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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Five Big Foreign Policy Questions for 2016

by James M. Lindsay
The New Year's Eve "16" numerals arrive on a truck in Times Square New York. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters) The New Year's Eve "16" numerals arrive in Times Square. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

On Tuesday, CFR.org posted an interview I did previewing the year ahead. My take in a nutshell: 2016 is shaping up to be a tumultuous year. The list of problems is long: a resurgence in terrorism, chaos in the Middle East, tensions in Asia, and sluggish global economic growth. All of this will be happening amidst what promises to be a raucous American presidential campaign that will likely generate more heat than light on the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. Read more »

Ten Elections to Watch in 2016

by James M. Lindsay
Opposition supporter holds a poster of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega during a protest demanding fairer presidential elections next year, in Managua, Nicaragua. (Oswaldo Rivas/Courtesy Reuters) Opposition supporter holds a poster of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega during a protest demanding fairer presidential elections next year, in Managua, Nicaragua. (Oswaldo Rivas/Courtesy Reuters)

Millions of people around the world went to the polls this year. Nigerians voted out their incumbent president and elected a former military dictator in his place. British voters surprised the experts predicting another hung parliament by giving the Conservative Party a majority in the House of Commons. Turks got to vote twice, denying the Justice and Development Party a parliamentary majority in June elections but giving it one in November elections. These are just a few of the elections that made news in 2015. The world will have plenty of important elections in 2016. Here are ten to watch. Read more »

Next Steps for the TPP

by James M. Lindsay
Men rake through corn at a factory in Vietnam, one of the TPP signatories expected to reap significant benefits from the deal. (REUTERS/Kham) Men rake through corn at a factory in Vietnam, one of the TPP signatories expected to reap significant benefits from the deal. (REUTERS/Kham)

The Obama administration today released the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), arguably the “largest regional trade accord in history.” The release, coupled with Obama’s statement that he intends to sign the deal, triggers two of the timelines set up by Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that Congress passed back in June. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Senator Lindsey Graham, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Graham Foreign Policy U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. (Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters)

Can you win the presidency by running on foreign policy? Lindsey Graham is seeking to find out. The South Carolina senator announced yesterday that he is running for the GOP presidential nomination. His stated his reason for joining the race: “I want to be president to protect our nation that we all love so much from all threats foreign and domestic.” Graham is the ninth candidate to join the GOP race. He won’t be the last. If Graham wins, he’ll be the first bachelor president since Grover Cleveland. Read more »

The Conservative Party’s Surprising Victory Doesn’t Herald a Bolder Britain

by James M. Lindsay
Conservatives Win in Britain British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks outside Number 10 Downing Street to announce he will form a new majority government. (Stefan Wermuth/Courtesy Reuters)

The Conservative Party’s surprising victory yesterday has rendered obsolete the orgy of pre-election handwringing about the ineffectiveness of Britain’s impending minority government. But it hasn’t rendered obsolete growing concerns about Britain’s retreat from the world stage. Indeed, it may just intensify them. Read more »

Three Foreign Policy Takeaways From the Latest WSJ/NBC Poll

by James M. Lindsay
(Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

The Wall Street Journal and NBC News are out with a new poll today on Campaign 2016. Much of the coverage is about which candidates are up and which are down. Believe those numbers at your peril. The public’s assessments of individual candidates can and do shift quickly in the early stages of a campaign. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Mike Huckabee, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Mike Huckabee Campaign Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee formally launches his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during an event in Hope, Arkansas. (Mike Stone/Courtesy Reuters)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is taking that age old advice to heart. Back in 2008 he did surprisingly well in the GOP nominating race, despite having neither the initial name recognition nor the fundraising success of some of his rivals. He won the Iowa caucuses and seven other states, giving him the second most number of convention delegates. Huckabee passed on the 2012 campaign, but today he announced he’s running in 2016. If he wins his bid for the White House, he won’t be the first president from his hometown of Hope, Arkansas. William Jefferson Clinton holds that distinction. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Ben Carson, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Ben Carson Campaign Ben Carson officially launches his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Detroit, Michigan. (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters)

Americans have had presidents who were lawyers (more than two dozen of them), soldiers, land surveyors, farmers, and school teachers. Even a newspaper publisher, a mining engineer, and an actor have made it to the White House. But never in its history has the United States had a president who was trained as a medical doctor. That will change if Ben Carson gets his wish. The path breaking, and now retired, pediatric neurosurgeon formally announced today that he has joined the increasingly crowded race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. The campaign marks Carson’s first bid for elective office. In case you are wondering, the last person to win the White House in his first bid for office was Dwight D. Eisenhower. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Carly Fiorina campaign Carly Fiorina speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa on April 25, 2015. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters)

Ten. That’s the number of successive presidents who have come to the White House having previously held elective office. Carly Fiorina hopes to break that string. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard announced today that she is running for president. If she wins, she would join an elite club. Just six U.S. presidents have won the presidency without first having held some other elective office: George Washington, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Of course, if Fiorina wins in November 2016, she would hold another, more obvious distinction. She would be the first woman elected president of the United States. She would also be the first breast cancer survivor to occupy the presidency. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Senator Marco Rubio, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay
Marco Rubio Announcement U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election during a speech in Miami, Florida. (Joe Skipper/Courtesy Reuters)

Long shots sometimes pay off. Just ask Senator Marco Rubio. He won his first race for political office at age 26 by beating an incumbent county commissioner. A year later he won a seat in Florida’s state house by upsetting a local media celebrity. And in 2010 he won his Senate seat by beating a popular governor who was expected to coast to victory. So it’s no surprise that yesterday Rubio declared his presidential candidacy even though he trails badly in the early polls. If he wins the presidency, he would be the second youngest person ever elected president and the third youngest ever inaugurated. If he loses, he will likely forfeit his Senate seat. As they say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Read more »