Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Confronting the Cyber Threat

Author: Jonathan Masters

Foreign governments, non-state actors, and criminal networks are targeting the digital networks of the United States with increasing frequency and sophistication. U.S. cybersecurity has made progress, but relies heavily on the private sector to secure infrastructure critical to national security.

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; Infrastructure

Renewing America

Renewing America

Oil Market Volatility

Author: Toni Johnson

Though shifts in demand and reduced production by some major producers have influenced oil prices, investor behavior is also increasing market volatility.

See more in Oil; Global

Islam and Politics in Pakistan

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

Pakistan is bracing for more turbulence in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing. This Backgrounder looks at how state support for Islamist militants has led to growing religious intolerance in society.

See more in Pakistan; Religion

Author: Toni Johnson

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill spotlights the growth of deepwater drilling and the challenges of balancing strong environmental regulation with efforts to expand U.S. domestic oil production.

See more in United States; Oil

The Debate Over Airport Security

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

New screening measures at U.S. airports are being called overly intrusive by some passengers and civil rights groups. National security experts advise using a system that relies more on intelligence, behavioral profiling, and empowering passengers.

See more in United States; Border and Port Security

Sharia and Militancy

Author: Toni Johnson

Experts say Islamic law, or sharia, holds wide appeal for Muslim populations in many countries and is beginning to spread via democratic means, but it is also being used as a tool of Islamic militancy and extremism.

See more in Religion; Middle East and North Africa

Sudan's Fractured Internal Politics

Authors: Toni Johnson and Stephanie Hanson

Experts say instability in south Sudan should be looked at in tandem with the crisis in Darfur, and some call for addressing Sudan's problems in a more unified way to help forestall an escalation of violence.

See more in Sudan; South Sudan; Peacekeeping