Tod Lindberg Articles

Our Heroes, Ourselves

A revealing evolution in our highest military honor.
Nov 16, 2015

At a White House ceremony on November 12, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to retired Army captain Florent Groberg. When the president fastens the medal’s light-blue ribbon behind Groberg’s neck, Obama will be doing more than honoring a single American hero. He will be reaffirming what has become a national commitment to honor a distinctive kind of heroism. Groberg, like other recent recipients of the nation’s highest military honor, risked his life to save the lives of others.

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The Heroes Hidden Among Us

6:01 AM, Oct 05, 2015

Nothing can redeem the harrowing massacre that unfolded last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. But something does enter on the positive side of the ledger: A genuine American hero revealed himself that day.

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The Answer to ‘Hybrid Warfare’

Arrest (or shoot) those little green men.
May 18, 2015

It’s an especially tense time for the Baltic states and Russia’s other Western-leaning neighbors. Wariness with regard to Vladimir Putin and long-term Russian intentions toward the “near abroad” has long been the norm here, well before the 2007 cyberattack on Estonia and Russian military action against Georgia in 2008. But with the annexation of Crimea and military intervention in eastern Ukraine, general wariness has given way to focused concern about the new threat Russia poses.

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Japan’s Tense Neighborhood

China talks about a ‘peaceful rise,’ even as it probes for weakness.
Apr 06, 2015

Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force base on Okinawa shares a runway with the civilian planes on this island about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo. When the American-made Japanese F-15s scramble, as they often do these days, the civilian traffic awaiting takeoff pulls over to a side taxiway. It must be a pretty decent air show for those with a window seat.

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Maybe the Center Can Hold

2014 and all that.
Oct 13, 2014

There seems little doubt that 2014 will go down as a truly horrible year for American foreign policy. From the Russian seizure of Crimea and further irregular incursions into eastern Ukraine, to the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, to a worsening security problem in Afghanistan ahead of an anticipated U.S. drawdown, to the rise of fringe political parties in Europe, to Iran’s onward march to a nuclear capability, to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa—combined with an American public portrayed by pollsters as weary of the burdens of U.S.

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Russia as a Regional Power

Has Obama given up on Putin? Let’s hope so.
May 12, 2014

It's hard to look on the bright side of the dismemberment of a sovereign state by force of arms. But because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing threat Vladimir Putin intends to pose to eastern Ukraine, the Obama administration must now face international reality free of one of its more cherished illusions: that Russia is a partner in the pursuit of commonly desired outcomes.

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Crimea and Punishment

Time for another Russia reset.
Mar 31, 2014

It's time for a reset for U.S. policy toward Russia. The original Obama reset has now run its course, and President Vladimir Putin has thoroughly dashed all hope of Russia emerging as a partner of the United States and a constructive contributor to a liberal international order. The armed takeover and annexation of Crimea and the threat of further military incursion into eastern Ukraine have established beyond doubt that the United States needs to approach Russia first and foremost as a security challenge.

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Unhappy Allies

Obama annoys Europe.
Dec 30, 2013

Apparently relations between the United States and Europe are actually maturing. How else to account for the singular absence of transatlantic crisis-mongering over the many, many ways in which the Obama administration has annoyed our allies in Europe?

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Maxilateral Man

Obama’s essence.
Sep 23, 2013

With his Syria policy careening from inaction to the threat of force to a request for congressional approval to a diplomatic bailout from Russia, the long-vexing puzzle of what makes Barack Obama tick has again come to the fore.

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A Bear in the Desert

Why did the Obama administration allow a Russian resurgence in the Middle East?
Jul 01, 2013

For decades during the Cold War, U.S. policy sought to minimize the role of Moscow in the Middle East. As the Soviet Union weakened dramatically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so too did its capacity to influence events there (and many other places besides). So matters have stood since. A pretty good question, then, is why on earth the Obama administration seems to be inviting a Russian resurgence in the Middle East.

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The Other Benghazi Scandal

Did we really do all we could have to respond to the attack?
Jun 03, 2013

The complexity of Washington scandals as they unfold usually involves many moments at which it is possible to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Two such instances have come into sharper relief in recent weeks. One is that we still have no good explanation for U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points for her round of talk show appearances the Sunday after the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

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How to Prevent Atrocities

There’s no substitute for presidential leadership
Mar 11, 2013

GOP Chaos on Capitol Hill?

