Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Renewing America

Renewing America

The U.S. Immigration Debate

Author: Brianna Lee

Ongoing arguments over U.S. immigration policy play out against concerns about curbing illegal immigration, changing demographics, and maintaining the country's global competitive edge.

See more in Immigration; United States

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Spending on research and development is cited as important to a globally competitive economy. But a crucial U.S. advantage appears to be eroding.

See more in United States; Innovation

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Authors: Zachary Laub and Jonathan Masters

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has capitalized on Iraq's Sunni minority's alienation from the state, driven by sectarian politics and heavy-handed approaches to security, to wreak havoc and establish zones of authority while expanding its reach into neighboring Syria.

See more in Terrorism; Iraq

Hamas

Author: Zachary Laub

Hamas is the main Palestinian armed resistance group, but the Islamist movement has struggled with governance since assuming control of Gaza.

See more in Israel; Palestine; Terrorism

Boko Haram

Authors: Mohammed Aly Sergie and Toni Johnson

Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram has evolved from a local insurgency to a brutal militant group that the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

See more in Nigeria; Radicalization and Extremism

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Income inequality is generating high-level attention and debate in the United States, but the causes are complex and the policy remedies so far are modest, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Poverty