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 "TWE Remembers"

TWE Remembers: World War I Histories

by James M. Lindsay
World War I Books French General Emile Eugene Belin visits the front line near Arras, Northern France. (Collection Odette Carrez/Courtesy Reuters)

You can learn a lot about the origins, events, and consequences of World War I by surfing the Internet. But if you really want to understand why the Great War happened, you should read serious histories on the subject. The problem is that historians have turned out more than 25,000 books and articles on World War I. So where should you start? Here are some recommendations. Read more »

TWE Remembers: World War I on the World Wide Web

by James M. Lindsay
World War I Verdun Medals French General Joseph Joffre congratulates and awards medals to soldiers who fought in the Battle of Verdun. (Collection Odette Carrez/Courtesy Reuters)

On July 28, 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia, triggering what became World War I. Known at the time as the Great War, it was a defining event of the twentieth century. Directly and indirectly it led to the deaths of more than 15 million people, cast four empires on the ash heap of history, and set Europe on the path to World War II. The Internet is full of information on the World War I. Like all things online, however, some resources are better than others. Here are some useful English-language websites to learn more about the war that changed the course of history. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Serbia Responds to Austria’s Ultimatum

by James M. Lindsay
Serbia Ultimatum Response Field Guns Field guns in Serbia during World War I (Courtesy Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection)

Diplomacy is often a contest to gain the upper hand in the court of world opinion. The country that can depict itself as victim of aggression even when the facts are more complex may rally greater support abroad than it would otherwise. A case in point is Serbia’s response on July 25, 1914 to Austria’s ultimatum over the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Serbian officials knew far more about the plot than they had let on, and some of them welcomed war with Austria as a way to achieve their ambitions for Serbia in the Balkans. But Belgrade’s skillfully worded response to the ultimatum helped cement the image of imperial Austria using a tragic killing as an excuse to crush its smaller and weaker neighbor. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Austria-Hungary Issues an Ultimatum to Serbia

by James M. Lindsay
Austrian Ultimatum Serbia Weapons Austrian soldiers stand with captured Serbian weapons during World War I. (Courtesy Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection)

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. That adage applies to governments as well as to people. A case in point is the ultimatum that Austria gave Serbia on July 23, 1914. Austrian officials were counting on Serbia to reject their demands, which would give Vienna the opportunity it was seeking to wage a swift and victorious war against its upstart neighbor. The Austrians were right on the first count, but horrifically wrong on the second. The result would be the Great War that changed the course of the twentieth century. Read more »

July 4th Trivia Quiz

by James M. Lindsay
July 4 Independence Day Soldiers Statue of Liberty The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") performs during a ceremony to reopen the Statue of Liberty in New York on July 4, 2013. (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters)

Tomorrow is July 4—the best of all American holidays. To mark the occasion, I am offering up the annual TWE July 4 trivia quiz. You can see the previous quizzes here, 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 »

TWE Remembers: The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

by James M. Lindsay
Franz Ferdinand Sophie Sarajevo A room at the Franz Ferdinand hostel in Sarajevo, Bosnia, which features a photo taken of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie on the day they were assassinated. (Dado Ruvic/Courtesy Reuters)

A loving couple. An heir to the throne. A wife shunned by her husband’s family. Two countries bitterly at odds. A shadowy secret organization. Security officials indifferent to their responsibilities. Young men willing to die for a cause. Warnings of imminent danger that go unheeded or are never passed along. Bravery that in retrospect looks like recklessness. Bombs, guns, and cyanide. A chance mistake that puts a victim in the crosshairs of an assassin. Two gunshots. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Memorial Day

by James M. Lindsay
Arlington Cemetery Soldiers Memorial Day Members of the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment take part in a "Flags-In" ceremony ahead of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

The United States has fought twelve major wars and numerous smaller skirmishes in its history. Memorial Day is our way of honoring the soldiers, sailors, airmen, airwomen, and marines who did not return home. The holiday dates back to the months immediately after the Civil War when a few towns and cities began honoring their dead. In 1868, General John A. Logan designated May 30 as “Decoration Day,” the purpose of which would be “strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” The holiday was renamed Memorial Day after World War I, and its purpose became to honor all Americans who have died fighting the nation’s wars. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The U.S. Invasion of Veracruz, Mexico

by James M. Lindsay
Veracruz US Occupation 1914 U.S. troops occupy Veracruz, Mexico in April 1914. (Flickr Commons Project, 2010/Courtesy Library of Congress)

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. That advice is easier given than followed. The temptation to “double down” on bad ideas can be overpowering, especially in foreign policy where the political and diplomatic costs of admitting error can be substantial. But sometimes presidents recognize they have dug a hole for themselves and stop digging.  The U.S. invasion of Veracruz on April 21, 1914 offers a dramatic example. Within a span of four days President Woodrow Wilson went from hawk to dove. Read more »

TWE Remembers: FDR’s “Four Freedoms” State of the Union Address

by James M. Lindsay
A page from the fifth draft of Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 annual message to Congress. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers as President, Master Speech File; Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum) A page from the fifth draft of Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 annual message to Congress. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers as President, Master Speech File; Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)

Barack Obama is set to give his State of the Union address on January 28. If it is like most such speeches, it will be hotly debated for a moment and then forgotten. (Quick, name the major theme of last year’s State of the Union address. I didn’t think so.) But a few State of the Union addresses do make a lasting impression. One such speech was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State of the Union address on January 6, 1941, better known today as the Four Freedoms speech. Read more »

Remembering Ten World Figures Who Died in 2013

by James M. Lindsay
The sun sets over Clifton Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) The sun sets over Clifton Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Last Thursday, I wrote about ten Americans who died in 2013 who helped shape U.S. foreign policy through their vision, service, intellect, or courage. Below are ten world figures who died in 2013. Each made a mark on history. Some were heroes; some were villains. Which were which may depend on whom you ask. Read more »