Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

India's Electoral Politics

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

As the world's largest democracy goes to the polls, this Backgrounder looks at the laws, major players, and issues, including economic reform, caste, and religion, that have shaped India's politics.

See more in Elections; India

The Fine Print on Defense Spending

Author: Greg Bruno

As the Obama administration finalizes its first defense budget, analysts say near-term growth will be followed by lean spending amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

See more in United States; Defense Budget

Debating a 'Clean Coal' Future

As U.S. lawmakers debate a cap-and-trade policy to combat climate change, experts say coal will continue to be a major part of the world's energy mix, which will likely complicate efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

See more in United States; Climate Change; Coal

G-20 Policy Priorities

Author: Lee Hudson Teslik

April's G-20 summit has been billed as a forum for producing a "global New Deal." Experts say policymakers should focus on stopping financial turmoil before tackling long-term regulatory reforms.

See more in Financial Crises

French Military Strategy and NATO Reintegration

Author: Michael Moran

France's move to rejoin NATO's integrated military command structure reflects a shift in French strategic thinking about new reliance on allies and diminished projection of unilateral power abroad.

See more in France; NATO

Venezuela's Oil-Based Economy

Authors: Cesar J. Alvarez and Stephanie Hanson

Venezuela is trying to develop new markets for its oil at a time of increasing friction with its main customer, the United States. But a significant short-term shift in oil relations between Venezuela and the United States is unlikely.

See more in Venezuela; Oil

China's Military Power

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

China's growing military capabilities pose a concern for U.S. security interests. Experts say the United States must push for greater engagement with China's military to reduce the potential for misunderstandings.

See more in Defense Strategy; China