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 variants such as omicron 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

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
Why NATO Has Become a Flash Point With Russia in Ukraine
Russian leaders have watched with mounting resentment as the transatlantic alliance has nearly doubled its membership since the end of the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin has drawn a red line in Ukraine.
Argentina
Argentina: A South American Power Struggles for Stability
Argentina is one of Latin America’s largest economies and most stable democracies, but the country has struggled with political dysfunction and financial crises in recent decades.
United States
What Is Temporary Protected Status?
Temporary protected status has long been used as a humanitarian solution for migrants who are unable to return home safely, but efforts to end the program have reignited the debate around U.S. immigration policy.  
Venezuela
Venezuela: The Rise and Fall of a Petrostate
Venezuela’s descent into economic and political chaos in recent years is a cautionary tale of the dangerous influence that resource wealth can have on developing countries.
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 variants such as omicron have all presented hurdles.
United States
The State of U.S. Strategic Stockpiles
The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed attention on the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation’s emergency reserve of medical supplies. It’s just one of the stockpiles the United States maintains for economic and strategic purposes.
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.
Middle East and North Africa
Understanding Sharia: The Intersection of Islam and the Law
Sharia guides the personal religious practices of Muslims worldwide, but whether it should influence modern legal systems remains a subject of intense debate.
Monetary Policy
What Is the U.S. Federal Reserve?
Over the past decade, the Fed has deployed trillions of dollars in stimulus while expanding its regulatory oversight. The central bank is back on the front lines to fight the COVID-19 crisis.  
Trade
Mercosur: South America’s Fractious Trade Bloc
Three decades after its founding, Latin America’s largest trade bloc faces multiple challenges, including persistent internal division and the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Olympics
The Economics of Hosting the Olympic Games
The costs of hosting the Olympics have skyrocketed, while the economic benefits are far from clear. This has led to fewer states interested in playing host and a search for options to lighten the burdens of staging the big event.
World Trade Organization (WTO)
What’s Next for the WTO?
In the wake of President Trump’s combative approach to trade, and with major negotiations stalled, the future of global trade rules is in doubt.  
Human Rights
Marriage Equality: Global Comparisons
A growing number of countries are legalizing same-sex marriage amid a steady advance in rights for LGBTQ+ people, but opposition remains strong in many countries.
Americas
U.S. Detention of Child Migrants
Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have been arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border each year, sparking debate over how to respond. A recent rise in their numbers has challenged the Biden administration.
Ukraine
Ukraine: Conflict at the Crossroads of Europe and Russia
Ukraine has struggled to forge an independent path, torn between Europe and the United States in the West and its long-standing ties to Russia in the East.