James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair


U.S. foreign and defense policy; international security; globalization; Congress; domestic politics of U.S. foreign policy; public opinion.


James M. Lindsay is senior vice president, director of studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) where he oversees the work of the more than six dozen fellows in the David Rockefeller Studies Program. He is a leading authority on the American foreign policymaking process and the domestic politics of American foreign policy.

Before returning to CFR in 2009, Dr. Lindsay was the inaugural director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, where he held the Tom Slick chair for international affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. From 2003 to 2006, he was vice president, director of studies and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at CFR. He previously served as deputy director and senior fellow in the foreign policy studies program at the Brookings Institution. From 1987 until 1999, he was a professor of political science at the University of Iowa.

From 1996 to 1997, Dr. Lindsay was director for global issues and multilateral affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. He has also served as a consultant to the United States Commission on National Security / 21st Century (Hart-Rudman Commission) and as a staff expert for the United States Institute of Peace's congressionally mandated Task Force on the United Nations.

Dr. Lindsay has written widely on various aspects of American foreign policy and international relations. His book with Ivo H. Daalder, America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (Brookings Institution Press, 2003), was awarded the 2003 Lionel Gelber Prize, named a finalist for the Arthur S. Ross Book Award, and selected as a top book of 2003 by the Economist. His other books include Agenda for the Nation (with Henry J. Aaron and Pietro S. Nivola, Brookings Institution Press, 2003), which was named an "Outstanding Academic Book of 2004" by Choice Magazine; and Congress and the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994). He has also contributed articles to the op-ed pages of many major newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He writes the blog, The Water's Edge, which discusses the politics of American foreign policy and the domestic underpinnings of American global power.

Dr. Lindsay holds an AB in economics and political science from the University of Michigan and an MA, MPhil, and PhD from Yale University. He has been a fellow at the Center for International Affairs and the Center for Science and International Affairs, both at Harvard University. He is a recipient of the Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs and an International Affairs Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Lindsay was born in Winchester, Massachusetts in 1959 and lives in the Washington, DC, suburbs.

Featured Publications

All Publications


The World Next Week: Summer Reading Special

In this special edition, Managing Editor Robert McMahon, CFR's Director of Studies Jim Lindsay and Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow Elizabeth Saunders start off the summer with a list of books that they will be reading in the weeks ahead. Listen in for recommendations from their reading lists.

See more in Global; Politics and Strategy

Recent Activity from The Water's Edge



Foreign Policy and Campaign 2016

As the 2016 presidential primaries approach, Charlie Cook, Sam Feist, and Jim Lindsay discuss the role that foreign policy will play in the upcoming contests for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.


Video Interview

Jim Zirin-Will Obama’s Failed Foreign Policies Hurt the Democrats?

Jim Lindsay focuses on the relationship between foreign policy and domestic political considerations at the Council on Foreign Relations. He considers the domestic political fall-out from Obama’s Iran deal and the failed policies in Syria, surveys the candidates, and tells Jim Zirin that it is too early to predict whether these factors will affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.


Radio Interview

Between The Lines - ABC Radio

The UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. The resolution, co-sponsored by all 15 members, authorises the lifting of sanctions in return for Iran curbing sensitive nuclear activities.

So does this deal represent a historic detente between the United States and the Islamic Republic? Or is it a dangerous appeasement of a rising terrorist power?

Jim Lindsay discusses this issue with host Tom Switzer



The Lowy Institute - In conversation with Jim Lindsay

Jim Lindsay, Senior Vice President and Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke with Anthony Bubalo on the future of US leadership in the world. The conversation addressed US leadership challenges in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and preview the 2016 presidential election.