James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "TWE Remembers"

Happy 239th Birthday to the U.S. Navy!

by Guest Blogger for James M. Lindsay
Navy Birthday Graduates toss their hats in the air at the 2013 U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

TWE has noted the birthdays of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Marine Corps. But it hasn’t noted the birthday of the U.S. Navy. My research associate, Rachael Kauss, and my intern, Corey Cooper, volunteered to remedy that oversight. Here’s what they learned. Read more »

The United States Air Force Celebrates Its 67th Birthday Today

by James M. Lindsay
Air Force Birthday Fly Over The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 fighters perform a fly-over. (Joe Skipper/Courtesy Reuters)

The United States Air Force (USAF) turns 67 years-old today. On September 18, 1947, Chief Justice Fred Vinson swore in Stuart Symington as the first secretary of the air force, officially founding a new branch of the U.S. military. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz became the USAF’s first chief of staff eight days later on September 26, 1947. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Congress Passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

by James M. Lindsay
President Johnson signs "Gulf of Tonkin" Resolution President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Gulf of Tonkin resolution on August 10, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton)

“Act in haste, repent at leisure.” “Look before you leap.” “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Warnings against acting rashly are frequently offered. They are just as frequently ignored. The results can be tragic. A case in point is the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which Congress passed on August 7, 1964. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident

by James M. Lindsay
President Lyndon B. Johnson gives his "Midnight Address" after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam on August 4, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton) President Lyndon B. Johnson gives his "Midnight Address" after the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam on August 4, 1964. (Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library photo by Cecil Stoughton)

The USS Maddox was on alert on the evening of August 4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin. Two nights earlier North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked it without warning. The Maddox had driven them off without suffering any damage itself. Now amidst driving rain and rough seas, it came under fire once again—or more accurately, its crew thought the ship had come under attack again. The reported attack would lead Congress three days later to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing direct U.S. intervention in Vietnam. The incident would also eventually raise troubling questions about whether President Lyndon Johnson had deliberately misled the American public into the Vietnam War. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Britain Declares War, the United States Declares Neutrality

by James M. Lindsay
British Soldiers Trenches World War I British soldiers wait in the trenches on the western front during World War I. (Courtesy Reuters)

The banner headline in the New York Times summarizing the events of August 4, 1914 told readers everything they needed to know: “England Declares War on Germany; British Ship Sunk; French Ships Defeat German, Belgium Attacked; 17,000,000 Men Engaged in Great War of Eight Nations; Great English and German Navies About to Grapple; Rival Warships Off This Port as Lusitania Sails.” In short, Britain had come off the sidelines to fight with France and Russia against Germany and Austria. Now, for the first time since the Battle of Waterloo ninety-nine years earlier, all of Europe was at war. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Top Ten World War I Films

by James M. Lindsay
World War I The African Queen Likenesses of Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, in character in their roles in the movie "The African Queen," at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Los Angeles. (Courtesy The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

World War I has provided source material for gripping novels and powerful poetry. It also has provided source material for some great movies. Here are my ten favorites in alphabetical order. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Assassination of Jean Jaurès

by James M. Lindsay
Jean Jaures Cafe du Croissant A sign at the Cafe du Croissant in Paris marks where Jean Jaures was assassinated in 1914.

Yesterday’s post noted that the 1916 Black Tom explosion raises a great “what if” question: would Woodrow Wilson have lost his bid for re-election that fall if Americans had known that German saboteurs had blown up Black Tom? Here’s another “what if”: would World War I have followed a different course had Jean Jaurès, the leader of the French Socialist Party in the Chamber of Deputies, not been assassinated on July 31, 1914? Read more »

TWE Remembers: World War I Poetry

by James M. Lindsay
World War I Cemetery Soldier A French officer stands near a cemetery for soldiers killed on the front lines of World War I at Saint-Jean-sur-Tourbe on the Champagne front, December 1916. (Collection Odette Carrez/Courtesy Reuters)

I think that I shall never see / A poem as lovely as a tree.” Most Americans know the opening lines of the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. What they probably don’t know is that Kilmer was a war hero—the French government awarded him the Croix de Guerre for bravery—or that he was killed by a German sniper at the Second Battle of the Marne on July 30, 1918. Sadly, Kilmer was far from the only accomplished poet to die while serving during the Great War. Rupert Brooke, John McCrae, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Charles Sorely, and Edward Thomas were among the poets who did not live to see the war’s end. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The Black Tom Explosion

by James M. Lindsay
Black Tom Explosion Workers sort shells at Black Tom. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection)

The explosion at the Black Tom munitions depot in Jersey City, New Jersey at 2:08 a.m. on Sunday, July 30, 1916 was massive. It generated shockwaves equivalent to a 5.5 magnitude earthquake, blowing out tens of thousands of windows across the harbor in Manhattan. People as far away as Maryland reported being jolted awake. Because of the late hour the death toll was remarkably low; fewer than ten people were killed. Authorities quickly chalked the explosion up to lax safety procedures by the depot’s owner, the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and its operator, the National Dock and Storage Company. Had they known the actual culprit, the United States might have entered World War I eight months sooner than it did—and the outcome of the 1916 presidential election might have been very different. Read more »

TWE Remembers: World War I Novels

by James M. Lindsay
World War I Soldiers Trenches French soldiers aim an anti-aircraft machine gun from the trenches during World War I. (Collection Odette Carrez/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, I recommended several great books on the origins of World War I. I’m a history buff, so books about what world leaders said and did are my thing. But friends who prefer novels to histories tell me that “fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.” So in that spirit, here are recommendations for novels about World War I. But be warned. These are mostly books about the war’s brutality and senselessness, not its glories and heroics. Read more »