Not really.
Jan 14, 2013

Perhaps the least surprising headline in the aftermath of the tax deal last week was the one in Politico declaring that congressional Democrats are planning to run against “chaos” in the 2014 midterm elections. It’s unsurprising because Democrats have been working, with considerable success, to establish the proposition that Washington is dysfunctional because of the GOP.

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The Once and Future Liberal

Obama runs as the progressive that he is.
May 21, 2012

Much of the loyal opposition’s response to President Obama’s new position in favor of gay marriage centered on the back-and-forth in which he has indulged over the years getting to it. He was for it; he was against it; now he’s for it again (not that he apparently proposes to do anything to advance the cause beyond his “historic” expression of personal support). In short, the “evolved” presidential view is of the genus “political cynicism”: On the eve of a major Hollywood fundraiser (and, hmm, a Washington Post exposé on Mitt Romney’s prep school bully-boy days), Obama chose to pander to a group that was feeling

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A Model Intervention

Has the Libya precedent paralyzed the Obama ­administration on Syria?
Apr 02, 2012


The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, and NATO’s top military commander, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, took to the pages of the latest Foreign Affairs for an unusual but deserved victory lap over the campaign that led to the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. It was, the two argued, “a model intervention.”

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The Coming Attack on Iran

When an irresistible force meets an immovable object, something’s gotta give.
Feb 20, 2012

The United States and Iran have been on a collision course since the Iranian revolution in 1979, when elements of the newly proclaimed Islamic Republic took U.S. diplomats and Tehran embassy personnel hostage. U.S. relations with Iran have been bad ever since. The focus in recent years has been the Iranian program to develop a nuclear weapon, but the backdrop is Iran as a growing regional threat, not only to Israel and to U.S.

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The Bain of His Campaign

Could inflict considerable pain.
Jan 23, 2012

Question: Why would GOP candidates vying to establish themselves as the “conservative alternative” to Mitt Romney attack the one-time financier for his robust practice of free-market economics, layoffs included, during his years at Bain Capital? Answer: Well, because he is vulnerable on that point.

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From Hero-Worship to Celebrity-Adulation

The problem of greatness in an age of equality.
Oct 10, 2011

In the mid-19th century, the Scottish man of letters Thomas Carlyle coined the term “Hero-worship,” by which he meant the high regard, entirely proper in his view, that ordinary people have for the great figures of their history. His project in Lectures on Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841) was to restore greatness to dignity in an age he believed had come to belittle the very possibility of exceptional human achievement.

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Unfinished Business

Where’s the Lockerbie bomber?
Sep 05, 2011

Without doubt, the center ring under the big top in Libya is the act of deposing a brutal dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, whose long record of depredation includes the deaths of hundreds of Americans in acts of terrorism great and small. There is a sideshow not to be missed, however. It concerns the fate of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the convicted terrorist released to Libya from a Scottish prison two years ago supposedly on the “compassionate” grounds that his terminal prostate cancer left him with less than three months to live.

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The New California

In Republican politics, it’s Texas.
Aug 29, 2011

Whether he wins the nomination or not, Rick Perry’s August charge into the top echelon of GOP presidential hopefuls marks at least this turning point: In national Republican politics, Texas is the new California.

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Obama in the Abstract

Spokesman for the ‘international community.’
Jun 06, 2011

Let’s assume that it was not President Obama’s intention for the final section of his big Mideast speech, in which he took up the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to entirely overwhelm everything he had just said in support of democratization and the “universal rights” of those living in the region.

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Budget Gamesmanship

The Republicans are winning the deficit debate.
Apr 25, 2011

There’s a truism of budgeting that goes: The player who makes the first move always loses. That’s because the player with the second move has the opportunity to focus on the drawbacks of what the first player proposed. It’s one reason why some Republicans were nervous about House GOP budget chairman Paul Ryan’s determination to release a detailed, long-range proposal to curb spending, including cost-cutting reforms to major entitlement programs. Here was an opening for Obama to counter—as he did last week, to the evident delight of his liberal base.

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The U.N. Effect

Obama’s quest for ‘international legitimacy’ makes for a dishonest Libya policy
Apr 11, 2011

The Do-Nothing President

The Republicans’ surprising new critique of Obama.
Mar 14, 2011

In his underdog bid to retain the presidency in 1948, Harry Truman ran hard against the “Do-Nothing Congress,” so much so that his put-down of the Republicans who controlled Capitol Hill became a permanent part of the political lexicon, far more resonant today than anything Truman ever said about his Republican opponent for the White House, Thomas Dewey.

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