confirmation hearings for President Obama’s cabinet nominees, Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Europe, and the World Trade Organization’s search for its next director-general. Read more »