Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

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.

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

Sarin

Author: Zachary Laub

Sarin, one of the world's most lethal chemical weapons, has long been stockpiled but is rarely used by states or terrorists. Allegations of attacks on civilians in Syria, if substantiated, would represent a departure from long-standing international practice.

See more in Weapons of Mass Destruction; Syria