Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

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

Author: Steven J. Markovich

U.S. space exploration inspired a generation of students and innovators, but NASA's role has diminished, and the number of global space competitors is growing. This Backgrounder explores U.S. competitiveness in space.

See more in United States; Space

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Postsecondary education has significant public and private benefits, but debate continues over the extent of federal student lending.

See more in United States; Education

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

Same-Sex Marriage: Global Comparisons

Author: CFR.org Staff

The movement to recognize same-sex marriage continues to gain traction worldwide, though homophobia still persists within societies. This Backgrounder examines policies toward same-sex couples in select countries.

See more in Global; Society and Culture