Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Understanding Myanmar

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

Myanmar has undergone significant political change since the 2007 Saffron revolution leading to a boom in international investment, but it still faces considerable economic and human rights hurdles.

See more in Burma/Myanmar; Human Rights

National Missile Defense: A Status Report

Author: Greg Bruno

The United States has pursued missile defense technologies for six decades, with mixed results. Changes under the Obama administration, including adjustments to planned defenses in Europe, could portend a new direction.

See more in United States; Missile Defense

The African Union

Author: Stephanie Hanson

The African Union succeeded the old Organization for African Unity (OAU) in 2002. Since then, the new institution has struggled to reform governing bodies inherited from the OAU while shouldering challenging new peacekeeping missions.

See more in Africa (sub-Saharan); Regional Security

The Rise of Political Opposition in Japan

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

Opposition victory in Japan's 2009 parliamentary election served as a watershed moment in the country's electoral politics. Analysts say political change in Tokyo could result in a possible shift in its close relationship with the United States, especially in security matters.

See more in Elections; Japan

India-Afghanistan Relations

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

India's growing economic and political influence in Afghanistan has angered Pakistan, the traditional power there, and has experts worried that Afghanistan could become another battleground in the long-standing rivalry between South Asia's two giants.

See more in Trade; Afghanistan; India; Havens for Terrorism; Pakistan

Brazil on the International Stage

Author: Stephanie Hanson

Brazil's economic dynamism has given it a stronger voice on global trade and energy issues. Experts say Washington can advance its regional interests more effectively through a more sophisticated relationship with Brazil.

See more in Brazil; Economic Development

The China-North Korea Relationship

Authors: Beina Xu and Jayshree Bajoria

China remains Pyongyang's biggest trade partner and arguably has the most leverage on Kim Jong-un's regime. But analysts believe China's patience with its ally might be wearing thin, says this CFR Backgrounder.

See more in China; North Korea; Diplomacy and Statecraft