Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Driverless Cars

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Tech and auto companies in the United States, Europe, and Asia are moving forward rapidly with efforts to develop driverless cars and street networks. The benefits appear tantalizing, but roadblocks loom, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in Global; Technology and Science

Ukraine in Crisis

Author: Robert McMahon

Ukraine's most serious crisis since independence has prompted Russian moves to control Crimea and promises of major Western economic aid, while questions persist about the ability of Ukrainians to govern themselves, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in Ukraine; Political Movements and Protests

U.S.-Cuba Relations

Author: Brianna Lee

The U.S.-Cuba relationship remains frozen after fifty years. Despite economic reforms in Cuba and swelling public opinion in favor of resuming diplomatic and economic ties, analysts do not anticipate any normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations in the near to medium term, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in Cuba; Diplomacy and Statecraft

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

Author: Steven J. Markovich

U.S. space exploration inspired a generation of students and innovators, but NASA's role may transition amid a new set of national priorities and constraints, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Space