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"

Ten Cold War Memoirs Worth Reading

by James M. Lindsay
Cold War Memoirs President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson meet in the Oval Office in 1950. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration/Abbie Rowe)

Yesterday, I posted a list of great histories of the Cold War. Those books provide an excellent analysis of the U.S.-Soviet superpower rivalry. Their great strength is their detachment—they are academic efforts to make sense of the decisions governments made. But you can also gain deep insight into the Cold War by reading the memoirs of the people who made those decisions. Below are my ten favorite Cold War memoirs—firsthand accounts of the events that shaped the second half of the twentieth century. Read more »

Ten Histories of the Cold War Worth Reading

by James M. Lindsay
Berlin Wall West Berlin citizens stand atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 10, 1989. (Courtesy Reuters)

Sunday marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For those of us who grew up during the Cold War it was an unforgettable moment—one we hoped for but didn’t necessarily expect to see. The fact that the wall fell, and did so with a simple announcement rather than at the barrel of gun, remains one of the most consequential events of the twentieth century. Read more »

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 »