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: U.S. Forces on the Ground in Syria

by James M. Lindsay Friday, November 6, 2015
A Kurdish Syrian refugee waits for transport during a sand storm. (REUTERS/Murad Sezer) A Kurdish Syrian refugee waits for transport during a sand storm. (REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

President Obama’s announcement last Friday that he is sending about fifty special operations forces to Syria to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State sparked some foreign policy talk on the campaign trail this week. As with his decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Obama got more nods of approval from Republicans than from Democrats. Read more »

Next Steps for the TPP

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, November 5, 2015
Men rake through corn at a factory in Vietnam, one of the TPP signatories expected to reap significant benefits from the deal. (REUTERS/Kham) Men rake through corn at a factory in Vietnam, one of the TPP signatories expected to reap significant benefits from the deal. (REUTERS/Kham)

The Obama administration today released the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), arguably the “largest regional trade accord in history.” The release, coupled with Obama’s statement that he intends to sign the deal, triggers two of the timelines set up by Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that Congress passed back in June. Read more »

Domestic Policy Trumping Foreign Policy in Campaign 2016

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Republican U.S. presidential candidates participate in the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential debates. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) Republican U.S. presidential candidates participate in the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential debates. (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

The Wall Street Journal and NBC News are out with a new poll today on Campaign 2016. The headline is that Ben Carson has vaulted past Donald Trump for the lead among GOP voters. Polls done this early typically do a lousy job of predicting who will win the nomination. So make of those numbers what you will. But the poll does contain a question that gives some insight into how significant foreign policy will be in shaping voters’ choices a year from today. The answer is, not very. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Weekly Foreign Policy Roundup: Taking the Back Seat

by James M. Lindsay Friday, October 30, 2015
Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson at the Republican presidential debate on October 28, 2015. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking) Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson at the Republican presidential debate on October 28, 2015. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Foreign policy continues to take a back seat on the campaign trail. Republican candidates debated on Wednesday night, but they said little about turmoil in the Middle East, the rise of China, or the threat of a newly belligerent Russia. That’s not surprising given that CNBC, which hosted the event, billed it as the “definitive presidential debate on the economy.” Read more »

Campaign 2016 Weekly Foreign Policy Roundup: 9/11, Afghanistan, and Benghazi

by James M. Lindsay Friday, October 23, 2015
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, October 22, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, October 22, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Campaign 2016 didn’t generate a lot of foreign policy news this week. To the extent it did, the candidates were rehashing the past rather than laying out what they would do in the future. Most of the candidates looked to the past by choice. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, looked to the past because she had to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. In other news, the campaign trail bid farewell, at least for now, to two Democratic candidates, former Senator Jim Webb and former Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee. Neither man was expected to fare well in the race, and neither did. As for Joe Biden, after much speculation that he might join the race, he decided not to. For those of you keeping count, the race is now down to eighteen major party candidates, three Democrats and fifteen Republicans. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Weekly Foreign Policy Roundup: Afghanistan, the Democratic Debate, and Syria

by James M. Lindsay Friday, October 16, 2015
Democratic U.S. Presidential Candidates (Reuters) Democratic U.S. Presidential Candidates (Reuters)

A bit of bipartisanship blossomed this week when Republican presidential candidates voiced support for President Obama’s plan to keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2016. Of course, that support came as the president was reversed himself on one of his signature policy commitments. Meanwhile, the Democratic debate was relatively quiet when it came to foreign policy, and candidates in both parties continued to disagree on what to do about Syria. Read more »

Campaign 2016 Weekly Foreign Policy Roundup: TPP and Syria

by James M. Lindsay Friday, October 9, 2015
The twelve TPP ministers during July negotiations in Hawaii. (Reuters) The twelve TPP ministers during July negotiations in Hawaii. (Reuters)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal and Russian airstrikes in Syria dominated the foreign policy news from the campaign trail this week. This won’t be the last time you will hear from the candidates on those two topics. If you are counting, we are still 115 days out from the first campaign nominating event, and 396 days out from Election Day. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Jim Gilmore, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Monday, August 24, 2015
Former Governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Former Governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo Courtesy Gage Skidmore)

The state of Virginia fashions itself as the “Birthplace of Presidents.” Eight American presidents, and four of the first five, were born in Virginia. But the Commonwealth has been suffering a dry spell since Woodrow Wilson was re-elected nearly a century ago. Jim Gilmore hopes to change that. The former Virginia governor announced late last month that he is running for president. He is the seventeenth prominent Republican to join the 2016 presidential race and the ninth governor. He is very likely to be the last on both scores. Read more »

Campaign 2016: John Kasich, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Friday, August 21, 2015
Ohio Governor John Kasich formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination Ohio Governor John Kasich formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Columbus, Ohio July 21, 2015. (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Ohio holds the title of “Mother of Presidents.” Eight of them were born, raised, or lived in Ohio at the time of their election. But the last president to hail from Ohio was Warren G. Harding, who was elected nearly a century ago. Current Ohio Governor John Kasich hopes to change that. Last month he declared that he was running for president, making him the sixteenth prominent Republican and the eighth current or former governor to join the race. If Kasich wins next November, he would be just the second graduate of a Big Ten university to become president. (A graduate of the University of Michigan beat him to the punch). But Kasich would have the distinction of being the first Big Ten grad to be elected president. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Governor Scott Walker, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, July 16, 2015
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, July 13, 2015. (Darren Hauck/Reuters)

Twelve Americans have become president without having earned a college degree. (Two of them are on Mount Rushmore.) Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who studied at Marquette University but left before graduating, hopes to make that number thirteen—and the first since Harry Truman. Walker announced on Monday what has been long expected: he is running for president. He is the fifteenth prominent Republican to declare for the White House and the seventh governor. He won’t be the last one on either score. Read more »