Backgrounders

Authoritative, accessible, and regularly updated primers on hundreds of foreign policy topics.

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines

A Guide to Global COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

The swift development of effective vaccines against COVID-19 was an unprecedented scientific achievement. But production challenges, vaccine nationalism, and new variants have all presented hurdles.

Middle East and North Africa

What Is U.S. Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

The United States has long tried to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but several factors, including deep divisions between and within the parties and declining U.S. interest in carrying out its traditional honest-broker role, hurt the chances of a peace deal.

Explainers Video Filters and Cards

Energy and Environment
How the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry Works
The United States is the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. Its decision to either continue at this pace or curb production to achieve its climate goals will have global consequences.
Taiwan
Why China-Taiwan Relations Are So Tense
Differences over Taiwan’s status have fueled rising tensions between the island and the mainland. And Taiwan has the potential to be a flash point in U.S.-China relations.
Mexico
The U.S. Immigration Debate
Comprehensive immigration reform has eluded Congress for years, moving controversial policy decisions into the executive and judicial branches of government.
Food and Water Security
Water Stress: A Global Problem That’s Getting Worse
Water scarcity threatens the health and development of communities around the globe. Climate change is intensifying the problem, pushing governments to find more innovative, collaborative ways to address water stress.
North Korea
What to Know About Sanctions on North Korea
World powers continue to punish North Korea with economic sanctions, but the pressure has so far failed to push Pyongyang toward denuclearization.
Infectious Diseases
Why Hasn’t the World Eradicated Polio?
The world is inching closer to eradicating polio, but armed conflicts and opposition to vaccines stand in the way of finally eliminating the disease.
Iran Nuclear Agreement
What Is the Iran Nuclear Deal?
Diplomacy to revive this arms control agreement has faced multiple stumbling blocks, including Iran’s nuclear advances and geopolitics related to the war in Ukraine.
Middle East and North Africa
What Is U.S. Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
The United States has long tried to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but several factors, including deep divisions between and within the parties and declining U.S. interest in carrying out its traditional honest-broker role, hurt the chances of a peace deal.
Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines
A Guide to Global COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
The swift development of effective vaccines against COVID-19 was an unprecedented scientific achievement. But production challenges, vaccine nationalism, and new variants have all presented hurdles.
India
India’s Muslims: An Increasingly Marginalized Population
India’s Muslim communities have faced decades of discrimination, which experts say has worsened under the Hindu nationalist BJP’s government.
Energy and Climate Policy
How Does the U.S. Power Grid Work?
Responsible for powering the country and its economy, the U.S. energy grid has come under increasing strain due to climate change, and the threat of cyberattacks looms.  
Middle East and North Africa
Turkey’s Growing Foreign Policy Ambitions
Turkey’s geography and membership in NATO have long given the country an influential voice in foreign policy, but the assertive policies of President Erdogan have complicated its role.
Diplomacy and International Institutions
Where Is the G7 Headed?
The Group of Seven (G7) serves as a forum to coordinate global policy, but experts are increasingly questioning the group’s relevance.
North Korea
North Korea’s Military Capabilities
North Korea has embarked on an accelerated buildup of nuclear weapons and the modernization of its already large conventional force.
Latin America
Central America’s Turbulent Northern Triangle
The U.S. government continues to seek strategies for responding to the growing number of migrants fleeing poverty, violence, and other challenges in the Central American region.