James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: Closing Guantanamo Bay and Walling Off Canada

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 26, 2016
An activist holds a sign at a rally calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, May 23, 2014. (Larry Downing/Reuters) An activist holds a sign at a rally calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, May 23, 2014. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

President Obama announced a plan this week to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The reaction on the campaign trail split along predictable lines. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: Tough Talk in South Carolina

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 19, 2016
Marco Rubio supporters before a campaign town hall at Easley High School in Easley, South Carolina on February 14, 2016. (Chris Keane/Reuters) Marco Rubio supporters saying the pledge of allegiance before a campaign town hall in Easley, South Carolina on February 14, 2016. (Chris Keane/Reuters)

South Carolina looks to be living up to its reputation as a rough-and-tumble place for politics. The GOP candidates have been going after each other with a vengeance in the hopes of gaining an advantage in advance of Saturday’s primary vote. Amidst all the sniping, they have been touting their defense and foreign policy credentials. The overarching theme has been “toughness.” The candidates are no doubt hoping to sway South Carolina’s many active-duty and retired military personnel to their side. Read more »

TWE Celebrates Presidents’ Day

by James M. Lindsay Monday, February 15, 2016
President George W. Bush meets with former presidents and President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) President George W. Bush meets with former presidents and President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, January 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Today is Presidents’ Day. It is a TWE tradition to recognize the forty-three men—and they have all been men, though that may change next January 20—who have been president on Presidents’ Day by posting the following essay. If you are lucky enough to have today off, enjoy: Read more »

A Presidents’ Day Quiz

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 12, 2016
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk out to the presidential helicopter with former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura after President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. (Tannen Maury/Reuters) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk out to the presidential helicopter with former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura after President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. (Tannen Maury/Reuters)

Monday is Presidents’ Day. To get you in the proper celebratory mood, TWE presents its fifth annual Presidents’ Day quiz.

If you have your own presidential trivia questions, please post them in the comments so everyone can take a crack at answering them. And if you are feeling up to it, you can try the quizzes from 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 as well. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: The Democrats Debate Foreign Policy, Kind of

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 12, 2016
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the Democratic debate on February 11, 2016. (Jim Young/Reuters) Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the Democratic debate on February 11, 2016. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred again last night in a debate that the New York Times said gave foreign affairs “unusual prominence.” Perhaps, if the measure is the sheer amount of time ostensibly spent on the topic. But if the measure is insight into how President Clinton or President Sanders would address specific foreign policy challenges, then perhaps not. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: Iowa Shrinks the Field

by James M. Lindsay Friday, February 5, 2016
Buttons for visitors at the Greater Des Moines Partnership Iowa Caucus Consortium candidate forum. (Scott Morgan/Reuters) Buttons for visitors at the Greater Des Moines Partnership Iowa Caucus Consortium candidate forum. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

And then there were eleven. Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley, Rick Santorum, and Rand Paul all opted to end their campaigns this week in the wake of their poor showings in the Iowa caucuses. It’s not surprising that Huckabee, O’Malley, and Santorum came up short in their presidential bids. Conventional wisdom always had them as longshots. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: The White Whale of American Politics

by James M. Lindsay Friday, January 29, 2016
A polling station in Cleveland, Ohio. (Shannon Stapleton /Reuters) A polling station in Cleveland, Ohio. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Polls show that national security has shot up the list of concerns for voters, and especially for Republicans. That has spurred talk that 2016 could provide something we haven’t seen in a while, if ever, an election in which foreign policy proves decisive. The fact that more voters, though not necessarily a majority, have foreign policy—or more accurately, terrorism—on their minds certainly points in that direction. But as I have noted before, foreign policy can matter more to voters without necessarily changing who wins. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: Foreign Policy and the 2016 Presidential Primaries

by James M. Lindsay Friday, January 22, 2016
An election day morning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2014). (Mark Makela/Reuters) Election day morning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2014). (Mark Makela/Reuters)

Washington is bracing for what looks to be a historic snowstorm that could dump thirty inches of snow (or more) on the nation’s capital. Despite the grim forecast, Charlie Cook of The Cook Political Report and Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief, came over to CFR’s Washington office to join me in discussing foreign policy and the 2016 presidential primaries. Bruce Stokes of the Pew Research Center moderated. Read more »

Five Foreign Policy Books the Next President Should Read

by James M. Lindsay Wednesday, January 20, 2016
MacLeod's used bookstore in Vancouver, British Columbia . (Andy Clark/Courtesy Reuters) MacLeod's used bookstore in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Andy Clark/Courtesy Reuters)

Inauguration Day is now exactly one year away. In 366 days—2016 is a Leap Year—one of the candidates now barnstorming Iowa and New Hampshire will take the oath of office. Everything will change the moment he, or she, says the constitutionally mandated words, “I do solemnly swear….” Campaigning is about promises; governing is about choices. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Friday Foreign Policy Roundup: The Sixth Republican Presidential Debate

by James M. Lindsay Friday, January 15, 2016
Republican U.S. presidential candidates gather before the start of the Republican debate on January 14, 2016. (Randall Hill/Courtesy Reuters) Republican U.S. presidential candidates gather before the start of the Republican debate on January 14, 2016. (Randall Hill/Courtesy Reuters)

Foreign policy figured prominently at last night’s debate, even though the event’s focus was supposed to be the economy. The tone was set at the start when Ted Cruz responded to the opening question about jobs by denouncing the administration for Iran’s seizure of ten American sailors who blundered into Iranian waters. Cruz and his GOP rivals continued in the same vein throughout the rest of the evening. So what did we learn? Read more »