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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What Americans Think About Foreign Policy

by James M. Lindsay
U.S. Army soldiers roll up a national flag after their headquarters' change of command ceremony in Afghanistan in 2010. (Shamil Zhumatov/ courtesy Reuters) U.S. Army soldiers roll up a national flag after their headquarters' change of command ceremony in Afghanistan in 2010. (Shamil Zhumatov/ courtesy Reuters)

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs came out today with its new (and lengthy) survey on what Americans think about the world and America’s place in it. The Chicago Council has been conducting foreign policy surveys periodically since 1974, and they have been the gold standard in the field for about as long. I have only had time to read the executive summary and glance at a few charts, but here are some of the survey’s findings: Read more »

Foreign Policy and Campaign 2012

by James M. Lindsay
President Obama waves as he arrives to address delegates at the Democratic National Convention. (Jason Reed/ courtesy Reuters) President Obama waves as he arrives to address delegates at the Democratic National Convention. (Jason Reed/ courtesy Reuters)

CFR.org just posted an interview I did with former New York Times correspondent Bernard Gwertzman looking at the role foreign policy will likely play in the remaining two months of the presidential campaign. Along the way we discussed President Obama’s acceptance speech last night, reviewed where the candidates stand on major issues like Iran’s nuclear program, and recalled how another tight presidential race was tipped in part by a candidate’s misstep in a critical foreign policy debate. Read more »

The World Next Week: September 11, the November Election, and Ben Bernanke

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush walk beside the north pool of the World Trade Center Memorial during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2011. (Larry Downing/ courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush walk beside the north pool of the World Trade Center Memorial during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2011. (Larry Downing/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks; the home stretch of the presidential campaign; and what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will decide at next week’s meeting of the Fed’s policymaking committee. Read more »

The World Next Week: Romney Travels, Mercosur Meets, EU Catches Flak, and Apple and Samsung Battle

by James M. Lindsay
Mitt Romney speaks to the press following a meeting with British prime minister David Cameron and British chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne outside 10 Downing Street in London. (Jason Reed/courtesy Reuters) Mitt Romney speaks to the press following a meeting with British prime minister David Cameron and British chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne outside 10 Downing Street in London. (Jason Reed/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Mitt Romney’s foreign trip; Mercosur’s special summit in Rio; anger at the EU’s efforts to make foreign airlines pay for their greenhouse gas emissions; and the Apple-Samsung battle over patents. Read more »

Hola, Enrique Peña Nieto: President-Elect of Mexico

by James M. Lindsay
Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, speaking after exit polls showed him in first place following Mexico's election on July 1. (Tomas Bravo/courtesy Reuters) Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, speaking after exit polls showed him in first place following Mexico's election on July 1. (Tomas Bravo/courtesy Reuters)

Enrique Peña Nieto had a very good weekend. While Americans were grumbling about record-breaking heat and residents of Washington, D.C., were learning to live without air conditioning because powerful storms Friday night left them without electricity, he was winning Mexico’s presidential election. With nearly 90 percent of the ballots counted, he looks to have won roughly 38 percent of the vote, handily defeating Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution or PRD), who pulled in 32 percent, and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party or PAN), who pulled in 25 percent. Read more »

The World Next Week: World Powers Talk Syria, Mexicans Vote, and Congress Recesses

by James M. Lindsay
Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League for Syria, speaks during a press conference in Geneva. (Denis Balibouse/courtesy Reuters) Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League for Syria, speaks during a press conference in Geneva. (Denis Balibouse/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon was out this week, so Stewart Patrick kindly offered to fill in. Stewart and I discussed the world powers crisis meeting on Syria in Geneva; the Mexican presidential election; and the U.S. House and Senate rise for recess. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The War of 1812

by James M. Lindsay
A depiction of the British attack on Washington, DC, during the War of 1812. (Library of Congress) A depiction of the British attack on Washington, DC, during the War of 1812. (Library of Congress)

Some dates in American history stand out. Mention April 12, 1861, December 7, 1941, or September 11, 2001 and most people know what historical event you have in mind. Ask what happened on June 18, 1812, however, and the most likely response is a blank stare. But on this date two hundred years ago, the United States, then a weak and fragile country on the fringes of the known world, declared war on Great Britain, then one of the world’s most powerful countries. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Thich Quang Duc’s Self-Immolation

by James M. Lindsay
President John F. Kennedy discusses the situation in Southeast Asia at a press conference in 1961. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum) President John F. Kennedy discusses the situation in Southeast Asia at a press conference in 1961. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the BBC all ran stories last week about Tibetan monks who have set themselves on fire to protest against the Chinese government. The stories provoked little reaction in Washington. That was not the case nearly fifty years ago when a sixty-six year-old Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc set himself on fire on June 11, 1963 on the streets of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. Read more »

The World Next Week: U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, U.S. House Recess, and Thomas Lubanga

by James M. Lindsay
Indian minister of external affairs S.M. Krishna in April. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/courtesy Reuters) Indian minister of external affairs S.M. Krishna in April. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the upcoming U.S.-India strategic dialogue; the U.S. House breaking for its Flag Day recess; and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) impending sentencing of Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga. Read more »

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 »