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 "History Lessons"

July 4th Trivia Quiz

by James M. Lindsay
Independence Day fireworks light the sky over Washington. Independence Day fireworks light the sky over the U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Tomorrow is July 4—the best of all American holidays. To mark the occasion, here is the annual TWE July 4 trivia quiz to test your knowledge of all things related to this glorious day in American history. You can see the previous quizzes herehere, here, and here. Below are thirteen new questions in honor of the original thirteen colonies that threw off the yoke of British tyranny. You’ll find a link to the answers at the bottom of the post. Have a fun and safe Fourth of July! Read more »

Birthday Wishes to the United States Army!

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. Army birthday celebration U.S. Amy soldiers walk the Army birthday cake down to be cut at the 2014 Army Ball at the National Harbor in Fort Washington, Maryland, June 21, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle)

Doughboy. GI. Grunt. Dogface. Warrior. Whatever term you prefer, if you see an active duty, former, or retired member of the United States Army today, wish their service Happy Birthday. The United States Army just turned 240 years old.

The Army website provides a short but thorough overview of its history. Here are five things worth knowing: Read more »

History Lessons: The Munich Agreement

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “History Lessons” is now out. This time I examine the signing of the Munich Agreement in the early morning hours of September 30, 1938. (The agreement itself is dated September 29, 1938.) In the video, I discuss the origins of the crisis over the Sudetenland, what British prime minister Neville Chamberlain thought he was accomplishing in his negotiations with Adolf Hitler, and why the Munich Agreement did not bring “peace for our time.”

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History Lessons: The Oslo Accords

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “History Lessons” is now out. This time I examine the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993. In the video, I discuss the secret negotiations that produced the agreement, what its terms stipulated, and how it failed to produce the lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians that many hoped for when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the South Lawn of the White House nearly two decades ago.

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History Lessons: The America First Committee Forms

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “History Lessons” (formerly “Lessons Learned”) is now out. This time I examine the formation of the America First Committee on September 4, 1940. (Yes, it would have been more fitting if the video and this post had gone up on Tuesday, the actual anniversary of the committee’s formation. Oh, well.) In the video, I discuss the committee’s meteoric rise, its claim that the war in Europe did not threaten American security, and its ultimate failure to prevent FDR from moving the United States closer to Great Britain through steps like the Lend-Lease Act.


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Lessons Learned: Bay of Pigs Invasion

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss the Bay of Pigs invasion, which began on April 17, 1961. In the video, I look at the mistakes made before and during the invasion and discuss the importance of anticipating failure and planning accordingly. Here’s a question to consider when thinking about these kinds of actions: What steps should presidents take to make sure that they are thinking how their policies might fail rather than simply engaging in wishful thinking about how they will succeed? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

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Lessons Learned: General MacArthur’s Dismissal

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss President Harry Truman’s announcement on April 11, 1951, that he had dismissed General Douglas MacArthur as commanding general of U.S. forces in Korea. In the video, I look at the principle of civilian control of the military and discuss when exercising that control is justified. Here’s a question to consider when thinking about wartime decision-making: How much deference should presidents give to the military, and under what conditions should they overrule military advice?  I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below. And one quick correction. I mistakenly say in the video that General MacArthur sent a letter critical of the Truman administration’s policy in Korea to the “Republican speaker of the House.” MacArthur actually sent his letter to the House Republican minority leader.

I hope you enjoy the video.

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Lessons Learned: North Atlantic Treaty Signing

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I examine the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, DC, on April 4, 1949. In the video, I look at how American membership in NATO marked a fundamental shift for U.S. foreign policy and discuss how difficult it can be for a country to undertake such a shift. Here’s a question to consider when thinking about these kinds of changes: Does the emergence of China, India, Brazil, and other rising powers require a fundamental rethinking of American foreign policy? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

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Lessons Learned: LBJ Announces He Will Not Seek Reelection

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss Lyndon B. Johnson’s announcement on March 31, 1968, that he would not seek reelection as president. In the video, I discuss how Johnson’s decisions on Vietnam derailed a presidency that had accomplished historic success on domestic issues. Here’s a question to consider when thinking about foreign policy: why are presidents so eager to pursue an activist foreign policy when history suggests that it so often hurts them politically? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

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Lessons Learned: Tokyo Sarin Gas Attack

by James M. Lindsay

A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss the sarin gas attack that Aum Shinrikyo carried out in the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995. In the video, I discuss how technological advances increasingly mean that governments are no longer the only ones capable of inflicting mass destruction.  Here’s a question to consider: what steps should society take to protect itself as technology makes it easier for terrorists, messianic figures, or just embittered individuals to inflict great harm? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

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