Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Iraq's Political Landscape

Author: Greg Bruno

Iraq's provincial elections provide signals about the maturity of the country's political system, as well as highlight new power brokers in the provinces.

See more in Iraq; Elections

The U.S. Economic Stimulus Plan

Author: Lee Hudson Teslik

President Obama has signed one of the largest rescue packages since the Great Depression to revive the U.S. economy. Economists warn of the need to keep spending targeted, timely, and temporary.

See more in Financial Crises; United States

Finding a Place for the ‘Sons of Iraq’

Author: Greg Bruno

The Sunni awakening movement and the Sons of Iraq security forces it inspired helped restore peace. Iraq's long-term stability could hinge on keeping the movement satiated, experts say.

See more in Iraq

Saudi Arabia and the Future of Afghanistan

Author: Greg Bruno

U.S. experts say any new approach to bringing stability to Afghanistan must be regional in scope. Saudi Arabia, with historic ties to the Taliban and Afghan Pashtuns, could hold a principle seat at the table.

See more in Afghanistan; Saudi Arabia

Vietnam's Economic Hiccups

Author: Julie Ginsberg

Vietnam's stock market has plunged and its economic growth has dwindled since 2006, when it was seen as a model for emerging country growth. The country's experience highlights the problems confronting emerging markets in the 2008 financial crisis.

See more in Vietnam; Financial Crises; Emerging Markets

Eric H. Holder Jr., Attorney General

Author: Joanna Klonsky, Associate Editor

President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., has criticized some of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism moves, calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center and bans on torture.

See more in Counterterrorism; United States

Counterterrorism in India

Authors: Eben Kaplan and Jayshree Bajoria

India has been battling terrorism for as long as it has been a sovereign nation. This backgrounder examines the country's counterterrorism efforts.

See more in Counterterrorism; India

Turkey at an Energy Crossroads

Author: Greg Bruno

Terrorist attacks and an emergent Russia are posing new challenges to Turkey's energy strategy, but some analysts warn it could be Western Europe that gets squeezed.

See more in Energy Policy; Turkey

Defense Spending During Economic Crisis

Author: Greg Bruno

President-elect Barack Obama made many promises on defense spending and strategy during his two-year run for the White House. But analysts say economic constraints and political pressure could make implementation difficult.

See more in Defense Budget; United States