Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

The U.S.-Japan Security Alliance

Author: Beina Xu

The U.S.-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of Washington's security policy in East Asia, but rising threats from China, North Korea, and economic recovery in both countries have raised questions about the future of the rapport.

See more in Japan; Defense and Security

Sarin

Author: Zachary Laub

Sarin, one of the world's most lethal chemical weapons, has long been stockpiled but is rarely used by states or terrorists. Allegations of attacks on civilians in Syria, if substantiated, would represent a departure from longstanding international practice, this Backgrounder explains.

See more in Weapons of Mass Destruction; Syria

Confronting the Cyber Threat

Author: Jonathan Masters

Foreign governments, non-state actors, and criminal networks are targeting the digital networks of the United States with increasing frequency and sophistication. U.S. cybersecurity has made progress, but relies heavily on the private sector to secure infrastructure critical to national security.

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; Infrastructure

The Debate Over Airport Security

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

New screening measures at U.S. airports are being called overly intrusive by some passengers and civil rights groups. National security experts advise using a system that relies more on intelligence, behavioral profiling, and empowering passengers.

See more in United States; Border and Port Security