James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

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

Campaign 2016: Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Monday, May 4, 2015
Carly Fiorina campaign Carly Fiorina speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa on April 25, 2015. (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters)

Ten. That’s the number of successive presidents who have come to the White House having previously held elective office. Carly Fiorina hopes to break that string. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard announced today that she is running for president. If she wins, she would join an elite club. Just six U.S. presidents have won the presidency without first having held some other elective office: George Washington, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Of course, if Fiorina wins in November 2016, she would hold another, more obvious distinction. She would be the first woman elected president of the United States. She would also be the first breast cancer survivor to occupy the presidency. Read more »

The Vietnam War in Forty Quotes

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, April 30, 2015
Johnson Reelection President Johnson announces that he will not seek reelection in 1968. (White House Photograph Office/National Archives and Records Administration)

Last month, I did a series of posts commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of U.S. combat troops in Vietnam on March 8, 1965. Today marks another significant date in the Vietnam War: the fortieth anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. To mark that anniversary, here are forty quotes that tell the story of the Vietnam War. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Senator Marco Rubio, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Marco Rubio Announcement U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election during a speech in Miami, Florida. (Joe Skipper/Courtesy Reuters)

Long shots sometimes pay off. Just ask Senator Marco Rubio. He won his first race for political office at age 26 by beating an incumbent county commissioner. A year later he won a seat in Florida’s state house by upsetting a local media celebrity. And in 2010 he won his Senate seat by beating a popular governor who was expected to coast to victory. So it’s no surprise that yesterday Rubio declared his presidential candidacy even though he trails badly in the early polls. If he wins the presidency, he would be the second youngest person ever elected president and the third youngest ever inaugurated. If he loses, he will likely forfeit his Senate seat. As they say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Read more »

Campaign 2016: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Monday, April 13, 2015
Hillary Clinton Campaign Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the United Nations in New York. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

Pakistan has had one. So have Great Britain, Indonesia, Poland, Ukraine, and four dozen other countries. Argentina, Brazil, and Germany have one right now. But the United States has never had a woman head of government. That will change at noon on January 20, 2017 if Hillary Clinton gets her way. The former first lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state made it official yesterday: she is a candidate for president. This is, of course, her second shot at the White House. She was the prohibitive favorite back in 2008 to win the Democratic nomination, but she lost to long-shot candidate Barack Obama. Clinton is once again the prohibitive favorite. Time will tell whether she can capitalize on the opportunity. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Senator Rand Paul, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Rand Paul Announcement U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) formally announces his candidacy for president during an event in Louisville, Kentucky. (John Sommers II/Courtesy Reuters)

Is America ready for a “Libertarian-ish” president? We are about to find out. Today Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) formally announced his presidential campaign, making him the second Republican candidate, after Ted Cruz, to officially throw his hat into the ring. On many issues, Paul sounds a lot like his Republican rivals. He is running as an outsider on the slogan of: “Defeat the Washington Machine, Unleash the American Dream.” He wants lower taxes, less regulation, and more school choice. But on foreign policy Paul offers GOP primary voters a choice rather than an echo. He is decidedly less hawkish than his rivals for the nomination. For that he will get a lot of criticism from his fellow Republicans. But in his short political career Paul has shown that he gives as good as he gets. So expect a Republican primary with some fireworks–and a test of the claim that Americans are souring on internationalism. Read more »

Campaign 2016: Senator Ted Cruz, GOP Presidential Candidate

by James M. Lindsay Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Ted Cruz U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) confirms his candidacy for the 2016 U.S. presidential election during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Chris Keane/Courtesy Reuters)

Someone had to be first. When it comes to the 2016 presidential campaign, that person is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Yesterday, he formally announced that he is running for president. Cruz’s rise to national prominence has been meteoric. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2012 after never having held statewide elected office in his home state of Texas. If Cruz makes it to the White House, he would match President Barack Obama in taking just four years to go from senator to president. Cruz would also accomplish something unprecedented in American political history: he would be the first person born in Canada to become president. Read more »

TWE Remembers: The First U.S. Combat Troops Arrive in Vietnam

by James M. Lindsay Sunday, March 8, 2015
Marines Vietnam Da Nang A machine gunner and a rifleman from the 5th Marine Regiment fire at the enemy near the Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam. (National Archives and Records Administration)

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the first American combat troops in Vietnam. On March 8, 1965, 3,500 Marines of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade arrived in Da Nang to protect the U.S. airbase there from Viet Cong attacks. Despite advance warning they were about to be deployed, many of the Marines were surprised when their deployment orders came down on Sunday, March 7. Based at Okinawa at the time, more than a few of them had been, in the words of Philip Caputo, the author of the acclaimed A Rumor of War and one of those 3,500 marines, “enjoying a weekend of I and I—intercourse and intoxication.” Less than twenty-four hours later they were in a combat zone. Read more »

Iconic Images of the Vietnam War

by James M. Lindsay Saturday, March 7, 2015

All week long, I have been posting my picks for the best histories, memoirs, films, songs, and novels about the Vietnam War. Vietnam dominated U.S. foreign policy for a decade and divided the American public. Here are some iconic images from a clash that still weighs on American foreign policy. A word of caution: the slideshow below contains graphic photos that you may find disturbing. Read more »

Ten Vietnam War Novels to Read

by James M. Lindsay Friday, March 6, 2015
Vietnam War Soldiers Novels Soldiers carry an injured comrade through a swamp in Vietnam. (National Archives and Records Administration)

All week I have been blogging on the best histories, memoirs, films, and songs to mark Sunday’s fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the first U.S. combat troops in Vietnam. Today I want to look at the best novels, because fiction can provide fresh insights into great historical events. My challenge, though, is that I have only read three novels about Vietnam: The Quiet American (1955) by Graham Greene, The Ugly American (1958) by Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer, and The Short-Timers (1979) by Gustav Hasford. The first two made my list of the best Cold War novels, and The Short-Timers was the grist for Stanley Kubrick’s film Full-Metal Jacket. So the list below, which is based on reviews and recommendations, are the ten Vietnam War novels that I most want to read if I can find the time to read anything other than email. Read more »

The Twenty Best Vietnam Protest Songs

by James M. Lindsay Thursday, March 5, 2015
Vietnam War Songs Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and David Crosby perform at their 2000 reunion tour. (Courtesy Reuters)

Sunday marks fifty years since the first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam. To mark the anniversary of the war that changed America, I am doing a series of posts on the best histories, memoirs, movies, and novels about Vietnam. Today’s topic is protest songs. Much as poetry provides a window into the Allied mood during World War I, anti-war songs provide a window into the mood of the 1960s. It was one of anger, alienation, and defiance. Vietnam has continued to inspire songwriters long after the last U.S. helicopters were pushed into the East Vietnam Sea, but my interest here is in songs recorded during the war. So as much as I love Bruce Springsteen (“Born in the USA”) and Billy Joel (“Goodnight Saigon”), their songs don’t make this list. With that caveat out of the way, here are my twenty picks for best protest songs in order of the year they were released. Read more »