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 "Nonproliferation"

Happy Earth Day! CFR Releases Global Governance Report Card on Climate Change

by James M. Lindsay
Children in Karachi, Pakistan, clean up a beach for Earth Day 2013 (Akhtar Soomro/Courtesy Reuters). Children in Karachi, Pakistan, clean up a beach for Earth Day 2013 (Akhtar Soomro/Courtesy Reuters).

Happy Earth Day! Today marks its forty-third anniversary. The idea for the first Earth Day came from Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI). Appalled by the tragic 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara, California, he wanted a way to bring attention to the problem of environmental degradation. His initial 1970 effort turned out 20 million people across the United States. Four-plus decades later, some one billion people around the world are participating in activities ranging from cleaning up parks and beaches to an environmental flash-mob in Seoul, which turned Psy’s “Gangnam Style” into “Eco-Style.”  Read more »

The World Next Year: 2013 Edition

by James M. Lindsay
(Jorge Adorno/Courtesy Reuters). The Copa Libertadores trophy is seen during the draw for the 2013 edition of the competition at the South American Football Confederation headquarters (Jorge Adorno/Courtesy Reuters).

Bob McMahon and I typically use our weekly podcast to discuss major foreign policy issues likely to be in the news in the coming week. In honor of the approaching New Year, we decided to change things up and examine the issues likely to dominate world politics in 2013. We discussed a sluggish global economy; the fiscal crisis in the United States; power struggles in the Middle East; the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan; sovereignty disputes in east Asia; and the battle over Internet freedom. Paul Stares, director of CFR’s Center for Preventive Action (CPA), joined our conversation to talk about CPA’s newly released Preventive Priorities Survey, which assesses the likelihood and consequences of potential conflicts in 2013. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Secret Soviet Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, a Coda)

by James M. Lindsay
President John F. Kennedy speaks with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during an ExCom meeting. (Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston) President John F. Kennedy speaks with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during an ExCom meeting. (Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

Washington and the world breathed a sigh of relief on Monday, October 29, 1962.  The day before President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had struck a deal to end the Cuban missile crisis. But the deal took several weeks to implement, and it came with a plot twist that the world wouldn’t learn about for thirty years. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Black Saturday—Near Calamities Abound as JFK Offers Khrushchev a Deal (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day Twelve)

by James M. Lindsay
A U-2 plane used during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC). A U-2 plane used during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC).

Murphy’s Law holds that if anything can go wrong, it will. On Saturday October 27, 1962, the twelfth day of the Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy might have been thinking about that famous law’s corollary: Murphy was an optimist. JFK had gone to bed the night before thinking that a solution to the crisis was in sight. But he awoke on what later was dubbed “Black Saturday” to a series of events that he had not anticipated and that threatened to plunge the world into a nuclear abyss. Read more »

TWE Remembers: John Scali Has Lunch, Khrushchev Writes Kennedy, Castro Writes Khrushchev (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day Eleven)

by James M. Lindsay
The U.S. destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy stops, boards, and inspects the Marucla, a dry-cargo ship of Lebanese registry under Soviet charter to Cuba. (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC) The U.S. destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy stops, boards, and inspects the Marucla, a dry-cargo ship of Lebanese registry under Soviet charter to Cuba. (Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, DC)

Journalists live for scoops. Being the first to break major news is the ticket to journalistic fame and fortune. But what if you are a journalist covering the biggest story of your lifetime and suddenly you become a participant? Do you tell the world what you have learned, or do you sit on it? ABC News diplomatic correspondent John Scali found himself in just such a predicament on Friday, October 26, 1962, the eleventh day of the Cuban missile crisis. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Adlai Stevenson Dresses Down the Soviet Ambassador to the UN (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day Ten)

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson presents evidence of Soviet missiles in Cuba at the UN Security Council on October 25, 1962. (UN Photo/MH) U.S. ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson presents evidence of Soviet missiles in Cuba at the UN Security Council on October 25, 1962. (UN Photo/MH)

U.S. ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson had a reputation for preferring to concede than to confront. In the first days of the Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy worried that his man in New York didn’t have what it took to present the U.S. position on Cuba forcefully to the world body. On Thursday, October 25, the tenth day of the crisis, Stevenson showed that he was in fact made of sterner stuff than JFK thought. The former two-time presidential candidate dressed down Valerian Zorin, the Soviet ambassador, in a UN Security Council meeting as Americans watched on television. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Eyeball to Eyeball and the Other Fellow Just Blinked (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day Nine)

by James M. Lindsay
Acting UN secretary general U Thant and Soviet ambassador to the UN Valerian A. Zorin discuss a document through an interpreter at the UN Security Council on October 24, 1962. (UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata) Acting UN secretary general U Thant and Soviet ambassador to the UN Valerian A. Zorin discuss a document through an interpreter at the UN Security Council on October 24, 1962. (UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata)

President John F. Kennedy was beginning to feel the pressure on Wednesday, October 24, 1962, the ninth day of the Cuban missile crisis. The naval quarantine of Cuba had formally gone into effect early that morning. Now there was nothing to do but wait for the Soviets to respond. Kennedy didn’t know whether at the day’s end he would be breathing a sigh of relief or on the road to a nuclear war. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The OAS Endorses a Quarantine of Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day Eight)

by James M. Lindsay
President John F. Kennedy signs Proclamation 3504 authorizing the quarantine of Cuba on October 23, 1962. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston) President John F. Kennedy signs Proclamation 3504 authorizing the quarantine of Cuba on October 23, 1962. (Abbie Rowe. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

The first week of the Cuban missile crisis played out in secret. President John F. Kennedy and his advisers quietly evaluated the results of the U-2 overflights and formulated a response. But on Tuesday, October 23 the crisis began playing out in public. U.S. diplomats scrambled to secure international support for the impending quarantine of Cuba while the White House waited to see what Moscow’s next steps would be. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Five Memorable Foreign Policy Moments in Presidential Debates

by James M. Lindsay
John McCain and Barack Obama debate foreign policy at the University of Mississippi in 2008. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters) John McCain and Barack Obama debate foreign policy at the University of Mississippi in 2008. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters)

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney meet tonight in Boca Raton, Florida to debate foreign policy. Both men hope that what they say will move voters in their direction. But that’s not always how debates go. Here are five memorable moments from past debates when presidents took on foreign policy. Read more »

TWE Remembers: John F. Kennedy Tells the World that Soviet Missiles Are in Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day Seven)

by James M. Lindsay

John F. Kennedy was a superb public speaker. His inaugural address is one of the best known and most frequently quoted speeches in American history. His press conference performance immediately after the Bay of Pigs, when he famously said that “victory has one-hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan,” helped blunt the political fallout from one of the biggest foreign policy fiascoes in U.S. history. But nothing matched the importance of the address Kennedy gave to the nation on the evening of October 22, 1962, when he told Americans (and the world) that the United States had discovered that the Soviet Union was secretly installing nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba.

Read more »