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 "Federal Spending"

TWE Remembers: The Marshall Plan

by James M. Lindsay
The title page of Secretary of State George C. Marshall's remarks at Harvard University on June 5, 1947. (George C. Marshall Foundation) The title page of Secretary of State George C. Marshall's remarks at Harvard University on June 5, 1947. (George C. Marshall Foundation)

Most commencement addresses are forgettable. The speaker gives some advice on how to live a productive life, advice that typically means more to the wistful parents in the audience recalling the mistakes they made along the way than to the headstrong students convinced that they will conquer the world. A few commencement speeches resonate beyond the venue in which they are given because of the speaker’s unusual eloquence and urgency. Almost no commencement addresses change the world. But the commencement address that Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave on June 5, 1947 to Harvard’s graduating class did just that. Read more »

Is NATO Becoming a Relic?

by James M. Lindsay
NATO-Summit-20120521 Leaders take part in the meeting on Afghanistan at the NATO Summit meeting in Chicago on May 21, 2012 (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters).

NATO’s twenty-eight member counties wrap up their annual summit today in Chicago. The parting sound bites no doubt will tout this year’s summit for being especially productive—even with a few breaks to throw a football around and to watch a soccer game. And the final communiqué will almost certainly point to progress on critical issues such as Afghanistan, missile defense, and alliance modernization. Read more »

TWE Remembers: NSC-68

by James M. Lindsay
The cover of NSC-68. (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum) The cover of NSC-68. (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum)

“United States Objectives and Programs for National Security” is a rather bland title for a report. Especially one that turns out to help drive history. But that’s the formal name given to NSC-68, the foundational document for America’s Cold War strategy. It was issued by President Harry Truman’s National Security Council for review on April 14, 1950.* Read more »

TWE Remembers: Secretary of State Dean Acheson

by James M. Lindsay
Former secretary of state Dean Acheson in 1965. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum) Former secretary of state Dean Acheson in 1965. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum)

Many secretaries of state have written memoirs. George Shultz penned Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State. James Baker wrote The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989–1992. Madeleine Albright has Madam Secretary: A Memoir. Condoleezza Rice is the latest entrant in the memoir sweepstakes, having released No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington just last year. Not to be outdone, Colin Powell plans to release his second memoir next month, and political junkies are no doubt eager to read what Hillary Clinton has to say about her service in the Obama administration. But my favorite memoir by a secretary of state is Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department, by Dean Acheson, who served under President Harry Truman. Born in Middletown, Connecticut on April 11, 1893, Acheson could truly say that he had a hand in crafting an entirely new American foreign policy. Read more »

Friday File: Malian Rebels Proclaim Independent Country of Azawad

by James M. Lindsay
sanogo-tuareg-rebels-2012-04-06 Captain Amadou Sanogo, leader of Mali's military junta, speaks during a news conference. (Luc Gnago/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. Tuareg rebel fighters in northern Mali today declared the independent country of Azawad. The announcement comes on the heels of the rebels’ rapid success in driving government forces out of Northern Mali in the two weeks since Malian soldiers overthrew the country’s democratically elected president, Amadou Touré, a former general who first came to power in a coup two decades ago. (Touré oversaw Mali’s transition to democracy and then stepped down from power, earning him the nickname “the soldier of democracy.” He was elected president in 2002 and again in 2007.) The new ruling junta justified its coup on the grounds that Touré had failed to put down the Tuareg rebellion. Tuaregs, a semi-nomadic people spread across Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria, and Burkina Faso, make up an estimated 10 percent of Mali’s population. They have been fighting for their independence since even before Mali won its own independence from France in 1960. Read more »

Friday File: Should the United States Leave Afghanistan?

by James M. Lindsay
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is greeted by Col. John Shafer (L) after arriving to greet troops at Forward Operating Base Shukvani, Afghanistan on March 14, 2012. (Scott Olson/Courtesy Reuters) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is greeted by Col. John Shafer (L) after arriving to greet troops at Forward Operating Base Shukvani, Afghanistan on March 14, 2012. (Scott Olson/Courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold.  The tragic news that a U.S. Army sergeant slaughtered sixteen Afghans this week has scrambled the debate over the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Afghan president Hamid Karzai has demanded that the United States agree to pull back its troops to bases in Afghanistan by next year. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have discovered doubts about the wisdom of staying the course in Afghanistan.The public’s dissatisfaction with the war has hardened. A Gallup poll out this week found that 50 percent of Americans want Washington to speed up its withdrawal from Afghanistan; only 21 percent say stay the course. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Truman Doctrine

by James M. Lindsay
President Harry S. Truman delivering an address to a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947, during which he outlined the "Truman Doctrine." (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum) President Harry S. Truman delivering an address to a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947, during which he outlined the "Truman Doctrine." (Courtesy Harry S. Truman Library and Museum)

If you ever take a course on the history of American foreign policy, you are bound to get tested on doctrines. The first president to lend his name to a foreign policy doctrine was James Monroe, though to be accurate, the term “Monroe Doctrine” wasn’t coined until two decades after his death. Theodore Roosevelt is the only president to give us a “corollary” to a presidential doctrine, namely, the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. In recent decades seemingly every president has offered up a doctrine. There is the Eisenhower Doctrine, the Nixon Doctrine, the Carter Doctrine, the Reagan Doctrine, the Clinton Doctrine, the Bush Doctrine, and the Obama Doctrine. Read more »

Friday File: The Politics of Iran War Fever

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama speaks to reporters on March 6, 2012. During the press conference he criticized his Republican rivals for their rhetoric on Iran. (Larry Downing/courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama speaks to reporters on March 6, 2012. During the press conference he criticized his Republican rivals for their rhetoric on Iran. (Larry Downing/courtesy Reuters)

Above the Fold. President Obama used his speech to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last Sunday and his White House press conference to take his critics to task for “beating the drums of war.” The president is certainly right that there has been far too much “loose talk of war.” Problems always look much easier from the vantage point of the campaign trail where “folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities.” Read more »

Lessons Learned: The Articles of Confederation

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss the Articles of Confederation, America’s first constitution. It entered into effect on March 1, 1781, after Maryland became the thirteenth and final colony to ratify it. In the video I examine the Articles’ weaknesses and explore what lessons they have for understanding international relations today. Here’s a question to consider in light of the fact that the founders gave up on the Articles after only six years: What makes for a durable and effective constitution? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Read more »

The World Next Week: Foreign Aid in Congress, Romney in Michigan

by James M. Lindsay
Boxes containing copies of the 2013 Federal Budget at the Government Printing Office in Washington. (Joshua Roberts/courtesy Reuters) Boxes containing copies of the 2013 Federal Budget at the Government Printing Office in Washington. (Joshua Roberts/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed upcoming congressional hearings on the international affairs budget; next week’s Republican presidential primaries in Arizona and Michigan; the UN Human Rights Council’s meeting in Geneva; and the Oscars. Read more »